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.
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