1 May 2016

#GetYourBellyOut's Second Charity Evening

Whilst my blog may have been a little quiet of late, I'd say that as a whole my voice has definitely been louder than ever before in my attempts to raise awareness of IBD. Where have I been and what have I been up to you may be wondering. Well...

As it turns out I've been keeping myself extremely busy over with the #GetYourBellyOut team. We've spent the last few months planning a bit of a party to celebrate the campaigns second birthday. Wait, where did the time go?! It seems surreal that the awareness campaign is not only still up and running but stronger than ever before. We have soooo many plans that I know for certain I won't be having much of a break anytime soon. It's a good job then that I love what I do! 

A party, for hundreds of guests with absolutely no money in the budget; how hard could it be right? Nothing; we started with zero, so it's a very good job that we have some amazing friends and have built up some wonderful friendships with various organisations which all have the same aim as our own; to make life better for those tackling challenging times with chronic illness. 

Last years party received some really lovely feedback of which we were keen to build upon. We're very fortunate to have such wonderful campaign supporters who go above and beyond for us all throughout the year so our campaign birthday we feel is the perfect opportunity to give a little back and to say thank you in the best way that we know how; by spending a whole weekend handing out hugs of course!

Many of our guests traveled down the night prior to the party as this gave everyone extra time to settle in and adjust from the lengthy journeys. Twice now we've selected a city in the centre of the U.K in order to give everyone equal opportunity to attend. Having IBD ourselves we understand the struggles which come with traveling such long distances but that doesn't deter those travelling from Ireland, the Isle of White and from as far away as America to join us for such a special weekend! 

The team spent all day and night working on the party preparations and sent out countless emails to drum up support for the event. Not only is it a marvellous opportunity for the IBD community to come together but it too is the perfect weekend to rebuild everyone's confidence in reminding them all that despite the enormous challenges ahead, we're all united in the fight against Crohn's Disease & Ulcerative Colitis.

For the past two years I've spent many hours a day talking with and providing support for many of these individuals whilst encouraging them to join in a vast array of fundraising activities but this year was my first real opportunity to meet such a large volume of our campaign supporters at once. Support of which we were able to continue providing thanks to the vast array of organisations which helped out with our informational goodie bags! 
If you're following my blog you'll know that I've struggled with crippling anxiety which meant that I missed out on so much of life. Of late I've made huge strides in tackling this fight so much so that I felt up to the long journey to attend this years event. A journey of which I could never have imagined undertaking during the time that my anxiety was rife. This gives me hope that others who find themselves in the position that I was in can hopefully take comfort in knowing that things can and do improve. Where two years ago I was feeling very isolated, now I feel a tremendous sense of belonging and I was keen to ensure that I could say thank you in person to those who have changed the journey that I'm on.

Walking into the hotel the night before our big party was a bizarre experience, recognising so many faces but having them stood next to me instead of them being on other side of the screen was a lovely feeling. This too was the first time that I had met my campaign co-founders since #GetYourBellyOut began two years ago! I was greeted with such a warm welcome, so much so that I didn't feel as if I was in the company of absolute strangers; everyone felt like old friends.

I'm glad that I traveled up the night before the party as this gave me a wonderful opportunity to meet, hug and chat with a large number of our campaign supporters. Looking back over the party weekend I'm thankful for having made a head start in greeting many of our party guests on the Friday night as during Saturday's party I hardly got a chance to sit in my chair with having so many inspirational guests that I wanted to meet and spend time with! 

Saturday afternoon it was all hands on deck to decorate the venue in anticipation of our guests. I like to run a tight ship and our team was wonderfully accommodating to my instructions and demands. We (the founders) honestly couldn't achieve the work that we do without all of the extra hands on board which support us and aid us every step of the way, therefore from myself it's a huge THANK YOU for all that you do and have done for us. 
This year the campaign received soooo much amazing support and generosity that I'm still three weeks later trying to pass on my thanks to all that were involved in making our night so magical. We truly appreciate how lucky we are.

After a mad dash back to the hotel for a cheeky nap and to throw my party frock on I was off once again to the venue... Only this time we would be welcoming our guests. I'm not well known for my emasculate time keeping and this weekend I did absolutely nothing to dispel this myth, I ended up getting into the lift with some of our super eager party guests! Great first impressions eh. 

We knew that this year we were aiming to squish as much entertainment into the 7 hour party as possible and crikey did we fill the evening. It was lovely to see such a great turnout and everyone looked fantastic. 
It's overwhelming to be in a room filled with over 200 inspirational bellies, even more so having guests thank us for all that we do alongside sharing stories with us of how the campaign has changed or saved their lives. Many had made a real effort to dress up despite not feeling very well which takes some inner strength which we admire these bellies for. As I wasn't able to attend last years GetYourBellyOut charity evening I let my co-founders take the lead with the speeches and running order of the night knowing full well that I was in good hands; they did a marvelous job! 

