Inside Ijmal: Understanding Your Diagnosis (IBD)
Hi, I am Ijmal. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in November of 2015. Back then I didn’t know what that meant for me, I didn’t even know what ulcerative colitis was. In my head it was simple, I have a sickness and I was given meds and those will fix me. In my head, I believed it to be as simple as having a cold. It didn’t take long before I learned chronic illness is much different than common illness.
In the first two years of being diagnosed I took the meds I was told to and they weren’t working. I would visit my doctor and she would always tell me, “you’re not getting better, I don’t know what else to do.” I also started seeing a naturopath, she taught me about the importance of foods we consume, and how some may trigger our bodies to act out. I gained a lot of knowledge and understanding of my body, but again her treatments didn’t push me into remission either. All of this added up to me losing confidence, losing self esteem, becoming more anxious, holding a lot of shame, feeling like a failure.
I was constantly looking to my past, angry with myself for not being better yet. Fondly recalling the days that I took my health for granted and lived carefree. The reality was that taking my health for granted and dwelling on the past was only going to push me further down.
I was seeing a therapist as well because I could feel the weight of my illness bringing me down. She suggested to clear space in my mind I should journal, which is a great outlet to clear out space in our spirit, I chose to do it publicly. Recalling the first two years of being diagnosed and not having anywhere to turn to, and constantly finding negativity online, I wanted to write publicly in hopes that maybe someone would read it and relate. That’s exactly what happened, it opened my eyes to an online community of warriors, with beautiful stories of resilience, perseverance, and vulnerability. This was a community which was full of people who had been through it all and came out on the other side.
Through this community I was able to apply the knowledge I had gained through my experiences, and my health journey. I was able to see first hand real life experiences of how people were tackling their chronic illnesses and moving forward. This became my focus, helping others through the good and the bad became what fuelled me to keep fighting. I wanted to create channels which strengthened this community so that nobody would ever feel alone with their illness, because that can be a very dark place at times. My work these days is focused on giving a voice to those with invisible illnesses, something I didn’t think I had when I was first diagnosed.
I realized the day I was diagnosed my life didn’t end, a chapter in my story ended, but it was also the beginning of something new, something that allowed me to take everything I was handed, everything I learned and apply it to help myself and help others. An important part of any healing journey is being kind to the spirit, mental health is as important when we are healing as physical health. Create a balance to look after both sides when healing. We aren’t able to start a new chapter if we keep rereading the last one.
Hi, I am Ijmal Haider, 32, founder of @raziblog and @hidden.spoons I studied Urban Planning/Sociology and spent majority of my career building communities in Calgary and studying how communities foster interaction, never knew that at some point I would be putting that schooling towards building online communities as well. Connecting people and creating a voice is something I have always been passionate about, well before being diagnosed with my illness. I am also an interior designer and owner of @haiderdesignyyc bringing to life spaces and communities is something that drives me.