Hayley Roberts on living with Crohn's and the transformative ways it's changed her perspective on life
In the words of philosopher Bertrand Russell, this post is not addressed to the learned or those who regard a practical problem merely as something to be talked about. No profound philosophy or deep erudition will be found in the following lines. I have aimed only at putting together some remarks which are inspired by what I hope is common sense. All that I claim for the recipes offered to the reader is that they are such as are confirmed by my own experience and observation and they have increased my own happiness whenever I have acted in accordance with them.
There are days when I forget I am chronically ill and so does everyone else. This is the way I like it. I mean I don’t look like there is anything wrong with me… so why should there be? I don’t get treated any differently than I did before I became ill. Everyone still has the same expectations of me and I still have the same expectations of myself. I am still expected to get up and go to work every day and I am still expected to do that shot of tequila at the bar on a Saturday night!
The only thing that has changed is my outlook on life. I have learnt so much the past 3 years and I am so much more appreciative of everything and everyone in my life. I don’t mean to be a cliché but I nowrealise how true it is that life is not about what you think you want or need, it’s about being grateful for what you have.
Having Crohn’s Disease has made me a more compassionate person; I now see that the world does not revolve around me and that there is always someone worse off than me. I have learnt to stop complaining and that my life is not as bad as I used to make out. I have learnt not to take myself so seriously and I am now able to laugh at myself, in times of desperation when I’m in excruciating pain and have the most embarrassing of symptoms I can’t help but crack a smile at a silly joke my dad makes about me.
I have learnt that you can’t judge anyone, the only thing you know is your own circumstances and the situations you find yourself in, not those of others. If someone is having a bad day they may have reason to be. Instead of being hostile towards them, remember a smile is a curve that puts a lot of things straight. Everyone has their own way of dealing with things and their own coping mechanisms; I have learnt to be respectful of that.
Having Crohn’s has made me more confident in a sense that I never tell myself that I can’t do something. I can do anything I want to. I’m not afraid to voice my opinion on something or say how I feel. Whereas before I would just ignore how I feel and not speak up for fear of being criticised or judged. I am also more body confident than I have ever been; I am finally learning to be comfortable in my own skin. Everyone has their insecurities and body hang ups, but since being ill I have learnt that my outsides are more beautiful than my poorly insides will ever be. As much as I wish I looked like Emily Ratajkowski, I have to remember to be myself because everyone else is already taken. After all, we don’t look sick right! This is the joy of suffering with an invisible illness! Embrace it!
I have taken more of an interest in things that I thought didn’t affect me or that I thought were not relevant to my life, like charity and politics, for instance. The state of our government and the running of this country affects everyone and myself even more so now I am Ill. I have written a letter to my local MP, about prescription charges for those suffering with Crohn’s and other chronic illness that are not exempt from the charges. I would like to know why David Cameron thinks I am any less important than someone suffering with Diabetes for instance. I am not prepared to accept that I am not valued. I want to have a positive impact on the world and I want to do some good! If I can make even the smallest dent and spread some positivity then sign me up.
Crohn’s has taught me not to take my health and happiness for granted, I now realise how important it is to look out for number one and put myself first. Don’t take that the wrong way, I wear my heart on my sleeve and would do anything for someone I love. However, I have realised its ok to take control of my life and not to sacrifice my health and happiness for anyone or anything. Life is too short and it’s perfectly ok to be selfish about those things. Remember, you are supposed to be the leading lady in your own life! So live it exactly how you wish and the right people will follow you wherever you lead them. You don’t need anyone who doesn’t need you.
Finally, although having Crohn’s has made me seriously ill at times, it has made me realise all of the above and that it has actually done me some good! Being ill has made me realise how strong I am and taught me that no matter how bad I feel on particularly rough days, when I’m sure I can’t possibly endure anymore, I remind myself that my track record of getting through bad days so far is 100% and that’s pretty good! Realising how far I can push myself and how much my body can endure makes me understand how much I am able to achieve. I have also realised that I would be nowhere without a bottle of double wear in my make-up bag!! Yes, I am hurting but life goes on! So on goes my mascara and my favourite Mac lipstick. That’s right underneath I am a wreck, but I will be the prettiest wreck you’ve ever seen!