Happy Thursday everyone! 🙂 I hope you’re all doing well! I’m comin’ atcha with another post for Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week today! But I’m also sharing a festive holiday look for you as well! And yes, it’s purple. 😉 Sometimes it’s fun to be festive in a non-traditional holiday color!
Anywho, today I thought I would share some insight into the emotional impact of living with Crohn’s Disease. I’ve always felt like the emotional struggles of living with a chronic illness are the hardest parts at times. When you go into a flare, you’re only physical option is to fight. Be that through aggressively changing your diet, adjusting your medicines, resting, or even just dealing with it. But it’s not always that easy to overcome the emotional toll that it can take on you.
Crohn’s and Grief
There are many different types of grief and being diagnosed with a chronic illness of any type can cause real, honest grief, especially when you are first diagnosed. You grieve the loss of your health, the loss of how you used to live your life, and so much more. Do you remember learning about DABDA in school? I know that I personally went through all of the stages of grief when I was first diagnosed.
I definitely wanted to DENY that I now had a life long disease. You never think it can happen to you until it does and it’s a natural thing to deny something that you so desperately want not to be. ANGER is an obvious one when it comes to a diagnosis. It’s easy to be angry that you have to deal with this enormous new burden. It’s easy to be angry that everything has to change.
BARGAINING definitely came into play when I was first diagnosed. You negotiate with yourself and try to tell yourself that it won’t be so bad because of XYZ. Or you try to convince yourself that it will be different for you because of XYZ. DEPRESSION is almost a given when you’re diagnosed with a chronic illness. You feel absolutely helpless and hopeless because everything is so new, intimidating and overwhelming.
And finally you reach ACCEPTANCE. If you’re newly diagnosed, I promise you will get here. It just takes time. But you will come to accept your new lifestyle. You’ll adapt and become accustomed to it and that will make things so much easier.
TIPS FOR CROHN’S AND GRIEF: Just allow yourself to go through the process. If you don’t take the time to work through these messy emotions, they won’t go anywhere. You can push them aside but they will resurface. So go ahead and take time to grieve properly. It’s not an easy thing to come to terms with but you deserve and need the chance to do so.
Furthermore, don’t beat yourself up over it because that only makes things worse. You’re a human and you’re allowed to feel. But there is a fine line – you can’t stay in a place of grief. In time, you will have to find your way towards the last stage and reach a place of acceptance. But I promise you can do it. 🙂
Crohn’s and Hopelessness
There will be times that you just feel downright hopeless. Living with a disease that has no cure can make you feel like a hamster spinning on a wheel sometimes. It feels like you pour all of this medicine into your body just to keep it running and like your quality of life is really lacking at times. Naturally that can make you feel pessimistic and hopeless.
TIPS FOR CROHN’S AND HOPELESSNESS: Know that it’s not true. It’s not hopeless. There are going to be hard times, sure. But think about how hard you fight and how strong you truly are. That’s proof that you can overcome this and find a way to live a life that’s meaningful to you in spite of it all.
Crohn’s and Self Esteem
Your self-esteem can take a hit when you’re living with a disease like Crohn’s. You may feel down on yourself because you can’t do all of the things that you used to be able to do or want to do. You may struggle with body image because of surgeries, your inability to work out, or medicines that give you acne or make your face swell. There are all sorts of reasons that life with a chronic illness may make you feel “inadequate.”
TIPS FOR CROHN’S AND SELF ESTEEM: Instead of thinking about what you can’t do, think about all of the things that you do on a daily basis that are truly incredible given all of the many obstacles that you have to overcome! Instead of thinking about all of the things you don’t like about your body, think about how incredibly strong it is for fighting so hard for you each and everyday and appreciate it for that! Your body is tough in ways that so many others could never imagine, and for that it is absolutely beautiful.
Crohn’s and Feeling Discouraged
Crohn’s can be a really discouraging disease, especially when you’re flaring. Not that many diseases do, but Crohn’s definitely doesn’t allow for you to be out and about on a regular basis when you’re in a flare. It can be really discouraging to feel like everyone is out living life while you’re sitting on a couch or in a hospital being sick. It’s discouraging to miss work or school and feel like you can never catch up on what you missed. It’s discouraging to actually be held back from those things. I took a year off from college because of Crohn’s. I’ve quit jobs because of Crohn’s. That is nothing short of discouraging.
