Grateful For My IBD Friends
As I bring in the new year I cannot help but reflect on the past. I'm so grateful. I'm grateful for my IBD journey because it has shaped me into the person I am today. I am grateful for the opportunities my condition has brought me. I'm honored to be able to share my story and learn from others in my community. More than anything, this year I am so grateful for the friendships I have gained.
When I was first diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease I felt lonely.
I felt isolated due to the separation from many friends (and even family members) in my life at the time. For a long time I felt as if no one could possibly understand me. I didn't even try to explain myself. I didn't want people judging me or making fun of me for things that were out of my control, so instead I suffered in silence, alone. After years of living with Ulcerative Colitis and knowing absolutely no one with the condition, I decided to start a blog. It has transformed many times since that time, but to this day it is known as Chronically Strong. When I first started blogging it was mostly about surgery talk, as that was what I was going through at the time. I spoke on how emotionally draining it was to live with a chronic disease that is so widely misunderstood. I spoke on the Jpouch surgeries and even living a brief period of my life with an Ostomy.
A few weeks into blogging I posted a video on YouTube. That video discussed who I was at that time and why I decided to start blogging my journey with IBD. After maybe a few hours of that video going up, I received a communication from my first (and best) IBD friend, Amber Elder. Meeting Amber was like a breath of fresh air. When we'd met she already had her Jpouch for about a year. She was able to give me so many tips and so much helpful advice and information related to ostomies, leaks, supplies, IBD, you name it.
It felt amazing to have someone who just gets it.
Someone to whom you don't have to explain why you're so tired or why you can't eat something. Someone who has experienced IBD first hand and understands the highs and lows.
I never imagined needing friends who have my condition, but then again, I'm sure at 17 I never imagined being diagnosed with a chronic condition anyway. I've gone from only talking to friends and family when absolutely necessary, to full blown speaking on my condition every chance I get. From knowing no one with Inflammatory Bowel Disease to now having the absolutely honor of having so many IBD friends around the world! Almost eight years ago I didn't think I would ever find one person who truly understands me, now I absolutely cannot imagine my life without those very people.
How open are you about being diagnosed with IBD?