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I've lost my smile.

Hi there,

New to this forum. Never done anything like this before. I'm 31 y/o female. Just got on disability because the crohns is too severe to do much of anything. It's taken over my entire GI. Feels like it's taken over my mind and heart too what with the depression and anxiety. I hate that I've had to surrender my career. Thanks to the struggle of getting diagnosed (took 5 years) and all the meds I've already tried that didn't work I struggle with having courage to see a dr. The anxiety is literally keeping me from looking for any solutions! How do you all deal with the losses? How do you deal with the anxiety? How do you keep from the victim mentality. I am not a victim! But I've lost my smile. I want it back. I don't feel beautiful without my smile.
I've been feeling just like that the last week. I just finished a colonoscopy/gastroscopy on Tuesday, where the preperation itself induced a flare and I had to suffer through drinking more of the stuff. I was retching and in pain and begging them the anasthetist to knock me out by the time I was wheeled in.

I'm in a rough place career wise. Prior to diagnose, I was almost 3/4 of the way through a PhD in medicine (specifically in cancer). I tried getting back but the disease just wouldn't get under control. To me it feels like a wild horse your riding - sometimes it settles and you think it's because you grabbed control of the reins, but horsey eventually goes off on it's wild ride no matter what you do with the reins, and you realise it wasn't you and there doesn't appear to be anything you can control.

After I dropped the PhD, the only work I could get was pulling staples out of paper (I'm not kidding about that). That really bugged me, I'd spent the better part of my life twisting puzzles in my head for a job. The only puzzle I'd come across was how the hell they got those tiny staples and such big wads of paper (after I'd pulled them out, someone would come along and put them through a scanner).

I got very depressed. Why was this happening to me? I'm supposed to be curing cancer, I thought. I read through the literature - I was a bit gobsmacked by the lack of it. I had to actually search for stuff on google. Usually my email would be full of medical research for pre-designated search terms for things in cancer and it'd be full of them. Not so much with crohn's. I even got snuck back into the lab to do my own bloodwork using leftovers from other generous scientists. Should have seen the look on my GI's face.

I have an awesome girlfriend. I think the blessed thing I can say about this disease is that I never truly realized how amazing she was until I was - and how much I underappreciated her. Any other woman would have walked (not just because of the disease), since some weekends I'm ill and can't get on a train for 2 hours to go see her. She takes it in stride, and though she might be sad I'm not coming, she has never once gotten angry or even frustrated about how it affects our relationship. Not once.

The problem with these forums is that you get typing and eventually (at least for me), you end up talking more about yourself than what originally spurred you to speak up in the first instance. Ha. Sorry.

As for career, I just refused to give in. My body might be failing, and I have to slow down physically (12 hours doing DNA extractions just isn't feasible anymore), but my brain doesn't. So I went back and am 3/4 of the way through a major in mathematics. I can't do cancer research in a lab - I can be C&*PPING blood and in pain and in bed, but I can do the math in my head. Nothing can take that away from me. I hold onto it.

Go to the Doctor, your family health etc. Tell them exactly how you feel. I think it is in your best interest to seek out a counselling/psychological service. There is nothing wrong with that. I go talk to one now and again. Once you get over the stigma, you realise when walking out of the office after a session that you don't feel weaker, but stronger. All I can say is you are somewhere we've all been. Perhaps others have been deeper than you, others not so bad, but we all know the feeling. But the thing that is the same for all of us is the first step in how to get out of it, and that's simply to ask for help to help yourself. :)