Mental health has recently been a big topic of discussion. There tends to be a stigma associated with mental illness, so it’s great that people are beginning to be more open about their struggles. I wanted to continue to shed light on this topic and talk about the mental health realities as an IBD patient and share some tips and tricks on how I’ve learned to cope.
I’ve come a long way with my disease and recently won second place in my first United States Nationals competition for ballroom dancing. Throughout my achievements, maintaining my mental health has been so important. Anxiety and depression are very much a reality for people with chronic illness and sometimes I feel like it gets swept under the rug - especially for those of us in remission.
When I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s, the reality of it all did not really set in until I got older. I was 8 years old and couldn’t comprehend the logistics of it. Quite frankly, I didn’t experience much anxiety until I reached remission because I was constantly paranoid about flaring up. Periods of depression even still sometimes creep up on me, especially when I go for my infusions. I think this is because it’s just a constant reminder of the reality of our disease and there is loads of time to just sit and get into my head thinking all about what could go wrong.
Find A Hobby
Keeping yourself busy is the key. Find a hobby. I’m a firm believer in the power of art as a form of therapy. Whether it be painting, drawing, playing music, or dancing - it’s so awesome to see yourself create something special out of using the emotions you carry inside.
Get Up and Moving
Exercise, if you are well enough. You can even go for a walk outside and immerse yourself in nature. I always find I feel ten times better after I get myself up and moving!
Talk It Out
Don't be afraid to ask for help. It doesn’t make you weak. It’s better to talk about how you are feeling rather than bottle it up. Bottling your emotions often results in more anger, more depression and starts effecting your relationships with other people. I have recently started searching for options to speak with a therapist. This used to make me feel ashamed and embarrassed, but I now realize it will not only help me with IBD-related issues, but other stuff going on in my personal life as well. Sometimes your head is your own worst enemy. Once you figure out a way to make amends with it, things will start to seem a little bit easier!
Get Involved with the IBD Community
Getting involved with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation has changed my life. I try to volunteer every summer at Camp Oasis as a camp counselor. It really is like one big family and those kiddos are my heart and soul. They inspire me to do better and work harder! I am so thankful for the community we have and all the support that’s out there. It’s a good thing to know and keep in mind that you aren’t really ever alone.
Feel free to follow me on Instagram, @itslifebygab, to keep in touch with me and stay connected. Keep on with the fight! 💜
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 Gabriella Lambros
Gabriella Lambros is a 21-year-old college student and amateur ballroom dancer. She would love to one day dance professionally, but also has an interest in nutrition and health sciences and wants to remain involved with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, which she gives back to every summer as a camp counselor. Gabriella has also created quite the social media presence on Instagram via @itslifebygab. She hopes to inspire those with or without IBD that they can achieve anything they set their mind to despite obstacles that might come their way.