The 7 hours passed in the blink of an eye. It was challenging to ensure that everything went to plan (even the surprise proposal went without a hitch whoop!) whilst trying in vain to relax and enjoy the whole evening. As I mentioned earlier, I hardly got a chance to sit in my chair before I was up on my feet once more dancing, circulating, selfie taking and hugging as many bellies as possible...same again next year maybe??


*With special thanks to Clinimed and Securicare, Vanilla Blush, Clothes2Order & Salts Medilink for their continued support Xx

7 December 2015

#7DaysOfIBD

It was asked of me by the wonderful charity Crohn's and Colitis UK to keep a diary during the next seven days to document what it's like to live with/alongside Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). If you've not already done so then be sure to join in with their latest awareness campaign which is taking place between 1st-7th December by sharing your photos and own experiences across social media using the following #7DaysOfIBD hashtag as well as keeping your eyes fixated on the #GetYourBellyOut campaign's Facebook page for a little fun activity.

Why is it important to share ones experiences you may ask? Everyone's journey of tackling IBD will be extremely varied and each will have a different story to tell.  By sharing your stories and tales of hope you instill strength, courage and inspire others who may be tackling similar experiences; this can be extremely comforting for a patient who may feel a little lost and like no one truly understands. 

It's been said that we face many difference stages when attempting to accept, process and deal with a chronic illness such as Crohn's Disease, Microscopic Colitis or Ulcerative Colitis many of which I have documented in my own blog. From the anger, frustration and sadness to the hope, fundraising activities and awareness campaigns that keep us all going. So over the next few days I shall do my best to share my honest thoughts with you all and document my activities whether they be eventful or not! 

Day one of this rather bizarre experiment as although I write the occasional blog post I don't keep a diary so I'm rather curious as to why I've agreed to let you all in on my boring week ahead but we shall give it a go...
Unusually for me I am taking you all shopping with me; okay so it may only be in the virtual sense but still I'd like to welcome you all along for the ride. I'm heading to the shops to find a new frock for an up and coming event hosted by none other than Crohn's and Colitis UK. If you follow my blog you would know by now that I've had a pretty tough time of late tackling my plight with anxiety which has kept me locked away at home for the last two years as I lost all of my confidence with having Ulcerative Colitis and trying to maintain a hectic social/work life. It could be said that I took myself out of the rat race for a while to focus on ME... which is sort of what we are up to today. After having spent so long cooped up indoors it transpires that I own no appropriate adult clothing; jeans and a
 comfy jumper simply won't cut it at this volunteers event that I've crazily signed myself up for. I'd like to set somewhat of a good example and not rock up having the whole room wonder how such a quiet lass has somehow co-founded the most successful global IBD awareness campaign to date! Have I mention that yet?
At present I somewhat struggle with being outside mixing with the public but I'm far too frustrated with missing out on so much of life to be left at home any longer so it's time to put my game face on and head out into the world! 
 
Two hours in and I've bagged myself what I feel is a cute frock and a petite jacket to keep warm in this wild British weather. I stopped off for pizza but couldn't enjoy my meal for the anxiety was running away with me. I worry about bumping into friends or people that I know for I'd like to avoid disgruntled conversations with those of whom are starting to forget what I look like as it's been so long since they saw me last. How is it I'm well enough to venture out when I've not made time to catch up with those I hold dear to me? Truth be told I simply want to focus on myself, as selfish as that may sound I'm working hard on my own recovery by popping out for a short while without wanting to explain why I'm not yet up to the task of rekindling friendships that have become strained during the last few years. Home time can't come quick enough! Get me out of here. 

Day two and after yesterdays adventure to the shops today's looking like yet another pyjama day. I'm feeling rather exhausted after my trip out but I'm refusing to return to bed; fatigue you shall not win! I'll be honest in saying that often chronic fatigue is one of the biggest hurdles to tackle. I've previously written posts on the topic and about how my 'pyjama day turned into pyjama week' as an insight for those attempting to understand the true battle with this pesky symptom. So instead of a jam packed day its a few hours shlumped infront of the tv with a cuppa to keep me warm. A day filled with social media scouring it is; what's the latest in research, who's inspiring story is going viral today, can I help to reassure anyone within the IBD community so on and so forth. As much as I enjoy my role as an IBD advocate it too is tiring, I'm only too aware that I've not written any blog content for well over a month as I can never find the time or energy to compose a coherent blog post. I don't want to throw just any woffle together I want my content to resonate with people...so as a result it tends to get put off. I shall aim to finish my well overdue blog post hopefully by the end of the day (am I being a little too optimistic?) followed by popping a card in the post to wish a delightful #GetYourBellyOut campaign supporter well as she recovers in hospital after her latest surgery. Ideally I would like to have access to enough means to be able to sponsor each of the wonderful fundraisers who are stepping out of their comfort zones to raise both funds and awareness for IBD as well as have enough energy to write to and support many of our campaign supporters but truth be told many days I simply don't have enough time for ME let alone anything else. I find my day taken up with working on designs for the campaign which is constantly evolving; sorry blog post you shall simply have to wait. With being so busy it's late evening by the time I realize that I've completely forgotten to take my daily morning medication, here's hoping that my health won't suffer as a consequence of my forgetfulness doh. Is it sleep time yet? 

