After years of abdominal pain and discomfort, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in the summer of 2021. Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation and ulcers in your digestive tract. Ulcerative colitis affects the innermost lining of your large intestine. Ulcerative colitis not only took a toll on my physical health, but on my mental health as well. Eating was no longer pleasurable, as I would get severe stomach pains that felt like sharp knives after eating any meal. I’d also become so bloated that it hurt to breathe because my stomach had expanded so much as a result of eating. So, I gradually began eating less because there seemed to be no cure for my pain. I felt powerless. As a result, I developed an eating disorder and my mental and physical health were at an all-time low. I felt alone, wondering if this would continue for the rest of my life.
As silly as it sounds, I miss ice cream runs with my best friends and sometimes I miss the person and healthy life I had before I was diagnosed with this illness. I won’t let this illness define me, despite it being a huge part of my life. I learned how to manage it better and not succumb to unhealthy habits. I completely changed my lifestyle and switched to a vegetarian/pescatarian diet, which has greatly aided me. I haven’t mastered this disease, but I have learned to live with it and not let it dictate my life.
Ulcerative Colitis has altered my life in that I now avoid many foods, attend countless doctor’s appointments and take probiotics every morning. There is no cure, but some days are better than others for me. This disease affects everyone differently. I have a friend who also has the disease, but we are affected differently. I cannot give you advice on how to manage this disease, but I can assure you that you are not alone, even when you feel defeated.
I remember when the TikTok trend “Hot Girls have Stomach Issues” was trending and it showed that anyone can be a hot girl even if they have digestive issues, which can sometimes not be pretty.
All these videos were helpful and informative, as they raised awareness and destigmatized poop talk for women. The saying “girls don’t poop” has been popular for years because it is hard for men to imagine a girl defecating, as it is “unfeminine.” For years, it has been taboo for women to discuss their human bodily functions due to the patriarchy, which makes women feel ashamed to poop or fart. This trend is one small step toward dismantling the patriarchy. This trend has helped me and others feel empowered and powerful. It is comforting to see these videos from millions of users. Even popular influencers like Emma Chamberlain have been vocal about IBS and IBD, which continues to raise awareness in the community.
I try my hardest to not dwell on “what ifs.” I don’t want to feel sorry for myself and reminisce on what my life could have been like. I do know I won’t let this disease control my life and it won’t hold me back from fulfilling all my life ambitions. To anyone suffering from IBD, you are more resilient than you think and you are the only one in control of your destiny.
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