Why I Wouldn't Change or Give Back My Crohn's Disease
Here are some words that may help you recognize the good that can come from whatever it is you are currently struggling with.
As I’ve said before, having a chronic, incurable disease can really change a person. For worse or for better, that is the very true reality of what I have experienced through living with my Crohn’s disease.
It is easy to write about the horror stories that accompany this disease, and even easier to let those memories dominate my opinion on what the illness has done to my life.
Something I have been thinking about a lot lately is if I would take the opportunity to give back or undo what my disease has done to shape my life and my personality.
The short answer is no.
For all the opportunities lost, pain felt and tears shed, I have evolved from my experiences in life-changing ways. With every flare-up, hospital stay and health setback, I become more resilient, mature and self-reflective. I would not trade those traits for anything, not even the chance to live a life free of Crohn’s disease.
Wow, bold statement, I know. But hear me out…
Dealing with something as serious as a chronic disease puts everything into perspective. I am better equipped to cope with life events because most of the time they are not as traumatic, hurtful or impactful as what I have been through with my disease. I appreciate the small things in life more frequently, such as being able to exercise, eat good food or have a pain-free day, because there have been times in my life where those basic things were not possible.
I have been able to help others who deal with similar circumstances, and that is a huge aspect of what brings me peace in acknowledging the impact of my Crohn’s disease. Had I not been dealt this hand of cards, I would have never started a blog, written articles for thousands to read or met fellow IBD patients online/in real life. I would have never chosen to spend my free time educating myself on health, psychology and medicine.
I love how I have been able to offer my knowledge and guidance to many. In turn, doing so allows me to better help myself and cope with the numerous downsides of this disease. Part of coping is recognizing the good in a bad situation. I constantly try to remind myself that I am so grateful I am able to help others, grow as a person, expand my knowledge and make a tiny impact on the world; I owe all of those successes to my disease.
It is difficult to find a silver lining in any event, person or experience that has devastated you. With time and healing, I have learned I was given this life because I can handle it; beyond that, I can leverage it.
To sum this up in a more cliché manner: experiencing the lows of life enables you to truly recognize, appreciate and thrive in the highs.
I write this post to help myself as much as I hope it will help others take a step back and consider the bigger picture. It is much easier to dwell in your sorrows than to remember how your setbacks have shaped you into an amazing person. I am who I am today in part because of my Crohn’s disease, and I would not change that.
This type of thinking, re-framing something bad as something good, is applicable to any significant life event. With time and practice, it becomes easier to negate a negative outcome with a positive result… you just have to be willing to search for one. I challenge you to think of your biggest hardship today as your friend instead of your enemy; life will feel easier when you stop fighting so fervently against yourself.
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Thinkstock photo via JohanJK.