Coping | IBD
My life is a complicated scale, balancing work, family, and friends, not to mention my health both physically and mentally.
Like many women with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), I also battle with mental health. From PTSD to OCD and anxiety to depression triggered by my Crohn’s disease, I have spent a fair amount of time in therapy with a variety of therapists with different beliefs and personalities. Within the past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to chat with two social workers and a psychiatrist that practice Cognitive Behavioral Theory (CBT).
As most clients experience, you spend quite a bit of the beginning outlining events, thoughts, and issues. In one of these sessions, I was describing a very tough moment in my life, but that it led to me meeting people who I believed have had a much harder life. This memory has actually been a “reality check” I’ve held onto for a long time. After all, I have a lot to be thankful for- my family, a roof over my head, a clean record. Sure, I’ve dealt with trauma but I never suffered from (in my mind) seriously monstrous events that others have experienced.
I was surprised to be abruptly interrupted by my first counselor. “What?”
“We don’t compare trauma.” I stopped in my tracks. It had been like she pushed me into a new realm, a new reality.
We don’t compare trauma.
My “reality check” was now challenged. This concept obliterated my old mantra. Over the years, I have even said it to other people fighting mental health; something I’m now truly ashamed of doing. Much of my transition into adulthood grew on this self-bullying concept: I don’t have it as hard as other people so why complain?
We. Don’t. Compare. Trauma.
I’ve come to realize comparing does something else; it tears a person down. Social media is a playground of trolls and haters. One of the strategies often used while judging someone is comparing their situation to others. I will have to bear my guilt of comparing someone’s trauma in order to downplay it- even if it was to help them feel better. But I also need to focus moving forward by helping others realize that life isn’t a competition.
Since then, I have found this to be true in multiple aspects of my life: trauma, motherhood, and even IBD. I even found myself saying it during the 2019 Girls With Guts Newbie Retreat. Meeting incredible, strong women with ostomies doesn’t lessen my pain from moderate CD. And my struggles with treatment doesn’t lessen the trauma another woman has undergone from her UC.
When we meet other spoonies, people with chronic illness, we need to hold on to this.
We are each warriors.
We each have a beautiful story to tell.
We each have a unique battle to fight.