The Upside of Ulcerative Colitis

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The Upside of Ulcerative Colitis

Some health conditions are a little classier than others. My friend has a plastic leg called Ursula, which she’s removed and chastised for not performing well in Pilates–now that’s classy. My disease involves gurgly guts, painful gas, bloody toilet tissue, and diarrhea–that’s not classy.

Some health conditions are a little classier than others. My friend has a plastic leg called Ursula, which she’s removed and chastised for not performing well in Pilates–now that’s classy. My disease involves gurgly guts, painful gas, bloody toilet tissue, and diarrhea–that’s not classy.

Lifestyle and Predisposition to Illness

Overstress contributes to most major health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, respiratory problems, cancer, and gastrointestinal disorders such as ulcerative colitis. Let’s look at the three main stresses in life–the whimsies of daily living, your personality, and your physical self. All directly affect your health.

Whimsies of life: The daily grind is stressful: traffic, accidents, grumpy people. Frustrations are numerous and generous, and stress–from misplacing your keys to planning a summer vacation–can exacerbate health conditions.

Your personality: How do you handle the frustrations in your day? Are you irritable or pleasant? Optimistic or pessimistic? You’ve learned specific ways of coping, and they should improve your life and mood–but do they?

Your physical self: Your physiological makeup determines how stress affects your health. Tension headaches, insomnia, ulcers–the responses to stress are varied. Stress aggravates your weakest link; for instance, my weakness is my guts, so my colitis is more likely to flare when I’m anxious about visiting my in-laws.

How to Influence Your Health

Your attitude can strengthen your immune system, make you less vulnerable to inflammation, and give you a happier outlook on life. Avoiding triggers helps, but some people actually seek stress. Few things inflame my colitis more than writing for magazines and yet I actively incur that stress. Dealing with the effects of stress is more important than dealing with the stressful situation itself.

“Our task is to say a holy yes to the real things of our life as they exist,” said creative writing guru Natalie Goldberg. Saying yes means accepting both the bitter and the sweet–and that includes fine-tuning our attitudes and lifestyles until they support health and well-being.

Saying yes is naming your prosthetic leg, going to Pilates class anyway, and looking for the upside of ulcerative colitis.

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