“It would be the death of you to come with me, Sam,” said Frodo, “and I could not have borne that.”
“Not as certain as being left behind,” said Sam.
“But I am going to Mordor.”
“I know that well enough, Mr. Frodo. Of course you are. And I’m coming with you.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien,
Do you feel supported in your daily life, as you navigate your way through your diagnosis of IBD? Support can come in many forms, and you probably have several sources of support, but I think it’s probably rather rare to feel supported all the time.
In The Lord Of The Rings, Frodo the Hobbit is charged with carrying The One Ring. The One Ring, which looks like a simple gold ring, is infused with evil power, and it poisons Frodo in body, mind, and spirit. Frodo’s friend and companion is Samwise, who travels with Frodo to destroy The One Ring before it can fall into the wrong hands. Frodo becomes increasingly unstable during their journey — obsessed with The Ring and, in the end, unable to even walk. Sam carries him.
Frodo — A Chronically Ill Character
Frodo seems very much to me like a person who is chronically ill. He has this burden, and while other people can empathize, there is no one with him who truly knows what he is experiencing. He is totally alone. During his journey, he starts out with 8 other people supporting him, and by the end, there is only Sam. His other companions are noble and even royal persons, but they aren’t able to support Frodo in the way that he needs.
Does that sound anything like your journey with IBD? It does sound like mine. For those of us diagnosed in our teens, we have typical teenage lives until one day — we don’t. Friends may rally around at first, but it’s not like a broken leg that will eventually heal. The problems and complications just go on and on. You need continual support, and that’s just too much for some people. And, sometimes, that’s OK — if a relationship isn’t serving both people, it’s not worth forcing it.
Who Is Your Sam?
For every 100 people you know, there is going to be one Sam. One person who will be by your side, supporting you. This is not to say that Sam doesn’t experience a crisis of conscious — he does! He has a moment where he contemplates taking off with The One Ring, leaving Frodo behind, and becoming a powerful and important person.
Your Sam will have those moments also. Times when it seems like it would be just easier to let go and leave all the problems IBD causes behind. In those moments, your Sam may need YOUR support, just as you need theirs. They may need some time away, maybe just an hour, maybe a night out with other friends or family. You can support them by giving them the time they need, and letting them recharge.
In the end, Sam gives The One Ring back to Frodo. He had his daydream, but he came back to reality, He continued to support Frodo as, together, they did what needed to be done.
We All Need Support
Everyone involved in the journey of IBD needs support. The person who is ill, as well as everyone around them. The online IBD community can go far in offering support, day and night. But we all also need support in person, from our family and friends. And our family and friends, in turn, need support from those that understand what their unique challenges are. No matter your situation, seek out support, and encourage your caregivers to do so as well. You can join support groups in-person, you can get involved online, you can take part in fundraisers in your area. The goal is to meet people who truly do understand and who can help you on your journey, no matter where it takes you.