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I Am More Than This

Several years ago, during the height of my struggles with symptoms that were later attributed to Crohn’s disease, I spent some time working with a GI psychologist. My sessions with her were not general talk therapy appointments. Instead, they were focused on her walking me through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT aims to help individuals struggling with anxiety or depression to develop coping strategies by changing unhelpful thought or belief patterns. At that time, I was so hyper-focused on the way that my GI symptoms were disrupting my entire life. As an action-oriented form of therapy, my CBT sessions aimed to teach me new ways to process my anxieties and obstacles. This helped me to develop healthier coping strategies.

Some of the appointments were unhelpful and some of the exercises didn’t feel beneficial or worthwhile for me. But there was one very powerful one that I continue to come back to.

At the beginning of one session, my psychologist asked me to come up with my own mantra. Something that I could cling to in moments of despair when my world was spiraling.

On a notecard, in a blue pen, I wrote down one line.

I am more than this

She asked me to elaborate, and these are the thoughts that I expressed to her.

I am more than this.

I am more than this moment,

I am more than this situation,

I am more than this.

In that moment, I knew that this had become my mantra. The one I would go on to carry with me. The one I have in the past repeated sometimes ten or twenty or even thirty times a day.

Simple self-care

In truth, that exercise contained one of the most beneficial takeaways that I remember and continue to use all these years later. In a way, it taught me some simple ways to take care of my heart. It helped me to continue navigating the scary, frustrating, overwhelming pathway forward. It reminded me to continue trusting my gut, to persevere until I found answers that changed my life and insured that I found better health, both physically and mentally.

Coming back to my mantra

I have come back to this mantra over and over again in the years since it was created. It allowed me to look at my life from 30,000 feet, and to remember than my disease does not define me. This mantra has helped me rebuild my life each time my health changed the parameters I was already working within.

Present day, this mantra reminds me that I am not defined by my Crohn’s disease. While IBD patients do not have the ability to act like our diseases don’t exist, I think it’s critical to remember that we still get to make the choice to wake up each day and refuse to quit fighting. IBD will always and forever be a part of our lives, but it’s our choice to be more than this.

So many of my friends and members of this community are warriors fighting a battle that other people may never be able to understand. But, the bottom line is this:

I am more than IBD. We are all more than our IBD.

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.