Today’s post is part-apology and part-rant. Although It’s Crohns and Colitis Awareness week, I’ve actually been pretty quiet on the blogging front over the last few days (although I do have a fab IBD competition running until Friday– you can win my book and all kinds of self-care goodies so do go enter).
The reason why is twofold: I’ve been struggling with anxiety about my health. You might have read a few months ago in my ‘life update‘ posts, that I felt I was heading into a flare-up. I now feel like I’ve come through the other side of that-but some of my tests are still suggesting otherwise.
I was pretty stressed- and since I had recently become more open about my anxiety- I decided to open up a bit more on my social channels about how I was feeling.Mainly because, to be honest, I was feeling pretty lonely and I just wanted a bit of support.
On the one hand, I was overwhelmed by the lovely responses I was sent. I often forget people actually read this blog or follow me online- so to have people send messages to say they were thinking of me was such a comfort. Unfortunately, what also happened is that people seemed to use this as an excuse to send me messages; telling me to do better and what I should be doing with my body instead.
It was only a handful of messages-but those messages still managed to dent my confidence. I’m not going to share the screenshots on here but suggests included that ‘negative energy was stopping me from healing’ and that ‘I still had a lot to learn and there was much more I could be doing’.
I was heartbroken. If you follow this blog, you’ll know that I do not pretend to have all the answers- I am a real person who is trying to find my way. But, I am also a writer- you can purchase my book and sometimes have advertisements on here. So if there’s something you don’t like about my website (such as inaccurate information or misleading headings) then that is absolutely fairly game- it is my duty to provide relevant, useful content to you all.
However, this wasn’t a blog post sharing tips or advice; this was me, getting teary and just wanting to ask for a bit of support. And to be told I, as a person, I could do better to fight my disease was really damaging.
Some days, we all have negative, irrational thoughts that creep into our heads: and one of the most reoccurring in my case is ‘if I just tried harder, my Crohn’s would get better.’
So, when I received these messages- it was really hard to not start wondering: ‘what if they’re true?’.
I’m not alone- the lovely Bryony from Belly Full of Bryony recently posted about her experiences of an elemental diet after she turned down steroids to try a liquid diet instead. Amazingly, Bryony received abuse for this-even though she was simply sharing her experiences and decisions as someone who has had the disease from 4 years old.
People might argue that it’s ‘just sharing an opinion’ but actually telling someone they’re not doing enough isn’t an opinion at all-it’s a judgement and one that no one has a right to make.
I then started to think about my own content- sometimes, way in the past, I have possibly come across as preachy. 2 years ago I wrote ‘10 ways you can fight Crohn’s disease.’ That, in itself, is a pretty ridiculous, inaccurate title-and one of the subheadings was ‘you are what you eat’- with an image that said ‘everytime you eat or drink, you are feeding disease or fighting it’.
I’m sorry, but 2 years and a nutrition qualification, later, that’s a load of crap.
You are not just what you eat.
At the time, I was so excited to be learning more about nutrition and the power of it.
While I still honestly believe good nutrition has helped me immensely, it is not the whole sum of anything.
And, if that’s the case, I’d like to apologise for my Crohn’s disease for feeding it 2 glasses of wine and a curry over the past few days.
I have been stressed, I’ve neglected myself and I know I haven’t eaten well. However, my priority was to actually get myself calm again; rather than overthink my food choices.But tomorrow will be a new day- and a new attempt to do the best I can and be kind to myself.
So, while I still can’t imagine I’d ever directly reach out to someone and insist they need to do better, if I have ever given you the impression from this blog that you are somehow not trying hard enough- I just want to take a second to apologise. Because, as I have learnt, who are we to say what somebody’s best effort is? For some of us, even eating a meal could be an achievement on our worst days.
As you know I am also a Nutritional Therapist, but interestingly this has taught me an awful lot about people and their emotions. People sometimes seem to either……
a)Assume I have all the answers and can solve everything
b) Not know much and then feeling a bit overwhelmed, panic and end up not following the suggestions.
I realised that while I do enjoy helping people, many also come to me looking for more than I can truly offer; than any one person can offer. Perhaps like me, they need emotional support and the tools to adapt too. I myself have rushed into things (such as acupuncture) desperate for it to provide the answers; and as a result, ended up not finding anything at all.
So while I would recommend seeing a nutritionist at some point or learning more about nutrition, I’ve learnt that asking somebody else to simply tell you what to do is never going to end positively.Perhaps this is something I can cover more extensively on my blog
It’s now after midnight so I am off to bed but I really wanted to get this post written. I think it’s so important we think carefully about our words and the way we talk to others. Whilst I was upset, I did not do anything reckless-but who’s to say others wouldn’t?
So let’s guide, encourage, support and perhaps even advise each other.But, unless you are a doctor, telling someone what to do with their body is a step too far.
We are already fighting a hard enough battle with our disease; to turn the battle inward to ourselves is definitely not the answer.