Writing as only I can, on my own experience of chronic illness; and in particular Crohn’s Disease, I’ve established (over time) that in order to come to terms with something that isn’t going to go away, it’s important to try and achieve a somewhat challenging balance of ‘feeling sorry for yourself’ and maintaining a positive, forward-thinking attitude.
I do like to think I fall on the brighter side of that scale the majority of the time, however I regularly, and seemingly helplessly, find myself slip into those bleaker moods. Those dreary days, when things can seem pretty desolate. Ok, OK, well if you insist on strapping me up to a lie-detector machine I’d probably have to say that in the past few years a good chunk of my existence was spent pretty much sold and mortgaged into those blue moods. It’s been somewhat of a mental battle to keep the devil from the door and try to find my way back to being ‘me’.
Every day in life I am aware of the fact I have Crohn’s Disease. I wake up, I carry out whatever my day entails, and I go to bed having felt it/thought about it/been irritated by it (or all of the above). But some days, I KNOW I have a chronic illness. It hits me like a bolt from the blue and I am floored by it. These days usually come during a bad flare, but often they are completely unexpected. Some days the reminder I am not ever getting better and that realisation, and all it entails, are almost too much to bear and I feel entirely overwhelmed. As though I am on the outside looking in on myself and in that moment I feel utterly hopeless.
Of course I know that my illness won’t go away and I try to make the best of a bad situation. That isn’t easy at times but it’s absolutely essential.
This is the part of Crohn’s Disease and many other chronic illnesses that for the most part go unspoken. But not by me. I’m not ashamed of these feelings. That doesn’t mean to say they don’t antagonise and frustrate me, because they do, incredibly so. But, unlike Crohn’s, they are temporary. These blue moods are a part of my illness and therefore a part of my life, and much like The Terminator, they will be back. I have accepted my condition but I know it will hit me brick-in-the-face hard from time to time. That’s not something I look forward to, but I certainly don’t spend my life waiting for it either. I live my life to the fullest and best of my ability when I have the physical and mental capacity to do so, and I try not to be too hard on myself when I don’t.
Getting on the right and happy track comes from accepting that you will feel awful from time to time. As I progress in learning about, and living day to day with my illness, I’ve found these dark days have become blessedly fewer. I’ve found a happy balance of embracing the happiness in my life and allowing myself only a modicum of wallowing time. Please never allow yourself to be anything less than honest with yourself and the people who love you.
Your feelings are not your failings.
Written by Kathleen Nicholls from Crohnological Order