What It’s Really Like To Manage Your Mental Health While Having Crohn’s

Our physical health directly impacts our mental health, and the truth is that we need our mental health in order to get our gut under control. You cannot have one without the other.

The reason I harp on mental health so much is because that demon can really break you and ruin a lot of things in your life, including your health. When you have something like Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis, it’s already a struggle.

Sometimes, I feel like crap all day, but once you throw in anxiety, overthinking, super negative thoughts on top of UC, it has now become a hundred times harder. Not only is your gut beating you down, but now you’re going rounds with the demons in your head.

After years of this battle, one day, I found myself stuck at home with no positive outlook. I was 26-years-old, basically disabled and depressed. Is this what my life is going to be like? I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life, I thought to myself.

On any given day, mental health can either control your body, thoughts,
and your life making it impossible for you to happy — or you can decide to not give in. You can do everything in your power to be good and do good. From watching your diet, journaling (food log, sleep log, exercise log), reading to sharpen your mind, socializing with other IBD’ers, exercising (anything to get your heart rate going for at least 30-45 mins a day) and being stress free.

In other words, you have to be clicking on all cylinders. You need your mind, body, and spirit in order to be good with IBD. The reason I say spirit is because you need to believe in something. A higher power, that you know will provide and guide you when you need it most.

When you have IBD, you are honestly walking blind but with faith because of how random symptoms can occur. In life there are so many things that can stress you out, but you have the ability to not let it affect you by changing your perspective.

One thing I do every day that I learned from my mentor David Chen Panda is called “The Power of Perspective.” Every day during meditation, I usually think about everything I am grateful for and I do the same thing before bed. In a sense living with an attitude of gratitude. When you do this, you seem to come from an honest place where you know the world is abundant and will provide everything you need instead of focusing on what you don’t have/can’t do. It makes you happier because you’re not thinking of all the negative things that you can’t do or eat, but instead are shifting your focus to the positive things life has to offer.

Living with IBD is not easy. It can cause you to isolate yourself from the world, but I urge you to use social media to connect with other chronically ill people going through the same thing. Humans are social creatures, and we need to talk to people.

No matter how much your friends and family may be there for you, at the end of the day, they honestly don’t know what you’re going through they just know you are hurting. I want to thank the Instagram IBD community which we built for raising IBD awareness. I have met so many inspirational warriors that have honestly kept me going through my journey.

About the author
Cj Papuro is a 26-year-old Marine veteran whose dream of SWAT was taken away by an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) ...
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