Growing up is hard. School is hard. Managing friendships and reaching goals is hard. And, living with IBD is hard. There is no question that kids and teens today have a mountain of responsibilities and pressures without worrying about managing a life-long condition. With all the school assignments, sports, activities and just trying to have fun, having to add in one more step makes it feel like the glass is going to shatter.

The breaking point is different for each person and depends on the timing of the demand. There are times when being told to add in a supplement or take out a food is no big deal and other times it is overwhelming. Adding one more dose of XXX or deciding about surgery can feel equally debilitating. Everyone has experienced a time when living with IBD has felt shattering. That is the “normal” of living with a chronic illness. While those overwhelming feelings are normal and expected, they don’t have to be the constant or the baseline.

Resilience is also something that patients and families living with a chronic illness have. Resilience was once thought of as a static trait - that either a person was either resilient or not. We now know that resilience is a trait that can be taught and that it can change over time. When you see your friendly psychologist and/or social worker in clinic know that we are here to share our knowledge and help build important life skills like resilience. We are here to celebrate with our families when things are going well and wade in the trenches when life and IBD get hard.

What are some ways we can help? We can ask questions, so we know where you’re at, what stressors you’re dealing with and how you’re managing to get through the day. We can check in about your understanding of treatment recommendations and ask how you plan to make any changes fit into your daily routine. When it feels like the glass is about to shatter, we can offer targeted and problem-focused solutions. We may talk about general wellness including sleep (it’s as important as eating and breathing!) and taking time to unwind – even if it’s 15 minutes a day. We can talk about mental health and how to best address chronic stress and any symptoms of anxiety or depression. We can and will meet you where you are and help identify steps to get you to where you want to be.

As members of your multidisciplinary IBD team, we know living with IBD is hard. We know it can be overwhelming. We want our patients and families to thrive because just surviving isn’t good enough. At the end of the day, we want everyone to view their cups as full and to know that we are here to help when it feels like the cup is about to shatter.

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