TIPS FOR CROHN’S AND FEELING DISCOURAGED: Find a hobby that you can do at home. Try to find something that really brings you joy so that you still feel fulfilled even when you’re at home alone for weeks on end. For me, that thing was blogging. For you it could be photography, writing, fostering animals, knitting, anything! Just find something that can be yours no matter where you are or how you feel.
Also, be sure to remember that when you’re in a flare and stuck at home that life is just on pause. It hasn’t ended. You’ll be able to un-pause one day and it’s going to be wonderful when you do! Not that I ever enjoy being in a flare, but I truly believe that it’s important to find the silver lining in things and, for me, the feeling of that first outing back into the world when you know you’re doing well is one of the best feelings in the world. It makes you feel so unbelievably strong and overwhelmed with gratitude.
Crohn’s and Depression
It’s been proven that people with chronic illness are more likely to become depressed. Depression is 100% something that I struggle with. I have for a long time and I’ve been in some really deep, dark depressions before. Depression is h.a.r.d. If you think about all of these other negative emotions that come along with having a disease like Crohn’s, depression almost seems inevitable.
For me, depression can stem from one of those or all of those at the same time. Depression can also look different every time you experience it.Depression can be deadening levels of apathy because you feel discouraged or hopeless or it can be pits of all consuming sadness because you’re angry and grieving.
TIPS FOR CROHN’S AND DEPRESSION: First and foremost, know the signs of depression and be aware of how you’re feeling. Some common signs of depression are sadness or apathy, feeling hopeless, helpless, guilty, or worthless, loss of interest or pleasure in things you used to enjoy, decreased energy, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, remembering, and making decisions, insomnia or oversleeping, changes in appetite and/or weight, restlessness and irritability.
Second, talk to someone. It’s always beneficial to talk to a therapist. Anytime I’m feeling overwhelmingly depressed I see a therapist. Therapists do more than allow you to get things off your chest – they help you understand your feelings and learn how to cope with them.
I know seeing a therapist for the first time can be scary. I was really nervous the first time I went to therapy! If you’ve never been and are nervous about it, find a friend or family member that you feel comfortable sharing your feelings with and start by asking them if you can vent. It’s also a good idea to find someone who has been through or understands depression.
Lastly, consider medication. I know there are varying opinions about medicine and, believe me, I think it should be a last resort (for all illnesses – physical or mental), but antidepressants can be extremely beneficial. I went to talk therapy for a long time and it worked for years. But the second depression I went into was all consuming so I started taking antidepressants and they truly helped me so much.
Again, I was incredibly nervous about taking that step. That’s totally normal! Be sure you’re expressing your concerns and goals with your doctor as well as asking them about side effects and risks so that you can choose the right medication and treatment for you.
These feelings don’t go away just because you learn how to manage them. I honestly still go through each and every one of these negative emotions every single time I flare up. And I don’t think there will come a day that I won’t feel these things. We’re all human and we all experience sadness and frustration.
But I learn a little more each time about where I’m at in the process. I’m learning to know when I let myself slide too deep into one of these emotions and I make efforts to turn it around. It’s not easy and I don’t have it all figured out, but I try. That’s all you can do. Find something that helps pull you back up and do that. You’re strong, you’re a fighter, and you. have. GOT THIS!
Now, shall we end on a lighter note and quickly discuss this fun little purple velvet skirt?! 😉 Of course I wore this skirt in honor of Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week, but it comes at a great time because I think it is such a fun skirt for the holidays! Velvet is a beautiful and festive material this time of year, no matter the color!
Since we are sneaking up on Christmas, though, I wanted to try to make it feel as festive as possible! So, I went for a “winter-wonderland-snow-princess” kind of vibe, hahah! I wore the skirt with a chunky white sweater to keep it cozy, white tights and white earmuffs to keep it wintery, and jazzed it up with silver pumps and a silver clutch for that added festive factor.
What do you guys think? Would you wear this to a holiday party? I hope you enjoyed the look and I hope I didn’t bum you out too much with the rest of the post. 😉 Honestly, when it comes to Crohn’s, this is one of the topics I’m most passionate about and I really felt compelled to share it with you guys. Especially because I think this is something that anyone can relate to, not just someone who suffers from a chronic illness. This was a special one for me and I definitely teared up a lot while writing it, but I’m glad I spilled my guts to you guys. Pun intended. 😉 Thank you SO so much for reading today! I love you all tons! You’re the best!