Inflammatory bowel disease is a term that usually describes its two main conditions, Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
While UC affects the colon and the rectum, Crohn’s can affect anywhere along the gastrointestinal tract.
Both are long-term, incurable conditions that can be incredibly isolating and even debilitating. Both can result in surgery and in rarer cases, death.
But enough of the negatives, because, as explained above, IBD is incurable. So, with a situation like that, it’s best to make the best of a bad situation – and find some positives.
Here are ten positives that come from living with Inflammatory bowel disease.
You’re never alone
No matter how alone you do feel, you aren’t. While someone might not be sat next to you in person, someone somewhere out there knows exactly how you’re feeling, what you’re experiencing and how you can deal with it.
It sounds silly because you do sometimes feel isolated but I guarantee that there are thousands of people out there who know how you’re feeling. They are ready to talk, offer advice and be that friendly ear if you need to rant.
Talking about poo is normal
Gone are the days where poo is taboo, talking about your poo, your bowel movements and your illness becomes a regular thing.
We all do it. We shouldn’t brush the subject under the carpet, whilst it may not be something you bring up in every day conversation being a non sufferer.
Sufferers of IBD tend to talk about poo a lot – you get used to it very quickly.
There’s a community of people suffering with IBD
In an age where there is such a vast array of technology there is a wide variety of support websites containing information on treatments, surgery and real-life stories. There are many social media sites that will have pages, accounts and closed groups dedicated to the world of IBD.
Facebook particularly has lots of support groups and pages to offer help and advice, somewhere where you can ask a question in confidence and not feel judged or feel scared that someone you haven’t told may find out.
You will be amongst friends, people who know how you’re feeling, we’ve all felt isolated and that no one understands what its like
Campaigns such as #GetYourBellyOut, IBD Superheroes & The Toilet, Me and IBD are just a few of many that are committed to raising awareness and supporting sufferers of IBD.
You can gain confidence
You’re not scared about opening up and talking about poo, its a normal thing, at first you haven’t found it so easy to speak up, but it gets better with time. Whilst some may never be able to accept the fact they have IBD, some others can grown in confidence.
You have IBD, it does not have you.
Some sufferers go on to be advocates for raising awareness of IBD, becoming public speakers, featuring in media and publications. It’s important to not let your IBD consume your life.
You appreciate life more
You live life to its fullest, you don’t live life in the fast lane but you learn to appreciate life. You’re able to meet different people, see different things, you’re not taking advantage of the situations you are in.
You’re empathetic, you sympathise more. You don’t know when you’re next going to flare up, or have a hospital admission. There’s no what ifs.
You make new friends
Whilst you may only speak to these people online, sometimes it’s like you’ve known them all your life. You can confide in them, they know how you’re feeling, there is no judgement.
You become less of a social recluse and you try to integrate yourself back into everyday life.
Meeting fellow sufferers face to face can really help, it is so easy to chat to someone over a computer screen but on meeting you feel you have a special bond… it’s like a slightly weird members club.
You could meet your soulmate
When you least expect it you could meet ‘the one’ – the person you’ve been waiting your whole life for. They could also be a sufferer of IBD, it works because they know what it feels like, they know the good days and the bad days…. and where sells the cheapest good quality toilet roll.
What more could you want in a potential partner?
It can uncover other health issues
Whilst you may not have been aware of any other issues with your health before being diagnosed with IBD, it can often identify other illnesses, whether they be physical or mental health issues. While this isn’t ideal, it can often save your life!
You find strength you never thought you had
Fighting an incurable disease is hard, you toy with not getting out of bed or leaving the house. But other days you wont let it beat you. You might pay for it in a few days but you will also fight it, you want to be able to do simple things like socialise with your friends and spend time with your family.
You become more accepting and understanding of other illnesses
Before diagnosis you probably used to role your eyes at someone if they complained about being ill. You’d think to yourself ‘just get on with it’, but you think differently now. You’re able to understand the strain suffering from an illness can put on your life and that it can take everything you have. You are able to sympathise with others.
Words by James Conlon