Your Whole Life Has Changed.. Now What?
I know that you have just been diagnosed with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis and that you're sad and angry. I know that you're probably mad at the world, wondering "Why me?". I know that you think that your life as you know it is over. I know because I've been in the same exact spot that you are in right now.
When I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in 2012, I was scared and angry too. I was mad at the world and though that I'd never be happy or healthy or do anything that I loved ever again.
Over the last four years as a diagnosed Crohn's disease patient (and undiagnosed two years before that), I have learned a few things about adjusting to life with an autoimmune disease. Back then, I wished that I had someone to share information, insights, and experiences with me on what life would be like.. so I want to be that person for you.
My advice to cope with Crohn's disease:
- Be kind to yourself. Learning to live with these diseases is probably going to be one of the most difficult things you'll ever do in your life. Be patient and know that there will be a time in the future where you will be adjusted to your new way of living.
- Do your own research. There is a lot of information out there on how to live with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. While multiple types of information from different sources is an amazing thing, it can also be overwhelming. Figure out what resonates with you and how you want to live with and manage your disease and go from there.
- Treat your body, mind and soul well. While the disease that you are living with is thought of as mostly physical, living with an autoimmune disease affects our mind and soul too. Figure out how to treat your whole person well, utilizing different modalities and techniques, and see how your body responds. You might be surprised at what you find.
- Love yourself. You might think that this has nothing to do with living with IBD, but it is a crucial piece of our IBD treatment that is currently missing. If we constantly think that we aren't good enough, that we don't love ourselves, and hate what our disease has done to us and our lives, is that really going to make us feel better and help us live well with these diseases? If this is your thought process (like it was for me for so long), it may be time to make a change. It doesn't happen overnight, but taking small steps to changing your perspective on yourself and your disease could make a world of difference.
Please consider this advice and hold it close. Know that, even though life may look dark right now, that you will be okay. You will become a stronger and wiser version of yourself because of this obstacle that you face on a daily basis. In the meantime: love yourself fiercely. Know that you will have off days (and that's okay), but keep moving forward and treating yourself with respect and love. Most of all, please know that you are good enough to live well with inflammatory bowel disease, that it is a possibility for you, and that I am always here for you, and for anyone in our IBD community if you need a friend.
Will you take our In America survey to help others understand the true impact of Crohn's and UC?