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IBD Can Act Like a Permanent Umbilical Cord

Living with a chronic illness like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis can come with so many challenges. The need to depend on other people a lot of the time is something that I can never get past. I have accepted it to a degree but internally, I just downright despise it.

Someone once told me that my disease and all the problems that have come from it acted like a permanent umbilical cord to my parents. I thought that was such a great way to phrase the feelings I always had about living with IBD. Inflammatory bowel disease has gotten in the way of living life on my own terms.

Prior to meeting my partner five years ago, my parents were the only people I trusted and would allow to see me at my worst. Therefore, I was way more dependent on them since my diagnosis at 13 than I would have liked. I developed such bad PTSD from all of my surgeries and hospitalizations that I was mentally incapable of being in the hospital alone. The one night my dad didn’t stay overnight with me, I had such a bad panic attack that a cardiac surgeon came to speak with me and schedule me for tests. Because of this, I was always discharged WAY sooner than your average person. And while that was always ideal for me since I recovered better at home, I was only able to leave the hospital because my parents were willing and able to take care of me. I never could have done it on my own. Heck, most of the time I couldn’t even get into the house.

“I don’t want to need other people the way I do.”

Since I have met my partner and gotten a little more mature, I am more open about letting other people see me during hard times. Not much more open, but slow and steady, right? 🙂 Regardless, I don’t want to need other people the way I do. I know we all need loved ones in our life but it shouldn’t be because we cannot manage without other people. I recognize none of this was a choice for me, just like being more dependent on loved ones isn’t a choice for you either, but it still hurts. It still causes anger. It still creates an enormous amount of frustration. Feelings of guilt and shame come in all too often. I could go on and on but I think you get the gist.

Relating living with a severe chronic illness like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to a permanent umbilical cord was something that I never forgot. I believe it has been about six or seven years since that was said to me.

I share this with you in case there are others out there who feel similarly. I know sometimes, we don’t even have the words to convey how trapped we feel because of our disease. Or, it has become our new normal so we just keep on chugging along, only for our hearts to hurt from some of the emotional pain we all endure.

Never forget how strong you are. And always remember that just because you are dependent on others right now, it doesn’t mean you will be forever.

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.


  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    9 months ago

    I can so relate to this.

    It’s hard when you have to depend on your parents when you are “grown” and others your age are living on their own and financially supporting themselves. When I had to quit my job and move back in with my mom due to my health, it was a hard moment. But! Like you say so beautifully, it doesn’t mean you will be dependent forever. I am now getting back on my feet and soon will be back to being independent and stable.

    It’s important we don’t get too hard on ourselves. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. IBD is hard, and if there is a moment or moments when you have to depend on others, so be it. At least we are making the mature and healthy choice to put our health first, right?

    Press on, warriors. There is light at the end.

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

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