I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, a form of Inflammatory bowel disease, five years ago.
I was never the stud around school, I was always the odd one out – the one that nobody fancied.
I was an easy target. I think that’s why people used to bully me.
That was before my diagnosis of UC.
I’ve always dreamed of the perfect relationship but never actually been in one, weird right?
Since my diagnosis I’ve found it increasingly difficult to open up to any potential love-interest about the disease.
I’m confident talking about it to most people. I just get really scared when anyone crosses the line of ‘more than friends’. I fear that telling them would change the way they look at me, as though they wouldn’t just see it as a diagnosis, but instead as ‘baggage’.
I’ve never really felt accepted for who I am so why would someone accept me if I’m ill?
It sounds so ridiculous, I know, but these are the thoughts that plague my mind constantly.
I’ve never really gotten close to even dating anyone because of these thoughts.. Sure, I’ve spoken to people I find attractive, even flirted and felt as though we were above that ‘friendship level’, but it’s never gone anywhere. It’s never stuck. I don’t let myself get too attached because I always expect the worst outcome – and therefore it’s prevented me from ever knowing what it feels like to be loved – or even just liked as more than a friend.
I’ve always been a nervous person, even before my UC diagnosis. Especially when meeting people.
Personally for me I don’t see any sort of attractive qualities about myself – why would anyone find me attractive? What do I have that makes me ‘special’?
Looking back over the past five years my confidence has grown in talking about my illness to most people, even strangers. But I talk about it on a different level – a more educative level as opposed to opening up about the way my own symptoms make me feel.
I guess deep down I just know that UC is not something that everyone has, or even knows about, so would they be disgusted by it? Would they think less of me?
When I openly speak to people about my situation and tell them I’ve never been in a relationship before, never had sex (out of choice may I add), I expect them to laugh.
It sounds pretty sad that a 25-year-old hasn’t ever experienced love or any sort of passionate affection.
Ulcerative colitis once managed to totally destroy my confidence in myself and my body and I’m still building that back up. It destroyed any sort of hope I had of finding love as to be honest I’ve never really felt good enough for anyone – not just romantically.
I have always struggled with my confidence, and my UC added to that struggle. In fact, it pushed me so far down that it made me feel as though I was constantly fighting a losing battle. A battle to finally see some good in myself. I assumed I’d always feel alone and unwanted.
If I’m honest it made me feel less of a man… not that I was much of one anyway.
But I know that many people who suffer with IBD have happy and fulfilling relationships. I know there are people out there who will love you for you, and accept you – and your diagnosis’s – for what they are.
I know that my insecurities lie within the years of bullying that have influenced the way I feel about myself.
I know something might happen someday. But with the way I’ve been treated and and made to feel over my adolescent years, it’s hard to believe that I will ever be accepted completely.
Words by James Conlon