Ain't life a beach!? It's with great pleasure that we hand the reins over to the super inspiring Bryony. It's been a big part of the projects growth, to involve people who deal with IBD everyday. We hope you like this latest feature, from our little journo. It's time to grab your passport as we take you on a journey; and in doing so hopefully giving you some positive vibes & comforting words of wisdom. Remember you're great, IBD is just that annoying party pooper.
There have been a fair few articles in the media in the past few weeks about living with IBD. What I have noticed is that many have started with a negative viewpoint – articles with names like ‘Daily struggles of living with IBD’ and 'Why life is impossible with Crohn’s Disease’.
What kind of message does this put out to those living with the illness or those newly diagnosed?! Although I appreciate that the underlying point is that living with IBD is different for every single person, I don’t see how highlighting negatives for all to read is assisting with positive mental attitude. Which is basically paramount to us all getting on with it!
So, with that I am wading in with ten positive things about living with IBD. Your life can still be full of colour, laughter and love. i.e. "YOUR LIFE IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE!"
1. You become strong, a strength you didn’t know was humanly possible. I think this is a huge advantage point of living with a chronic condition and I feel like my strength is one of my biggest attributes. I notice this in others living with IBD and have seen and felt how this strength seeps into your whole being – into your character and judgement. Strength makes it easier to deal with any unexpected life obstacles – which come too frequently for those with IBD.
2. You feel empathy like no one else. I cry at everything – literally everything. Yesterday I cried at an NHS advert (the old man was waiting for his flu jab – there was dramatic music, you get the gist). Whilst this may not seem like a good thing – my emotions are real and I seriously feel other people’s pain. Which means, I am an excellent listener. This builds the foundations for your relationships and people will rely on you. You know what they are going through because you know what daily pain feel likes.
3. You learn to be honest to yourself and to others. Naturally, if you’re feeling everyone’s emotions whilst dealing with your own, you learn to be honest. When you have a chronic illness, you really don’t have time to waste your energy. Your energy is so very precious! And so, in light of that, you are forced to be honest.
4. In doing that – you wean out the dead wood in your life and only keep the people that actually matter. This is an extremely important point! Sometimes in life you will come across people who are not like you. Their priorities and worries may not match yours and they might be a ‘drainer’. People with IBD, do not have time for drainers. In fact, we do not have energy for drainers! We learn over time to surround ourselves with ‘radiators’. Relationships are about give and take and we can quickly identify the drainers in a crowd.
5. You know your body EXTREMELY WELL. I am so in tune with my body, I can predict when I’m going to get sick. I know if a stomach pain is worth worrying about and I know when I need to stop or make changes in my life. I think this kind of knowledge and body intuition is absolutely paramount to battling the disease and still chasing your dreams.
6. You can still travel and see the world. Sometimes IBD is rubbish and it’s a struggle just to get out of bed in the morning. Sometimes IBD is lying low and this is the time to grab life by the scruff of its neck and see the world! I recently went on a two-week trip to Bali – the furthest I’ve ever travelled and had a heap of concerns over how my body would cope. Wake up call! None of my anxieties became reality – and there are doctors and medicines everywhere in the world! Luckily I didn’t even need to see one!
7. You can still chase your dreams and achieve your goals. Just because you have IBD – doesn’t mean you can’t work towards your goals and live the life you’ve always wanted. I have so many inspirational friends who are working in careers they love, WITH CROHN’S OR COLITIS! I am so lucky to have cracked my way into journalism – but it comes with learning to have open and honest conversations with colleagues and peers. This comes with strength and body intuition.
8. You appreciate every day that you are feeling healthy. Some people take their health for granted and they shouldn’t. Being healthy is a blessing – and we appreciate that every single day.
9. Sometimes things are rubbish but then you realise things could be worse. There is always worse – fact.
10. PEOPLE WILL UNDERSTAND AND LOVE YOU ANYWAY. Your life is not over – it’s just taking an educational detour.