What I See When I Look in the Mirror
They change through the years. With age, with experience, with health. For me, the way I look at myself and what I see looking back has completely changed since my diagnosis with Crohn's disease in July 2005. Back then, I saw a frail, lost and complicated girl. A 21-year-old who felt robbed of good health, worried about the future. Sad eyes from the crying, puffy cheeks from the prednisone.
As the years passed by, and I gained a better grasp of how to manage the beast that is IBD, I witnessed a change within myself. I started standing a little bit taller. I felt more confident. I began to know the young woman looking back was capable of so much more than I ever thought possible. I stopped questioning myself and wondering why my life took the turn it did and instead started to embrace who I was becoming.
I started using that reflection as a way to empower me and show me that I was strong. My eyes no longer show sadness, but resilience and strength. I know that Crohn's has a wrath that is often times too much for me to handle, but I know I'm a force to be reckoned with, too.
What I see now
Now, when I look in the mirror I see my pregnant belly. My abdomen is no longer the enemy. Where my disease lies, a miracle is happening each moment of every day. There's a calmness and a magic going on in the part of my body that has caused me so much anguish through the years. My son is now a toddler. He was the first to show me the beauty that is motherhood with IBD. I always say he was the "healing hands where it used to hurt"...song lyrics from a Florida Georgia Line song that still brings tears to my eyes to this day.
There's a gratitude that comes along with my reflection. Sure, there is always the worry of the next flare looming and I never feel completely out of the woods, but this disease has given me a whole new respect for the good days and all that is possible, despite my chronic illness. I stand tall. I stand proud. I feel anything is possible as my body creates another life. It makes me feel like I'm in control and telling my IBD who is boss. Yes, there have been countless setbacks, hospitalizations and issues throughout my patient journey, but those temporary setbacks haven't taken my dreams away.
My reflection has changed so much in the last 13 years
I can still see my former self, a shell of who I used to be. That memory will always stick with me. I was weaker then. Because I did not know. I did not know what was to come and I did not know how I would rise above my diagnosis. I had hopes and dreams of my current reflection but wasn't sure how I would ever get there. But, I believed. I trusted. I was a patient, patient. And now when I look in the mirror, I see a future that will continue to motivate me to be strong and continue to beat the odds.
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