I am Rebecca, I’m 21 years old and was diagnosed in May 2013 with Ulcerative Colitis.
Ulcerative Colitis is a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. There are two main forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, those being Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis.
Crohns Disease can affect the digestive tract from the mouth to the rectum whereas with Ulcerative colitis, it it usually the colon that is inflamed.
Although the symptoms are very much physical, a lot of people forget (including doctors) about how this can affect your emotional and mental well-being.
With IBD, no one can see what is going on with you as it is all happening inside your body. This is what makes it so difficult for people to understand just how ill you can be as when you have IBD, mostly you don’t look ill.
There can be days where I am in so much pain and so fatigued, yet you wouldn’t know it to look at me.
No two IBD journeys are the same, so what works for one person might not for another. Life would be boring if we were all the same!
I know from speaking to people with IBD that it can be lonely and isolating, especially if you are having to go to the toilet 10 times a day.
It can be frustrating and depressing and most of the time you wish you were normal and you curse your disease.
I want you to know though, that it is not all doom and gloom. There are periods of remission, where you feel good and things get better. It is all about being grateful for those good times and appreciating what you have.
I feel that having IBD has changed me as a person, I am stronger and I try not to take things for granted. I am not perfect and still have the days (sometimes weeks) where I get angry and I hate my body, but I have this disease for life so I need to make the most of it and live every day to the fullest.
These are the 8 pieces of advice that I can offer to those living with IBD, having learned them from my own experiences:
1. There will be days when you can’t get out of bed. That’s okay. Rest as much as you can.
2. Don’t take your health for granted
3. Make the most of the good days
4. Love yourself during the bad ones
5. You are stronger than you think
6. Don’t push yourself too much
7. Don’t be afraid of speaking out about your symptoms
8. Not everyone will understand your struggle, don’t worry about them
To anyone who is suffering from any kind of digestive issue, I urge you please don’t wait to be seen by a doctor.
They will be able to help and put you on the right path to recovery.
Thank you for reading and please just keep in mind that illnesses/disabilities are not always visible. Be mindful of people’s feelings and remember that everyone has their own struggles.
Words by Rebecca Crawford