I think the Internet is great. And I truly appreciate websites like this one. But, if I'm honest then I have to admit that sometimes all this technology makes it far too easy to focus on IBD far too much! That's why you didn't get a blog from me last week - I needed a holiday from IBD.
I'd been in a flare for about two months and in the last couple of weeks things finally calmed down. I got to the point where I didn't really need to think about my gut or what I was eating or how stressed I was or wasn't and it was really NICE. But then I started thinking about it all because I needed to write a blog and, of course, the IBS side of things kicked in and I found myself spending a little more time in the bathroom, wondering if what I was eating was causing the problem, and trying to de-stress - which sometimes can make me stress if I feel like I'm not de-stressing enough. It can become a vicious cycle.
The last time I felt this tug-of-war in my mind was when I was writing my book - Living with IBD & IBS - and trying to figure out if I really wanted to publish it. I knew that by doing so it would force me to focus on IBD even more than I already was. I like to help people and it was the whole reason I'd written the book anyway, to let other IBDers know that you can live life despite this sometimes baffling and frustrating disease. I wanted to talk to other IBDers, and write blogs, and chat about what works and what doesn't, but I also knew that focusing on my symptoms and the illness could make me sicker. Well, I took the leap and published it and am very glad I did. I've gotten so much positive feedback from readers that I can imagine I ever considered not publishing it.
But, that said, living successfully with my IBD and being able to help others do the same thing has become a balancing act for me. There are some days, weeks, and months when I can focus my attention on IBD and not have any ill effects. Then there are times when I seem to take on too much emotional baggage from those I'm helping. So, on top of having learned that it's okay to be "imperfect" (see my blog from Aug 26, 2008) I've also learned that it's okay to take a break from IBD. In fact, it makes me healthier and able to help more people in the long-run.
My friend calls this "setting boundaries." I was never very good at this because it seemed selfish to me. But then she explained to me that being selfish and setting boundaries (for example, I don't schedule meetings or appointments or answer the telephone before 10:00 a.m.) isn't always a negative or bad thing. Sometime being selfish simply means doing what is best for you so you can then be a better, stronger, and healthier person for yourself and others. When she put it to me that way it not only made a lot of sense but I felt like it actually gave me permission to put myself and how I want and need to live first. And in doing so I am a happier and healthier person - for me, for you, and for my family.
Here's to your next IBD vacation!
Published On: September 15, 2008