I speak to a lot of people with Crohn's Disease, chronic illnesses and many other forms of life-altering conditions, (both mental and physical).
No, I certainly wouldn't profess to being Florence Nightingale, but I do share many of the same feelings and experiences as people in the same diseased boat as myself. So I find it helps to share knowledge, and try to offer comfort wherever I can. This is generally a two-way street, and that's a lovely safe place to be.
However, what I can stand, and what I notice more and more in my life and in the IBD community and beyond; is when people use their illnesses as an excuse for what they can't do. Or, as a get-out clause from potentially difficult situations. Even worse, to make others feel guilt or pity for them.
Nothing good in life ever came from sitting back and taking whatever is thrown at you. 'Life is what you make it' is about the only 'inspirational' quote I am quite fond of. It's one I've found good to bear in mind when I find myself wallowing in self-pity or taking my anger and frustration out on those I love.
It's true of course that misery and sadness are all a part of life's rich and (unfairly sewn) tapestry, but if we were all living in a constant state of bliss what would we have left to appreciate? We would take everything and everyone for granted.
I like the dark and light of life. All the ups and downs, and that feeling of relief and achievement in coming out the other side of a bad patch. I'm 99.9% sure I wouldn't say that when I'm in abject misery, (or having my colon investigated), but I appreciate the happiness I feel when it comes.
That's why the idea of using your condition as a stick to beat yourself with, never washes with me. Neither does lying down to a life of pain and unhappiness. What would your 65 year old self say to that on his or her death bed? (I'm Scottish so if I live to 65 I'll be pretty happy. All that deep-fried-whisky-flavoured-heroin has taken it's toll).
Having Crohn's Disease hasn't made me 'happy' - it's made me sad and heartbroken, painfully and life-threateningly unwell. It's made my day to day life almost 80% more difficult (I use percentages as an in-joke because I'm 100% useless at maths).
However it's made me see what's important, who I can depend on and made my love-stocks and shares soar through the roof. I congratulate myself on small victories, and try not to dwell on the times when I can't perform as well as I'd like, in all areas of my life, (sorry Dad).
I don't ever and hopefully won't ever, accept that I am somehow less of a person because I have an incurable illness. If I started down that road I don't think I could find my way back. I've swapped my high heels for walking shoes because I'm here for the long haul.