How can I cope with ulcerative colitis?
'There will be good days, and there will be bad days. You can let
yourself do less on the bad days, because you know there will be a good
day again soon.'
- A.G., Greece
ulcerative colitis can sometimes affect nearly every aspect of your life
beyond just the physical symptoms. Depending upon your age and your
point in life, you may worry about the financial burden of your illness,
possible loss of work or income, or implications for insurance coverage.
As an older adult, you may face challenges around work or retirement,
caring for family members, or leisure time activities. There is also the
social impact - coping with issues associated with being chronically ill
as well as any practical challenges of going out in public and needing
access to toilets. On a personal level, relationships with your spouse,
your children, your parents and your friends are important to discuss in
the context of IBD.
also have a range of emotional reactions to your diagnosis, such as
fear, denial, relief, guilt, anger or resentment. All of these reactions
are normal and usually in time, as you learn to cope with your illness,
you will reach a level of understanding and acceptance. It is helpful to
be able to talk through your feelings with someone else, such as a
friend or close family member or loved one. Also consider speaking with
your doctor about psychological counselling if you find you need
'If your friend asks how you are doing,
my advice is to tell them how you really feel. You will find them to be
more supportive when they know what's going on inside. ' - C.B., The Netherlands
support groups are also very helpful in providing emotional support as
well as information about specific problems or issues you are facing, at
are several practical things you can do on a daily basis to help you
cope. For example, if attacks of diarrhoea, pain or gas make being in
public places difficult, some practical advance planning may help. Find
out where the restrooms are in restaurants, shopping areas, theatres and
on public transportation ahead of time. You may find it helps to carry
along extra underclothing or toilet paper for particularly long trips.
When going farther away from home, be sure to pack a large enough supply
of your medication, find out its generic (non-branded) name in case you
run out or lose it, and the location of clinics and hospitals in the
area you may be visiting. It is also a good idea to check with your
doctor to make sure you are well before you go.
Remember that many other people with ulcerative colitis face challenges
similar to these every day, and that you're not alone. Friends, loved
ones and colleagues can all provide support for you, as well as support
groups, who you can contact through EFCCA.
go about your daily life, try to stay involved in some of the same
activities that you enjoyed before your diagnosis. Some days, you may
not feel up to it. Other days, you may be able to achieve it easily, and
you will want to give it more emphasis. Only you can decide what's right
for you. It will help to follow your doctor's instructions and stay
positive, and to play an active role in your care.
When telling others about your illness, it may be helpful to give them
information or a list of resources where they can turn for answers to
their questions. You can decide how much information you'd like to give
someone else about IBD, and your illness. Some people may be curious and
can deal with lots of detailed information in order to support you. For
others, just some simple facts and practical points might be better.
further practical advice, see
Achieving more with IBD.
important thing you can do is learn all you can about your illness and
be involved in your care. Working with your doctor to make decisions and
address your concerns will give you back a feeling of control. It is
most helpful if you talk openly and honestly about any concerns you may
have, and ask questions along the way if there is something you don't
understand or if an answer is unclear.
more information about working with your healthcare team in the
management of your disease, see,
Your IBD Consultation.
are some things you can do to play an active role in the management of
involved in the proactive management of your own health every day
Know when and how to take care of your general health
Follow your management plan and take your medication
questions if you are concerned, and seek help if a problem arises