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10 Ways My IBD Has Made Me a Better Person

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I am so grateful for my inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

It sounds so odd to say, right? Why would someone be grateful for their chronic illness? Here are 10 ways my condition has made me a better person:

1. Self-love

I’ve always loved myself to a degree. I thought I knew everything about myself. My body. I mean I’m 24 years old, what else could I possibly have to learn right? (Joke). Being diagnosed with IBD and later getting my ostomy helped me to learn to love myself, every part of me, because I learned who I truly was, how far I could push myself and my body, physically and mentally.

2. Not to be judgmental

When someone’s sick, I’ve learned not to jump to conclusions or make assumptions about them. On the other hand, when someone doesn’t appear to be sick I’ve learned not to assume (there’s nothing wrong). You never know what someone is going through.

3. How to be patient

There’s no better way to work on patience than waking up at 3 a.m. after your ostomy bag has slid off for the third time! Having a chronic condition calls for patience. You have to be patient with yourself, your body by knowing your limits, acknowledging them and abiding by them. You have to be patient with your physicians and care team to allow them to do what they do best, care for you.

4. How to advocate for myself

Having a chronic condition has taught me to raise my voice… For anything really… Things I believe in, things I want, need, etc. The one time I didn’t advocate for myself I ended up having an emergency surgery because the treatment didn’t go “as planned.”

5. Not to jump to conclusions

I’ve had my fair share of meltdowns and honestly, I think I deserve to have an occasional meltdown every now and again. It’s hard having a chronic illness. But sometimes I can get myself upset and worrisome over nothing.

6. How to be supportive

I’ve learned so much from my support system. They’ve taught me not only how to get support, but how to give it as well. There are things my friends and family have done for me during hard times that I am so grateful for and really couldn’t imagine getting through everything without them.

7. To appreciate the little things

When living with a chronic condition, you learn to appreciate things “healthy people” may normally take for granted. For example: waking up, only being hospitalized once this month, going to work. Every little thing counts.

8. To do my research

Having a chronic condition often introduces you to many new things: New doctors, new prescriptions, new specialties, the works. It can be overwhelming to say the least, but it’s the life I was given. I have to accept accountability and do my research. Research the physicians I’m referred to, understand the medication or treatment plan suggested – this way, if something doesn’t go as planned, I know I at least made an informed decision and not a rushed assumption.

9. To open up

Growing up, I’ve always had issues trusting people. I was embarrassed of my condition. I mean, what teenager do you know is excited for bloody stools and frequent hospitalizations? Not this girl. I chose to suffer in silence. When I made my first friend with IBD it was like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders! Expressing myself and being blatantly honest about my condition just felt right. It felt like I didn’t have to hide anymore. Now, I love sharing my story and hearing others’ story of strength!

10. To have a little faith

A few years after my diagnosis I started to deteriorate fast. My health was going downhill and it affected every aspect of my life. I couldn’t see an end. I thought I would continue to suffer until I eventually just died, to be honest. I imagined myself at 24 years old living a life with controlled symptoms. A life I actually enjoy that no longer revolves around ulcerative
colitis. My condition has given me a better, brighter outlook on life. If I can make it through this, I can make it through anything!

Follow this journey on More Spoons.

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Thinkstock photo by m-imagephotography

Originally published: March 16, 2017
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