Stressed from sickness, not sick from stress

Stressed from sickness, not sick from stress

One thing that really gets to me is when people think my mood causes my Crohn’s to flare up. Whenever I say I’m not feeling well, inevitably someone will say, “Oh, are you stressed?”

I’m stressed because I feel sick. I’m not sick as a result of stress.

This whole attitude bugs me. It makes me feel like people think I’m just a weak person who walks around miserable and stressed all the time. 

I am not and I do not.

I have a pretty good life, actually. I have a wonderful husband of 26 years and two fabulous, healthy, happy daughters. One is 22 and in graduate school; the other is almost 19 and in her first year of college. I get to spend my days doing what I love. I’m a novelist, essayist and writing coach for seniors in high school working on their college essays. I have a group of warm, supportive friends who make me laugh and care about my well-being. So, no, my life isn’t so awful that I create Crohn’s disease for myself.

A disease, not stress

I try very hard to explain patiently that this illness isn’t about stress. Crohn’s disease is a medical condition, and why you go into a flare-up or develop a problem is out of your hands. I can’t will myself away from it anymore than I will myself toward it.

I went through infertility treatment when my husband and I wanted to have children Then, too, I was constantly bombarded by the idea that if only I “relaxed” I would become pregnant. It made me crazy. I wanted to ask all of those people who said that if they could figure out why rape victims became pregnant sometimes. Certainly they weren’t relaxed while they were being raped. I never got good responses, except, “Well, I just think that’s how infertility works.”

When you say, “I just think so,” you insult the person going through the illness. It’s not enough that you “think so.” There is science, and science says that Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune illness, most likely genetic, that appears because of a variety of factors. Stress is not one of them. If it were, I woud simply make sure I carried Xanax with me, was massaged every day and ate a lot of chocolate.

It would sure be cheaper, less painful and easier then going through all of these treatments.

Note: IBD News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of IBD News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to IBD.

7 comments

  1. The stomach is THE SECOND BRAIN.When I’m stressed come my cramps,abdomen pains,diarrhea and frequently I’m vomiting.I talked with my doctors and told me that must avoid ALL STRESS&NEGATIVE ENERGY all around me and, try to look at my life like to MOVIES.Have my remote control all time and when the movie isn’t good, change the channel.I changed my atitude regarding different bad situations and bad peoples and it works.I’m receiving from two years ADALIMUMAB and I’m feeling fine&happiest even my husband asked our divorce after 33 years of marriage and three wonderful girls. NO PROBLEM.

    • Tim Bossie says:

      On one hand I am very sorry for the impending divorces, but on the other very encouraged by your positive attitude. The doctor is right, although there are life situations where turning the channel is sometimes difficult. It is great to see that you are doing better. We at IBDNewsToday hope that it continues. Keep your remote close by!

  2. Dominic says:

    Judy,

    up until now I lived in the believe that stress – if not a causing factor- is at least widely known and scientifically proved influencing factor of crohn’s disease. All my former and current GIs mentioned stress as something to clearly avoid for crohn’s disease patients. Correct me if I wrong but your posts comes down to “you’re all wrong”. Doesn’t it?
    Don’t get me not saying that stress is the main factor just that it is one of the puzzle pieces that form the complex of crohn’s.

    Dominic

  3. Christine says:

    I have struggled with Crohns for 27 years. Been on all the drugs including chemotherapy and also has 22″ of my large intestines removed and was still not well. Lady year I started taking omega 3’s and they changed my life. Not saying this will work for everyone

  4. Erica says:

    I speak for myself when I say that stress is definitely one of my triggers (one that I am actually aware of). At times I don’t even realize that my mind or body is stressing about something, it’s just a part of life. Crohn’s is not CAUSED by stress. It seems nobody really knows what it’s caused by – hence we have no cure.

    I realize that people want to give me advice because they care about me – no matter how annoying the delivery, they don’t want to see me suffer. I try to educate them about Crohn’s, advise them on where they can find information about this disease, so they can become educated. Then I listen their advice gracefully- sometimes I choose to take their advice, sometimes I don’t.

    • Tim Bossie says:

      That is a great way to handle any type of advice Erica. We hope that those who care will continue to educate themselves to understand how you feel and what is happening with your body.

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