Navigating Crohn’s and Mental Health as a Young Adult
Last updated: February 2023
Crohn's is an unrelenting disease. It can feel like it will never stop. There are some days you want to give up. I've reached my limit multiple times. It makes situations that are hard to navigate even more difficult. You will feel stressed. You will have times you feel like you're not doing enough. You will have times where you want for everything to go away and question why you're here or why you can't be happy. But you must persist because it makes you a stronger and better person.
My Crohn's diagnosis
I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease two years ago and have had symptoms for five years. I was diagnosed during my sophomore year of college. I have had a lot of ulcers just about everywhere along my GI tract, extreme fatigue, and kidney stones from Crohn's. It can be brutal and debilitating.
There have been two times where I've wanted to end my own life, and both of them were because I didn't understand what was going on and I was lost and alone. The first was pre-diagnosis. I was so frustrated and confused by everything that was going on. I felt that there was something wrong with me and I felt worthless. I just wanted it all to stop. After diagnosis, I started taking stelara and my Crohn's steadily improved. I was feeling better and even was able to start exercising again. Then, I was cheated on by my partner of 3 years. This sent me spiraling. I felt alone. I felt lost. My Crohn's ramped up to the worst flare I've ever had. I lost 20 lbs in 3 weeks. I saw no end in sight and I just wanted it all to go away.
Learning to embrace the unexpected
That was the lowest I've ever felt. And what's scary is I can think about it now and I remember how I felt that day. It still scares me. I was so scared I started going to therapy and taking antidepressants. I moved back in with my parents and started doing the things I love again.
I'd love to say that everything is fixed and I'm better than ever as many of these posts go, but that's not the truth. I've had to switch antidepressants multiple times, my stelara has been not working as well and I've had a few ulcers. I've also had a septal perforation due to inflammation in my nostrils due to Crohn's. So what's changed? My attitude. I have learned to embrace the unexpected through my therapy. I've learned to use the tools at my disposal such as medicine, therapy, CBT, doctors, family, friends.
I've overcome so much with Crohn's
I look back at the last 2 years and they have been the worst of my life. It's been so challenging and it's hard to focus on the positives, but these 2 years have made me so much stronger. I've dealt with things so many millions of people don't have to and I'm still here.
I recently graduated college and I'm working as a lab technician part time and teaching 7th grade science part time. I've learned so much since my Crohn's diagnosis. I can embrace that it's a part of me and that it's also something I have to constantly navigate and that that's okay.
I still feel like a burden to others around me at times, but I'm getting through it. Life will always throw you curve balls, it will never be easy. Crohn's will make it ten times worse when you have to navigate these curve balls. But you must persist because you will come out on top eventually.
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