The Power of Saying: "I Have IBD"
There's something to be said for connecting with someone who lives your reality. You can go from being perfect strangers to what feels like long lost best friends. Once you're talking and you hear they too battle IBD, the conversation flows so easily. You're instantly part of a tight-knit community. You know you can share and talk about life on a whole different level. It's like a secret pact, a sorority or fraternity of those who are the same. While our diseases all impact our bodies in different ways and no story is the same, we can always relate to something from symptoms to medications to procedures.
Embracing the community is important when you battle an invisible, chronic condition
Especially with one that has a reputation for being isolating and oftentimes embarrassing. Know that you are not alone in your struggles. Once you feel the strength to share your story and openly communicate your situation, you will quickly see how empowering it is to know you are not alone and be validated by someone who "gets it."
Whether it's connecting on social media, through family or friends or at Crohn's & Colitis Foundation events, there are more people out there that get you than you think. I recently attended a Fall Bazaar that benefited the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation. I kept coming across people of all ages who dealt with the same disease, from all walks of life. One was a woman in her 50's dealing with fistulas and talking about her j-pouch, another a mother who's 20-year-old daughter was away at school in Memphis and battling the disease while in college. I walked around the event with my six-month-old son and husband. I felt so empowered.
I was so proud to say "I have Crohn's...and this is my son."
Yes, my body has shocked me and hurt me and turned against me way more than I'd like to admit. My days aren't always easy. But look - this same body created a perfectly healthy little boy. While my body has been an enemy at times, it's also been pretty darn amazing. When my stomach pains start, when I'm running to find a bathroom, when I'm injecting my Humira, when I'm prepping for a colonoscopy...you name it. That little boy is all I need to be strong. He's my community, my family. Find this in your relationships.
Whether it's a blood relative, a friend or your own family, you have others out there - some live your reality, some do not. But each plays an important role in your patient journey. Focus on those people. The people with whom you can't stop talking, even if you've never even met in person. The IBD family is resilient. We are strong. We are present. We are here for one another.
You are not alone. Chances are there are so many people who can relate to what you are going through, and they are here to listen. It all starts with you feeling comfortable enough to say, "I have IBD." You can easily inspire and help people without even knowing it, just by saying those three words.
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