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The Past, The Present & The Future

“A reminder, that the past and the present

aren’t separate from one another

& that what I went through is still what

i’m going through and most importantly…

who I was, is who I am, even when I am changing.”

Blog, Chelsea Talks Smack

 

Ups and downs

As I think many chronic illness patients can relate to, my journey with IBD has had several ups and downs. With many unexpected chapters along the way. From living undiagnosed for several years to experimenting with different types of medications. From living in and out of the hospital, losing and gaining weight, and at times being unable to work. From needing a surgical port implanted to making lifestyle modifications and more, I sometimes feel like I have lived so many different versions of myself. During this season of my life, I’ve taken the opportunity to reflect on the journey. I’m reflecting on the pieces of myself that have been left in the past, that are still here in the present, and that I am hopeful to retain in the future.

Negative emotions

Throughout the first few years I experienced chronic illness, I went through a variety of emotions, and to be honest, none of them were positive. I often felt anger, frustration, fear, depression, and anxiety, sometimes all at once, sometimes on a loop. Some of that time I was working and some of it I was a graduate student. But I constantly felt like I was being robbed of my life during my early to mid-twenties. These feelings were written all over my face and my heart. My attitude towards life, my friendships, and my social media platforms showed this. Today, I am not quite so proud of the reactions I had then, but I try to focus on the strength and courage which enabled me to be open and honest about the ways I was feeling. I think the memory of this upset version of me also has helped me in recent years to not fall back to that place again. And to react to things in stride as much as possible.

Shifting my perspective

Moving forward in life and meeting my now husband helped shift my perspective on my life and my illness significantly. I was so grateful and so lucky for the unrequited love and support. I consciously tried to be in a better headspace for him and for the hopes of our future. After finally being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, I went through another emotional journey. One that balanced anger with gratitude, acceptance with hope, and fear with opportunity. It was challenging for me to process the news of a “lifelong chronic illness” when I had been told for years that my symptoms would likely disappear if I tried x, y or z. To be honest, I also felt a sense of vindication, for I was right to not stop trying, to not stop asking questions, to communicate with my providers that I was sure something was in fact very wrong with my body. The me I was then was cautiously optimistic for better days, invested in learning, understanding, balancing western medicine with eastern traditions, and taking care of my mind, body, and soul as one.

Able to thrive

I am incredibly lucky and so thankful that I have found a medication (Remicade) that has put me nearly into a version of remission which has allowed me to thrive. This has reduced what once was an all-consuming focus on my disease. Who I am today continues to grow, to change, and to evolve. But I still carry with me the broken and the beautiful pieces from my past. I am overwhelmingly grateful for the ability to have perspective, to be able to reflect and to realize that sometimes, I do have the conscious ability to choose how I move forward.

How have you changed, and how have you stayed the same while dealing with your illness?

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

Comments

  • imagineallpossibilities
    5 months ago

    Hi Amanda, thank you for sharing your story. I am not a patient but my long distance partner is. Ever since the diagnosis, we haven’t really talked much. I’ve tried reaching out to him but in vain. I understand this requires a lot of patience & understanding on my part. The fact that I am unable to help him at all is killing me every day. But the situation is such that I can’t really do anything. And offering unsolicited advice or being too pushy will only worsen the situation. Knowing that he is in pain, both physically and emotionally, breaks my heart every time I think about him. And all I want to do is help him go through this. While reading your story, I was picturising him, that maybe someday he too would be able to thrive.

  • Amanda Osowski moderator author
    5 months ago
  • Amanda Osowski moderator author
    5 months ago

    Hi @imagineallpossibilities,

    Thank you so much for your comment. I can absolutely understand how challenged you feel with your long distance partner going through something that you can’t outright “help” with, and I am so sorry for the challenges you are feeling associated with this. My best advice would be to just keep loving him. Maybe message or communicate with him as you would’ve before he was diagnosed. Many of, especially as new patients, have feared that people will treat us differently, or be uncomfortable with or embarrassed for us based on the nature of the disease. I would recommend reminding your partner in whatever way feels best that nothing needs to change between the two of you in your relationship, unless they want it to.

    I’ll be thinking of you!
    Warmly,
    Amanda

  • imagineallpossibilities
    5 months ago

    Thank you for so much for talking! ❤

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