Getting through the bad days

For Jess, one of the biggest impacts of Crohn's is on her mental health. As a student, it led to isolation, uncertainty, and doubt.

Now, Jess reflects on the bad days and looks forward to her future.


Sometimes I feel like Crohn’s defeats me as a person.


Jess
Living with Crohn's

I like to think I have quite a bubbly personality but living with Crohn’s really can drain every part of who you are. At some points I have felt lifeless from not being able to carry out simple day to day tasks.

It started with my diagnosis, which took over a year and was a very stressful process.

I was 19 and struggling with nausea every day, which led to me constantly cancelling plans last minute with my friends and family. Going out for food also caused anxiety as I never knew what would sit well in my stomach. This is something that I’m still figuring out to this day.

A combination of nausea, stomach pain and changes in my bowel habits negatively impacted my mood and I felt like I was going crazy. The diagnosis was not only reassurance that I wasn’t, but also a relief. I knew there were medicines which were effective in keeping people in remission.

Then, I had my worst flare-up just before I started my degree in musical theatre.

I had just moved in with my housemates and it was an exciting time. However, it seemed to cause a lot of irritation for me internally and I soon had my first hospitalisation and major flare up.


 

 

 

In our first week we danced for our lecturers so they could place us in a set based on our ability. I struggled throughout the week as I was going to the toilet over 15 times a day, not able to stomach anything and there was a lot of blood in my stool. This was all terrifying, especially as I was so far away from home. I called 111, and they sent an ambulance. I was taken to hospital where they kept me in for six nights.

This was during the pandemic so I was initially told that it would be too dangerous to begin my studies due to the unpredictability of the situation. This news was devastating as I was so excited to start a new chapter of my life. I was also on a lot of steroids which caused weight gain, acne, and restlessness.

By the end of my hospitalisation, the doctors decided that I could start my course on time with precautions such as keeping away from people and always wearing a mask. This was challenging on a performing arts course, but I was just grateful to be able to start my degree at the same time as everyone else.

Especially since starting university, Crohn’s has had a huge effect on my mental health.

The course I’m on is full on and extremely competitive so every time Crohn’s stops me from doing my very best, I feel frustrated. Sometimes I’m even jealous of the health of my peers. As Crohn’s started stopping me from doing things I love, it was hard to accept my new reality.

There have been multiple times at university where the disease makes me feel isolated and alone, but I’m grateful to have people who pick me up when I feel this way. My family and friends are my rock, and they can get me out of these dark places. I’ve also learnt to listen to my body and not beat myself up when I have to stop.

One thing Crohn’s has taught me is how to cherish the good days.

It’s something I always reflect on when I feel awful. If I have a day without pain, nausea, and loose stool, I don’t take this for granted like someone with good health might.

I’ve had so many incredible moments with the most amazing people around me where I have felt like a normal 21-year-old woman. So, every time I find myself in the dark places, I always have something to look forward to.

And recently, there have been more good days then bad. I think it’s all about perspective. I’ve made it through everything I’ve already been through so there’s no reason I cannot make it through another difficult day. I know a good one will be just around the corner.


Does Crohn's or Colitis impact your mental health and wellbeing?

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We know it can be difficult to live with, or support someone living with these conditions. But you’re not alone. We provide up-to-date, evidence-based information and can support you to live well with Crohn’s or Colitis.

Our helpline team can help by:

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