Reflections & Insight

Living With Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

So, you’ve thought, “maybe I should go talk with someone about how I’m feeling emotionally”. But you quickly change your mind and tell yourself, “oh, they’ll never understand, or I’ll figure this out on my own, or if I do talk with someone about this, then I can’t be in denial anymore.” You are not alone. When someone walks through my door, I know they’ve danced with ambivalence for quite some time. Let me give you some reasons how speaking with a psychotherapist can help you or someone you care about.

We know that Inflammatory Bowel Diseases fall under the umbrella of immune disorders. We also know that increased stress puts an added strain on our immune systems. Clearly, there is a connection between our emotionally well-being and our physical health. A psychotherapist has the skills and training to help you improve the quality of your everyday life by building the skills of resilience. Resilient people are emotionally strong, have healthy relationships, and an optimistic outlook.

A psychotherapist also has the tools to help you learn many different types of techniques to build resilience and decrease stress. From relaxation training to meditation to guided imagery or even simple breathing exercises, just to name a few, you can develop the capacity to manage strong feelings and impulses associated with living with a chronic illness. Talking with a psychotherapist can truly help you learn to cope more effectively by dealing with the emotions that can exacerbate your IBD symptoms.

It’s not uncommon for me to see a parent of a child with Crohns or Colitis. The parent brings their own fears, anxieties, and needs into the relationship with their child. Speaking with a professional can help the parent sort out their own feelings from the needs of their child so that the child isn’t inadvertently placed in the position of caring for or worrying about the parent. The parent then develops the skills to gain that “mental edge” so that they can be the best they can for their family.

Another issue I can help with is when spouses bring their concerns, worries, and fears to the relationship of living with someone they love who has IBD. The spouse and/or caregiver often may feel frustrated and helpless. When they’re willing to explore their own concerns, they become more resilient, understanding, and accessible to their loved one.

As you can see, talking with a professional can help you improve your psychological health which affects your physical health. This blog will address specific issues and concerns to help you develop healthy coping mechanisms.

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