Harmon Clarke knows what he needs to do to manage his Crohn’s disease: Get a good night’s sleep, eat well, and reduce stress. But for this Los Angeles–based musician, that’s sometimes easier said than done.
“There are three main factors that I’ve found really impact my Crohn’s,” says the 36-year-old, who was diagnosed with the condition in high school and now lives with an ostomy bag.
First is sleep. “If I don’t sleep correctly or if I’m exhausted, everything is harder,” says Harmon. But fear of his ostomy bag leaking often prevents him from getting the shut-eye he needs. “I don’t really get into a deep, heavy sleep, because if my bag fills up, I have to be aware.”
Knowing what to eat can also present a challenge. Many foods, including the spicy ones he so loves, make Harmon’s symptoms worse, which is why he tends to eat the same thing every day. “I find things that work, and I just kind of stick with that,” he says.
For Harmon, managing symptoms such as abdominal pain and cramping isn’t the toughest part of living with Crohn’s. “The physical stuff, I’ve noticed it comes and goes,” he says. “When the mental challenges come, that is extremely hard.” That’s why this former football and basketball player has turned to daily yoga and meditation to help keep stress at bay.
But even with that, Crohn’s disease can take a toll. “It’s like I’m pushing myself to try to work and be successful,” says Harmon. “Then some days I just wake up and wonder, ‘Is it really worth it?’”
Watch the episode to hear more of his story and find out if the Tippi Team can help remind Harmon that yes, it is absolutely worth it.