For a long time I felt that all I was was a disease – Ulcerative Colitis. My body and therefore my mind felt totally consumed by UC, as did every aspect of my life from my personal relationship with my then-fiance, to school, to work, and to my friends and family. UC had control over everything and I really believed that it did, indeed, DEFINE me.
However, now that some time has passed and I’ll be going on a year with my permanent ostomy (September is the 1-year mark!!), I’ve began to rethink what it means to have something define you and to wonder how the phrase could be thought of differently.
Did Ulcerative Colitis define me? Yes, it did. And I had no control over that, it seemed. No matter what I did, what medications I took, what diets I tried, UC retained its strong hold on me. Stepping back, however, IBD also made me a fighter as there were many times I could’ve thrown in the towel. It allowed me a broader sense of humor as well and shattered any shy bone I had in my body. Aren’t these good things? I think so and therefore, when I push myself, I have to agree that on some level, IBD defined me in a good way.
But does my ostomy define me? When I apply the question to my ostomy, I have a much harder time thinking of the question as negative. I believe that yes, my ostomy DOES define me in some ways, in many ways, actually. I believe my answer has to do with the way I view my ostomy – as a positive addition to my life. To me, my ostomy REPRESENTS my strength, my bravery, and my willpower. From that perspective, it DOES define me because I embody all of those qualities. But there’s still a large portion of my heart and mind that say that, of course, there is much more to me than an ostomy – but all those other parts of me are still linked to my ostomy. So while it may not totally define me, it has certainly helped me become who I am today. It has changed my entire focus and path in life…for the better.
Can you rethink what it means to have something define you? If you can find the positive side of the question, how can you reapply it to IBD or your ostomy? Do you believe it can be reapplied or do you believe otherwise?