Why I stopped blogging / Life Update

After a several-month-long hiatus from the world of blogging, I have found my spark again. I was discouraged from writing for a while, initially because of how busy I was with graduate school. That eventually evolved into a self-doubting voice in my head, telling me that no one cares what I have to say; what makes me so important?  

Fortunately, my past articles still serve as a reference today for several with Crohn's disease/loved ones who have the illness. This heartwarming fact has been brought to my attention enough over the past few weeks to remind me of why I started publicizing a private yet extremely relevant aspect of my life in the first place: to help others.   

The issue with transparency about something as serious as an incurable disease is that a lot of what I have to share about that aspect of my life is quite depressing. I am a positive person who dislikes negative attention and complaining; I have a difficult time expressing my feelings toward my disease in my own personal life, let alone on the internet for anyone to see.  

That being said, I still think it is crucial to develop a stronger sense of normalcy surrounding Crohn's disease and its impact. Even those closest to me sometimes cannot completely understand just how this disease impacts my life, and a lot of that has to do with the primarily non-visible nature of my symptoms (and my ability to stoically act like I am always okay). Moreover, many are afraid to ask questions to deepen their comprehension of my disease for whatever their reasons may be. I figure by getting back into sharing my Crohn's journey, I can not only answer the questions of the curious, but also serve as a source of relatability and comfort to those who know too well what it is that I deal with.  

Phew, now that all of that is out of the way, here is a recap of what I've been up to. I plan on writing in more detail about much of what you are about to read very soon. 

I graduated with my bachelor's degree in Accounting & Psychology in May of 2016. A few weeks later, I began my master's degree in Accounting and also ran into a major flare (consequently leading to: increasing Humira to weekly injections, adding in Azathioprine, and of course, a prednisone taper). By the time the fall rolled around, I was needing to nap every afternoon, developed back pain (which I still deal with), and was feeling generally unwell. I pushed through it, finished grad school in December, and happily entered my six-month 'vacation' from any and all serious responsibilities. 

Starting in 2017, for the first time in my entire life, I had no obligations. At first, that felt amazing. I kicked off the new year in NYC with a guy I was seeing at the time, went on vacations with my family, traveled a bit, got into a great gym routine, and watched an unnecessary amount of Netflix. I had full intentions of blogging, but the thought of any semi-intellectual activity stressed me out, so I refrained from using my brain in that capacity (burnout from grad school was apparently quite real). I did manage to write a quick article for The Mighty about travelling with Crohn's disease, you can read that HERE. 

Eventually I got bored and looked for things to fill my time. I read a lot of books, played guitar more often, joined the dating scene, and even was a babysitter/dog walker for a hot minute. I raised $3500 for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation as a member of Team Challenge, but never got to run that ½ marathon because of a knee injury; I quickly discovered endurance sports are not for me, my body cannot handle it... sad realization. 
Aside from that sports injury in January, I felt the healthiest in terms of my Crohn's disease that I had in ages. I dedicated myself to a stress-free lifestyle, which confirmed my strong convictions about the role of stress on immunity and the gut-brain connection.  

I spent time experimenting with ways to improve my residual disease symptoms of fatigue, pain, headaches, bloating, fevers, etc. I switched up my exercise routine, experimented with plant-based vegan diets and vegetarianism, tested some alternative holistic medicine approaches, and read way too many medical studies and research articles. Each of these topics deserve entire posts to themselves-- coming soon to a web browser near you.  

Hmm... what else? Now that I think back, I don't have much to show for my time off, but that is exactly what I wanted to happen. I could've studied for the CPA exams, written a book, learned a new instrument, but I really just needed to relax. I'm a type-A, productive, anxiety-ridden person, so for me to literally have nothing to do or worry about was a much needed shock to my system.  

I really do feel like I learned a lot about myself during the past six months and I don't regret taking the break after so many years working diligently in school and setting up my future career. I was fortunate enough to be able to just chill, for lack of a better verb, thanks to personal savings and my lovely parents, who graciously let me live in their basement in exchange for my cooking and cleaning services.  

By the time July rolled around, I was more than ready to begin my new career, or so I thought.  
*dun dun dun* 
Click HERE to read about my first flare of my professional career.

If you have topics or questions you would like me to address, I would LOVE to hear from you. aeesper@gmail.com

visit www.ashleyesper.com for helpful articles and tips!


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