What I've Learned After One Year of Having IBD

A year ago I wrote into The Mighty as a newly diagnosed member of the “poo crew” – or more formally known as someone who has IBD.

What do I have to say about my condition one year on? Do I have any pearls of wisdom for others who are going through the same thing as me? Are there any top tips for what to do once you’ve been told you’ve got a chronic condition? The short answer to that is, I can’t get you past taking it in any way you can and it’s a forever changing condition. I can, however, give you some pointers as to what I’ve learned so far (my mantras, so to speak).

– Join Crohn’s and Colitis UK. I found some fantastic people in my local area who all get together regularly and discuss fundraising, gatherings and all things poo-related. They’re a good bunch, they can offer a plethora of information about your condition and they can often be your first call when you need a bit of advice about handling your condition.

– Don’t, under any circumstances, listen to people who belittle your condition. Some IBD drugs mean you’re susceptible to catching more illnesses, and/or them lasting longer. This means you can sometimes spend a good amount of time being ill in one way or another, and that’s annoying at the best of times so it’s OK to say so. It also means you get good at building barriers of anti-bac around yourself in the office when people have a cold.

– Praise the NHS. Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t perfect. Some GPs ignore symptoms or shrug you off. However, our treatment is free and it certainly wouldn’t be in many other places. The specialists in my hospital are fantastic and demonstrate our health service at its very best and we should be thankful for what they do (just don’t be afraid to fight for swabs).

– Your support network is key. My friends and family have made any bad days good again. I know this speaks for any part of your life, but I think these people should know they’re appreciated for the extras they do when you’re not feeling as well some days, in the smallest or grandest of gestures. One of my friends even makes sure I’m eating enough vegetables. So just remember, you’re not alone. And make them banana bread as a thank you.

– Treat yourself. A common theme has threaded this year… and it comes under the hashtag #TreatYoself. Now, I’m not encouraging over-indulgence to the extreme… but the occasional spa day, a bar of chocolate, lazy weekends, treats after hospital visits (that tradition belongs to another one of my friends that I’ve happily stolen, and it normally involves ice cream), lush baths, bacon crisps… (you get the jist) are all OK.

– Look after yourself. This probably brings together some of the above points, but it’s a valid one and one I’ve started to understand. It might mean getting some early nights, or having that long lush bath. It might mean going out having a dance with your mates until the early hours and trying to do spice girl kicks in the street. It might mean meal preps and probiotics, or going and climbing some mountains, or sitting in and watching films. It might even mean just taking your medication and drinking more water (I still need to get into a better habit of that last one). But look after yourself, in whatever manner makes you happy. There’s not much you can do about having IBD – sometimes it will be better, and others it will be worse… the ebbs and flows of poo crew life I suppose! But something you can control is looking after you. Do your thing and I know I said it a year ago, but I’ll say it again: Know we’ve got this!

– Oh!! And travel insurance will cost you a bit more. (Just make a note!)

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here

Thinkstock photo via Evgeny Gromov.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Ulcerative Colitis

pumpkins next to canadian flag

4 Things I'm Grateful for in Life With Ulcerative Colitis

This weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada. These past couple of weeks have been rough for me, I won’t lie. I have started college and quite frankly, it’s hard. I never thought it would be easy, but it’s harder than expected. It’s been difficult making new friends and getting good grades when all you want to [...]
A woman in a dark room, with her hands to her face, crying.

Today I Don't Need Feel-Good Quotes for My Illness

“Grow through what you go through.” “This is happening to you for a reason. There is a greater purpose here.” “Sunshine comes to all those who feel the rain.” “You’ve survived 100 percent of your worst days.” “The comeback is always stronger than the setback.” How many times have you heard something similar? Some feel [...]
living room

How IBD Is Like an Unwanted House Guest You Can't Get Rid Of

You know the type… Turn up unannounced. Ruin your plans (even if your plans did only involve laying around in your PJs all day and drifting in and out of consciousness). Expect you to cater to their needs. Outstay their welcome. Leave traces of themselves for you to clear up. Well, that pretty much sums [...]
girls hands with temporary tattoos and purple bracelets

How Participating in the 'Gutsy Walk' Helped Me After My UC Diagnosis

I was diagnosed last year with ulcerative colitis. The first few months consisted of me trying to figure out my new life: how this disease would affect my friendships, things I ate, my school work, etc. I am still figuring out how to live with the disease. But as I looked more and more into [...]