I’ve always been loathsome to discuss my disease, and have never wanted to associate with others who have it. I think this is all predicated upon the fact that I do not want to have my life defined by this disease. Thus, I refuse to do anything that I perceive gives it more control over my life. Beyond this, when I was diagnosed in High School, revealing the disease risked major embarrassment. A decade later, in graduate school, people are much more mature. However, the Medical School environment is amazingly cut throat, and there are people who would (and have to others) resent or exploited any weakness they could find. Outside of that, it goes back to not wanted to be seen as “that person with that disease.”
Of course, this may not be the best strategy. Perhaps like others with this disease, you almost live in world with dual realities. There is the “you” that no one knows has a major, debilitating illness. This public appearance of you is of someone who seemingly lives a normal life. And then there’s you with that illness – and all that it entails. Keeping these worlds apart can take its toll. Like last semester, before an anatomy final that promised to be particularly heinous and required hours of study in the cadaver lab, one of my lab partners was going on and on about how utterly draining it was to prepare for this exam. All I wanted to do in that moment was scream from the top of my lungs “you have no idea! Try handling this stress and workload during a Crohn’s flare, then complain to me.” Of course, it’s not always like that, but sometimes it gets to a boiling point when others (even those who know you have the disease) just cannot even being to understand. And this is not because they don’t care, its because they haven’t been through it and experience is the only way to understand living with this burden.
Thus, I’ve started this blog hopefully as a way to discuss the part of my world that revolves around this disease, and perhaps communicate with others who have it. We’ll see where this goes.