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Why Talk Therapy Matters with UC

I remember my palms were sweating uncontrollably as I sat down on the couch, a camera and bright lights in front of me. I had signed up to record a “coaching session” with a renowned spiritual coach that was looking to build her YouTube library. It was basically the only time I’d get this opportunity without having to wait months to be heard. I was flaring at the time and feeling pretty emotionally run down from planning my wedding. I could tell she wasn’t in her prime either; I even overheard her telling her manager to never not schedule a lunch break in between sessions. 

Regardless, her worst is still better than most other therapists. So we started talking, and I started rambling on about how wedding planning was stressful, boundaries with my family were really hard, and all the other usual drama that comes with family. Then she asked me a question: “When do you feel like this lack of control started?”

My flare was top of mind – my eyes kept darting over to the bathroom – and I replied, “2001, when I first got sick with my ulcerative colitis.”

And that was it. The session immediately shifted to talking about my experience with UC. Because that was the real root of the reason I was feeling what I was feeling. It was the root of why I feel and felt so many things in my life, both as a teenager and as an adult. But there was one statement that I hold onto to this day from that session, and I’ll paraphrase it here. 

You’re so focused on having control of all the things in your life that your body literally gave you a flare of a disease that’s all about losing control of your body. It’s screaming to be listened to.

Ever since that moment, I poured all my efforts into getting back into a regular talk therapy routine. I had taken my medications, done the exercise, done the research, ate the good things, made the network; what I hadn’t done was work on how this autoimmune disorder completely ruined my mental wellbeing. 

And it makes sense, too – we spend so much time focusing on external factors for literally everything. Then our bodies flare up with an internal condition and we still focus on just external factors. But what if being really sick is a signal that our brain needs some medicine, too? What if our bodies losing control of our bowels is a sign that we’re trying too hard to control other areas of our lives? What if talk therapy is the medicine we need to simmer the stress around living with a chronic condition in the first place?

It is for me, and here are three reasons why:

  1. I have a place to say the scary things that I tell only myself at night. I get them up and out over and over and over. That’s less toxic energy going into my gut.
  2. I have a place to lose control in other ways so that my bowels don’t do it for me. 
  3. I have a place to practice feeling really, really good about myself – taking back all that UC has taken from me since I was 14 years old.

Do you incorporate talk therapy into your treatment plan?

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