Hi to all the IIF Supporters! I wanted to briefly introduce myself before I started blogging here with Brian so you all have a chance to get to know me a little bit. For those of you who haven’t had a chance to take a look, please check out the About Marisa section of the IIF blog as it might help to further explain who I am and why I advocate for those with inflammatory bowel disease and ostomies.
The Intense Intestines Foundation has played a significant role in helping me to come to terms with being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the age of 13 and needing to undergo 14 major operations, culminating in a permanent ileostomy in July of 2011. Last year, I attended their first annual Climb for Crohns and Colitis on World IBD Day and it was the first time I had ever had the courage to acknowledge that I belonged at an IBD event. Before that, the only people I really talked to about what I was experiencing (both physically and emotionally) were my parents which is why I believe seeing the words “Never Stay Quiet” one day resonated so strongly with me. I knew it was exactly what I needed to do in order to have any chance at living a happy, peaceful life.
I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the IIF team. I not only think Brian is a wonderful person, advocate and leader, but I think the mission of this foundation is unique and essential to helping the many people who suffer from Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. I am just really starting out as an IIF team member but will be pretty much doing a bit of everything, although I am sure my efforts will be more channeled as time goes on and the foundation expands.
As I mentioned in the “About Marisa” section of the blog, the worst part about having IBD for me was how isolating it can be. So when I started becoming an advocate, my goal first and foremost was to make sure that anyone and everyone knew that they weren’t alone in this journey. While I know realistically I cannot be there for everyone, I have been focusing my blogging and advocacy on allowing other people to see the real side of life as an IBD/ostomy patient. I find that when I would read others words and be able to relate to how they were feeling, I would feel validated, and in turn it would cause me to feel a million times better. I no longer felt like I was the only one in the world experiencing certain emotions, but rather, that maybe it was “normal” or at least understandable why I would feel the way I did.
Point being, I have always tried to be someone who others could relate to because that is what I so desperately needed when I was at my worst. I started my own blog called “Keeping Things Inside is Bad For My Health” in September where I write about the spectrum of my life from the challenging, the exciting, the frustrating, the funny, the annoying, and everything in between.
I look forward to being a part of the IIF team and hopefully getting to know many of you along the way.