Coping | IBD
It’s what we are pressured to do since we are little kids. Since we were kids, it has been ingrained in us to study hard so we can go to college, and get good jobs. I always hear from people that college is the best time of your life. What if it’s not though? I love learning, and I love going to school, but my IBD dictates EVERYTHING I do. I have to leave my house early to make sure I have enough time to stop at various public restrooms during my drive, I have a ton of paperwork and hoops to jump through to make sure I can get accommodations, I have to disclose my disease to all of my professors, to make sure they understand that I will NEED to use the restroom during class, tests, and presentations. College is hard enough for normal, healthy people…. it’s ten times more difficult for someone who needs accommodations.
It’s of course not just bathroom issues that can get in the way, then there’s anxiety of missing classes because you are so fatigued that you can’t get out of bed, or you’re going through a bad flare, and can’t leave your house. It’s the stress of doing terrible on a test, because your fatigue is clouding your thought processes, or you have to miss important classes, because you have doctor’s appointments to go to. Add these stresses on top of normal college stresses, and you can get overwhelmed quite easily.
I started my college career when I was 18. I am now 26, and just starting on my bachelor’s degree. It took me 8 years to get through community college because of my IBD. Multiple flares, and surgeries kept me from finishing in a timely manner. The day after my third bowel resection, I vowed to myself that I would finish school, and become a counselor to specialize in helping people with chronic illnesses, no matter how long it took. I realized that life isn’t a race of who can go somewhere faster than me. It’s about running my own race at a speed I can keep up with. If it takes me 3+ years to finish my degree, then so be it. I would rather be healthy, and graduate late, than put my health at risk.
I know it’s scary to start college, even more so if you have IBD, but try not to be so hard on yourself, and make sure that you have the understanding from your professors. They are there to help you succeed, and it will really help them to understand what they can do to make college manageable for you. Make sure to advocate for yourself, and make time to relax. I won’t guarantee that it will be super easy, but it will be worth it when you can say that you excelled even though you have limitations.
Drop any questions or concerns you have about college and IBD in the comments section, and I will try to help you as best as I can.