I cuddled up to my body pillow the other night before falling asleep only to feel the nausea set in. I rolled over and grabbed the pepto off the bedside table and took a couple swigs (chasing with water, of course. Pepto? Ew.) I rolled back over to my pillow and closed my eyes to one thought that I couldn’t get out of my head.
“23 & only functioning on pepto and gas-x. What a life.”
But in a reality, it was an extremely valid feeling. Here’s a little backstory (in case you’re new here!)
I have Crohn’s Disease. I was diagnosed when I was 17. It got really bad. I was put on prednisone for 3 months or so, and Mercaptopurine. Then I switched doctors, was immediately put on Humira following my colonoscopy. Wasn’t doing any better – worse actually. Had an MRI, turns out I have a 6cm stricture in my small intestine and I’ll just have to live with it’s wreckage unless it gets worse in which I’ll have to have surgery to remove it. Now that you’re caught up –
The last week or two, I’ve been struggling a little bit with said “wreckage”. Sharp and painful abdominal pains as food passes through that spot. Nausea, vommiting undigested food (ew, sorry), etc. It’s been pretty persistent after a lengthy period of time with no issues, which is .. hard. I guess. Because it’s discouraging to me, I think. Anyways – I’ve been living on gas-x (as many as I can take in a 24 hour period) and pepto when I need it. I carry a bottle of pepto with my in my purse for God’s sake. These things definitely help ease the symptoms enough for me to either sleep or function through my work day/travels/life. But I’ve become so dependent on them because the pain is so debilitating.
So the thought is justified. It’s valid, I get that. I am allowed to feel a certain way about this. But after a few minutes of thinking this, I thought, “it could be worse”.
“It could be worse”. The phrase criticized for being detrimental to people’s ability to feel validated in their pain or emotions. In no way am I saying this to myself as a way to keep myself from processing my feelings or emotions. In no way am I trying to shut myself up for being “whiny”.
It was a simple way to give myself perspective.
I think perspective can be an amazing tool in healing our mental health when it comes to dealing with a chronic illness. Chronic illnesses aren’t just physical. It’s so mental. It’s depressing. They put stress on your relationships with people, family, spouses, friends, etc. They can keep you from doing things that you love. It’s a hard life sometimes. And it’s certainly easy to fall into a (probably well deserved) pity party, depression, or develop more of a bitter-hard-to-get-along-with type of personality.
Being grateful is what saves people. It’s what changes people’s lives.
Count your blessings, not your hardships.
Every single individual person on this planet has their “thing”. Their baggage. Something that makes them “different”. Mine is my Crohn’s Disease and my anxiety. The next person might be a Breast Cancer Survivor. The next person grew up without a father. The next is battling addiction. Everyone has a thing. And each “thing” is different based on the individual. We’re all fighting something.
Embrace your battle. It makes you, you. Realize that it could be worse. I could have been feeling pain in a hospital bed, but I wasn’t. I was home in my own bed. I could have a bag on my side, but I don’t. I could’ve been trying to sleep in front of the toilet like I’ve done many times before, but I wasn’t. It was just a little nausea followed by an ill-tempered thought out of frustration and self-pity.
I wouldn’t wish this pain or this disease (or any chronic disease for that matter) on anyone. It’s not a fun battle to fight, and it can be really hard. The uncertainty alone is enough to drive you mad. But we deal because we’re humans and we hardasses and because we have to. Having to ride this roller coaster in my life has forced me to acknowledge all the amazing things I do have.
Being able to see how fortunate I am, how amazing life really is, and how many opportunities I do have – all regardless of my illness, is something I wouldn’t trade for the world, despite the circumstances that brought me to this point.