Every so often, the fact that I have Crohn’s diseases will come up organically in conversation. Now, this is not usually something I lead with, but whether it be about my diet or the reason I wasn’t feeling well one day, the truth usually comes out. What’s weird is that 3 out of 5 times, someone mentions that their sister or a family friend has some form of IBD. That she just found out and is learning all about the new drugs and dietary restrictions.
My first thought is to say, “Wow, that’s awesome!” which is probably the worst response to someone telling me about their diseased sibling. But my reaction comes from a good place.
Far too often, people with IBD hide their disease from the public. It’s something that they are ashamed of or feel it’s too complicated to explain to others. That makes me sad.
Growing up with Crohn’s disease was no easy feat for me. I was lucky because I had a mom who encouraged me to talk about and share how I felt physically with her, my teachers and even my friends. Eventually it became an accepted part of who I was.
I can only imagine how hard it is to be an adult, or even a teenager, who has to adjust to the physical toll that IBD takes on your body. Balancing the meds and the doctor’s appointments with a full class load or job – it’s not pretty, it’s shitty.
My biggest hope is that, as IBD/IBS continue to gain awareness, we are able to build a better community for people with Crohn’s and Colitis. That bathroom and poop jokes will someday be okay. That no one has to feel like that have to hide a part of who they are.