Several times people have asked me if I am mad that I have Crohn’s disease. They will say things
like “Wow, I can’t imagine how angry this must make you” or “You don’t seem upset — don’t let anger build up inside of you for too long.” It never has dawned on me to feel angry. Actually, I cannot remember the last time I got mad about anything.
It has been years since I have yelled out of anger or deemed a situation infuriating. I have not been consciously restricting these emotions; they just do not manifest within me. I am extremely even-tempered and it keeps me mindful of the things in life that are important instead of getting enraged over trivial happenings. I don’t know what anger feels like anymore, and I think that is a good thing.
Having a disease changes a person, and one of the ways mine has changed me is that it allows me to put everything in perspective. I cannot change the fact that I have a disease, so why would I get mad over it? Don’t get me wrong, my emotions definitely have manifested as sadness as it relates to my illness, but I think that is a much less detrimental emotion to experience and portray.
Anger is scary. It is intimidating and affects other people. Anger gets misplaced and taken out on others or turned inward, but either way, I don’t believe it’s healthy. I have enough health problems to deal with, I don’t want to add high blood pressure to the list. Moreover, I don’t want anyone to think I am mad at my disease because my disease is a part of me. I get sad sometimes when I am in a flare as would anyone in my situation, but I refuse to beat myself up over that which I have no control. I have no say over my disease and consequently some aspects of my life, but I do not see that as maddening, I see it as an opportunity.
If I feel myself getting frustrated when I cannot do something because of the limitations imposed on me by my disease, I remind myself of what I can do. When I am sick I can’t always attend class, or exercise, or hang out with my friends, but I can always choose to see the brighter side of things. I can focus on the loving family I have, my exciting plans for the future and find other activities to make me happy. This process of reframing my limitations less as sources of anger and more as opportunities to find joy in life has become second nature.
My patience and composure when it comes to my disease trickles down throughout all aspects of my life. I don’t yell, I don’t get mad at myself when I make mistakes, I don’t engage in drama and I will never hold a grudge. Life is way too short to be burdened by hostility directed toward others or myself. When asked if I am mad about my disease, the answer is always no. I have been sad about my disease, I have been confused by my disease, I have lost a lot because of my disease, but I will never be angry about it because I love the person it has made me today.
I can handle my chronic illness. To be honest, a lot of people couldn’t. I don’t want to say that I feel like I am taking one for the team, but I do think that I was given this disease because I am capable of managing it. Beyond that, I am capable of leveraging it as a tool for personal growth. Once I started blogging and writing publicly about my disease, so many doors have opened for me. The people I have met, the outreach I have received and the love I feel daily makes me so thankful to live the life I do regardless of my medical situation.
I truly feel like I have nothing to be mad about. Sure, flare-ups suck. Missing out on life every once in a while, growing up too fast, and forgetting what it’s like to be and feel “healthy” has been hard. I wake up every day and am reminded that I have Crohn’s disease. It is on my mind constantly, especially in the midst of a flare-up. But everyone has their “something.” Everyone has a problem that is on their mind constantly; it may not be an incurable or chronic problem, but hardships exist. Setbacks and struggles have the potential to elicit anger but they also have the potential to make us stronger people. So no, I am not mad. I am stronger.