In this day and age, we do not need to physically go out to find support groups for our health issues; there are plenty of groups one click away. which Most of the time, this is a wonderful thing. I’m sure many of you are like me and belong to at least one IBD support page on Facebook. These groups are a great avenue for us to connect with others going through the same things we are, to complain and vent, and to ask questions.
At the same time, these groups can also have a potential downside. Early on after I was diagnosed I experienced this personally. It’s never the best idea to compare yourself to others, but it can be particularly harmful in the context of illness-related support groups.
“I have no right to complain”
I would say I am in the category of mild to moderate Crohn’s. My mild days are at best an inconvenience but my moderate days are painful and can affect my day-to-day life. I can”t even imagine what those with severe Crohn’s go through. I really don’t like complaining to my family and friends, so my main outlet is those Facebook groups. I go online, do some whining, and get a bunch of encouragement and support from people who completely understand what I’m going through.
Scrolling through the many posts on those groups, I found myself starting to compare my bad days with the bad days of others. There are so many IBD sufferers WAY worse off than me, and I got into the frame of mind of, Wow, compared to them I have no right to complain.
Don’t devalue your pain!
The problem with comparing yourself to others with the same disease is it devalues your journey with your illness. IBD’s come in so many shapes and sizes. We all have distinctive symptoms, various medication side effects, some of us have had several surgeries, others none. We all have a different level of pain tolerance, our own breaking point of when we just can”t get out of bed, and our own awareness of how much our lives are affected by all of the above.
There’s a reason why Pack Health engages each member one-on-one: it’s because of our individual experiences matter, and we deserve the space to focus on our own needs. Own YOUR pain, own YOUR journey, own YOUR disease. Trust me when I say you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t.
It’s okay to feel sorry for yourself – but not too sorry.
Allow yourself those moments of a self-pity party because your body doesn’t let you do what you want. I know I have them when I need to back out of a commitment with friends or miss out on something I really want to do. I think feeling sorry for yourself now and then is actually healthy. For me, I have my moment; sometimes that moment is a good cry, other times it’s getting really angry. I have to say, I do feel better once I take the time to get that out of my system.
Where feeling sorry for yourself gets dangerous is when it overtakes you and becomes all you are. Be aware if you cross over into where it becomes a depression and affects your life more than the actual disease. Don’t be afraid to seek help, there’s no shame in talking with a professional.
Where Pack Health comes into play.
Having a Pack Health Health Advisor gives you a great person to vent to, who understands what you’re going through, but isn’t going to judge you or compare you to others. When you’re on that call, they’re there for you and you only – to listen to your story, answer your questions, and connect you to resources, full stop.
They’ll also work with you to track how you’re feeling in the Pack Health Day Tracker. Most time when you’re in the throes of feeling bad for too long, it’s hard to see what’s really going on. By having it down on paper, it can help you look back and see if there is a pattern. They’ll take the time to work through this with you, and be there supporting you if you decide you want to make a change.
I still love my support groups – they’re great communities where I’ve found meaningful connections, useful resources, and an opportunity to give back – but at Pack Health I found something equally valuable: a space of my own.
That personal space is an important part of managing IBD. Each day presents its own set of new challenges. But with my Health Advisor and support groups, I know I have access to resources that will help me get through them.
Not yet a member of Pack Health?
If you’ve been diagnosed with Crohn’s or Colitis, you’re eligible to become a member and get your own personal Health Advisor. Sign up today to get your first 12 weeks of membership fully sponsored, no credit card information required.