How Living with Crohn’s Disease Has Shaped Me to Be the Person I Am Today

If I could get rid of my Crohn’s, I would.

I’m not someone who can say I’m glad I have my chronic illness or maybe this was the path intended for me. The truth is living with Crohn’s is really hard, and I want to speak about it honestly.

This condition impacts your physical and mental health in so many ways. It is with you every day for the rest of your life, like a constant cloud that is over your head and seems impossible to shake off.

Even in remission (which I’m currently not, but dream of) there’s a fear. Please let this last. I’ve become hyperaware of my body. Every twinge. Every sensation. Will this turn into another bad flare? Even though I’ve had severe flare ups, been in hospital, and then discharged in thankfully less physical pain than when I went in, the mental scars still remain.

There’s no avoiding it. Crohn’s is debilitating, draining, and unending.

I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

But it’s because it’s unending that I know this: no matter how much my health is affected, I cannot let it stop me from living my life, even if that life isn’t quite what I once pictured it would be.

I cannot let Crohn’s win. No, my health is not what it once was, but there is still so much more to life. In many ways, my Crohn’s diagnosis has had a pivotal role in developing who I am today, and I like who I am today.

I have so much in life to be grateful for. I have an incredible family, a supportive community of people around me, a home which makes me feel happy and safe. I have had an education, and people who adjusted my learning to suit me when I was diagnosed halfway through my university degree. I have access to a brilliant healthcare team, so that if I am going through a bad phase, I can get the help I need.

Living with Crohn’s has only increased my appreciation for what is good in life, which balances out the bad.

When days are tough and I struggle to get out of bed, or I can’t do things that my peers are doing, I have learnt to find joy and positivity in even the smallest, seemingly insignificant of things.

Once a great planner and prone to mapping my life out for months to come, I have learned to live in the moment. I would once say being forced to live by the day because of the unpredictability of Crohn’s. Living in the moment, being present, that is now something I take pride in. To be able to focus on the certainty of this moment, rather than the uncertainty of tomorrow.

I have more empathy with others and want to help people. I am more understanding and determined to make the most of life. I want to raise awareness for all of us going through the hardships that come with chronic illness and mental health battles. To give everyone a voice. To create a better society where people feel able to talk and be open about health behind closed doors.

All this because of Crohn’s. I’m not saying I’m grateful for the condition or wanted to be chronically ill, but it’s a part of life which I can’t ignore.

It’s about making the best of whatever you’re handed.