Can you quite believe that as you’re reading this and I’m writing this, it’s 2021. Whilst although I am glad to see the back of 2020, it has also knocked me sideways to think that despite all the shit, I basically blinked and missed the entire year.
In the spirit of looking forward, staying optimistic and preparing for ‘new beginnings’, I thought it the perfect time to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard in a more accurate account) and work out some of my own health resolutions for the year ahead.
1 ✨ Stop invalidating my own illness
Living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease can seem like an uphill battle when you have more hospital appointments than plans with friends and have to change medications more frequently than your own bedsheets. The reality is (and sorry for exposing a badly kept secret) that these struggles also make for compelling content on social media. Did she really just say that? Yes, I did – because I’ve lived through it and I’m not here to fool anyone. It’s no surprise that my account seemed in vogue when I was constantly flaring and on steroids. It’s no surprise that the times I was picked up by Radio 5Live and UniLad were around the same times that I was blogging from hospital waiting rooms. And to be honest, it’s no surprise that I’ve been riddled with imposter syndrome and questioning my own health for the last few years that I’ve been in remission. I have struggled so much about my ‘place’ within the online IBD community over the last couple of years, and as a result have become increasingly quieter on my blog, have produced fewer videos for my YouTube channel and perhaps become considerably more aware about my posts on social media. The reason why I’m saying all this is: being in remission does not invalidate your Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis.
2 ✨ Keep sharing my experiences
Which leads me nicely onto number two, which is why I’m reminding myself to keep on sharing my experiences, even if they look ‘normal’ and day-to-day. Living with IBD is enough of a pain in the arse (pun 100% intended) as it is, trying to convince the world that your invisible illness is visible. So why the f*ck are we still feeling like we have to continue to prove the visibility of our illness online too? It’s bonkers, and quite frankly, it’s draining. So this is a reminder to myself, and to you, if you’ve been feeling this way too – that you don’t need to feel like your experience isn’t ” as good” or “as bad” as someone else’s. Every single person will have a different experience of IBD, and every single body will live differently with it too. And that is okay! That is the amazement of the human body for crying out loud – we are all totally different. Completely and utterly unique, and so are our journeys too! Share them if you want, but also don’t if you don’t want! Getting a diagnosis does not instantly mean you have to create a WordPress account. Respect your own journey, just as you would respect someone else’s.
3 ✨ Continue to view my health holistically
As you may know, I’ve been trying to deal with my Crohn’s Disease sans-medication for the last few years now. Disclaimer: I am not a medical health professional, and if your body requires medication then you should probably take it. I’ve been in remission for the majority (if not the entirety) of the time that I’ve been meds free, which has been a remarkable and amazing journey. That said, it doesn’t mean that I have always been “healthy” and I am very aware that there is always more to learn and educate myself on. I am so fascinated with all the different ways that we can view our health, the ways in which we can ‘heal’ and the things that we have yet to understand about Inflammatory Bowel Disease. So, I’m making it my mission this year to continue to be open to new things, new ideas and new paths.
4 ✨ Realign and re-evaluate my goals
Every year I set myself horrendously unrealistic resolutions, based on pretty vacuous and unattainable things. In fact, they are so unachievable that I don’t even remember what the hell they were by the time February comes. So! This year, I want to realign with my body and my mind and re-evaluate the kind of goals that I’m setting myself. For example, this year I want one of my goals to be: move more. Instead of saying: I want a 6-pack by April or I want to weigh X by the Summer, I’m simply acknowledging that the core principle of what I want to achieve is to 1) get out of the house every day and 2) move my body. When you suffer with a chronic illness, exercising can be really challenging at times. Our bodies can ache, be stiff and painful and sometimes riddled with fatigue, which doesn’t make for ideal exercising conditions. That’s why I want to ease the pressure off myself and just simply say: move more. Some days, I might feel spontaneous enough to go for a 5KM run before breakfast (unlikely) and sometimes I might just feel good about going for a walk around my local park. Whatever it is, allowing myself the flexibility and the kindness to just do the best I can do, will hopefully be a game-changer.
5 ✨ Remember the importance of mental health
Which brings us nicely to the final goal, remembering the importance of mental health. Like many, many, many people, I found the overwhelming doom, uncertainty and monotony of 2020 completely unbearable. I realise that being able to work from home, still be able to pay my bills, live with my boyfriend and keep a roof over my head means that I am one of the far luckier ones, mental health is not based on a points system, and I found myself falling deeper and deeper. My doctor diagnosed me with both anxiety and depression in the Summer, and shortly after I was also told that I was suffering from Generalised Anxiety Disorder too. I started CBT but unfortunately it just wasn’t my vibe, and I stopped having the sessions for fear that I was taking up someone else’s place that may find that style of therapy more beneficial than I did. Whilst I am still struggling with the impact of endless-lockdowns on my mind, I’m making a conscious effort this year to carve out the appropriate time my mind not only wants and needs.
And that’s a wrap! What are your resolutions (if any) for the year? Sometimes the best resolution for the year is just: to be.