All of us experience illness, injury, or pain at some point in our lives. Getting ill can add layers of frustration to an already challenging life. Suffering from disease can make things feel out of control and complicated. Everyday tasks and relationships take that extra effort.
How you respond to discomfort will either help or hinder how quickly you start aligning with yourself again. Living with a chronic disease, such as Crohn’s or colitis, is not about giving up and resigning to the illness forever, it’s about understanding where you are right now with self love and acceptance.
It’s completely normal and healthy to feel upset and confused when you receive news that you have a chronic disease such as IBD. We’ve been taught to always look on the bright side, but acknowledging a chronic illness can feel like the opposite. You may want to blame or point fingers — why me?
One of the best things you can do is recognize “it” as it is, and recognize “it’s” not you. Be gentle with yourself and trust that mental patience and practice will help you find your way. One step at a time, you can make the adjustments that guide and establish your new normal.
A new you
Give yourself permission to mourn the old you. Just like a caterpillar morphing into a butterfly, you’re going to say goodbye to the old and discover a new you. Turn the page to a different chapter in your life. Looking back and living in the past can make anyone feel sad or depressed.
You may go through a cycle and mess of emotions (frustration, anxiety, depression, guilt) and that’s ok. You’re going to to face your ego and break down what you thought you were — your career, appearance, independence. But we’re here to tell you that you’re not alone; and it’s going to be ok. You’re more than the things that are being taken away from you.
Regardless of the challenges and loses you’re facing, these principles will help you assume responsibility and take action.
Become the master: educate yourself
Shining light on the unknown can make you feel more in control. You’ll know what to expect and what you can do to best manage your symptoms. This can also help you take drive your treatment how you see fit. You’ll come armed into your doctor appointments, knowing what to ask and when to seek alternative care when you feel necessary.
Learn more about your condition through reputable medical websites:
Fortify health and wellness
Nutrition, stress management, and medical compliance play a key role in improving health for IBD conditions. Work with your doctor, dietitian, or coach to identify the foods that don’t serve you well, and be proactive about substituting or avoiding them as best you can. Focus on healing your body with the right nutrition and lifestyle tips:
Prioritize rest and recovery. You’re body is working extra hard to heal. Rather than “running away” from the issue or associated emotions, try giving yourself a break. Be conscious of how you’re feeling and when you realistically need a moment to take a pause and process it all.
Sink into support
It may feel like nobody understands at times. But regardless of whether someone experiences the exact condition or symptoms as you, other humans understand compassion — we all know what it’s like to feel bogged down and stuck in a rut.
Reach out to your existing support system and build it up even stronger than it was. A support group is also a powerful way to feel connected with people going through similar things. When you share with others, openly and honesty, it creates intimacy and understanding. Search for online or phone-based support groups:
Whether you practice a religious faith, swear by yoga or meditation, or simply love the connection with nature, spirituality can be a perfect way to connect.
Grateful for what you’ve got
It may sound difficult to fathom sometimes, but if you’re grateful for what you have, it will help “exercise” and rewire your mind to think more positively. Focus on the small things that you do have. Maybe you have a…
- Nice window to look outside of
- Friend or loved one that you can call
- Favorite blanket to cuddle
- Funny show to watch
- Rockin album to listen to
- Pet to play with
As often as you can, identify the things that you’re grateful for. The more gratitude, the more effectively you’ll be able to cope with the challenges your condition brings your way.
Nori Health CEO, Roeland Pater was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in his teens and since has learned to completely adjust his lifestyle — watching what he ate and how he was sleeping. He started using tracking tools to manage his condition but found them hard to stay engaged with. So, rather than letting his condition run him he decided to create and run a company that helps others, just like him.
Allow the change to inspire yourself and others in new ways. Perhaps accepting your condition will lead to a new career path or even better relationships in your life. Keep an open mind and explore what’s next for you.