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Dealing with Your Emotions

The Crohn's Roller Coaster

Crohn's can really throw you for a loop…and that’s OK!
As with many chronic illnesses, Crohn’s disease doesn’t just take a physical toll. It can affect us emotionally as well. The unpredictability of flare-ups, changes in body image, or needing to miss activities can lead to a full gamut of emotions. (Read more about your body image and Crohn’s in the Spring 2011 issue of Crohn'sAdvocate magazine.) Many people living with Crohn’s have felt these same feelings. You’re not alone!

Navigating such sweeping emotions while trying to manage your physical condition may seem overwhelming at times. Learning how to recognize and acknowledge your emotions will lead to developing strategies for overcoming emotional hurdles to help lift your mood and get you living beyond the boundaries of the disease.

Below is a short list of some of the many positive and negative Crohn’s disease emotions that one may encounter:

Anger about needing to change daily routines or the burden of living with a chronic disease and inconvenience of following a long-term treatment plan and medication regimen.

Appreciation for having a supportive network of family and friends, or for what you’re able to participate in and accomplish when you’re feeling well.

Depression over not being able to participate in activities due to a flare-up or feeling different from others; depression may include feelings of hopelessness, guilt, helplessness, irritability, loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, fatigue or decreased energy.

Embarrassment from having to cancel plans at the last minute that may affect others, or over not getting to a bathroom in time.

Fear of not knowing about what’s to come with the chronic nature of the condition or a particular food setting off another flare.

Guilt over the need to deal with symptoms that may cause you to feel like a burden to family, friends or coworkers.

Optimism about the continued scientific and medical understanding of the disease that will ultimately improve patient outcomes in the future.

Relief that you finally know a name for the illness you've been feeling, and that what you've been feeling is not in your head.

Whatever the emotion, know that it's real and shouldn't be discounted or dismissed by others or yourself. Dealing with the negative emotions will help you to feel more positive emotions. Go ahead and ask for support from friends, family or professionals. Having trusted people you can turn to for encouragement and support will help boost your resilience in tough times.

See also: Your body image and Crohn's, Well-being and Crohn’s, Stories of people living with Crohn's