Dear fellow IBD or IBS Warrior,

So, you’ve been diagnosed with IBD or IBS. NOW WHAT? First thing’s first: Breathe. Take a couple deep breaths right now because I am here to tell you right now, at this moment that everything is going to be alright. Hakuna Matata (Lion King 1993). I am so sorry that you have joined our club of warriors but let me tell you that you are not alone and that HEALING IS POSSIBLE. This is my letter to you including everything I wished I had known when I was diagnosed.

Check out this amazing informational video by the GI Society:

I remember feeling scared, confused, helpless, and not knowing a single thing about UC. I remember the pain, the agony, and the feelings of loneliness. ALAS, there is good news: it can stop and you will be victorious. It certainly will include many ups and downs but this will ultimately change your life for the better. You will become a wiser, stronger, humbled, appreciative, knowledgeable, loving, healthier version of yourself. The first steps you should consider taking are as follows:

1. Find A Fantastic Gastroenterologist (GI Doctor)

I can tell you from experience that finding the right doctor is crucial to your healing process. I went years remaining in the same miserable spot with a doctor I didn’t like. When I finally found my current doctor, my healing improved almost instantaneously.

That being said, do some research on doctors in your area. Don’t necessarily go for the first doctor you find (like what I did). Instead, look into some reviews, rankings, or even visit with them and see how they are for yourself! Be choosy with your doctor because this is your life and you command who is allowed in or not. The better the doctor you vibe with, the better your healing experience will be. They are out there!

2. Find Your Support System

Though you did not choose this journey, you have officially been inducted into the elite group of 900,000 other UC warriors in the United States alone. Furthermore, WE ARE HERE FOR YOU. Everyone with UC, or any form of IBD, has a different journey so it is important to understand that we are all experiencing things a little differently. However, we are out here and we are gathering to share our stories, coping processes, tips, tricks, and healing successes.

I strongly encourage you to find a group or multiple groups to join to begin gaining support from fellow UC warriors just like you. Here is a great list from Health Central of some communities you could explore to discuss your journey with or even just to observe and learn from. It’s pretty dope so here ya go: CLICK HERE FOR LINK. Also, feel free to check out some social media groups. There are thousands of us on Facebook and Instagram connecting and sharing our stories. Feel free to check us out!

In addition to your UC community, I encourage you to reach out to your family members and closest friends. It can be difficult to tell other people of your current circumstances. You may feel ashamed or embarrassed but, trust me, if you give people the chance to understand and support you, they actually will! Your loved ones love you and will help you in any way they can so please help yourself by telling at least one person to start. It’s always easier when you can talk to someone about your journey, even if all they do is listen.

3. Hit The Books

Knowledge is your best weapon against UC – hands down. The more you understand about the condition, your body, and your options, the more accurately you can act in improve your well-being. After learning what you can from your doctor, take a step back before you plunge into the internet for answers. Make sure that you are searching for credible online sources of articles and do excellent research to help you along the way. Great research leads to great results – and inevitably faster healing process. Your body is already equipped with everything it needs to get better, you just need to acquire the knowledge, discipline, and habits so that your mind can tell your body exactly what to do.

Always remember that your journey may be different from others so try not to be scared away into feeling hopeless if you read about people who have gone through the worst. I know, I have been there. Your body may be healed in a different way but it is up to you to find out what that is. Don’t be afraid to try new treatments, recipes, supplements, lifestyle changes, or any number of beneficial actions after taking an adequate dip into the vast knowledge pool that is the internet. Read into it and decide what is best for YOU.

It is always great to find articles, follow doctors on their blogs, go to the library, order from Amazon, but I can tell you without a doubt the first book you should get yourself was my Holy Grail in beginning my journey. That book was Self Healing Colitis & Crohn’s: The Complete Wholistic Guide to Healing the Gut & Staying Well by Dr. David Klein. I credit this book with jump-starting my healing and the evolution into my best, healthiest self.

4. Document Your Journey (Optional)

Definitely, something I wish I had done since the beginning of my journey was to document it. Looking back it is really amazing to see how far you have come and looking forward to your bright future. So, I highly recommend getting yourself a diary, journal, start a blog, create a podcast series, or whatever you’re interested in to get your story out there. You don’t have to have much to get you started. Start with “Day 1” and write down what is going through your head, how you are feeling, what you are doing. You will thank yourself for documenting your journey looking back as a fully healed, healthier, stronger self in the future. I know I did. Your story matters and so do you!

In closing, just know that despite what you may have heard, this condition is not “incurable.” Healing is possible and there are numerous stories that prove that it can be possible for you too. So, pick your head up, and hold on because you are about to embark on a life-changing journey. Brace yourself for the hard times ahead and get excited about your triumphs-to-come. We are all here with you. We have been where you are. We are here to guide you through this. You are not alone. You can do this.

WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHER.

Standing by your side,

Jake