How I changed my mind to change my health with Crohn’s Disease
It began for me in 1996. I was 23, a software developer pressuring myself to become successful and make plenty of money. I was experiencing higher than usual stress levels at work, discomfort in my belly, more than usual bowel movements and discharging mucus after going to the bathroom. I went to see my GP to find out what was happening with me.
My Diagnosis and Identity Shift into Disease
My GP sent me to 2 Gastroenterologists, who confirmed the diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease. They both stated conclusively that this disease will remain with me for the rest of my life. Little did I know the psychological impact this would have on me for many years to come. I believed them completely and I trusted them. I was shattered and ashamed of the disease, which meant I was ashamed of myself. I didn’t like talking about it and tried to hide from it. I identified myself as, “Joe who has Crohn’s Disease and is suffering.”
My health problems just became worse after that and I reached my breaking point in 2002. I had just finished having fistula surgery, which was very traumatic for me. I am still recovering from emotionally from this experience. My body is forever altered. I was experiencing extremely high bowel movements daily, with rectal bleeding and regular pain. My colonoscopy showed that the inflammation was at dangerous levels. I was on a cocktail of medications that kept changing due to doctor’s orders. The best that the medications gave me was some short-term relief with a multitude of side effects. Eventually the health problems returned, sometimes stronger than before. The medications only gave me a false sense of hope.
My Gastroenterologist (GI) and Colorectal surgeon both said that I was high risk of bowel cancer and in dire need of colostomy surgery. I was in disbelief that there was no other option. I was not prepared to live in a world that did not have a solution. So I outright said, “No.” I started to take matters into my hands. I have letters from my GI to my General Practitioner (GP) saying that I was difficult to counsel because my disease was highly active, yet, I was no longer taking their advice.
From 2002 until 2006 I tried different methods and different techniques, hoping to find relief. This included different diets, supplements and exercise techniques. I ended up on a rollercoaster that fluctuated between feeling ok and severe flare-ups, which lead to months of agony and rebuild. I kept trying and trying. I am not someone that gives up easily.
There were many times that I was scared. I knew someone that had Crohn’s Disease for many years. He ended up with Bowel Cancer, from which he died. I was being as careful as possible. Although I didn’t listen to the medical system completely, I still had colonoscopies just to make sure there wasn’t anything cancerous in my bowels.
My life was filled with stress, anxiety, depression and mood swings. I especially had anxiety around food and social situations. I was constantly thinking about bathrooms and what going to go wrong with my bowels each day. I was taking things out on my wife (at the time) and my daughter. This just increased the guilt I was already experiencing. My energy levels were very low. As I am writing this, my daughter just mentioned that she would ask me to play tips or hide and seek and I would say, “No I can’t because I’m sick”. So I would lie down and say, “Let’s do something here on the floor”. I felt so sad. What I wanted to do more than anything was to run around with my daughter, to really play with her. The fact that I could not, just added to my grief.
I wanted to change so badly. I was getting frustrated and fed up, not just with the disease but also with the system. No one could help me. I hated the world.
The Day I Chose Health
One night, in September 2006, I was having trouble sleeping, just like so many other nights. My thoughts were on a steep negative spiral and my anxiety was higher than ever. I was saying, “Why me” to myself again and again, as if I were being punished. Eventually the “Why me?” became a question. I felt something deep inside telling me that there was a big reason why. I realized that I have the ability to heal myself and that there is a bigger purpose to this journey. At that moment, I made a choice to heal. This brought about a touch of excitement. I looked at my life and thought about all the good things that could happen if I did heal. I thought about what I could become for myself and how I could help others. I was ready to dramatically improve the quality of my life.
This was the day I chose to be healthy. My health became my priority, above all else, above money, above work, even above family. I knew that if I was healthy, then I would be able to give more to those other areas of my life, including to those that I love, especially my daughter. I stopped identifying myself with Crohn’s. I started identifying myself with health. I became more mindful and believed that everything that I was doing was contributing to my health.
