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Name Your Chronic Illness - Reclaim Your Identity

Name your chronic illness. I first heard this idea on a Facebook IBD support group that I belong to. To begin with, I thought it was funny. I would refer to my extensive ulcerative colitis as “Bob” when talking to my husband about it out in public. “Bob gave me a hard time today”. Or “I’m so tired after dealing with Bob all day”. Or sometimes, “Bob is such a bastard!” Bob became our secret code and an ‘in’ joke for us.


What’s In A Name?


But something interesting happened. Gradually, I started referring to my illness as “Bob” at home too and even when thinking about it to myself. It was gratifying to have someone to yell and curse at – an identity beyond myself to blame when I needed an outlet. You see, up until this point I had been thinking of it as “my UC” and a part of me. Which, technically it is I guess, but it was taking over the view I had of myself.


The Turning Point

Now that I have “Bob” though, this disease is something that has happened to me and effects my functioning to different degrees on any given day. BUT… and this was the revelation for me… the disease is not me. It is not my identity. It is not my defining characteristic. It is definitely not the most important thing about me. What is important is that I am kind and curious and hard working and a fighter – THAT is my identity now.




Over To You

I encourage anyone out there who is struggling to maintain their identity outside of their chronic illness to try giving it a name. Since first discovering this technique I have heard some hilarious names other people have given their illnesses and would love to know what you guys come up with!

Wishing everyone healthy days ahead <3

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