The value of care team and community
Molly Reisman is a member of Quartet’s Ambassador Program - a select group of committed individuals who share in Quartet's mission. Ambassadors help surface the needs, motivations and mindset of patients, and also provide valuable ongoing feedback on Quartet's products and services.
Molly lives in San Francisco and works in educational research and evaluation. In 2004 Molly was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and has had an ileostomy since 2015. Since 2011 Molly has facilitated the San Francisco CCFA (Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America) support group.
Here is Molly’s story:
In March 2004, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (UC). Knowing what was wrong with me came as a relief. I had been in denial of my symptoms for at least a couple of months and UC seemed much more benign than some of the possibilities that had crossed my mind. The Gastroenterologist prescribed suppositories that seemed to relieve my symptoms, and I moved on. Unfortunately, by September 2004, when I moved to London for graduate school, it was clear my disease was not well managed.
I found myself living in a foreign country, far from my family and friends, which would have been stressful enough, but I was also in a program that demanded my energy and attention. Despite making some lifelong friends, I found myself feeling isolated and frustrated by my situation and disease. In addition to my UC, my migraines were occurring more frequently and coping with day-to-day issues became increasingly challenging.
My university offered counseling services and so I sought out support. Unfortunately, the first psychologist I met with did not understand how immediate my issues were. It took a lot of courage to tell her I wasn’t getting what I needed from her and wanted to stop our sessions, but I did, and was able to find a psychologist at the university who specialized in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
CBT offered me a short-term, goal-oriented approach that helped me focus on ways I could address my immediate problems. It didn’t solve all my issues and I’ve revisited therapy at other points since then, but it was a practical approach to problem-solving that helped me develop some of the coping mechanisms I needed.
Dealing with a chronic disease can mean a lifetime of challenges, but there are many resources patients can rely on. A supportive community is incredibly valuable. It can include a caring and knowledgeable medical team, support from friends and family, in-person or online support groups. and access to behavioral health services. I encourage anyone dealing with a challenging health issues, be it mental, physical, or in many cases, both, to seek out the services of a licensed mental health professional. The right person can help you explore your options; help you address anxiety, anger, and fear; and support the development of coping skills that can help you get through the roughest parts.