Opening Up About My Crohn’s Disease by Lauren Beach (IIF Scholarship Winner)


If I was asked to write a piece like this two years ago, I think my response to it would have been completely different, in fact, I am not sure I would have even been able to answer the question at all. “How do I decide to tell people I have Crohn’s Disease?”

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It has been an incredibly long journey for me with this disease. Everything from hospital visits to bathroom trips, and most recently, four surgeries. I have been known as the skinny girl in high school, and the girl who misses a lot of class in college. It has been really difficult at times, but with a lot of maturing, and growing up over these past couple of years, I have realized that telling people about my disease is not at all the scary conversation I used to think it would be.  Actually, the conversation often makes people step back and say “wow, you are so brave”, as opposed to what I used to think people’s reactions might be toward me telling them about what I go through.

In the past, I was never one to open up about a lot of things. However, having gone through multiple surgeries these past couple of years as well as coming to terms and being more accepting of my ostomy, I have started to really over come my insecurities. I do not let this disease define me, however it is a big part of my life and so why should others not know about it?

When I got to college my first year, I had no idea that I could have special housing arrangements especially for my disease, like an apartment with a kitchen or a place with a private bathroom. When I transferred to the college I currently attend, I did not even think twice about opening up to my roommates about my disease. I have decided that it is better for myself to open up completely, at least to the people whom I live with about the disease, rather than having to explain myself later when they ask why I am always in the bathroom. In my opinion, it has made life ten times easier to open up about the disease when people ask.

I am also in a sorority at school with 28 other girls who are totally accepting of my disease. For the most part I keep things to myself, however, when I just recently had surgery and was forced to take a semester off, I found I had to open up to more people about the disease. I think most of the girls knew that I had Crohn’s disease, but they did not know the major details, or the extent to which I had the disease.

When you open up to people about it, and only if you want to open up to people about it, I think you will find, at least based off of my experiences, that people are genuinely accepting and sincerely feel bad for all you have been through. I have yet to encounter someone who has made fun of what I have, but I am sure those people do exist. So, my advice is to open up to people who you are close with, but only if you choose to do so. Opening up to people sometimes lets them see a whole new side of you, one whom is brave beyond belief and has overcome a lot of hardships.  And who knows, maybe the person you open up to will open up to you about their self and you will learn something knew from them. Just like the whole precept of Intense Intestines, “Never Stay Quiet”.

To help others with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and ostomies, please click the link below and make a contribution to the Intense Intestines Foundation which will allow us to continue our mission.

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