Stress is amazing thing. It can shape your personality, the way you treat others and the way you treat yourself. The causes of UC are still very much unknown, but there is evidence to suggest that stress may contribute. For me, stress played a huge part and looking back I have managed to pin point a few major events in my life that may have contributed to my diagnosis.
I tended to take on the world and although I was only diagnosed in January 2017, the summer 2015 was where it all began. The big C word entered my life. On the 27th August 2015 my mum was diagnosed with CML or Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia. CML is a type of blood cancer that affects the bone marrow and blood cells. My mum is the strongest person I know; she’s a chef so a well balanced diet and staying healthy was very important. So to have Cancer thrown upon her after was a pretty big shock. My immediate reaction was to take on everything she couldn’t do now. She was going through enough without everyday life clogging up her mind. It’s tiny in comparison with what she was going through, but you don’t truly realise how much your parents do for you until you have to step into their shoes. Taking on all the millions of things my mum did daily, along with trying to look after her when she wasn’t at her best, and still going about my own life was pretty tricky for an 18 year old. Up until then my mum had pretty much done everything for me, so I was totally out of my depth and I didn’t really know what I was doing.
Then we come to event number two. In mid-November 2015 my grandmother passed away. In the midst of my mum’s cancer treatment and a very stressful period in my first year at uni I lost one of the most important people in my life. Much like my mother, my grandmother was a force to reckoned with. She was beautiful, fiercely intelligent and had the kindest soul on the planet. She taught me how to make the best roast potatoes, how to win every time at scrabble and that everything is better with a glass of wine or a g+t in hand. Losing her threw my emotions into a spin and I took on more stress than I should’ve done, and all without realising it.
Fast forward to summer 2016 and we come to the final event. This is something that no one expects but more than likely everyone goes through. This was the moment I got my heart broken, and was the final step in really ‘’pushing me over the edge’’. I thought we were happy and totally didn’t see it coming. It hit me like a bus. Looking back, I’ll admit there were so many ‘red flags’, but like a teenager in love, I had no idea. We were together for nearly 2 years, we had lived together for half that time and just got back from a romantic holiday in Rome. Little did I know it would all be over as quickly as it started. Now this isn’t a woman scorned, or a heartfelt attempt at redemption or revenge, but it is a realisation. For the first time in my life I’d had my heart broken. I felt let down by the one person in my life who was supposed to be always there for me. But in retrospect it wasn’t the perfect relationship I thought it was and we were two very different people in the end. Although it hurt I can now see some of it as a positive; I fell in love and that is great feeling, regardless of the pain I was subjected to in the end.
My mum’s diagnosis, my grandmothers passing and being heartbroken all in the space of two years left me with a heavy heart and a stressed mind. In truth I didn’t know how to handle it all. I held all that stress in my stomach; the tense, tight, twisted feeling you get while your mind is working overtime to try and find a way to deal with it all. So if there are any of you like me who want to try to ‘’take on the world’’ even though it’s really difficult, I found that talking to those closest to me was the best therapy. Not discussing how you feel is where it all starts because sometimes you don’t even really know it yourself. Write it down, tell your someone you trust, talk to those around you who love you, because stress is a demon that creeps up on you. And if there is anything that I’ve learnt over the last two years, it’s that there are people that want to listen and people who want to help, all you have to do is let them in and it will do the world of good.