Living in hope with Colitis

It’s Crohns and Colitis Awareness Week, a time when those in the know about IBD try to educate those who aren’t and encourage them to better understand the condition and the people who live with it.

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Yes it does involve bottoms, bowels and poo but living with it is SO much more than that.

I’ve had UC now since July 2015 (although I didn’t know it until the December of that year), so in many ways I’m still trying to educate myself on the illness too, what it means and how I should feel about it.

Last year I wrote a post about this very same event, although the circumstances were a little different then. I was having my second ever flare, I’ve since had two more flares which lasted about a week or two and a fair few ‘off days’ where I thought I might be on the verge but luckily nothing came of it.

In last year’s post I was really beating myself up over the flare I was having, feeling really angry that my tablet order got messed up and through no fault of my own I’d been left without medication which then caused me to get ill. I’ve since realised that tablets or no tablets, a flare up can still rear its ugly head and you have to deal with it regardless.

In some ways this has been even harder to comprehend, previously I thought as long as I took those tablets religiously, I’d be spared. It’s upsetting to realise that isn’t always true – but it also helps to stop you from kicking yourself when a flare up does happen, because it’s not always about something you did or didn’t do – it just happens.

I can’t say 2017 has been a picnic with my IBD, from Jan-May I was particularly struggling with it, not just the condition itself but the anxiety it was causing me and the many things going on in my personal life which made me feel pretty hopeless about everything.

Would my year have been any different without UC? Actually no, I don’t think it would – the personal issues going on in my life would still have happened, I’d have still felt stressed, upset and anxious – so really, I can’t blame UC for everything that goes wrong in life, even though OF COURSE I dearly wish it would vanish for good.

But this post is about hope, acknowledging the past but not letting it control the future. So yes, the first half of this year was pretty crap for lots of reasons but the second half has been much improved. I bought my first home with my BF after three years of hard graft and saving, had a lovely girls weekend in France (which I desperately need to blog about), turned a corner in my job and started doing some yoga and running to better myself and my mental attitude.

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UC has still been there, making itself known from time to time – however I’m not letting it take centre stage. It may be UC awareness week, but it’s also the first week of December – and I’m determined that this year will be ten times more jolly than last Christmas. I can’t control my UC but I can look forward to mince pies, time with friends and family, decorating my new home and being in the moment rather than worrying about tomorrow.

And that’s really the biggest gift UC has given me, it’s given me perspective I never had before. Watching Children in Need this year I felt really moved by the stories and actually felt connected in some small way to the children on-screen. All of them are living for today, no matter how bleak the future looks, they all want to experience as much as they can in the time they have and be positive about the difference they can make. Watching anything about disability and illness since my diagnosis has made me feel completely different about the achievements of those individuals and how bloody brave they really are. It shames me in a way that I mope about during a flare, feeling sorry for myself and getting upset and frustrated – because what I live with day-to-day is NOTHING compared to soo many people out there.

So live in hope for the future, because none of us knows what tomorrow will bring. Having an IBD sucks and it’s important to be realistic about that but it doesn’t need to swallow you whole. A small % of my colon is affected by UC (official term: Proctitis), yet it can affect my whole outlook if I let it – so if I flip that statistic on its head then actually 90% of me is still me! 🙂

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