Making Mental Health a Priority

While society’s views on mental health have evolved from where they were years ago, we still have a lot of work to do. We also have a lot of work to do in terms of how we view our own mental health. If you are like many people, you don’t feel as though it's a priority. Or, it is something that can be put off until you cannot take it anymore.

If you are a person who suffers from a chronic illness like Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis (IBD), mental health can become something that really takes a backseat to all of the physical issues that need to be dealt with. After all, when dealing with surgeries, harsh medications, obstructions, fistulas, abscesses, running to the bathroom 50 times a day, etc… does going to a therapist really seem like a huge priority? Of course not! It's bad enough we have to deal with so many medical professionals and have our lives essentially destroyed by what is going on with us physically that the last thing anyone wants to do is make an appointment with another doctor.

I have tried to take a different approach to managing my mental health over the last couple of months.

I have an appointment with a psychiatrist my GI recommended on November 3rd (the appointment was made in July). In the meantime, I reached out for another referral from the hospital where I'm treated and even drove the hour and a half to the initial appointment. I did like the person I spoke with and wanted desperately to stick with her because of who recommended her, but the distance became a problem.

I am someone who gets flustered and anxious when I have to drive long distances. I know this about myself given it has been the case for at least a decade. I thought initially that the distance wouldn’t matter but when I really thought about it… the only way I can handle it is to be stoic during appointments. If I let my guard down at all, I know I won’t have the ability to drive home. It has taken me awhile to learn this of myself and actually accept it.

I did see a local social worker recently and while she was very nice, she didn’t have any medical knowledge. She asked me what an ostomy was - which is fine - but not someone who I believe can truly relate to everything I have been through with my inflammatory bowel disease.

So now, I wait for my appointment on November 3rd…

Keeping my fingers crossed that finally seeing a psychologist who specializes in those with chronic illness, specifically GI problems, can be of help to me.

I say this so anyone who might be struggling to balance emotional and physical health knows that IT IS HARD! It is REALLY hard! Especially because most mental health professionals don’t really have the background desired, which just makes us feel like it is a waste of time. The complexity of my situation, and the situations of so many of you reading this, has made it really difficult for me to find the right therapist. Not to mention, the right therapist who takes my insurance. :)

Can you relate at all? Do you currently talk to someone? Has this been a result of your IBD (if you don’t mind sharing)? Have you found it helpful? How did you find the person you talk to? If not, is it because you can’t find anyone who understands? Is it an insurance/financial issue? I'd love to hear your experiences in the comments below!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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