Someone asked this on a Crohn’s page. I get it. It certainly makes you feel mental. But I’m writing this to inform with a resounding “no,” it is not mental!
Before my diagnosis, I had a hard time receiving validation for my symptoms. “You’re exaggerating. Maybe it feels that bad but it isn’t. You’re too young to be sick.” But I couldn’t leave my apartment for fear of an accident. Even if I could, I didn’t want to. I skipped class. I called in sick for work, but most times they wouldn’t let me. Finishing a shift took everything out of me, and I would spend the remainder of my 24 hours in bed, miserable. Meanwhile, mental warfare raged, and I was left wondering what kind of person I was. I was failing school, never went anywhere, and only worked because my bosses made me, and I had to pay rent. Had I seriously lowered my standards for myself this much? Was I just a worthless waste of a human being?
I know that’s some semi dark stuff, but it shows what being ill over long periods of time does to a person. When I got diagnosed, all of that self doubt and disgust was wiped clean. There was a reason for my behavior, and it wasn’t laziness or craziness or anything else. I was sick.
Fast forward to present day. My body has been through a significant amount, I’d say, with hospitals and surgeries and so on, but the last 3 years have been great. But for the past 3 months I’m slipping again, and now I undergo a different kind of mental warfare. What kind of parent am I, that I can’t muster the strength to spend time with my own kids? Work, make dinner, go to bed…over and over and over. Meanwhile I’m well aware of the fact my kids miss me. The real me, not that drained, temperamental, reclusive person. They understand, which I’m thankful for. They are so sweet and kind and forgiving, and it’s overwhelming to experience that from your child. But I don’t want to need forgiveness. I want to be there for them, and I hate that I have something holding me back.
So the answer to the question? Being chronically sick, with varying degrees of severity over time, takes a toll on the body and therefore the mind. I haven’t even dove into what I went through during the hospital. That’s a post all on its own. Everyone will have their own mental struggle. It’s ok to experience these emotions. It’s important to take the time to work through them and come out on the other side a stronger person for it.
Because we are fighters; we are survivors.