I’m participating in WEGO Health‘s National Health Blog Post Month and I wanted my first post to be about why I decided to blog about my health. I have only been writing for a little less than two months and before that, I suffered from ulcerative colitis in silence. The only people who really knew what I was going through were my parents. I did share some of the gory details of my disease with a few close friends but for the most part, I feel like I have been fake since I was 13 years old. Ulcerative colitis is hard enough to deal with but when you layer on how it is a disease that affects your bowel movements, it becomes pretty difficult to share with others.
After the cumulative effect of all that I had been through began to really take its toll on me, I started talking to fellow IBDers on the internet. I then crewed a 2 day bike ride called Get Your Guts in Gear, Inc. that raises money for those with crohns disease, ulcerative colitis, and ostomies this past June. It was the first and only place where I was with a group of people and was able to just be me. There was no pretending, no dancing around the truth, no making up ridiculous excuses as to why I am not eating at a certain time, none of that. It was just a long weekend where everyone understood exactly what I was going through. It was the first time in 12 years that I felt like I had a place where I belonged. It was the first time where I made friends that I could really talk to about anything. It was a weekend that took a lot of the shame out of what I was going through and all that my body and mind had to endure.
By the time I participated in this bike ride, I had had a major breakdown where I cried and said every single thing I was never able to say out loud before. I had just finished reading a blog from the Intense Intestines Foundation ~ Crohn’s, Colitis & Ostomy Community and at the end of it was their motto “Never Stay Quiet.” I have no idea what this post was about but reading the words “Never Stay Quiet” set off something in me. It was as if I finally realized what I needed to do to achieve any kind of inner peace. I needed to basically make my life as open a book as possible. This weekend in June led me to connect with some of the most inspiring people I have ever had the privilege of meeting. Even though no one with IBD has the same story, the emotions are very similar. I ended up becoming really good friends with a lot of the people who I met that weekend and was also introduced to many others who are such an enormous presence in my life now. I don’t think I would have had the courage to share my story if it hadn’t been for the supportive people I met from this organization.
So, why am I writing about my health? I am writing because keeping things inside has been detrimental to my health (hence the title of my blog:) ) ). I am writing because I want the many, many people who suffer in silence to know that they are not alone. I am writing because I want the world to know what I and so many other people with crohns disease, ulcerative colitis and ostomies have to go through. I am writing to promote education and awareness for those who don’t have IBD but know someone who does. I am writing so that those who are not yet able to be open about their struggles have a voice. I am writing to take the shame out of living with IBD and/or an ostomy. I am writing because it has been an amazing outlet for me and when I go without it for a day or two, I feel the emotions build up in me. I am writing because I hope to one day be a patient advocate and/or social worker.
But mostly, I am writing because after 12 long years of keeping my life a secret, I finally am able to share who I really am with the world.