An inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) diagnosis can be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster ride – for the patient, their family, and their partner.
If your partner or spouse is diagnosed with IBD, it can be tough to watch them make the lifestyle adjustments needed to manage their condition, as well as to make the adjustments to your relationship.
With some education and a concerted effort to support your partner (in sickness and in health!) you can be their greatest ally on their IBD journey, and your relationship can become even closer. As with all relationships, communication and trust are the keys to positive growth, as well as mutual love and respect.
They may not want to discuss it
It is not uncommon for people to experience feelings of anger, embarrassment, sadness, denial or confusion following their diagnosis. It can take time for individuals to work through these feelings on a personal level, to know where they stand and how they feel about their condition.
At first, as your partner confronts these issues they may need some time and space to move through their feelings on their own before they feel ready or confident enough to discuss their condition with you. Give them the time and space they need.
Get an education
If your partner isn’t ready or feels uncomfortable discussing their IBD openly, that doesn’t mean you need to stay in the dark. If the communication thing really isn’t flying just yet (it is ok, these things take time), then education is your best fall back.
Talk to doctors, see a counsellor, do some research online. This is your chance to learn about the symptoms of IBD and what you and your partner might expect in terms of changes to your lifestyle. Research can also shed light on the psychological implications of living with a life-long illness.
It is not uncommon for partners and family members to experience a sense of frustration, fear and uncertainty. Doing your research and speaking with healthcare professionals can put you in a better frame of mind to support your partner.