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My Thoughts Were Destroying Me: Self Hate and IBD

It’s easy to feel unattractive.

It’s easy to lose who you are.

It’s easy to start feeling worthless,

when you have IBD.

I had to completely lose myself to find myself

How do you love yourself when you are not able to work, or when you have to switch careers? 

How do you like yourself when all your friends are hanging out and you are too afraid because you might have to run to the bathroom, or worse, have an accident?  

How do you love yourself when everything you dreamed up for your life is not a possibility anymore? 

How do you find yourself attractive when your body breaks out in acne all over the place from steroids right before a first date (taken from real life experience after given Solumedrol in the hospital for a week)? 

How do you love yourself when you’ve gained or lost weight and you think you look terrible? 

When you feel worthless, or ashamed, or unattractive… these are the times when it is difficult to feel good about who you are. It’s so easy to feel down about things when you have a chronic illness. IBD and other chronic illnesses can often consume your life whether you want it to or not, and 

you are just along for the ride. It wasn’t until recently that I have changed into someone who loves herself, and nothing about me changed. I still look the same; if anything I should love myself a lot less based on what has gone on in my life in the past few years. I have lost relationships, jobs, friends, money, etc. My life is nowhere near where I wanted it to be.

You Have to Be Responsible for Your Own Happiness

illustration of girl with thought bubble that says I'm gross

And I think that is the key to all of this: I had to completely lose myself to find myself. Do I still have times where I feel terrible about myself? Oh yes! I am human and life with chronic illness isn’t easy. To help me love myself I think about all the things that make me a pretty amazing person. I do nice things for myself, I surround myself with good people, and I do things that I like to do. You have to be responsible for your own happiness.

It is true what they say: You can’t love someone else until you love yourself. Does that really mean you won’t be able to love someone else? No. Not loving yourself isn’t going to prevent you from falling in love. It will, however, prevent you from loving another person and allowing someone else to love you to the fullest potential. If you are hung up on all of your insecurities and hating yourself over a disease that, in your opinion, took away your good looks or your great personality, how will you be able to devote yourself to someone else?

You also have to like yourself so you can receive the love others give to you instead of pushing it away or brushing it off. 

I was too busy hating myself to truly accept the love that was being given to me and to focus on someone else other than myself.

I was in two long term relationships that I can think of where I spent most of that time hating myself. I spent so much time hating my body that I wouldn’t let anyone touch me or be intimate with me. On the rare occasion that I did – I spent the whole time thinking about how bad I must look. I wasn’t even present; living in the 

moment enjoying what was happening. That’s a big shame for everyone involved. The entire relationship I was too busy hating myself to truly accept the love that was being given to me and to focus on someone other than myself. It’s not that I didn’t love them; I wasn’t loving them the way they deserved. I couldn’t love someone else because I didn’t love myself. I would go shopping in the past and rip myself apart. I was either “too fat” from steroids making me retain water and look puffy, or I was too skinny because I had lost so much weight from being sick. I would put myself down constantly while trying to find something to wear and eventually leave empty handed and with a broken spirit. 

There are some things I’ve learned along the way that have helped me get to a point that I actually do like myself and accept my disease the majority of the time and I thought I’d share those things with you.

Self Love Tips for Those Who Have Crohn's Disease or Ulcerative Colitis

All those qood qualities I know you have. Those good things are way more important than that damn disease. IBD is just one part of what makes you who you are. You are not an illness and it shouldn’t be your identity. 

For me it would be this website, all of you guys, Camp Oasis, the ability I have to help others. Did your disease make you a stronger person? Are you more empathetic to other people now? Did you reach out or make a new friend? It’s easier to accept IBD when you can find some positive in there. It doesn’t mean you like being sick or want to be sick.  

This is the hardest for me and I think for many people who have a chronic illness. The future is uncertain and can feel very scary at times. Worry in itself does not make things happen or prevent them from happening. Dwelling on everything we fear can cause significant problems in our lives. Try to let go of worry. 

One of the things I love about myself is that I do nice things for others. You will be helping someone else which is awesome and a bonus to that is that it can help you feel less negative about yourself.

This was another one I really had to work at. I hated myself so much that I refused to do nice things for myself because I didn’t think I deserved them. I had to learn to change that way of thinking and now I do nice things for myself which helps me feel better overall. 

Are you really good at drawing or martial arts or dancing? Do the things you excel at. It’s a great confidence boost and reminds you about all the things that make you who you are, aside from your illness.

 

This one is difficult because there are going to be times when you can’t workout because of your health. Exercise during the times when you are feeling capable of doing it. Even if it’s going for a walk or something else simple. You will feel good about yourself, the change of scenery feels nice, and it can increase endorphins making your mental health better.  

 

These are just some of the things that have helped me. It takes real effort and practice to retrain your negative thinking that chronic illness can cause but doing that work is worth it in my opinion. 

Love yourselves. Life is way too short to hate the person you are.  

Sara

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