How I overcame my fears to live well with Crohn’s

24 February 2021

Georgie spent a long time worrying about her Crohn's and it affected many areas of her life, until she learned to adapt and accept her condition.

I've had Crohn's for nine years now.

Living with Crohn's

My illness has been challenging to say the least. I have tried several treatments, had many hospital admissions and underwent my first surgery back in 2015. Some days I didn’t want to leave the house because I was either too exhausted, depressed or generally unwell. The first seven years were the hardest.

My Crohn’s was poorly controlled for many years and I would feel anxious about being out in public places, especially if I needed the bathroom. I would avoid going out with friends during a flare-up and I would frequently cancel plans I had to go out.

Lots of people with Crohn’s or Colitis will know how stressful and embarrassing our illness can be, especially when surrounded by people we don’t know all that well.

Fortunately, I had some very understanding friends. If I did decide to go out then I wouldn’t eat. In the end I became a social recluse and I lost touch with a lot of people. I always felt more comfortable staying in. If I could go back in time, I probably wouldn’t have stayed in. Looking back, it was mainly fear that stopped me living my life and I could have made a few adjustments such as only eating certain foods or meeting up with people later in the evening.

When it came to intimacy with my partner, I would often put it off in fear of something embarrassing happening.

Things got worse after I had my surgery because I had really low self-esteem about my body image. I hated my scars and I couldn’t stand looking at myself in the mirror when I was naked so I didn’t. The rejection I gave my other half eventually broke us. When we got out of the swing of intimacy or making an effort, things seemed to die off and we eventually separated after 10 years. I was always worried that I would never find someone else who would love and accept me for who I was. I worried they would be put off by my disease but again, this was just another unnecessary fear holding me back.

I feel great due to the lifestyle changes I have made in the last eight months.

Currently I am very well, the best I’ve ever been in fact. As time has passed, I have learned to adapt and accept Crohn’s. It no longer has a negative impact on my life, but I remember when it did and it was tough.

The best thing I found to do as time went on was to not make it a big deal, to talk about it light heartedly. When at work I would make a joke of it and say things like “Crohn’s is off again” with an eye roll and a smile if I had to take a few extra trips to the bathroom or I would make jokes about it with friends. I found that most people are really understanding and the fear was mostly in my own mind.

I had to do a lot of soul searching and embarked on a journey of self-love and acceptance.

I’m with a new partner now. We have been together for a year and I had the same fears in the beginning but I learned to let it go and now all is well. I realised that my fear around my illness and my body image was mostly in my head. If your other half loves you, they will love everything about you, regardless of Crohn’s or Colitis, scars or sexual mishaps. Scars are a sign of true strength and our bodies are wonderful and should never be shamed. The thing I have realised is that if you accept yourself, other people will too. You may meet the odd person who doesn’t but they won’t be perfect either! Guaranteed.

I found that getting to know my new partner before any intimacy took place was the best way to find out what kind of person he was and whether I felt as though I could trust him. Due to my previous fears, I wanted to make sure that I felt comfortable and this was really important for me.

I only worry about the things I can control and care less about what I can’t.

I’m much older and wiser now since I was first diagnosed. I don’t take things too seriously about my illness anymore. There’s no point. It is what it is. I do absolutely everything I can to keep myself healthy and I will not let this disease define me or control my life or my happiness.

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