Finding My Flock: My Involvement With the IBD Community

Finding My Flock: My Involvement With the IBD Community
When I was diagnosed with Crohn’s, I kept my illness to myself. I rarely discussed my disease with anyone except my doctors and my loved ones. I disclosed my health on a need-to-know basis. I wasn’t embarrassed by my illness. I’m just introverted and shy. My comfort zone involves listening intently and observing the discussion, and I rarely speak unless it adds value to the conversation. My other issue, especially with support groups, is that I’m extremely empathetic. I absorb people’s raw emotions like a sponge. Someone’s anger can darken my mood instantly. Their helplessness amplifies my melancholic temperament. Early in my diagnosis, I could barely manage my own feelings. How could I possibly share other people's burdens? I've only opened up about my autoimmune diseases in the past few years. I joined Facebook groups where I could engage on my terms. I also began advocating for affordable and accessible healthcare, which meant sharing my story to persuade others to care. Following is how I found community and support with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients and others with chronic illnesses. IBD News Today and BioNews I would be remiss if I didn’t begin with the company that’s given me a voice to speak about living with Crohn’s disease and surviving primary sclerosing cholangitis. In March 2019, I joined the team of columnists and news writers at BioNews, the publisher of IBD News Today. Writing about my autoimmune diseases and reading other people's columns have been eye-opening. Although we may not suffer from the same health concerns, our battles are familiar. I’m comforted knowing I’m not alone in my physical pain or in my mental and emotional struggles. At the same time, I’m able to view my disease from an outsider
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