I essentially shifted my mindset from a disease mindset to a health mindset. I expanded this shift to the belief that I will become completely symptom-free, to the point that I would be living as If I never had Crohn’s Disease. I worked on myself emotionally, mentally, spiritually as well as physically. In March 2008, 18 months after I made that choice, I became completely symptom-free, with no need for meds or special diet. I have been living like this, symptom-free ever since, with much more energy, peace and health than I could have ever imagined. My daughter also just mentioned that she had told my brief story to her teacher and how I am helping others now. Her teacher was amazed. My daughter told me how proud she is of me. Looking back from where I came from, seeing how I have changed as a human being.
I do not recommend going off medications without first consulting a medical practitioner. I was able to get some temporary relief from Remicade first, and then from TCM. This gave me more strength to build on my mindset and really start my self-healing journey. I very slowly weaned off all my medications, only after my symptoms had started slowing down. During this process, whilst I still had minor symptoms, I had a colonoscopy. The GI said, “Whatever it is that you are doing keep doing it”. He did not ask what I was doing. When I told him, he seemed disinterested. Four years after I was living completely symptom-free, I had another colonoscopy with blood work. I was told then, that I was in clinical remission and there are no need for medications. What was surprising was that they knew that I had intentionally self-induced remission, yet, they did not want to know how I did it. It baffled me that they were not taking notes so they could help other people reach the same place.
There is so much confusion because of the amount of information available. The truth remains the same. The solution is to stop looking outside for someone who has a magic answer. The solution begins with Self-Empowerment, it starts by looking within.
Where True Healing Begins
True self-healing begins by first making the choice to heal and then by removing the identity of disease and replacing it with the identity of health. Therefore, there is no trying. There is only being with the methods you use, knowing that they are healing – knowing that you are the one who has the power to heal yourself.
Since I healed myself, I have been learning how to help others. Everyone deserves a chance to become healthy. I recognize that helping yourself and helping others differ greatly. After many years of study, research and practice, I have found that the majority of people who have IBD identify with the disease and find it difficult to shift. I remember I initially had this problem as well. We tend to find many excuses to avoid the healing process. This is part of the self-victimization cycle that comes with the disease. Some of these excuses for me included – “I don’t have enough time, I don’t have enough money, It’s not possible, what if things get worse, I don’t want to compromise other parts of my life. I keep trying and nothing works, It all sounds too hard. I’ll try the easier way”. What I have found, in my last 8 years of research, is that most people never heal from chronic disease because one or more of these statements replays in the brain, often unconsciously. The solution is to empower yourself by taking responsibility and shifting into a health mindset.
A health mindset means the following:
- Health comes first and is a choice
- There are no excuses to compromise health as a priority
- Your actions are health based
- You always make time for health
- You identify with health rather than disease. Your thinking and talking is health based
I now work with people who are ready to talk about shifting from a disease mindset to a health mindset. Everyone is unique. I ask questions that are specific to the individual, geared towards getting to the root of what is happening at a deeper unconscious level. Then we work on a solution, using mostly neuroscience based techniques that allow the individual to self-program their brain, in their own way and very simply.
Self-healing from IBD begins here with the identity shift. Changing the Mind Changes the Body. This is the first of many parts that is required to heal. Beyond these steps there is more work on the Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spiritual bodies. Each one is equally important as the others and are looked at differently for each person. Although it may sound complex, the steps required are usually quite simple and do not require too much time. All you need is to set the fundamentals and everything else falls into place.
If you have IBD, IBS or any other form of gut condition, I invite you to answer the following questions.
Are you ready to take the next step to heal yourself?
Are you willing to place health as your priority and therefore make the time that is needed now?
For more tips on how to improve your health with Crohn’s, Colitis or IBS, here is a link to download my free ebook IBD: How to Overcome Anxiety and Kickstart Good Health. If the information I am providing to you makes sense and you would like to have a brief chat, you can book a call with me from within the ebook and also on the Thank You page for the download.
Peace, Love and Healing energy to you.