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When I Didn't Think I Deserved Compliments About How I Was Handling My Disease

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Resilience. Merriam-Webster defines resilience as “the ability of something to return to its original shape after it has been pulled, stretched, pressed, bent.”

Every time I tell someone I have Crohn’s disease, their immediate response is “I’m so sorry, that must be so hard,” almost always to be followed by, “You are so strong.” The first few months (years?) after diagnosis, I always chuckled to myself when I heard that. Strong? All I do is put up with persistently annoying pain and an abundance of doctor’s appointments. Five doctors later, I still leave most appointments answerless and discouraged. I can’t remember the last time I was given a straight answer from my doctor due to the inconsistent nature of Crohn’s disease. This illness is a long and seemingly endless battle. A battle between myself and the disease, but also with my medications, my immune system, my doctors and my mind. What seems like routine discomfort and procedures still cause an awful lot of pain.

Over time, I learned that many people had the wrong idea of my disease, since it is an incredibly individualized illness and every patient is different. They had the wrong idea about me, my illness, and my treatment — and that’s OK. However, because of this, I discredited everyone’s statements in regards to it. I ignored their words of encouragement because I didn’t think I deserved them.

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Today, after falling apart and pulling myself back together so many times since my diagnosis, I’ve realized they were right. I excel through so much pain and struggle that many of my peers don’t experience. School can get difficult to balance, work can get difficult to balance, even relationships can get difficult to balance, but I am strong. Please, remember you are strong, too.


The ability of something to return to its original shape after it has been pulled, stretched, pressed, bent. I have been pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, and I move forward.

Originally published: July 8, 2016
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