Going to Girls with Guts retreat in Gresham, OR was one of the best things I’ve done for myself since I’ve been diagnosed. I had an amazing weekend with around 70 women who all have Inflammatory Bowel Disease. I also got to meet two friends from Twitter who I have been talking to for months. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity for us to actually be able to meet in person and hang out for a weekend.
The Girls with Guts retreat is an amazing thing to experience. You realize that you’re not alone. That so many others out there share your struggles, your doubts, your hopelessness. This retreat is an opportunity for healing. To make new friends who will be there for you no matter what. To become part of a sisterhood that will withstand anything.
What all did I do at the Girls with Guts retreat? A lot of things! We had a couple of guest speakers come to teach us about various subjects. We broke down into mini sessions to discuss various topics and how other women at the retreat deal with those issues. There were some activities to do like zip lining and riding on a giant swing.
We got to meet Niki Strealy. She is known as the Diarrhea Dietitian. She spoke to us about the microbiome, micro-nutrients, diet treatments and nutrition during a flare. What she had to say was pretty interesting. We also got to get a copy of her book The Diarrhea Dietitian. One thing that was nice about Dr. Strealy was that she is able to relate to what we’re going through because she suffers from irritable bowel syndrome.
I asked Dr. Strealy if she knew any dietitians that she recommended where I live at in Oregon and she didn’t know any. But she is willing to take me on as a patient and do Skype visits which I think is pretty awesome. I’m hoping to be able to set this up with her soon. I’m very interested in the Low FODMAP diet to see if that helps me out at all.
Dr. Megan Riehl also came to speak to us at the retreat. She is a Clinical Health Psychologist at the University of Michigan Hospital Systems. She came to talk to us about quite a few things. She went over the GI stress cycle and how it affects our bodies. She went over the best ways for us to be able to learn how to stop these cycles before they get to the point where they’re causing GI distress and elevated heart rate. This is something that I personally need to work on a lot. Stress tends to make me have to go to the bathroom.
Dr. Riehl also shared a few quotes with us in her presentation and this one is my favorite:
“There comes a time in your life when you stop focusing on those who don’t understand your illness and you just focus on YOURSELF.”
She went over coping mechanisms for dealing with stress. She had us break down into groups to talk about our stressors and to come up with new ideas on how to deal with that stress. What I plan on doing is trying to meditate and I want to try yoga. So far for mediation I’ve been using a website called Headspace. They have some series on how to deal with stress that I want to try out after I make it through their foundation basics.
Here’s a few key points that I took away from her presentation:
- Sometimes you just have to tell people that you’re not doing well.
- Women with IBD are at a higher risk of having anxiety(2015 study)
- Sometimes you have to do what’s best for yourself
- People aren’t always worth the emotional responce
- Sometimes people just aren’t going to get it or don’t want to get it
All in all, this retreat was well worth it. I plan on starting to save up money next month to go next year! It’s going to be on the east coast somewhere and I can’t wait to see everyone again.
For more information on Girls with Guts, please visit www.GirlsWithGuts.org.