Yesterday was May 19th. It was also World IBD Day- a day when people try to show a little extra support for Crohn’s and Colitis. A day to reflect on how far research has come since last year, and how much farther we still have to go. But if World IBD Day was yesterday, why didn’t I write anything about the most important day for IBD awareness?!?Here’s the thing: I planned to blog yesterday. I plan to blog a lot more than I actually do. But plans are just plans and they don’t always work out. And that’s okay.
Yesterday I did a lot of fun things. I went shopping, I did my homework (okay maybe not so fun), and I went out for dinner. But I was also tired and my joints hurt most of the day. And when I went to write my World IBD Day blog post, I really wasn’t feeling it. So I chose not to write anything.
Could I have written something? Yes. Could I write a lot more than I do? Yes. Can all of us do more than we already do? Probably. But that doesn’t mean we should.
It is great to plan your schedule and activities. It keeps things organized and clear. But when you live with a chronic illness, planning things often leads to defeat when you have to cancel them because of how you feel. I feel guilty when I cancel plans at the last minute because I’m tired or in pain. I feel bad when people ask me when I’m free and I can’t give them a definite answer. And I feel frustrated because I feel that my illness gets in the way of other people’s lives and not just my own.
But even though I didn’t write the blog post I intended to write yesterday, I realized something more important. I realized that in life, and especially life with chronic illness, plans fail a lot. But that doesn’t mean that we fail as people. I am not failing at blogging because I don’t post at a set time every week. I am not failing at being a friend because I’ve canceled plans last minute. We do not fail as people when we don’t accomplish or attend everything we had planned to.
And I also realized that I don’t need World IBD Day to spread awareness. Although it is amazing that on May 19th the world tries a little harder to support people with Crohn’s and Colitis, it shouldn’t be the only time these illnesses are given any thought. Because for me, every day is IBD Day. Every day I wake up with IBD, and every day I try to do what I can to raise support for people like me. Getting all caught up in the May 19 excitement is fun, but it sends the message that there is only one day to spread awareness. And that’s not true!
So, if you “celebrated” World IBD Day, that’s great! I’m thankful you took the time to spread awareness about Crohn’s and Colitis. If you didn’t or had absolutely no clue there was such a day, that’s okay! The entire month of May is IBD awareness month, so you’ve still got time. Just because you (and I) missed the day doesn’t mean we missed the chance to raise support, awareness, and funds for IBD. That chance is always there no matter what time, day, or month it is.
Even though my plans fell through and I wasn’t able to post yesterday doesn’t mean that I’ve failed as an advocate. It doesn’t mean I missed my opportunity to spread awareness. Plans are just plans and they fall apart…a lot. Add chronic illness into the mix and sometimes they fail a lot more. But A failed plan does not make for a failed idea or a failed person.
So yes, plans are helpful. But for the chronically ill, they can be a source of stress and negative emotions, and others need to be mindful of that. World IBD Day is also helpful. But it shouldn’t be the only day people support those with IBD. Awareness isn’t a one-time thing. One day a year is not enough recognition for the millions of people who live with IBD worldwide. We need support every day of the year because our battles are not just on May 19th. They are chronic. And although you can’t fight them for us, by raising awareness and funding research you can make it so we don’t have to fight them anymore. And that kinda goes for everyone, IBD or not. Everyone is fighting battles every day of the year. And you can’t fight those battles for that person, but by giving support, you can still help them win.