When you think about your IBD, chances are many thoughts race through your mind. This holiday season, I started thinking about how Crohn’s is the immaterial gift that keeps on giving. I know, it sounds crazy. But hear me out.
The unpredictability and uncertainty of IBD has forced me to live in the moment and stop worrying about tomorrow and the future.
The pain, setbacks, and flare ups have provided me with perspective and empathy for others that’s only possible when you live with chronic illness.
The fatigue reminds me of the importance of slowing down, not pushing myself too hard, and practicing self-care.
The ups and downs and in between have given me an innate truth serum about other people’s intentions and character and allowed me to know who I can truly count on.
The side effects of steroids and the scars left behind from my bowel resection and c-sections have humbled me.
The dark moments that tried to break me have instead showed me that God truly does give his toughest lessons to his greatest teachers.
The hatred I felt for my body through the years (especially my abdomen) disappeared the moment I became pregnant and watched my body transform to bring two healthy babies into this world.
The hospitalizations that have tried to break me have forced me to bounce back and be stronger physically and mentally than I was before.
The initial years of isolation when I kept my patient journey under wraps led me to go out on a limb, share my story, and feel the support both near and far from a community that’s like family.
It’s taken me nearly 15 years to think this way about my disease, about my reality. I’m not trying to sugar coat or diminish the seriousness of IBD, but instead share my mindset and how I choose to take on Crohn’s disease. Yes, some days are terrible. Yes, there have been times when everything felt heavy and bleak. Yes, there are still times I feel sorry for myself. But those days are far outnumbered by the joy-filled, happy days I choose to focus on.
My hope for you this holiday season is that you’re able to pause and embrace the hand of cards you’ve been dealt and think about all you’re capable of, all you’ve accomplished, and all that lies ahead. Give yourself credit for all you do today and tomorrow, all you’ve endured in the past, and all you’ll overcome in the future.