By: Susan Fenderson, LCSW & Health Sherpa, Vivante Health
Living with chronic digestive disease is more than just the physical symptoms and treatments. We talk about the emotional side of living with chronic digestive disease, in a question/answer, FAQ style.
I feel guilty about my digestive condition. Is this normal?
You bet it is. When you have to look into the face of your child and tell them you can’t take them to the park or a movie because your stomach is upset, guilt is bound to hit you hard and heavy. Just remind yourself, this is not your fault, and you certainly didn’t ask for this condition. You’re doing the best you can, and that’s enough.
I get so depressed about my symptoms at times that my situation feels hopeless. Do others ever feel this way?
Indeed they do. A digestive condition is hard not only on your body, but on your mind too. Seek out a support group or a counselor to help you deal with your depression.
(GIThrive members have 24/7 Care Team access. Gut-Side Assistance is for the emotional and mental aspects of digestive health, as well as the physical symptoms.)
I worry about the what-ifs every time I go out the door. How can I get over this anxiety?
Use this anxiety constructively to help prepare yourself for the what-ifs instead of just worrying about them. Tuck some extra clothing, extra Depends (if necessary), and hygiene products into a bag. Just knowing you’re prepared in case of an accident can drastically ease your anxiety.
I find it hard to be honest with my doctor. Is this common?
It’s VERY common to avoid discussing embarrassing things, even with your doctor. A recent survey revealed that 74% of adults in America have digestive trouble, but more than half haven’t broached the subject with a doctor. The thing is, you could be short-changing yourself if you’re not forthcoming. Here’s a trick to talking openly with your provider: Write everything down ahead of time, and read from your list. That way you won’t be tempted to skip anything, and as you move down the list the details will just seem more factual, less personal.
I wonder if I should just stay home and avoid life outside these four walls. Is that okay?
That would be giving up, and that is never a good thing. There are countless modifications, medications, techniques, and hygiene supplies that will allow you freedom to enjoy life. Don’t give up.
(At Vivante, we’re here 24/7 for our members. Reach out to your Health Sherpa or life-work coach for some expert advice on how to cope and enjoy life again.)
Do support groups really help?
Well, you won’t know unless you try—that is certain. The reason support groups work so well for many is that they don’t just offer support, but also ideas, tips, tricks and insight from others who are in very similar situations. Also, with a support group it’s okay to sit and listen without feeling pressure to share, especially in the beginning. Just hearing what others are going through and how they cope can be immensely helpful.