Saturday, 22 March 2014

I'll have a Bowel please, Carol

I spend a lot of time preaching on this blog about the wonders of talking about your illness. I relay how important it is to open up about how much the condition affects you because it's 100% times healthier than bottling everything up and feeling isolated and alone. 
However it's taken me this past year to finally realise I don't actually take my own advice. I talk about Crohn's a lot of course - on here, on social networking and I try my best to help and advise others with it. I tell my friends and family how I feel and explain what's happening with my treatment and what's next. But I don't TALK. I give them what I think they need, or want to know. I give them part of the puzzle then beat them up in my mind for not having the psychic ability to work out the rest for themselves. 
Basic communication really shouldn't be that difficult, but when it comes to telling the truth about my illness it's like I'm utterly stuck a lot of the time. 
When I was first diagnosed the idea of talking to someone outside of my friends and family was put to me and instantly dismissed. Why would I need to talk to anyone? I can cope with this on my own, and besides, I have everyone around me to listen if I need them. 
But how do your loved ones listen if you don't actually talk? 
They are just left in the impossible position of picking at the scraps of what emotional morsels you do offer and trying to create something tangible from it. Unfair and absolutely no use to either of us. 
So the gist of it is I'm going to see a counsellor. Not because I think I don't have the support of everyone around me - but exactly because I do. I want to give them what they deserve - to know the truth about how this is really affecting me. I expect everyone to be completely honest with me yet I'm only just realising I don't give them the same in return. This is really hard and a few months ago I probably would've been ashamed at my lack of apparent backbone but I know now this isn't my failing. It's just me trying to be strong. 
Crohn's, and any long term illness for that matter, is an absolute challenge to live with - physically and mentally, and I should never underestimate how much this affects my mental health as well as my body. The frustration I feel mainly lies in knowing that when someone kindly asks how I am and I tell them, and the conversation ends, they go away and carry on with their life but I'm still stuck with it. That's absolutely not their fault and it's unchangeable. There's no feeling of 'offloading' because Crohn's is there 24/7.  
However this next step is a positive one; I want to be able to talk openly about how hopeless I can feel without feeling pathetic or worrying that I'm upsetting everyone around me. I don't want to be embarrassed by the fact that sometimes I feel like a worthless girlfriend/friend/daughter/employee/cat owner. I know none of those feelings are truly the case, but I also need to accept that I feel that way for a reason, and acknowledging whatever those reasons are is the only way to put it behind me. I certainly can't rid myself of my illness but I can learn to share some of the burden with the people who love me and want to help. I may not be Loreal but I'm definitely worth it.

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