Written by 10:38 pm Education & Self Improvement Views: [tptn_views]

Chronic Illness & Identity: How Crohn’s Impacted My Relationship With Myself

As much as we all know that physical health can impact mental health and vice versa – I don’t think I ever really believed it. Until, after coming out the opposite side of a very bad flare-up of my Crohn’s Disease, I noticed I had completely modified my personality during the last six months.

Crohn’s Disease is an autoimmune condition whereby your immune system attacks healthy tissue in your digestive tract. This causes inflammation, which causes abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation, blood in your stools, urgency, weight reduction, and fatigue. There isn’t a cure, but you possibly can achieve periods of health where the condition is in remission. When you’re not in remission this is commonly called a ‘flare up’. 

This particular flare-up had lasted over 6 months, and although I used to be aware of the physical unintended effects my body was coping with, I began to persuade myself that my each day routine and social plans had modified, not because I wasn’t capable of take part and attend things, but because I selected to not. 

It began progressively. I went on nights out with friends who knew about my Crohn’s and why I wasn’t having a glass of wine (or 4) and completely accepted me for it…but I discovered myself telling them “Actually, I don’t actually need to go heavy anymore” or “I just can’t hack the pre-drinking anymore”. I ended going for nights out and just went out for food, where I continued to say things like “I’m considering of giving drinking up completely”. 

Then I ended going out for food. I ended making any weekend plans. All the time considering that I used to be actually just an introvert and didn’t really enjoy socializing. I ended going to my exercise classes saying that “I’m just not that into it – I feel I’ll try a latest hobby”. I fiercely took up knitting and launched into about six different series and movie boxsets so I had something different to observe every night. I used to be utterly convinced this was just me getting older (at 23!?) and realizing what I liked and didn’t like doing. I used to be living in a giant city surrounded by people and invitations out but all I wanted was movie nights in – that’s what made me glad.

Looking back – I can inform you what was actually happening. 

I had just moved to a latest city and was meeting latest people. I desperately wanted to hitch in and have some drinks and exit dancing, but alcohol would make my abdominal pain worse and trigger my nausea. I had also began some medication that gave me insomnia and my fatigue meant I couldn’t not sleep so long as everyone else. 

I desired to go to the meals out to have a very good meet up with friends, but my nausea was getting steadily worse and so after one very lovely evening, I needed to get a taxi home in considerable amounts of pain and spent the following 4 hours curled up on the toilet floor having wasted a really (very) nice pizza. Another time, I almost didn’t make it to a rest room on the best way home and imagined how that scenario would have panned out if I used to be in a queue to get right into a busy bar. 

I loved my yoga classes but I used to be so bloated and uncomfortable that I used to be too nervous to go, again wondering if I’d need to run to a rest room. My appearance had also modified because of gaining weight from my medication so I felt more self-conscious in just about all social situations…but I wouldn’t accept that reality. 

It wasn’t my Crohn’s causing these changes to my each day life – it was me. If I made the selections to avoid this stuff, I used to be on top of things. 

When I got here out the opposite side of this flare up and started to feel higher, I noticed just how much chronic illness can affect your sense of identity. We often discuss how it will probably have a big impact in your relationships with people but what about your relationship with yourself?

We often discuss how it will probably have a big impact in your relationships with people but what about your relationship with yourself?

– Imogen Stonebanks

We define ourselves by our likes and dislikes, our hobbies, our appearance, who we spend time with. Irritable Bowel Disease is something that I now see can affect all of this stuff. For me, I’ve found that being honest with others around me is commonly the straightforward part – being honest about myself once I was battling my mental health in consequence of my Crohn’s? That’s the hard part!

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