Jenny sat in her doctor’s office, her heart pounding in her chest as she awaited the results of her tests. She had been experiencing persistent abdominal pain, diarrhea, and fatigue for months, and she was afraid of what the doctor would say. When the doctor finally came in, he told her she had been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
“I was devastated. I finally had a diagnosis, but I had never heard of IBD before and had no idea what it would mean for me. I left the doctor’s office feeling overwhelmed and alone, wondering how this would change my life.”
Jenny’s not alone. Nearly 1.6 million Americans suffer from IBD, and 70,000 are diagnosed each year. Being diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can be a life-changing experience. The symptoms, such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, and rectal bleeding, can be debilitating and make it difficult to live a normal life. The emotional toll of IBD is just as significant as the physical symptoms. Here, we will discuss what it feels like to be diagnosed with IBD, the emotions that come with it, and how to cope with the diagnosis.
The Shock Of Being Diagnosed
Being diagnosed with IBD can come as a shock to many people. It is not uncommon to experience a range of emotions such as fear, sadness, and anger. You may be thinking about how your life is going to change and what the future holds. It can be overwhelming to think about managing symptoms and treatments, and how this may affect your daily routine, relationships, and career.
“It was tough to process the news, and it took me a while to come to terms with the diagnosis”, said Jenny. “It was hard to talk about my symptoms with my friends and family. I felt so embarrassed and ashamed of my symptoms. I worried about how IBD would affect my work and my relationships. I felt like my life had been turned upside down.”
Feeling Alone And Isolated
Inflammatory bowel disease is a chronic condition that can be isolating. You may feel like you are the only one going through this experience. It can be challenging to talk about your symptoms and the impact they have on your life, especially when you are experiencing embarrassment or shame. It can be hard to explain what you’re going through to people who don’t have IBD. After all, on the outside most people appear fairly healthy. But it’s not uncommon to feel alone or misunderstood.
Managing The Physical And Emotional Symptoms
Managing the physical symptoms when you’re first diagnosed with IBD, such as diarrhea and abdominal pain, can be challenging. Treatment options can vary, and it can take time to find the right combination of medications and lifestyle changes that work for you.
Coping with emotional symptoms can also be a challenge. Many people with IBD experience anxiety and depression, which can affect their overall quality of life. The stigma of the condition and the many challenges of managing it can be overwhelming and can cause significant stress. In one review, findings showed that 35% of IBD patients develop anxiety symptoms and 22% develop depression symptoms.
“I had to make a lot of changes to my lifestyle to manage my IBD”, said Jenny. “I had to learn how to eat differently and take medication regularly, which was a challenge at first. It was also difficult to cope with the emotional toll that IBD was taking on me. I felt anxious and depressed, and it was hard to stay positive.”
Coping Strategies For IBD
Coping with the diagnosis of IBD takes time and effort. Here are some tips for coping with the physical and emotional symptoms of IBD:
- Educate yourself: Learn as much as you can about IBD, including its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
- Build a support network: Reach out to others who have IBD or join a support group. This can help you feel less alone and provide a safe space to talk about your experiences.
- Take care of your physical health: Work with your healthcare provider to find a treatment plan that works for you. Eat a healthy diet, exercise, and get plenty of sleep.
- Manage your stress: Stress can trigger IBD symptoms, so it’s important to find ways to manage it. This could include exercise, meditation, or talking to a therapist.
- Be kind to yourself: It’s important to remember that living with IBD is a marathon, not a sprint. Be patient and kind to yourself as you navigate this new chapter in your life.
“I didn’t let my diagnosis define me”, said Jenny. “I was determined to take control of my life and manage my symptoms as best I could. I sought support from others with IBD, including joining online support groups and attending local events. It was comforting to talk to people who understood what I was going through and to share my experiences with others.”
“Over time, I learned how to cope with my emotions and manage my symptoms. I worked closely with my doctor to find a treatment plan that worked for me and took things one day at a time. I also found that taking good care of myself, such as taking long walks and spending time in nature, helped me to manage my stress and stay positive.”
“Today, I’m doing much better. I’m managing my symptoms and living a full and happy life. I still have bad days, but I have a strong support system in place and have learned how to cope with the challenges of living with IBD.”
Being diagnosed with IBD can be a difficult experience, both physically and emotionally. It’s important to educate yourself, build a support network, take care of your physical health, manage your stress, and be kind to yourself. You’re not alone and there is a wealth of information and support available to help you manage your symptoms. It’s not always easy, but with time and effort, it is possible to live a full and happy life with IBD.