Yes I have Crohn’s Disease. Yes it is a physical ailment. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect our minds though. When people hear the words mental health, many will think of diseases like schizophrenia. However, just because we have a problem with our gut, doesn’t mean we can’t also have a problem with our mind and need some mental help.
Within my first year of being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, I was seeing a shrink. I was only 16 and it was not my choice to see one. My doctor wanted me to see him because he felt that I should be able to go to school and the reason I wasn’t going was mental. (Nice GI dr I had).
Over time I have dealt with a number of issues with my disease one of which is depression. Many people with IBD will experience depression at least once in their life, some will experience it many times. I myself have had numerous bouts with it, the last time being the beginning of 2012. I was so fed up with my disease and didn’t want to go on anymore. I was spending all day in the bathroom, in constant pain, and had to sight of relief.
My problems were real, but I would soon learn that what I was going through was nothing compared to others. What about all the people with IBD that have to have surgery for a resection or worse, have part of their intestines removed. I can’t even start to imagine what goes through someone’s mind when they are told they will have to have an ostomy bag for the rest of their life.
Mental health is overlooked when it comes to IBD but in fact, from experience, it goes hand in hand with our psychical disease. The problem is many GI’s are not educated on how to help. Psychologists and psychiatrists get a bad rap, but we need to put our hands in theirs. We must seek them out and learn to use them as much as we use a GI doctor.
There is no shame it seeing a shrink. Just because you go to one doesn’t make you bad. All it means is that you need some help sorting out your feelings. And really, if it helps us feel better, isn’t it worth it.