I spend a lot of time talking to other sufferers of Crohn’s Disease on social networking and beyond. The main feeling I generally get is that there are generally two types of ‘sufferers’. These people tend to be absolute polar opposites. Bowels apart you might say. Allow me to explain...
There are The Professional Patients’ as I like to call them; those sufferers for whom the word ‘patient’ doesn’t really apply. Those who seemingly take delight in relaying their tales of woe at any available opportunity. I find this type of person tends to consider themselves as a ‘victim’. They have a fairly sickening ‘woe is me’ attitude, and love nothing more than having attention (and sympathy) lavished upon them. These people are a massive irritation to me. Don’t get me wrong, Crohn’s Disease is incredibly difficult to live with, but it’s far from an instant death sentence. The key is in learning to live with it; not allowing it to take over your life. These constant complainers take great pleasure in relaying how miserable and difficult their existence is, seemingly temporarily forgetting they are not the only people on the planet who have ever been sick. They are fans of relaying every gruesome detail of their illness across social networking, amongst family and friends (and stranger’s if they get the chance). They are usually Doc-Botherers’ too; never away from their doctors surgery or hospital with every minute symptom. There is, of course, nothing wrong with being a little cautious and vigilant over the state of your health, especially with a chronic illness, however there is a fine line between extra concern, and hypochondria. One of my least favourite qualities in a human is selfishness and these patients tend to epitomise this quality. They want those around them to remember at all times that they are suffering and everyone around them should therefore act accordingly.
Now the other variety of sufferer I refer to is one I can really get on board with. These patients are in vast contrast to those just mentioned. They obviously feel the same pain and endure the same symptoms; however the main difference here is that they don’t play on any of it for attention. They simply deal with their condition as respectfully and gracefully (as you can with a bowel disease). They loathe attention being lavished on them due to Crohn’s, and aim to live the best life they can despite their illness. These sufferers tend to find they sometimes need a little extra attention or perhaps just consideration, mainly because they often don’t actively seek it out for themselves. Occasionally these sufferers often conceal more than they perhaps should. They don’t want others to view them in a certain way, and those feelings can sometimes lead to irritation and anxiety over the possibility of losing control over certain aspects of their life. They want their lives to be as ‘normal’ as possible, and sometimes end up pushing themselves to the limit, physically and mentally, in order to achieve this. These patients also find themselves sharing their story more than they perhaps should. They take on others issues and try to help as best they can, which can often serve to increase their own stress levels.
These differences in patients become more and more apparent the longer that Crohn’s is a part of a sufferer’s day to day life. I’d like to think I’m somewhere in the middle of both of those, although I fear I’m probably not that unique. I probably go through most of these aforementioned personality traits about 50 times a day. It all depends on your outlook. If you want to become a ‘patient’ rather than a person that’s entirely your choice, however it may lead to boredom, depression and others withdrawing from you. No one wants to hear about your bowel habits 24 hours a day – I certainly don’t want to think about my own, let alone force the rest of the world to share those intimate details too.