Day three shall mostly be taken up with packing for my trip away. Attending this volunteers event by Crohn's and Colitis UK will comprise of travelling the furthest distance since my troubles with anxiety began. It goes without saying that the nerves about travelling over an hour and a half with having Ulcerative Colitis is rather daunting but I'm determined not to miss out. Whether it takes me two or three hours with all of the service station stops along the way I WILL get there!! I'm only too aware that my enthusiasm may wane the closer I get to setting off but for now I'm enjoying having something to look forward to. I'm keen to meet fellow volunteers who are the heart and soul of the charity, I too am keen to hear everyone's ideas on how we can continue pushing the awareness of Inflammatory Bowel Disease into the public domain. There are many reasons why I campaign so tirelessly for awareness and one of these is to encourage fundraising because lets face it... the sooner that we raise a heap of money and attract some of the greatest minds into the field of IBD research the sooner we will all be able to have a brighter future. Who doesn't want to work towards such an amazing goal right? Two days until take off and I'm feeling pretty okay. 

Four days in and I'm feeling overwhelmed. I do my utmost to support the IBD community but at times it all gets a little too much. Today (as often) I receive messages from those tackling Inflammatory Bowel Disease who tell me that they're struggling. I have absolutely no medical training aside from a one off first aid course over ten years ago but that doesn't count right? I feel helpless and like my support is inadequate for ultimately I am not the correct person to support these individuals with the strains that this cruel destructive illness places upon people. What am I to say to someone who tells me that they're in floods of tears, the support from their care teams is lacking and that they're struggling to cope? The reality is that the correct support systems simply aren't in place for people who are distraught and often in desperate need. Over the last two years since I threw myself into the online world I have dealt with many suicidal patients and had to support many individuals who are a threat to themselves. This leaves me feeling angry; where is the support for these lost souls? Where?! If I wasn't volunteering my spare time to the online IBD community (as thankfully so many others do) who would be there for the countless individuals who rely upon me for support? Something which I don't like to think about but in reality...I too am attempting to deal with and process my own journey with Ulcerative Colitis so I simply can't be there for everyone. I'm now geared up ready to ask for change! Where are the offers of counselling, life coaching or bereavement support teams? Truth be told it simply does not exist. The best we currently have is an information/support phone line run by volunteers at Crohn's and Colitis UK [Click here for more info and contact numbers]

Day five means only one thing; travel day! I'll be honest in saying that I didn't get much sleep last night and today fatigue is kicking my ...! I'm feeling determined not to let it get the better of me but frustrated with how long it takes to resemble something that looks like a 'normal' human being. Why is it that the healthy spend time trying to convince their employers for example that they're sick when those tackling a chronic illness spend so much time and energy trying to 'blend in' by attempting to avoid looking like the sick kid. I find myself checking and rechecking the traffic reports and circling every service station along the route...needless to say the worries of travelling with a dodgy colon (even when in some kind of self diagnosed remission) leaves me running behind schedule. This is good practise for turning up on time tomorrow with a room full of people waiting for me ...and my dodgy colon to pull ourselves together. Here goes nothing! Wish me luck. Yikes!  

Saturday marks the sixth day of my diary shenanigans and I'm sure you'll take great pleasure in knowing that although I survived yesterday's journey I did manage to make a bumbling fool of myself at the hotel check in by being so fatigued and caught off guard that I failed to fully recognize Dan Mclean director of marketing, communications and membership at Crohn's and Colitis UK; great start hey!
Here's hoping that today turns out better however I'm not setting out on a positive note as sods law would have it my Ulcerative Colitis has decided to play up right when I'd like it to make itself scarce. Having IBD is totally a viable excuse as to being late right? 
 
Aside from the dodgy painful colon trying to slowly kill me off I would say the days been a great success. As always it's a joy and a pleasure to get an insight into the busy behind the scenes world of Crohn's and Colitis UK. It's been interesting hearing about all of the up and coming plans that they're hoping to implement over the next few months as well as meeting many of the wonderful volunteers. Although I'm totally worn out after today's brainstorming session I still manage to find the time to squish in a beverage with a good friend whilst I'm visiting their city before clambering into my bed for the night. 

