When you have a chronic illness, it is easy for it to consume your whole life. It makes sense really, a chronic life long condition will impact all areas of your life and not only change how you do things but also your perspective on life.
Today is World IBD Day and I wanted to do a little post on how I am more than my illness. I was diagnosed 5 years ago and whilst it has been hard and I’ve been in pain and struggled daily for nearly 5 years, I am stronger because of my illness and it has given me a new perspective on life.
Whilst having ulcerative colitis has become a part of me, and a major part at that, I am more than my illness.
I’d never thought about this until I went for a drink with some friends and a mutual friend who I hadn’t met said “so you’re the one who’s always ill”. Lets start by saying she didn’t mean it offensively but it struck me then that that is a way people see me. I often turn down going out to things, especially if they’re in an evening, because of fatigue. I missed out on things because of hospital visits, certain medication I’m on, fatigue, joint issues and UC symptoms to name a few.
Suddenly I realised that whilst I don’t see myself as my illness, some people do. To be defined purely by being ‘the sick one’ of my friends really hit home. Because I am more than my illness.
I’m a friend, a sister, a daughter and an auntie. A law student, a blogger, a crazy animal lover and a Harry Potter nerd. I’m a countryside girl who loves Disney and is constantly counting down the days till her next holiday. There’s so much to my personality that to be defined by my IBD was strange. Yes, I have made having a chronic illness a big part of my life by campaigning and blogging about it, but I chose that. I chose to turn something quite negative in my life into something positive but to just say ‘the sick one’ focuses more on the negative.
To all my fellow spoonies
I want to remind you (and myself) that it’s okay for your illness to become part of you. It’s normal for it to become part of you. It will change how you do things, how you see things and what you prioritise in life.
To everyone who has someone in their life who suffers with a chronic illness
please don’t define people by their illness. It might be that the person you know comes to less things, pulls away a bit and have different priorities. Don’t take it personally if they start turning down invites and remember the person they are, not just their illness.
I’d love to know your thoughts on this! Let me know what you think in the comments below