Awareness Months: A love-hate relationship

Screenshot 2018-11-11 at 5.00.11 PMWhat do you think of when you hear the term “awareness month?”

Colorful ribbons? Charity walks? Fundraisers? Pink football jerseys?

In some ways, I think awareness months are great. They recognize conditions that are rarely cared about by those who don’t have them. They are times when people come together and show support for others who are sometimes like them, and often times not. They inspire people to donate to important causes. And they help people realize that they aren’t alone.

But when October ends and November begins, we shed our pink shirts and pull out the purple. We throw out the pamphlets from last week’s charity event and start planning our outfit for the one next Saturday. We move on from October’s cause(s) and onto November’s.

And I get it. I get that we can’t possibly support every cause, attend every event, donate to every foundation, and spread awareness about everything all the time. I get that when October ends, we do have to shed the pink and move on with our lives. And I get that one month of advocacy is better than nothing.

But what I don’t get is why we send the message that recognizing a cause for one month each year is enough.

It’s not.

May is IBD awareness month. But my condition is chronic. And yes, one month of support is great because there are many conditions that receive hardly any attention. But when that month ends, I’m still the same person. I still have the same disease. And I still want people to care as much as they do in May.

Awareness months are great because they bring people together. But more often then not, they don’t keep those people together. They are a glimpse into a life where people truly support and advocate for others that they might not even know. But then that glimpse is over and it feels like it will be forever before people will care again.

The causes we support during awareness months are causes that affect people every single day. And those people deserve more than just one month of support. 

So here’s my idea: we keep awareness months the same as they’ve always been. But during the other 11 months, we don’t turn a blind eye to the struggles of other people. So when May ends and June begins, we can still put away our purple. But we can’t stop caring. We can’t stop supporting. We can’t stop advocating. Because on June 1st people are still fighting IBD. Every day of every year people are dealing with something, and every day of every year those people deserve support. So we can move on from one charity event to another. But we can’t forget about the people who we raise awareness for. They don’t get to pack up their disease and wait for next year’s fundraiser; they need our support and our understanding all the time. 

We are all dealing with something. And even though we don’t all have an awareness month, or week, or day that recognizes our struggles, it doesn’t mean that they don’t matter. So the point I’m trying to make is that although awareness months do raise awareness, we don’t need matching shirts, fundraisers, and charity walks to show people that we care. We don’t need to wait around for a specific month or week to show support. All we need is to be mindful of what other’s might be going through and be there for the people around us as much as we can, whether it’s awareness month or not. 

If I could teach the world…

maxresdefaultIf you had to teach people one thing that was important to you, what would your lesson be? How to cook? How to draw? How to remember where you parked at the mall? Sign me up for that class, please. 

7 years ago when I was in third grade, the kids in my class had the chance to get up in front of everyone and teach something to each other. And I remember this day very clearly because I took it upon myself to teach the class how to draw. Now, even though I don’t remember if I taught my friends how to draw a dog, or a dolphin, or a duck, I knew that it was going to be the best day ever because my classmates would finally stop drawing ugly stick animals. So I proudly stood in front of the whiteboard and carefully drew the best animals I could, step by step. When my turn was over, I sat down and listened to the next person to teach the class how to put on a swim cap, and I guess the story ends there. 

As you can imagine, I’ve come a long way since third grade. I’m sure you have too. But I can’t think of a time since that day that I’ve taught a group of people something that I truly care about. And that’s sad because there is so much that I want people to know. About me, about each other, and about life in general. But in the real world, we aren’t just handed opportunities to sit everyone down and teach them something. We have to make those opportunities for ourselves. So, 7 years later, here I am, writing to you. I may not have a whiteboard, or a worksheet, or a presentation, but that’s okay; there won’t be a test on what I say. All I ask is that you read my thoughts and try to learn. 

Below is something that I wrote a little while ago. I’m calling it “If I could teach the world,” because it’s about what I would do if I could teach the world. Original, right? Continue reading

5 apps to get your life together(ish)

Image result for appsDisclaimer: I am not being sponsored by any of the apps below to promote their product. These are just some apps I find helpful and I hope you do too! I also realize that there are probably thousands of apps out there that do the same thing as the ones I mention but these are just my top 5 and they may not be everyone’s top 5. 

I know you are probably thinking, “5 apps? How much storage does she think I have?” But the thing is, you probably don’t need all 5. If you don’t take medicine, you don’t need the medication tracker. And, these apps aren’t going to transform you into some super organized, perfect person who never forgets about anything. But hopefully, they will make it easier for you to be a little more on top of your game.  Continue reading

IBD A-wear-ness Campaign

                      

Did you know that May is IBD awareness month? IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) is a group of two incurable illnesses (Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis)  that affect millions of people every year. While research has come so far in treating and managing these conditions, there is still so much progress to be made.

And that is why I need your help! You have the power to spread IBD awareness by purchasing one of these shirts (CLICK HERE!). All proceeds collected will be sent to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation to fund much-needed research to find a cure for IBD. 

Show support for IBD not just in May, but every day of the year by wearing one of these shirts. I designed them myself, so let me know what you think! 

If you are unable to purchase a shirt, don’t worry about it! There are so many ways to show support for IBD through volunteering or simply educating those around you about these conditions. 

The campaign will last until June 4, so pass it along before time runs out! I would love to reach my goal of selling at least 50 shirts. 

If you have any questions, leave a comment below or contact me at livinthecrohnslife.blog@gmail.com

Thank you for your support! 

Plans are just plans

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?!? Continue reading

Everybody has something

When we are struggling, it’s easy to be jealous of other people. We think of all the things we have to deal with that they don’t, and we want to be them. But what we don’t realize is that there is no perfect person. No one is living a life without some sort of suffering. Everyone has something going on that they wish would disappear.  Continue reading

Digesting The Spoon Theory

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The Spoon Theory. Maybe you’ve heard of it before. Maybe you’re wondering what crazy person would form a theory about spoons. Seriously, spoons? Salad tongs are so much more interesting. 

So what is the Spoon Theory, anyway? And why am I telling you about it? 

Sorry to disappoint you, but the Spoon Theory is not some secret silverware code. It really doesn’t have to do with spoons at all. 

It is simply a way for people with chronic illnesses to describe their complicated energy levels to “normal” people who are curious. It’s a metaphor that makes a lot more sense than anything I could think of. And if you ask me, it’s accurate. Well, kind of.  Continue reading

When the going gets tough

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“When the going gets tough, get tougher.”

You’ve probably heard this before. When you’re working out at the gym. Going on a really long run. Studying for a big test. Feeling really stressed out about everything going on around you. 

I think these words were designed to be a source of motivation to push through whatever struggles you are facing. But for me, they fall short.  Continue reading

Some things are nobody’s fault

you-151415_640People like to know all the answers. They like knowing the who, the what, the where, the when, the why, and the how about everything. They like when things make sense. 

And it’s fine to like these things. It’s fine to like knowing the answers, the who’s, the what’s, the where’s, the when’s, they why’s and the how’s. It’s fine to like it when everything makes sense. 

But the problem is, that as people, most of us get so used to having these things that we begin to expect them. Anytime something happens, we expect an explanation. An excuse. Some strand of logic that will make us understand exactly what’s happening and why.  Continue reading