About the Author: Lauren is a disabled influencer and blogger sharing her story with all of her followers. To learn more about Lauren other than what she shares in this post, make sure to check out her instagram here!
My name is Lauren, I’m 28 years old, and I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease when I was 12. When I was 19, I underwent ostomy surgery and now live with a permanent ileostomy bag. I never would have imagined my life turning out this way (living with an ostomy that is), but I’m a sole believer in everything happening for a reason, and where I am at with life right now, I could never envision a world without my “bag”. This epiphany though, certainly did not happen overnight.
When I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, I had never heard the word before – I couldn’t even spell it. My parents told me my grandfather had it, so I’d assumed it was just an old person’s disease. Turns out, Crohn’s and Colitis is even more “popular” that you’d think. Today, more and more young people are getting diagnosed. At this point in time, I was so severely sick, I believe I blocked out most of my early memories with Crohn’s. But if there’s one thing I do remember, it was convincing myself there was nothing wrong with me. In fact, this mentality got me through much of my time in middle school, high school, and even early college. I wanted so badly to pretend that this disease did not exist, that I could do anything my friends could do, and nobody would have to know about all of my insecurities and deep-rooted anxiety over the bathroom (my biggest Crohn’s symptom).
Fast forward to ostomy surgery, and I still tried to convince myself this disease didn’t exist, and what I was going through couldn’t possibly be happening. There was no way I’d be a 19-year-old girl in college living with an ostomy bag, and so, no one would ever find out. I was a closed book. I locked up my thoughts, tossed the key over the bridge, and made sure no one would ever get inside my head. But one day, something inside of me just clicked.
I couldn’t keep all of this inside, so I started writing. Journaling. Typing. Anything to get my thoughts on paper helped me cope. All of this was a lot to take in for such a young girl, and trust me, it’s been nearly ten years now, and it’s still a lot to take in at times. But part of me just realized that I would need to own my truth if I was ever going to be happy and comfortable in my new body. This was my life now and I had two choices: I could either sit in my thoughts and be miserable, or I could own my ostomy bag, open up to people, and maybe even help others going through this along the way. I wasn’t put on this earth to sit in a pool of my own misery, so why not start now?
Yes, my body looks different than other people my age. And yes, I still get really sick with flares from time to time, but I also have such a unique view on the world now. I have been through so much for a person of my age, and I want to share my experiences with others. I still have my moments of self-consciousness and down-in-the-dumps days, but overall, my ostomy has given me my freedom back. Own your truth and talk about it. You never know how this might change the way you feel.
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