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When I Blame Myself for Getting a Chronic Illness

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There are many reasons living with a chronic illness like Crohn’s disease is difficult. One of many things I’ve struggled with is having no real explanation for what caused this. No reason why. Why and how did I get Crohn’s disease? When I was first diagnosed I was forever looking for meaning and answers.

The need to have someone or something to blame can be strong and overwhelming. Something has to be responsible, right? Someone has to be held accountable for this crap that I am going through. There must be a reason. 

Yes, it might be genetics, environment, lifestyle or a combination of these things along with something else. It is still unknown and much of the evidence remains anecdotal.

With a chronic illness with no definitive cause, there often are no answers. There are no reasons. Nothing and no one to point fingers at. It just is.

So I, for one, often blamed myself. And the blame spiraled.

I blamed myself … for getting Crohn’s disease.
… for not trying harder to get better.
… for putting my family through so much. 

What could I have done or not done to stop it? I still question whether I could have done more.

I often used to think about what I had done to deserve getting Crohn’s. Was it payback for bad things I’d done? I’ve lied, cheated on my year nine math test, hidden things from friends and family, had impure thoughts, abused my body with alcohol and cigarettes. Karma can be a bitch! I know this is irrational, but at some point I am sure many of us have asked ourselves the question — why has this happened to me?

Not many people know this, but in my later years of high school I had an eating disorder. I had bulimia. Maybe that’s why I got Crohn’s, I thought.

With blame comes guilt. I am forever apologizing to my family. I am so sorry for everything that Crohn’s disease has done and the impact it has had on our lives. I feel a lot of guilt because I am the one with Crohn’s, therefore I feel responsible for what we are all going through because of it. They get upset when I apologize all the time, but I truly am sorry. At least let me have that. At least let me say I am sorry.

I know it’s not my fault. It’s no one’s fault. It’s not because I had bulimia or any of the other reasons. It just happened. I know I did everything I could. I know I made the right decision in having surgery. That still doesn’t stop me from trying to rationalize this confusing disease that is Crohn’s.

Milli Vanilli blamed it on the rain, and with much more cred and style the Jacksons blamed it on the boogie. I can’t blame it on anything. It’s not karma. It’s not anything I did or didn’t do. It’s just life.

I hope with all my heart that one day there will be more answers and understanding around the cause of inflammatory bowel disease, and from there a cure will be found.

In the meantime, don’t blame yourself. Not everything has to happen for a reason. You’re doing the best that you can. You’re not alone. Stay strong, stay positive, and stay rational! A sense of humor often helps. Maybe we should all just blame it on the boogie, too!

Follow this journey on Stomalicious.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s the hardest thing you deal with as someone with a chronic illness, and how do you face this? What advice and words of support would you offer someone facing the same thing? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: May 5, 2016
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