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Growing up with Crohn's Disease and an Ileostomy

I've always known I was born sick. From me swallowing my meconium at birth, to my mother giving me jello water, under the orders of my Pediatrician, due to me screaming in pain from my stomach. I was just a baby at that time, no words could come from me, only tears. I've been in pain my whole life, the memories of it are embedded in my brain and will never fade. I was diagnosed with Crohn's at a really young age, so young that I have to ask my mother certain details because I just don't remember. My childhood was filled with medications, hospital stays, and the most debilitating pain you could ever imagine. I know I've had happy times but unfortunately the trauma of my medical condition blocked most of my happy moments from my brain. I didn't know this would be a lifelong battle for me.
After trying really hard to manage my Crohn's over the years to no success, I had to get a ileostomy bag. Getting a bag during my formative years was a true struggle. I was embarrassed and ashamed of my condition. I didn't look like anyone else and no one could relate to me. I was all alone. My self esteem plummeted and I became depressed. Some would categorize me as damaged beyond repair and some would say I needed extra love and affection. I say years of chronic pain and medical trauma has caused me to see myself as a black girl in many pieces that distorted and shattered. I was a puzzle but the pieces didn't connect anymore.
I never received any education on my condition or mental health therapy. That type of support wasn't available as widespread as it is today. Mental Health was a topic that was hushed in my household and never talked about. Imagine being a young lady with a chronic illness that is debilitating and depressing and there is no outlet for you. I internalized everything. I didn't want to be the sick person everyone coddled. I did a lot of pretending. I didn't pretend being sick but I pretended I was well just so I could be normal. 
Presently, my illness is in a much better state, although I still go through many health challenges. I will always have Crohn's Disease and I will always have my Ileostomy. Those things are never going to change but how I handle my illness is all on me. I've turned my years of pain and trauma into fuel to help others like me. I am determined not to allow another child or adult, go through the loneliness I went through growing up. There is a community and no one has to suffer alone.

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