IBD diagnosis has improved my life in countless ways

We often see diagnosis of a chronic, incurable illness as the end of the world. You think only bad things can come of this...

Whilst it is true that your life will most likely change, and you will have to consciously make decisions for the good of your own health that you wouldn't do ordinarily, there can be positives.

I was personally diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis at the age of 19. Symptoms came out of nowhere. Just two weeks later, I was admitted to hospital and diagnosed after a colonoscopy. I spent 1 week in the hospital before emergency surgery to remove my colon was needed.

It was very much a whirlwind

I had never had more than a bug before, and I knew nothing about Inflammatory Bowel Disease or ostomies, yet here I was, with both!

It was a very trying time mentally; constant bag leaks and burnt skin had me hiding at home whenever I wasn't at work.

I opted to have a Jpouch built, but chronic pouchitis was an issue that refused to leave.

Through anger and frustration, I took to raising awareness of IBD and ostomies online. My job as a social media manager for a marketing agency helped.

Before I knew it, I was heavily involved and active in the online community, and whilst the people I spoke to online were forever thanking me, I was incredibly thankful for them.

I have had IBD for over 11 years

I have had 7 surgeries and I now live with a permanent stoma. To say my experience has been rough would be an understatement, and IBD has relentlessly attacked me physically and mentally, but, a lot of good has come of it!

I'm still active in the IBD and ostomy community on a daily basis, and my passion for awareness raising has never wavered. I run the #IBDSuperHeroes fundraising and awareness project. I'm also a trustee for the charity, Cure Crohn's Colitis. I blog, I support others online and I run the #IBDSuperHeroes Facebook group, so that patients have a place to be open and understood.

I won a Pride of Britain award in 2015 for my fundraising efforts.

My outlook on life has changed for the better, and having lived through difficult times has definitely helped me prioritise what is important.

I have gained so much strength because of my battle, and my experience has meant that I can help so many others.

I'm grateful for my journey, and all that it has taught me.

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