Beauty and the Bag”… Confidence

Con­fi­dence is one thing that is hard to have when you’ve got a bag of your own feces hang­ing off of your stom­ach.  Sur­pris­ingly, that exact bag is what has given me the con­fi­dence to live life to the fullest and reach for all the goals I’ve set for myself.  To me, my ostomy is a sym­bol of my fight with IBD.  It is a sym­bol of sur­vival and resilience.  I choose life. I choose an ostomy.  To me, those things are the oppo­site of embar­rass­ing.  Here are a cou­ple tips that have helped me have the con­fi­dence to take risks, meet new peo­ple, talk about my dis­ease, and be a happy per­son. Whether you have IBD, an ostomy, or are just look­ing for a boost, these tips may help!

  • Do some­thing that makes you feel like you’re doing some­thing good for yourself!
    • This can be phys­i­cal or men­tal.  When­ever I had a bad or painful day I would either escape into a book that I felt taught me some­thing, painted my nails for a ther­a­peu­tic “mini-spa” night, or went to the gym to blow off some steroid induced steam.  Human beings have an innate desire to improve them­selves.  If you feel like you are treat­ing your­self right, it will boost your confidence.
    • Self-Affirmations.
      • Yes, you may think these don’t work, but I am a firm believer in “self-talk” and self-affirmations.  Here are my favorite affir­ma­tions but feel free to change these to fit the things you want to be.  For best results, look your­self in the mir­ror while you say them.
        • I am beautiful
        • I am strong
        • I can han­dle any­thing that life throws at me
        • I am resilient
        • I am lovable
  • Side note, after I did these 2 times a day for 2 weeks I actu­ally start­ing say­ing to myself “Hell yeah I’m resilient! Look at what I’ve been through!”
  • Sup­port others
    • Doing some­thing for another per­son in need will make you feel like you are giv­ing back.  There is some­thing about “doing good” that makes you feel great! For me, it’s mak­ing youtube videos and vis­it­ing new osto­m­ates in the hos­pi­tal and sup­port­ing them.  It could be as lit­tle as offer­ing to watch your neighbor’s pet fish while he or she is out of town or as big as vol­un­teer­ing with Habi­tat for Humanity.
    • Allow your­self “bad hour.”
      • Many IBDers I’ve met are extremely strong peo­ple! A lot of them tell me they don’t allow them­selves to be sad, and I’m guilty of this too.  I brush off the feel­ings of fear or sad­ness when it pops up. Repress­ing these feel­ings is not always a good thing.  I allow myself 20 min­utes to an hour to “feel sorry for myself” or have a good cry, or be angry and won­der “why me?!” I even set a timer.  After that hour I go out and do some­thing I enjoy, like walk the dog. It’s impor­tant to pull your­self out of the “bad” after your time is up! That was my bad hour for the day or week so that’s all I get to feel sorry for myself.

Writ­ten by: Laura Cox

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About the author

Laura Cox

I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis about 3 years ago. It turned my life upside down. I tried to take every challenge into stride and tried to grow from it; and grow I did! My disease has given me so many challenges, and from those challenges I’ve learned invaluable lessons (not to mention learned a ton about medicine). I founded “Ostomystory” youtube channel almost 2 years ago. On this channel I share experiences, encouragement, advice, stories, and support with my subscribers. My goal is to be a friend and supporter to my viewers. I approach writing for The Crohn’s Journey Foundation the same way I approach my video blogging. I want to give an honest account of daily life with IBD and an ostomy.