Patient Blogs | Crohn's Disease
How I Seek Support from Others While Living with Crohn’s Disease
photo of holding friends hand

My birthday was last week. At first, my only plan was to order my favorite tacos and churros after work. Then, my friend invited me to stay overnight the following weekend. She asked me what foods I avoid eating, in case they aggravated my Crohn’s disease, and prepared meals to accommodate that. Of course, we did other fun stuff, but that kind of care and consideration meant so much to me.

There was a time when I used to refuse that kind of support. As a child of immigrants, I had to navigate a lot of situations on my own. Don’t get me wrong, my parents were very involved in my life, and have been supportive, especially in the last couple of years. 

But growing up, it was sort of understood that I needed to be self-reliant to succeed. As the youngest of three, I always thought my siblings had it together when it came to school, careers, friendships, and everything. They made being independent look simple, but it was something I always struggled with.

I had this feeling of shame or guilt when I needed help with anything, which made it extremely challenging after I got Crohn’s. I would literally do tasks like cooking and shopping when I was experiencing my highest levels of pain. Then, I’d often have to stay in bed for days later. Yet, I always turned down offers from friends and family because I didn’t want to be a burden.

I still struggle with this at times, but I’ve come to realize that people, especially those with backgrounds like Arabs, primarily show their support by doing things for others like cooking meals and running errands.

They want to know they’re actively helping, and to me, that’s one of the most beautiful things about having such people care about me like that in my life. I’m trying harder every day to accept that help because I know deep down, I would do the same for them in a heartbeat.

I want to tell anyone who has someone in their life with a chronic illness: Don’t be offended when they refuse your help. It’s nothing personal.  So, just keep trying to find ways to be supportive, even if it means being a listening ear or running errands together.

For anyone with a chronic illness reading this, understand the reality is that not even the healthiest person can live without support. When somebody says, “Let me know if you need anything,” they mean it.

It’s OK to ask for help. We are not burdens and we deserve to be loved and cared for just as much as everyone else.



Photo Credit: Sorrapong Apidech / EyeEm via Getty Images

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Basmah Ali

Basmah Ali

Diagnosed since 2003

Basmah Ali has been living with Crohn's disease for 18 years. She is working toward becoming a certified wellness coach and loves sharing food and lifestyle tips on Instagram. Ali is a part of Girls With Guts, an organization addressing obstacles women of color encounter while living with inflammatory bowel disease. She enjoys traveling, weightlifting, reading, and playing with her nephews and nieces. Connect with her on Instagram and Twitter.

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