Much is written on the symptoms of Crohn's Disease (and other long-term illnesses); on how to manage the effects of medication and treatment, and how to best manage pain and nausea along with the plethora of other symptoms that go hand in bowel with inflammatory bowel disease. Lately I've noticed I've had the tendency to stray away from the ins (and more predominately outs), in living day to day with Crohn's and focus more on how it affects myself, and others, mental health.
This unfortunately seems to be an issue commonly shied away from, disease or not. I feel as a patient with an invisible illness some consider 'embarrassing', I have to spend enough of my time trying to ensure I don't hide anything; so why should I shy away from discussing another part of my life this illness affects?
As much as i'd prefer to think I have a pretty positive attitude to my disease, I am regularly and periodically disappointed to learn that I still feel incredibly angry about my situation from time to time. When this strikes I feel disappointed in myself. I hate feeling this anger. And when I say 'anger' I mean Hulk-smash, seeing someone punch a kitten angry. ANGRY. This tends to spill out and spread like wildfire throughout my relationships. I get irritable and argumentative. I get frustrated and upset. I get edgy and snappy. Knowing all the while that there is no excuse for behaving this way towards others, but I literally can't help it. I constantly relay the fact that I don't want special treatment, so why should I be pandered to when I feel like a stroppy teenager? I bite my tongue because if I said what I really felt I'd probably be in a padded cell by now being fed through a straw.
I completely understand that having this disease can be brutal and unrelenting, and that I have to make certain allowances for feeling this anger from time to time. I also understand that it's important I remember that having this disease is not the worst thing to happen in human history. I'm not living under Hitler's rule or being tied to a chair forced to watch Mrs Browns Boys. Worst things could certainly happen.
But knowing all of that doesn't seem to make it all any easier. I'm angry in a "why me?" way. I'm angry that I will have this forever and I'm even angrier that my partner and family and friends will be living with me-living with this disease forever. I don't want anyone to tip-toe around me incase I explode. I'm well aware these feelings are part and parcel of living with an incurable illness and of that old chestnut 'life isn't fair'.
Sometimes when all I want to do is get home from work so I can take copious amounts of pain relief and sleep until I feel better or forget, it's hard to get excited about other people around you. I find myself feeling envious of my friends 'normal' lives - pain-free and NORMAL. Don't-think-about-every-single-morsel-of-food-you-eat-incase-it-upsets-you-normal. Don't-plan-your-evening-around-toilet-visits-normal. That type of thing.
From time to time I feel fury at the things that have had to change in my life due to my illness and I'm not sure that's a feeling that will ever completely go away. Sometimes it's not funny and sometimes I can't laugh it off. I hate seeing others suffering and I hate that's there's nothing we can do about it. I feel I'm fighting yet another battle to avoid being bitter about my badly behaved bowels. Like every other aspect of living with a chronic illness, all I can do is continue to try and manage these feelings. I'm not going to brush them under the carpet, but I'm not going to let my inner-Hulk out either. Mainly because I just can't afford to buy a new wardrobe every time I tear out of my clothes..