“And so I kept living” ~To Write Love On Her Arms~
Despite the pain she lived with daily. Despite the hospitalizations that never happened when they were convenient. Despite the abuse of her body. Despite the sadness that overtook her mind. Despite the confusion that surrounded her soul. Despite the loss of the person she once knew. Despite the grief of the person she once was.
Those who live a life of IBD are not only plagued by doctors, medications, surgeries, and getting through, day by day; we are the ones who have stories to tell, more than a diagnosis. We are often times impacted by mental health before, during, or after diagnosis of IBD. We are often times stigmatized because it is taboo to speak about these subjects with “normal” people. After all, who wants to hear about how we struggle or how many times we had to go to the bathroom in a day? We are the ones who struggle to maintain jobs while having a chronic illness. We wonder if our coworkers notice us leaving our desk so often and for extended periods of time, just so we can manage our symptoms. We are the ones who go out to dinner with friends and don’t eat because we are afraid of having an episode; when we should be having a good time. The problem is we are so wrapped up in trying to not get sick; we don’t remember how to have fun because our body has control of our minds. We are the ones who develop eating disorders because it is the only control we have over our bodies. We are the ones our family and friends feel bad for, but they just can’t seem to empathize with our pain and don’t understand why we can’t "just enjoy the day". We are the ones who others know are sick, yet we feel guilty for having a day by the beach because we are afraid of being judged for having a “good” day. We are the ones who cancel plans at the last minute. Our friends get upset with us because we are cancelling yet again. We are the ones who reach out for help, only to have the professionals tell us “we are coping well”. We are the ones who trust our doctors to assist us with managing our symptoms, only to realize the side effects of the new medications are almost as bad as the symptoms themselves. We are the ones who adjust our fashion based on whether or not our ostomy bag is visible. We are the ones who want to trust others in our lives, but understand what heartbreak looks like when people betray us and tell others of our plight. We are the ones afraid of being judged, when we are often times our harshest critics.
We are part of the chronic illness community, the mental health community, and we have a voice that will be heard.
In peace, solidarity, and hope,
If you need to reach out to anyone, please don't hesitate to use these resources:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
Crisis Text Line – Text “TWLOHA” to 741-741
[Both resources are available 24x7]