When you live with Crohn’s disease, it’s important to have a support network. It can be tough living with a chronic and unpredictable condition. Having people in your life who care about you can make a difference in your emotional health.

Even if you enjoy being social, the reality of Crohn’s disease can make this difficult. If you’re in a flare and totally exhausted, socializing may not be so appealing.

People living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may have higher levels of depression and anxiety. Connecting with others can be an important part of managing mental health.

There will be times when Crohn’s disease doesn’t interfere too much with your social life. Other times, it may feel overwhelming to do anything. Medications play an important role in keeping inflammation down and managing symptoms. It’s possible that medication needs to be adjusted to get you feeling better.

Here are some ways to stay connected with others even when you’re not feeling your best.

Connecting with others can prevent feelings of isolation and boost your mental health. It’s hard to socialize if you’re dealing with a lot of pain or having other symptoms.

Consider ways to make socializing more accessible to you. Virtual meetups are much more common now. Things don’t need to happen in person to help you feel connected with others. It’s become pretty typical to be curled up in your pajamas with a mug of tea while chatting with friends on a video call.

For in-person gatherings, the details matter. It may feel more comfortable for you to host an event at your place. Or maybe someone who understands your needs can host. Being at home or in a familiar space can make an event more accessible for you.

There are times when you don’t have the same control over the event. You can still take steps to make it easier to attend.

Here are some ideas:

  • Have a buddy with you who understands your needs.
  • Locate the bathrooms once you arrive.
  • Scope out the menu ahead of time if possible to choose some safer options.
  • Feel comfortable with only attending part of the event, and don’t feel bad about leaving when you’re ready.
  • Bring an emergency pack with things like baby wipes, medication, and extra pants and underwear, just in case you need them.

If you’re dealing with a flare that’s making it impossible to leave the house, you can still keep in touch with loved ones. There are plenty of ways to stay in touch with people, even if you’re not feeling up to meeting in person. Calling, texting, social media, and video calls are all options for maintaining contact.

You may also want to let loved ones know how they can help you during a flare. Let them know that it may be hard for you to reach out when you’re feeling unwell. Ask them to check in with you to help you stay connected.

Some people with Crohn’s disease join support groups. There are online options to connect with others dealing with similar challenges. The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation has a tool to find a support group on their website.

When you live with Crohn’s disease, you know that sometimes plans have to change at the last minute. This is yet another frustrating thing about IBD. Loved ones will understand and not be upset that you have to cancel. Taking care of yourself is the priority.

Depending on the event, you may be able to change things so it works better for you. Certain types of events may feel more or less comfortable for you.

Do your best to find out as much as you can about the gathering ahead of time. Some of the following things may be considerations:

  • bathroom availability
  • travel time to the event
  • length of the event
  • whether a meal is served
  • time of the day
  • whether there are supportive people there who know about your condition

It’s possible that some of those factors can be adjusted to make the event more accessible for you. If you’re close with the person who’s planning the event, talk with them to discuss options. You can also make decisions about when to attend and how long to stay.

Remember that you don’t have to attend anything that doesn’t fit your needs. You don’t even have to justify your decision.

You’re the expert on your needs, and you can decide what is best for you. If you’re really feeling terrible, it’s more important to take care of yourself first.

If you have a lot of social things going on, you may be able to prioritize. There may be events that feel really important to you and others that you’re less excited about. Protect your time and energy for the things you actually want to do.

Try to talk honestly with loved ones about your Crohn’s disease. Talking about it can help to reduce any feelings of shame or stigma.

Let them know that your symptoms may interfere with being able to do all of the things you want to do. Ask for help when you need it. People who care about you will genuinely want to know how they can support you.

Think about how you would want to accommodate someone you love. People in your life will be happy to do the same for you if they know what you need.

It can also help take the pressure off if people know that how you feel can change quickly. This means you may have to cancel things at the last minute. The people who matter will understand.

Having at least one ally at an event may make it easier to attend. There can be comfort in knowing that someone is available to help if you need it. They also won’t question things if you need to leave.

If you’re dealing with ongoing symptoms, it’s possible that your treatment plan needs to change. Keep in touch with your healthcare professional. Regular follow-up makes it easier to adjust treatments as needed.

Medications work by lowering the inflammation in your body to reduce symptoms. Here are the different types of medication used to manage Crohn’s disease:

  • Antibiotics: These are used as needed to treat bacterial infections.
  • Aminosalicylates (5-ASA): This type is mainly used for mild to moderate inflammation. They may be used in the long term to maintain remission.
  • Corticosteroids: These are powerful anti-inflammatories. They work quickly but are only designed for short-term use due to side effects.
  • Immunomodulators: These help to lower inflammation but take longer to work. They may be used along with other medications.
  • Biologics and biosimilars: These medications target the specific immune proteins that are causing inflammation. They are mainly used for more severe cases of Crohn’s disease.

Staying social is important for anyone.

People with Crohn’s disease have higher rates of anxiety and depression. This means that a social network is even more important. When you’re dealing with the pain and symptoms of a flare, it can be hard to feel social.

There are ways to stay in touch with others and attend events when you live with Crohn’s disease.

Sometimes you can plan a gathering that meets your needs. Other times you have less control over the details. You may still be able to make some adjustments to make it more accessible for you.

You can also decide to skip events if they’re going to cause more stress. Save your time and energy for the people and gatherings that really matter.