As some of you may know, I have a busy schedule these days. I work a full-time job, I take night classes in the MBA program, I run an IBD support group, I am a blogger – all while fighting a chronic illness. When I was diagnosed with IBD in 2019 at the age of 21, I thought my life was over. I felt that I would not be able to accomplish my goals anymore. My young adulthood was taken from me. Only through the power of resilience have I been able to experience the success I have today.
A few weeks ago, a friend in my support group sent me this study about IBD and resilience from Gastroenterology and Endoscopy News. The article talks about how resilience – a modifiable quality – can help keep IBD patients out of the hospital. Dr. Keefer developed a program called Gaining Resilience Through Transitions (GRITT-IBD). The program creates a personalized care plan with strategies for maintaining psychological, nutritional and educational support. Her study proved that after one year of treatment, ER visits and hospitalizations declined. According to Christian Selinger, MD, “Low resilience is associated with poor coping skills and increased health care usage. If we find therapeutic approaches that reproducibly lead to better resilience, many IBD patients could benefit directly.”
Developing optimism is difficult when faced with a chronic illness diagnosis, but it is a must. Without resilience, we just feel sorry for ourselves. Throughout my diagnosis, I realized that changing my language from negative to positive helped me stay strong. We have more than 6,000 thoughts per day. Imagine changing even just a few of those to encourage yourself – I promise it will make a difference. Instead of dreading going to an event, look at it from a new perspective and how it can help make you better. I have found this to be a great way to combat feelings of anxiety as well.
In my MBA class last week, we watched a TED video by Isaac Lidsky. Isaac starts off by revealing that he lost his vision at the age of 13 to a genetic eye disease, something you would not know just by looking at him. As someone with an invisible illness, I connected to this on a deep level. Isaac mentions feeling like the world was ending for him and that he would no longer have wonderful opportunities in life. Rather than choosing to feel sorry for himself, he “chose to step out of fear’s tunnel into terrain uncharted and undefined.” He “chose to build there a blessed life.” What a beautiful message! It actually brought tears to my eyes.
Isaac’s main idea is about the reality we create for ourselves. He says, “You are the creator of your reality. With that empowerment comes complete responsibility.” If we just start taking responsibility for our own thoughts and actions, we have the ability to create a beautiful life. WE have the power to choose. How great is that!? I highly recommend you take the time to watch his talk below.
Resilience really is such a powerful trait to embody. And no, it does not just happen overnight. It sure didn’t for me. I made a conscious decision to accept my new normal, ignore what other people think of me, and live the life I have always wanted which takes work. I am still pursuing the things I want to and I will continue to do that for the rest of my life because that is what I deserve. We all deserve to live beautiful lives, so let’s take responsibility, change the way we think about ourselves, and go out into the world ready to conquer whatever comes our way! We are much stronger and braver than we think. Our most powerful tool in the shed is resilience.