You become strong, a strength you didn’t know was humanly possible. I think this is a huge advantage point of living with a chronic condition and I feel like my strength is one of my biggest attributes. I notice this in others living with IBD and have seen and felt how this strength seeps into your whole being – into your character and judgement. Strength makes it easier to deal with any unexpected life obstacles – which come too frequently for those with IBD.
You feel empathy like no one else. I cry at everything – literally everything. Yesterday I cried at an NHS advert (the old man was waiting for his flu jab – there was dramatic music, you get the gist). Whilst this may not seem like a good thing – my emotions are real and I seriously feel other people’s pain. Which means, I am an excellent listener. This builds the foundations for your relationships and people will rely on you. You know what they are going through because you know what daily pain feel likes.
- You learn to be honest to yourself and to others. Naturally, if you’re feeling everyone’s emotions whilst dealing with your own, you learn to be honest. When you have a chronic illness, you really don’t have time to waste your energy. Your energy is so very precious! And so, in light of that, you are forced to be honest.
In doing that – you wean out the dead wood in your life and only keep the people that actually matter. This is an extremely important point! Sometimes in life you will come across people who are not like you. Their priorities and worries may not match yours and they might be a ‘drainer’. People with IBD, do not have time for drainers. In fact, we do not have energy for drainers! We learn over time to surround ourselves with ‘radiators’. Relationships are about give and take and we can quickly identify the drainers in a crowd.