Coping with IBD

Emotions

You may feel a variety of emotions as a reaction to your diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). These may include:

  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Denial
  • Relief
  • Guilt
  • Resentment

Whatever you feel, remember all of these reactions are normal. You did not do anything to cause your condition - IBD – it is not caused by psychological or physical stress.

You may find it helpful to talk through your feelings with someone else, such as a friend or close family member or loved one. You can also speak to your doctor about psychological counselling if you are having difficulty coping. There are also a number of online patient support groups and forums which can provide emotional support as well as information about specific problems or issues you are facing.

Help is available:

  • Talk to your IBD specialist – he or she will be able to help, or point you in the right direction
  • Speak to your specialist gastrointestinal nurse, if your clinic or hospital provides this service
  • Talk to family or friends
  • Join a support group (online or in person) to chat with others who may be in the same situation

Practical issues

Practically there are certain things you can do to make your life with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease easier and less stressful. While at home, things can be easier to manage, as you always have a toilet close by and spare clothing if you need them, but you may feel daunted about going out to work and socialising.

Try and use this checklist to help you plan ahead and feel more in control when you are out and about

Out and about checklist

  • Pack some spare underwear
  • Carry some tissues and wipes - just in case
  • Carry medication with you
  • When you arrive at a new place (restaurant, café, workplace), make sure you know where the toilets are
  • If you are travelling, try and book a seat close to the toilets
  • Consider getting a ‘priority’ toilet card that you can show in case you need to use a toilet urgently

Remember that many other people with IBD face similar challenges as these every day, and that you’re not alone. Friends, loved ones and colleagues can all provide support for you.

As you go about your daily life, try to stay involved in the same activities that you enjoyed before your diagnosis. This will help you to stay positive and to play an active role in your care.

Dealing with the pain

Everyone experiences pain differently, and if you have mild IBD you may not have any pain at all, even during a flare-up.

If you are feeling any pain associated with your IBD (abdominal cramps as well as other aches and pains), there are things you can do to manage this pain. It is important to tell your IBD specialist or healthcare team about your painful symptoms. They may recommend some type of pain medication or discuss relaxation techniques or breathing exercises that might help you to manage your pain.

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