Life Update: I have not blogged for a week or two was I’ve been resting up after I had to have minor surgery. At the time, I imagined I’d use all the free time that lay ahead getting up to date with my blog but it’s only on today-day 8- that I’ve had the energy to put pen to paper (well, finger to laptop!)
This little hiatus has been one of reflection and reading blogs of those who also suffer from a chronic illness. So today it seemed fitting to blog about this: a list of all the emotions chronic illness brings along with it!
The situation (as rubbish as it) has made me feel as if I am finally on the way to accepting my life might be a little bit different than those without this disease. I think I’d previously believed that accepting my crohn’s would be ‘giving in’ and ‘allowing myself to be ill’ (sounds silly when you think about it!). However, this episode taught me sometimes you can eat all the right things, download all the right meditation apps and sometimes things still just go wrong. I’m hoping this will allow me to go a little easier on myself in the future and work with my body rather than trying to believe I can 100% control it.
I read this amazing article by Natasha Lipman, who chronicles her experiences with living with a chronic disease far more eloquently than I ever could. She writes about how when we have a long-term illness, we search for any kind of ‘miracle cure’ in the bid that we will get better. I definitely felt like this when first diagnosed and sometimes I do google certain supplements and foods. After feeling unwell after antibiotics, I was trying all sorts of remedies but found it actually went away when I left well alone and just started eating normally again!
Am I the only one who feels guilty when ranting on? I am so lucky that my crohn’s disease experience so far has been relatively mild. I have worked all my life and have travelled all over the world (I even lived in China for 2 1/2 years). . The problem (in some sense) with befriending fellow sufferers online is that you tend to hear the most extreme cases (like anything on the internet) and then you feel like a terrible person for even mentioning your symptoms at all. I need to remind myself that’s it is not a competition. When I told one of my non-crohn’s friends I didn’t want to harp on she said: ‘Everyone’s problems are important to them and those who love them. It doesn’t make a difference how big or small they are.’ I thought that was such a lovely sentiment.
I know this word is a bit of a blogger cliche at the moment, but it is only when you are unwell that you truly are grateful for normal things. It’s also when you realise who your true friends really are. I can count on one hand my true friends but last week they all sent me me messages, visited me and even came bearing flowers and Nakd bars! It showed me how lucky I was. In a weird way crohn’s made me enrol in nutrition classes and start this blog- both of which I’m really passionate about. The blog Spoonie Sophia has lovely posts about living with an illness but her post on gratitude is really inspirational (read here)
I try not to blog about my experiences with crohn’s too often because a) I don’t want my blog to focus on one thing and b) I don’t want me to focus on just one thing. At one point my hobbies seemed to be googling or chatting to others on forums. It can almost a definition of your existence rather than just a part of it. I am trying to widen the things I blog about and I’m hoping fitness can be a big part of this once I’m back on my feet.
Is preachy an emotion? Possibly not but I am becoming preachy all the same. I feel really strongly that illnesses like crohn’s (and I’m sure many autoimmune diseases) are not dealt with properly by GPs when symptoms first arise. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve unsuccessfully avoided correcting people when they say they have been diagnosed IBS ‘without any tests’ or a ‘simple blood test’ has been done to show they haven’t got Crohn’s. Unfortunately there are so many undiagnosed coeliacs/IBDers etc out there because of cost cutting initiatives and it makes me really angry. I also want to spread the word about things like juicing and going gluten free since it has helped me so much (hence this blog) but it’s difficult without sounding like a door to door salesman.
I am not sure if this is just me but I find that I sometimes question everything. When your disease is all on the inside (compared to diseases like psorasis for example) it’s so hard to know what’s going on in your body. Every twinge, ache, or bug that’s going around suddenly seems to be a sign that you’re in a flare. And don’t get me started on googling. Seriously, don’t.
If you’re a bit of a perfectionist like me, then it is so hard not to blame yourself for the things that happen in your life-illness included. This often takes the form of ‘Should I have….’ (complete the sentence: juiced more, drunk less prosecco, stopped stressing so much). As my mother never fails to remind me: hindsight is a wonderful thing. What I am slowly trying to learn the difference between is blame and responsibility. I do feel we all need to take responsibility for our bodies and give it as much good nutrition as possible and do all we can to deal with things like stress. As a nutritional therapist, I’d like to think I can show people how to take a little more responsibility for the way they treat their body. However, it’s so important that this doesn’t turn to blame or failure when things don’t go our way. As I am slowly learning, things happen and sometimes they are out of our control.
Sorry to end on such a negative emotion but it’s actually quite a positive one for me as I feel I’m definitely making progress in this area! I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Have you experienced the above emotion cycles?