When you have an illness, whether it affects you physically a little, or a lot, the one thing it does affect, at some point, is your confidence.
With these kind of thoughts in your head you start to wonder how anyone else could possibly like you when you aren’t even sure if you like yourself.
For me, relationships had always been a big part of my life. I’m 20 years old and when I was at school, I was the type of girl to change the guy I spoke to more than most people change their underwear! It was never for anything sexual, I just loved the attention that guys gave me and I craved the feeling of being loved. Once one relationship ended I was never happy to just be single, I was always looking out for the next one.
I think this is where I went wrong. I was so used to having someone there that when suddenly I had no-one, I didn’t know what to do. But it was just so easy, at 16 years old I had all the confidence a girl could possibly have, I was in a relationship with a guy I adored and everything was perfect. Or so I thought anyway.
Without giving him too much, we were together for 2 years and when it ended I was devastated. The thing is, when someone ends your relationship you start wondering what you did wrong or what is wrong with you and when you’re that person that gives your all to someone, when they leave, what have you got left?
At the time, I’d just come out of hospital, I was weak. I was under 5 stone, my Crohn’s disease had destroyed my body and I couldn’t blame someone for leaving me. I mean, to me, who would be attracted to someone who looked like the walking dead?
To make matters worse, my surgery left me with an ileostomy bag. Something else that made me feel unattractive at the time.
I definitely think it was a huge factor to the break up. Every other guy after this ran a mile too once they realised that I’m not all that meets the eye.
This is the problem that people with Inflammatory bowel disease deal with all the time. Especially with an invisible illness. People don’t understand! It’s hard to understand something that you’ve never heard of or had to deal with yourself and that’s why meeting Simon, my current partner, has made living with IBD easier to live with.
It was at the beginning of 2015 when we met. He had messaged me a few months prior to this to check up on me after my reversal surgery. I think that speaks volumes in itself. We spoke everyday and video-chatted when we could. We arranged to meet each other whenever I had time off work, this meant seeing each other about once a month.
It was difficult, very difficult in fact, there were times when I wondered if I’d ever be able to cope with a long distance relationship but I will always say, I’d rather date someone who is perfect for me and put up with the distance than be treated awfully by someone who lives close by.
It is now over 18 months later and I couldn’t be happier.
The thing is, this isn’t me telling everyone with IBD to go on the hunt for someone else with IBD, because trust me, that fight over the bathroom isn’t fun!
This is me saying, when you find someone who understands you, it’s the nicest feeling in the world and honestly there will still be people without IBD who understand, even if they don’t understand to the extent where they have actually been through the same as you.
What I’m so happy about is the fact I’ve found someone who accepts everything I’ve been through and everything I am still dealing with to this day. I don’t have to explain myself when I’m not feeling well, he doesn’t hold a grudge if I can’t go out.
He looks after me and always puts me first even if he doesn’t feel well himself. Someone who isn’t horrified by my scars and wouldn’t care if I still had my bag. He also boosts my confidence every day after having it knocked down so many times before, but the best thing for me, is having that little reassurance and hearing “I know how you feel” and knowing they actually do!
I know with Simon, I never have to deal with anything alone.