A woman talks through a bullhorn to faces rolling their eyes, while one face smiles at the much needed information

Why Do I Talk About My UC?

To the average person, hearing about ulcerative colitis is disturbing. I'm used to all of it now – used to thinking about how many times I've used the bathroom and what the shape of my stool is, and if there is blood or not – but most of the time someone without UC doesn't want to think about that, let alone discuss the particulars. Still, I talk about my UC. Still, I tell them – tactfully, realistically – what I'm going through.

People don't understand ulcerative colitis

I talk about my UC even when people don't understand. Even when they call me lazy. Even when they say I should stop being a baby and eat my fruits and vegetables because they'll cure me. I talk about UC when they ask me if it's just because of my stress, or if maybe I need a second opinion because I can't really be chronically ill, can I? I talk and I talk, no matter how angry I am. I talk, no matter how much grief I'm holding in my little, rebellious heart.

Healthy eating and exercise will fix you, right??

I know we aren't supposed to talk about how sick we are. We are supposed to let people go on with their lives, believing that health is always achievable, as long as you take your vitamins and exercise and stay in shape, whatever that means. But every time I've talked about how sick I am – often online, on my social media – I get a private message where someone thanks me for speaking up.

Most of the time, they share their own story. It isn't that all of them have UC or IBD, but they all have something. People tell me about their hair falling out post-pregnancy or their IBS or their arthritis. They are always people who look healthy at first glance, just like me.

Silencing our sickness

We're taught to stay quiet and deal with these things on our own, but we're missing an opportunity. When we talk about our illnesses, we're inviting each other to be vulnerable. We're inviting each other to remember that we are human and we can't keep up a veneer of perfection. Pain is part of being human, as much as we don't want to admit it. And we need each other in our pain, or we'll never make it through.

UC is a part of who I am

I talk about being sick with ulcerative colitis because I want other people to know that when they get sick – and they will get sick one day, because the human body is fragile – that it is okay for them to tell someone. That they don't have to keep that feeling, the "what is happening to me" and the "what did I do to deserve this" and the "am I really going to get through this" feeling to themselves. I want them to know that there is always someone listening, who knows that hurt, and who will them whenever they need it, you are not alone, even if it seems like it.

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