We’ve all heard the advertisements: “May cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting,” or worse…“other cancers.” In other words…worst nightmares. These commercials show happy, healthy looking people taking this toxic drug to have a “normal life…” That could include constipation and possibly a desire to commit suicide…awesome. (she says sarcastically)

If you’re anything like me, you mute these commercials or change the channel…because sometimes, ignorance is bliss. If I don’t see it, and if I don’t hear it, those things won’t happen. Maybe this type of behavior varies from person to person based on a diagnosis, or lack thereof. Maybe if you’re not faced with either taking or someday having to take these medicines, maybe you’re able to hear these ads and just think, “ugh, how awful! Glad I don’t have to worry about that…” But for me…well these ads scare me.

I’m afraid the drugs I’m taking will lead to some of these things…or worse…that they won’t work. There are days I can’t get away from being afraid that I’m going to die young. That I won’t get to see my kids graduate from high school, get married, or have their first child. These might be the most painful fears that no one tells you about when you are faced with the diagnosis of a chronic illness.

When it comes to chronic illness, the mental toll can sometimes be worse than the physical. After all, we all know how much our mental affects our physical. Sometimes you’re stuck between resting and taking care of yourself, but in these times your mind can run wild with worry. Or the alternative to that, which can mean doing too much, keeping your mind occupied, but falling into a hole with your health.

But, I think that all of this is why we have to keep trying to do our best. We cannot give up. We are not perfect, and we are going to make mistakes, but we have to keep trying.

Sometimes I get sad and disappointed in myself. You see, almost a year ago I was hospitalized due to an infection that sent my Ulcerative Colitis into a severe flare. And I made a resolve. I resolved to try and help my body naturally with food, meditation, and acupuncture before jumping to any of the “scary drugs.” I was on that path for some time, but with my best efforts, I still couldn’t get everything under control.

I decided to heed my doctor’s advice. I started new prescriptions, and we are still tinkering with meds to this day to get me right. And I HAVE to have faith. I HAVE to have hope. Yes, I am taking medications with a laundry list of possible side affects that could certainly kill a person…but I am fighting. I have not given up.

I think my point is that no matter what your situation in health, you have to always keep trying to do better. Sometimes that means succumbing to treatments that will hurt but more importantly help you. But this doesn’t mean you give up on the rest. I always imagine that if I’m going to have to take this stuff, I may as well be putting the best stuff in my body that I can! This will help the rest of my body to handle any of those possible side effects better. By the way, these horrifying side effects don’t happen to everyone. I had a doctor years ago tell me I had a higher chance of getting breast cancer just by being a woman than I did of getting any of these cancers from the medications, and I don’t wake up every day grabbing breasts and being terrified of that…So I MUST push some of these fears out of my mind…they do not serve me.

So today, do your best to serve your body the best way you know how. If that means taking medicine, take it. If that means eating healthier, do it. Or try and do both…my guess is the medications will do better in a body that wants to heal than in a body that has given up. It’s hard as hell…and I fight the urge every day to not just say screw it. I could just not take care of myself, but that wouldn’t serve me OR my family. I’m after those graduations. I’m after those weddings….and darn it…I’m after those grand babies. Keep on trying folks. We got this!