How To Feel Less Lonely

IBD Can Be Isolating, But There Are Ways To Help Yourself Meet People

Many people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) feel lonely. Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, by their very nature, are isolating diseases. But keep in mind, IBD is not an uncommon condition — it is not rare at all. That means that there are many people out there with IBD, and while no one's disease course is exactly the same as anyone else's, there are still many things that we all have in common. You might not have a close friend or family member who has IBD, or even know anyone with IBD, but that doesn't mean the people close to you can't understand your problems or help you. If you think that you really want to talk to someone who has IBD, you can find communities both in-person and online. Keep reading to find ways to help yourself to feel less lonely about having IBD.

Find An IBD Support Group

Clasping Hands
Joining a support group is one way that you can meet others with IBD and share experiences. Image © Puiu Adriana Mirabela

Support groups have many significant advantages. Not only will you have a safe place to discuss your problems, but a local support group can help you connect with healthcare providers and services in your area. Your gastroenterologist or local Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) or Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada (CCFC) group may have information about support groups. A face-to-face support group isn't for everyone, and if you don't feel comfortable going to one in person, you can find people with IBD online. There are many avenues open for people with IBD: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Reddit are just a few of the places where you will find people who have IBD. You have the option of sharing as much or as little as you feel comfortable with, and you can decide how you'd like to communicate, when you'd like to do it, and with who.

Confide In Someone…

Friends Talking
Telling your problems to a friend can help you to feel less alone. Image © sanja gjenero

 Who can you confide in? This could be someone in your family, it could be a close friend, it could even be someone that you've only met online. The key here is to have a trustworthy person in your life with whom who you can talk IBD. You might think that talking about your IBD is going to be the biggest hurtle, but the biggest obstacle will be in finding a trustworthy person. This person should be someone that can keep the things you tell them to themselves and be someone who is going to be in your life for a long time to come. That could mean that this person also has IBD or another chronic condition or it could be someone that you've always been close with. The point is that by talking about your worries, you'll be able to clear your head and put your health difficulties in proper perspective. The more you isolate and keep things to yourself, the lonelier you are likely to feel.

…But Don't Dwell On It

Looking At The Sea
Self-isolating and ruminating too much on your problems can lead to more problems. Image © sspivak

Acknowledging your IBD and dealing with your feelings and concerns about it is healthy. However, dwelling on the state of your health is not. There is a fine line between the two, and it's important to find your balance. This is not to say that your problems are not worth talking over, and that they're not important, but they shouldn't occupy every waking moment. Advocating for yourself and others with IBD is important and valuable, but make space in your heart and mind for other interests. 

Remember You're Not Just About IBD

Flying A Kite
Where will your ideas take you? There's nothing you can't do -- IBD or no. Image © Annika Vogt

You are a well-rounded person that has interests other than your health. Whatever your passion, there is a place for you to get involved and enjoy it: you just need to find that place. It's tempting to self-isolate because of IBD, especially if you need a bathroom on a regular basis, but that's only going to reinforce your loneliness. The goal is to find something that you look forward to: it could be a knitting class or it could be a show at your local theater. When you give yourself time and permission to enjoy yourself, you will be doing something beneficial for your health. When you get involved in the community of people who love the same things you do, you'll have yourself a healthy outlet that's not connected to your IBD.

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