They say you can’t pour from an empty cup. I’ve known all a long that stress is a trigger to my IBD and that my immune system will go into full on attack mode when my mind is not chilled out. At the beginning of this year I got into this really fantastic place of coping with stress and mental wellness by approaching my health holistically: eating well, exercising, reading, praying, resting, meditating, writing. And it’s been awesome. I’ve never felt better.
But then as the second part of that year tested that to the very brinks of danger with an extremely busy work schedule, more wedding and baby celebrations than I can name, friendships that have proven to be not reciprocal, and a friendship that has been lost to illness.
Throughout the past month without one moment to spare, I kept piling it on, telling myself I can handle it, convincing myself that I’m not only strong enough to carry my baggage, but I can carry that of others. I prepared all year for this busy month, financially and logistically, fitting in my utmost support for everyone else around me, giving my absolute heart and soul to my people. I could navigate my grief by keeping busy and expressing utmost kindness and compassion to everyone else.
I’m healthy now, I can handle it….and we all come with a little baggage right?
That is until I saw an all too familiar sight of a toilet full of blood. And heard the all too familiar words from my GI, “There’s sever inflammation.”
Hello you crazy lady: you have a chronic illness.
It’s a scary reality how true and physical the effects of stress are on the human body, particularly to someone with IBD. Suddenly I’m back in the catch-22 world of “stress = inflammation; inflammation = stress.” And it’s time to slow down. I did not go through the past 3 years just to be thrown back into a flare up because of stress. Hell no.
Thank God for the select few individuals who remember to ask, “but what about YOU? How are YOU?” because they’re a very necessary reminder to check in with myself and recognize the dangerous game I’m playing having my brain and gut compete (because my gut is winning). They are my saviours.
With the start of a new month (and last year of my twenties) this is a very gentle reminder to everyone that stress will kill you. And apologies in advance for how selfish I’m about to be the next few weeks as I prioritize myself, and step back.
And a reminder to myself: you never know when tomorrow could be the best day of MY life.