1. Surround Yourself With Positive People
Surround yourself with positive people who want to see you succeed and want to see you be the best version of yourself. With positive people around you, your stress levels are lowered, and we all know that the less stress we have, the less chances of a flare up.
2. Use Social Media to Connect
You can have indirect people in your life that can have a positive impact on you through the power of social media. Social media gives us a way to connect to thousands of people from around the world. This is so helpful because when you feel alone, you can type in a few words and quickly learn that you are not alone and there are others with similar experiences. Social media is a huge way for us to help each other, whether it is being an ear for someone else to vent or simply venting yourself.
Fight the tendency to use social media in a way that negatively impacts your mental health. Following “healthy” and “wealthy” influencers can cause you to compare your life to theirs. Remember that you are your own person and all you can do is be the best version of yourself.
Follow people because they INSPIRE you and they encourage you to grow as your own person. Follow positive pages such as art pages, personal music pages, and pages influence you to help you reach your own positive personal goals. Always be yourself, and do not compare yourself to others.
3. Treat Yourself
Focus on your happiness. I truly understand many people have significant others and children, however how can they be happy if you are miserable? If you focus on your happiness first, those around you can feed off your positivity and be happy too. Find things that you personally enjoy and do them! Do not let things hold you back. This is something I live by every day and it has boosted my mental health tenfold.
4. Focus on Your Health
Staying healthy is also something that will really help your mental attitude. When you are feeling your best, you perform your best. Take care of yourself by eating right; foods that do not trigger your flares, foods that are good for you, and when you are 100%, try to work out.
Being fit and healthy makes me excited to wakeup versus having to drag myself out of the bed. I understand that with IBD, it is difficult at times for us to stay completely healthy, but working on the above to keep stress out of your life will help tremendously. Less stress, better foods, and a stronger body will keep you feeling good and ultimately will keep your mindset in the right direction. Now when you do have downfalls do not stress over it, we all do and we all will. Take your time to heal, and when you are ready, get back to it. Know that there is always light at the end of the tunnel and that your bad days only make you stronger.
5. Become an Advocate Being an advocate is something that is personal to me and encapsulates all of the above tips. Don’t be afraid to stand out and put yourself out there. Whether you are having a flare, if you have an ostomy and are worried how you look and if people will judge you, you have scars, or any illness, you shouldn’t be afraid to show the world. Do not hide behind it, show it off!
I have an ostomy and in the beginning, I was always worried what others would think and if people would stare at me. Being without a shirt, whether online or in public, I have come to realize that nobody cares. You know it is there, therefore you think everyone else does and frowns upon it. Truth is that people just do not care.
When others see your happiness and willingness to speak up, it encourages them to speak up and put themselves out there. I cannot stress how amazing it is for someone to thank you for sharing your own story because it helped them. Post pictures of your body, your scars, your tears, and let people know about your struggles, but also show them your good days. The word invisible illness is very true when it comes to IBD because we are strong, and we hide it well. We are able to put a game face on at any moment and people never know what our real battles are.
Being open is not a weakness, it is in fact the opposite and when you express yourself vs self-loath in the dark, it will help your mind stay open and help you feel good about yourself. Show the real you to the world because believe me when I say this, our stories can save a life.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your condition.
About Wes LaFever
My name is Wes LaFever and I am 27 years old. I have had Ulcerative Colitis my whole life and as of 2017, I was diagnosed with Crohn's as well. I had attempted all medications from biologics to steroids, to regular medications and diet changes with no luck. In 2015 after a 75 lb weight loss, I lost my colon and was given an ostomy bag in its place.
The good news is it made me healthy again and gave me my life back! I kept the bag for 1.5 years to get my strength and life back in order and early 2017, I started my reversal for my jpouch. The Jpouch is an internal setup with your small intestine that allows you to be ostomy free by creating a “loop” to mimic your colon. Unfortunately, for me it did not take so well and I had a lot of inflammation which medication could not settle, which resulted in yet again another ostomy after battling that for 1.5 years. I will be keeping my ostomy until my final surgery date scheduled for late 2019.
I am okay with this and my mind is at ease, as I know I will be beyond normal with my ostomy. I have awesome friends, an awesome support group with many followers on Instagram @WESS.WORLD and I am able to work out and eat freely. Learning how to stay happy and healthy was not an easy task and it took me a lot of learning, and trial and error, but it is possible for all of us. I hope my message above can help you too, and know that if you ever need an ear to listen, or want some workout and diet inspiration, that I am ALWAYS a few clicks away!