If you’ve recently been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), you may be feeling overwhelmed. Maybe the diagnosis came as a complete surprise – or maybe you (literally) had a hunch about it and you continue to deal with symptoms like abdominal pain, fatigue and the urge to run for help. bathroom. Anyway, many others are in your position: approximately 3 million Americans have some form of IBD, according to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.
As you develop a treatment plan, dealing with the unknowns of how Crohn’s disease may affect your daily life can be daunting, for example, what are the first steps to navigating life with the disease? To find out, we asked seven people with Crohn’s disease to share tips, insights and advice for those newly diagnosed.
1. Ask for help from those around you.
It’s common to feel uncomfortable asking for help, especially if you’re not used to it. If this is how you feel, it may be because the notion of being vulnerable around others makes you anxious. Or maybe you just find it embarrassing to talk about poop and related bodily functions affected by Crohn’s disease. However, learning to ask for help is crucial not only to accepting your diagnosis, but also to managing it. After all, support is available in many forms.
The first step? Tell friends and family about your condition, especially if you are not feeling well. « Obviously everyone has a different level of comfort when it comes to sharing this stuff. However, I’ve found that people are more tolerant and understanding when [I’m] more honest about what I’m dealing with, » Heather Cobb, an elementary school teacher with Crohn’s disease, told SELF.
Makeda Armorer-Wade, the author of Interrupted Crohn’s: Living Life Triumphantly, tells SELF that allowing help from others positively affects her experience with Crohn’s disease: For example, she connected with two colleagues who were eager to lend a hand. « Once in a while they would pick up my medicine, » Armorer-Wade recalled. And when she had a flare-up at work, they were happy to bring her supplies from her car, allowing her to stay close to the bathroom. These interactions not only helped Armorer-Wade function better at work, but also helped her get the emotional support she needed to get through the day.
2. Seek a therapist for professional advice.
After receiving your diagnosis, you may (understandably!) feel a whirlwind of uncomfortable emotions, such as grief, shock, and anxiety. This is where the care of a licensed therapist or counselor can make all the difference.
« A chronic condition like Crohn’s disease impacts every aspect of your life, including your mental health, » said Gaylyn Henderson, founder of the advocacy organization. Gutless and glamorous, says SELF. You might feel like you have no one to talk to, or maybe you’re embarrassed to discuss what you’re going through, Henderson says. It can be isolating, so she recommends talking to a therapist (bonus points if they specialize in chronic conditions) who can teach you how to understand and process your feelings.
3. Find a healthcare team you work well with.
Since there is no cure for Crohn’s disease yet, you will frequently need to work with a medical team to stay on top of treatment. So finding one that’s long-term is key, Katie (Gokhshteyn) Riggio, a new mom and tech writer with Crohn’s disease, tells SELF. “Take your time to find doctors who specialize in IBD and are easily accessible. Most importantly, find doctors you can trust [and] feel comfortable,” she advises.