I don't consider the life I have to be a hard one. I have a full time job, a mortgage, a man I adore and a family and friends who I love unconditionally. I don't have money as such, but I have enough to get the bills paid and have a little left over for fun. I have a pretty good social life and hobbies and I am blessed with people around me who make me laugh until my sides ache. I have a cat who is the feline apple of my eye and I get to pet him anytime I like whether HE likes it or not.
So with all that joy in my life, why do I sometimes feel so low I could fill a Loch with salty tears?
There is a colloquial saying in Scotland that goes "Well at least you have your health!"
I think this phrase is supposed to instil hope and encouragement in its recipient. Whatever happens, however bad things get, however hopeless you feel, at least your not dead!
Over the years that saying for me has gone from one that I used to hear the over 80's of my local area reciting at the end of every conversation relentlessly, to thinking it was utterly pointless and redundant, to finding it such an unbearable cliché I find it laughable. I find just the utterance of it is peppered with bitterness.
The truth is, Grannies of Scotland and beyond, I don't have my health.
I have an incurable illness I will most likely have until the day I meet my maker. The majority of my twenties have been spent being 'ill'. This isn't going to change, those are the resounding memories of this decade. I fully intend to ensure my 30's are better, but as with any plans for the future, Crohn's will unfortunately have the final say in this.
Everyday in life I am aware of the fact I have Crohn's. I wake up and go to bed having felt it/thought about it/been irritated by it or all of the above. But some days I KNOW I have Crohn's. It hits me like a bolt from the blue and I am floored by it. These days usually come after/during a bad flare, but sometimes they are completely unexpected. Some days the reminder I am not ever getting better and the realisation are almost too much to bear and I feel entirely overwhelmed. I feel like I am on the outside looking in on myself and in that moment I feel utterly hopeless.
These days are thankfully few and far between. Most of the time I have a positive outlook on my life and my disease. I know that it wont go away and I try to make the best of a bad situation. That isn't easy at times but its essential.
When I'm low about Crohn's Disease, I'm LOW. I'm the limbo champion of the World. I'm a paving slab downtrodden into the dirt after a particularly heavy rainfall. I'm a 1977 David Bowie album. You get the general idea.
It's a position that I find incredibly difficult to get out of. The feelings of hopelessness and misery are difficult enough to deal with on their own, but these are compounded by my own frustration at myself. Why are you suddenly getting upset about this now?! You've had it for years! Get a grip of yourself! ETC.
Its this mental vicious circle that can be almost unbearably hard to break. This is the part of Crohn's Disease and many other chronic illnesses that for the most part goes unspoken.
But not by me. I'm not ashamed of these feelings. That doesn't mean to say they don't antagonise and frustrate me, because they do, incredibly so.
But unlike Crohn's, they are temporary. These blue moods are a part of my illness and therefore a part of my life, and like The Terminator, they will be back. I have accepted my condition but I know it will hit me brick-in-the-face hard from time to time. That's not something I look forward to, but I don't spend my life waiting for it either. I live my life to the fullest and best of my ability when I have the physical and mental capacity to do so, and I try not to be too hard on myself when I don't.
Please never allow yourself to be anything less than honest with yourself and the people who love you.
Your feelings are not your failings.