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Between Surviving & Thriving – Still Looking for a Middle Ground

As I’ve begun settling into my early 30’s over the past few years, I’ve become increasingly cognizant of my behaviors. This includes the ways in which I use my days and my energy. The things I’ve realized have actually been fascinating to me. I’m noticing the ways in which IBD has changed my actions and mentalities.

I seem to most often operate at one of two speeds: survival mode or thriving.

Survival mode leaves me slow and unable to accomplish much

This has been incredibly relevant to me over the past few months as I’ve been in my first trimester of pregnancy. I’m experiencing both increased Crohn’s disease symptoms (mostly in the form of frequent diarrhea) as well as morning sickness (which absolutely is never limited to the morning hours). Survival mode for me looks a lot like operating at 20% capacity. Generally, 1-2 things are set as a priority for the day, regardless of if they involve leaving the house or simply being more focused inside. Once I accomplish those items, I try to recognize the energy or strength they required. I am working on getting better at providing myself grace, and a little bit of enthusiasm for being able to check some things off my list.

The remainder of my days recently has looked very slow. Sometimes they involve hours of Netflix or naps, not answering my phone, and not being productive. Please understand there are absolutely times I experience significant self-judgment or even grief. In the past, I would have looked at these days as a complete waste of time. It has taken me so long to recognize that sometimes, survival mode is just that – a necessary part of my balance.

Thriving includes full days of productivity

Since finding out I was pregnant, I have had very few days like this. I do enjoy them and feel energized by them mentally and emotionally when they occur. Most times, these days contain full to-do lists including errands, chores, and specific to-dos like following up on emails, paying bills, sending out happy mail, or the like. Often on these days, I also have the pep in my step to call or text a friend to say hi, stop by the store to get groceries or take on an extra project around the house. On a day where I feel like I’m thriving, I feel like I’m operating close to 90-95% of my capacity.

After so many years of debilitating Crohn’s symptoms, these days honestly feel like a fairly large accomplishment for me, regardless of the “costs” afterward. Days like this are obviously more frequent during the times when my IBD symptoms aren’t as detrimental to or interrupting of my quality of life. Although they often leave me physically drained, they absolutely made me feel mentally renewed. This, to me, has always been worth it.

As someone who has always been very Type A, I very much used to define myself by my tangible successes. How much I got done, how fast I got it done, what my grade or score or profit was. My life with IBD has changed that significantly, as I learned early it was so easy to get down on myself when I couldn’t charge forward like I wanted to, or like I had previously.

Still looking for a middle ground between these two

So now, today, I sit here and wonder, is there an in-between mode that exists between surviving and thriving? Between doing everything and doing only a little? In looking at my own life, it seems like I struggle to find a middle ground, a place where I operate somewhere between 20% and 90% on a regular, consistent basis.

As I transition into my second trimester of pregnancy, I’m hoping both baby and I find some symptom stability. I think that this is my biggest goal. A goal of finding a routine, maybe one where regularly I’m able to operate around 50-60%.

If you’ve found a way to find consistency in your routine and in your energy output, I’d love to hear what has been successful!

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.


  • LrayBeaches
    10 months ago

    Wow.. I love the self analysis.. I thank you for sharing your story, just know that you are not alone. Sorry, I have not found middle ground per se. I’ve come to accept the bad days as they are – it just means more rest is needed so I can keep going tomorrow.. What I try to do, is build in the rest periods. For example, I go to the gym every other day now, sometimes for only 30 min or 45 min. I’ll do a quiet activity when I get home. The next day I rest when I get home from work, sometimes I don’t cook. I do take B-12 injections (disease in the ileum/large intestines, and removal of part) to help with energy. I drink fresh orange juice (no pulp) in the morning. On particularly bad days, no gym, extra rest, work from home – and really there is nothing like the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast) no butter on the toast. Home-made chicken soup.. If you can, get a vita-mix – it’s more than a blender and you can make baby food, and fresh smoothies with ingredients you can consume, hot pureed soup, and sorbet.. Of late, I really have been paying attention to ingredients, and I have made a concerted effort to discontinue packaged foods. Also, I feel better when I eat foods that are non-GMO, no added hormones or antibiotics, nothing artificial, and organic. The ingredients in lite-foods have other additives that can upset my system. If I have a coke, it’s the regular – nothing diet. If I have sour cream, it’s the regular, I’ve stopped using margarine, I use real butter, whole milk, almond or soy-milk – these are consumed in moderation. I stick with mostly turkey and chicken, sometimes pork or beef. And, more recently I have reduced my morning coffee consumption to 2-3 cups per week instead of every-day. I’m still trying to figure out how much fiber I can safely eat without causing too much gastric distress.. Congratulations on your pregnancy – I wish you both the very best.. When baby sleeps – you sleep too.. I used to keep the baby carrier close by, so my son could be in the bathroom with me while I was getting ready for work or the day.. Oh.. if your can swing it, the meal prep services like Blue Apron or Sun Basket – it’s grocery delivery for as many meals as you want to have delivered – it saves time so you don’t have to go to the store, and may items are already sliced/diced… and the food is fresh. Amazon prim pantry is helpful, click and deliver – saves time and energy.. Best Wishes!!

  • Amanda Osowski moderator author
    10 months ago

    Thank you so much for sharing your stories and your advice, it’s truly appreciated!

    Wishing you the best,
    Amanda (team member)

  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    10 months ago

    I don’t have much consistency with energy output, but I will say where I am always consistent is with my flexibility. I think that’s key. If you can’t accomplish it today, there is always tomorrow. And be patient with yourself.

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

  • Amanda Osowski moderator author
    10 months ago


    Thanks so much for sharing – I love your perspective!

    Amanda (team member)

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