Having a Supportive Partner When Living with Crohn's or Colitis
Today, more than 1.6 million individuals in the United States are living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The fact of the matter is that having a type of inflammatory bowel disease can lead everyday life to feel unpredictable.
“IBD makes you cancel plans, letting people down because your last-minute flare has left you chained to the toilet. Your stomach cramps so badly that not even codeine will touch it and you begin to bleed. You end up feeling as though your body is restricting you from living your life. Often, sadly, it is. But things are easier when you have somebody by your side who understands that your illness is not your fault – that it’s a part of you that you can’t help,” wrote Hattie Gladwell, blogger and writer for Metro.
Support is invaluable
If you are suffering from IBD, having someone by your side who offers you constant support and lets you vent your feelings can help you to deal with the emotional side of the disease. It may not be easy, but together you can adapt and learn from one another.
Every individual’s journey with IBD is different and involves different challenges along the way. For this reason, it is important that you are open to sharing your thoughts, feelings, and opinions with your partner. “As an ulcerative colitis sufferer who has been in a relationship during and after my diagnosis, I know how important it is to have a partner who will go above and beyond to look after you. My partner stayed with me in hospital after surgery, sleeping on a chair and refusing to leave my side. When I couldn’t eat, he drove to four different stores and restaurants to get me my favourite food to help get my appetite back up. He made me feel great about my body after it was covered in scars, and just two days ago he proved that even after four years together, he’s still willing to look after me, by washing and drying my hair and sorting out my medication because fatigue had left me too tired to hold up a hairdryer. It may have been a small gesture but it was one I hugely appreciated,” wrote Gladwell.
You may be able to look after yourself, and you may not necessarily need a partner to help you deal with IBD. At some point, you have probably figured out how to balance your everyday routine and treatment so that you can live your life as close as possible to normal. Still, it is nice to have someone around who will love and care about you through the good times and the bad.
Educate your partner on your disease - what IBD is, how you manage it, how it has affected your body image, and how you live your life - but there is no need to include every single detail until you feel more comfortable. Once you have established a sense of comfort and your partner is able to see this through your honesty and confidence, it sends a direct message of how they can better help you cope with your disease. You have learned to fight for your health and your happiness, so why not fight for love?
“Those struggling with an incurable disease know how difficult it can be to let others into your life in such an intimate way so as to understand your daily struggle. There is something so deeply comforting about knowing the ones you love stand behind you through thick and thin, and I encourage anyone who pushes others away from whatever battle they are fighting to push a little less,” wrote Ashley Esper, contributor at The Mighty.
Read on to learn more about why it's so important to have a supportive partner.