IBD: 6 Ways to Do Away With the Dark Clouds

Patient Expert

_Ever feel like there is nothing you can do in order to reach a better quality of life with your IBD? Does Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis make you feel like there is a dark cloud following you around, taking all the sunshine from your life? Many IBD patients know this feeling. We wake up every day and ask ourselves, “Is this going to be a good day, or a bad day?” _

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis aren’t easy diseases to live with. They can make us feel isolated from the world: keep us from doing the things we love; keep us from spending time with the people we cherish; and drastically impact important areas of our lives, such as family and work.

When we are flaring, there isn’t much we can do about that "dark cloud" feeling. Between flares, however, we have to remember that there are blue skies behind every cloud. Here are six things that mentally strong people do that you, too, can practice in order to have a better mindset with IBD, and potentially live a better life with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis:

1. Move On: Mentally strong people don’t dwell on the past or have “pity parties” about how bad their lives are. They don’t waste time feeling bad for themselves. If you have a bad day, take 12-24 hours to live in the moment and rest your mind and body. Then start the next day fresh and move on from anything bad that might have happened.

2. Embrace Change: IBD can make us feel stuck -- like there is nothing we can do to control our disease. Sometimes we have to take it upon ourselves to make change happen and to change our lives at the same time. Think of areas of your life that you’d like to change. Make physical, nutritional, and spiritual goals. Then go after them.

3. Stay Happy: Mentally strong individuals don’t waste time and energy on things they have no control over. Sometimes, there is nothing you can do about your IBD. Don’t feel bad about that or let others make you feel bad about it. Do what you can to stay happy in the moments that are good, and don’t let your IBD bring you down when it hits. It’s not your fault; don’t make yourself feel like it is.

4. Speak Up: Ever feel like you can’t talk to anyone about your IBD, and that silence begins to weigh on you? Don’t let this happen. If we talk about our diseases in a positive way, others will react in supportive ways and be there to help. Speak up and share your stories with your friends and loved ones. If you do it right, they’ll respect you even more and you’ll begin to grow your support network.

5. Take Risks: The strongest people we know take risks at the right times. With IBD, this can mean changing doctors, going to a new hospital, trying a new medication, or a number of other things. Don’t be afraid to take a chance and try something new. Chances are, if your quality of life is low, you have nothing to lose.

6. Celebrate: Having some success and overcoming your IBD is a big deal. Take some time to celebrate the good things in your life and relax a little. If you are working hard, physically and mentally, in order to beat your Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis -- and are winning -- you deserve to take a break to enjoy the moment for a little while. It’ll allow you to unwind and get back to the task at hand in order to continue to battle your IBD.

We all know that dark clouds are going to come into our lives. When they do, it’s not easy to get rid of them, or to believe that they won't be there forever. Take a moment and remember that the effort required to dispel those clouds is worth it -- in order to see the sun and the sky again.