The lesser of the issues on my mind – I am heavier today than I was in November. I am working hard on my intuitive eating and have put on probably 5-10 pounds. I am tempted to diet; however, I know that it would only throw me back into an unhealthy and obsessive place. I must trust that staying with this process will ultimately take my body to its healthiest weight and my mind to its most peaceful state.
And now the other – A couple of weeks ago, I came to the realization that I was ignoring my Ulcerative Colitis symptoms and a possible hernia. It was a hard place to be because I have spent 37 years avoiding being sick with my UC, even when I was terribly sick. I have avoided the doctor, downplayed my symptoms, and even jeopardized my long term health. All to avoid being sick.
So why is being sick such a difficult thing for me? I’m not asking why don’t I like being sick – few of us like it. I am trying to figure out why it is so hard for me to accept. Acceptance of an illness that I have had for 2/3 of my life. I have avoided support groups because “those people are so sick”. I have hidden my illness from others. I even avoided applying for VA disability even though my UC became a significant problem while I was in the military.
Denial? But I know that I have this illness. Goodness knows I know it. Anyone with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) can relate to this. The shame, the embarrassment, the discomfort, the unpleasant medicines with even more unpleasant side effects, the careful food choices, knowing where every bathroom is, and so on.
Fear? Maybe. Of what? Being sick? Being really, really sick? But I have been really sick. I have landed in the hospital on more than one occasion and should have been in hospital at least one other time.
As I write this, I am beginning to see that this may be about fear of weakness, dependence. I have, for many years, fiercely attempted to be independent. Asking for help has been a last resort. Asking for help from family, loved ones, friends, and even doctors. Admitting that I may not be able to do it on my own…admitting that I don’t know it all. Admitting that I am human and can be helpless. Admitting that I might need others…sometimes even more than they need me. If I admit that I feel ill, that symptoms are worse than I would like, I must depend on my doctor, my fiance, and possibly others. I must trust.
Could it be that I have spent most of my adult life underplaying a chronic illness, a disease, because I did not want to feel weak, vulnerable, because I struggled with trusting? While I did ultimately have the aneurysm surgery and needed help to recover from that, it was temporary and then gone. That was an episode rather than a lifelong disease.
My fiance tells me that things will be different now. If I become ill, he won’t let me stay away from the doctor or the hospital. I have come clean to my doctor and he has run tests and changed my medication. Now is the time for me to stand up for myself and allow others to help. It is time for me to be strong enough to be vulnerable.