Day seven and I've woken up feeling like I've been hit by a truck in the middle of the night, my whole body is struggling today so much so I'm even failing to 'do human'. The exhaustion is ridiculous as I'm finding even the basic task which consists of standing up a struggle so today's motto shall be to keep putting one foot in front of the other. It's your final day with me so let's make it a good one, today I plan on visiting the zoo before heading home. I can't say that I'm looking forward to the return journey so for now I'm going to enjoy my time scouting out what wildlife this city has to offer and no I'm not referring to the locals ha!  After a long journey with many service station stops and plenty of cups of tea along the way I manage to make it home. Almost flattened by the cat as I open the door she's now sat firmly on top of my suitcase; I think it's safe to say that neither of us have any intentions of moving any time soon! 


18 November 2015

Today I sparked a debate!

Today I sparked a debate and bycrikey it feels good! Why am I so overjoyed at having virtually kicked the hornets nest and awoken the sleeping beast with a topic which has resulted in people slinging opinions at one another...well because the topic of discussion just so happens to be surrounding invisible illnesses and disability. Don't worry, I don't believe that I offended anyone so people weren't running after me with pitchforks (not as of yet anyhow). So what on earth is going on?!

After a bit of a break in my blogging routine as I found myself busy raising awareness of Inflammatory Bowel Disease through other means I finally found the time to return to this here very blog to write down what was on my mind. The blog post that I wrote was somewhat in-keeping with Invisible Illness Awareness Week which takes place between September 28th - October 4th (For more info see; http://invisibleillnessweek.com) Why is it so important that people partake in awareness days/ weeks/ months I hear you ask. Simply put...because from day to day many topics such as invisible illness simply slip under the radar. One lone voice can make a huge difference believe me I have seen this happen many times over but collectively we can shout from the rooftops to spark debate or change the way people view one another by simply share a piece of knowledge with the world.

The post which sparked the initial debate was this one; 'I have disability; there, I said it!' I was unsure about covering such an emotive topic for fear of accidentally saying the wrong thing and offending someone. However after running the post past a select few friends who I knew would be brutally honest with their feedback and with much trepidation I hit the publish button.Crumbs!

What reaction did I get now that my views were out there floating around the mysterious land of social media? Well in all honestly exactly the reaction that I was expecting. No; luckily I did not end up offending anyone but my post did for the most part get overlooked amongst the general humdrum of everyday life. Why might this be I wonder, my best guess is because people within my online IBD community are uncomfortable with the idea of being seen to have a disability (no thanks to the attitudes of others). For some accepting that you have a disability is like saying that you're somewhat a failiour or have something lacking.... which couldn't be any further from the truth. In reality people who have tackled hard times (whether that be through chronic illness or not) bring new characteristics to the table. Individuals who have faced hard/ challenging times in life bring to the table diversity; it is this diversity in life that keeps the world spinning, it is what attracts new ideas. So if you're one of these such people who thinks that due to having a chronic illness that you're at a disadvantage...please think again!

Hold up, I thought you said that your post sparked a debate; how can this be if people overlooked it?!
Not one for admitting defeat (yes you can blame my chronic illness for my gutsy gung-ho attitude) I set about finding somewhere to post my rambling thoughts. I decided to post my blog piece where I knew there would be a collective gathering of bright minds; somewhere that people wouldn't be reserved in having an opinion...I happened to throw my post in with a bunch of philosophical minds.Was that a good move? err..

For the most part yes; doing so was a good move; it most certainly sparked a debate! I was surprised to see so many compassionate comments from individuals who could relate to the topic through their own experiences with chronic illness; which of course comes in many different forms. I heard from a whole host of individuals for example I received a lovely comment from a lady who has a form of dwarfism, a fellow Ulcerative Colitis fighter, a lady who is tackling leukemia and a family member of someone who had sustained a brain injury. All of the above could relate to my post and find comfort in knowing that someone else was facing the same barriers as themselves; that being society's attitudes towards them.

Where did it all go pete-tong (wrong)? Well as suspected the uneducated members of society decided to pitch in with their controversial opinions and the debate drifted off to a slightly different topic. 'Would you employ an individual who has a disability?'. The range of comments were quite broad they ranged from someone saying that they would not employ a person with a disability if it meant that they were a liability or would do a disservice to the workforce around them *stifles a chuckle* what nonsense! There too were comments such as ..
'If you want charity, then there are plenty of charitable organizations out there willing to offer assistance but a business is not a charity. I am not going to hire a brain damaged person for the same reason that a professional football team is not going to hire a man with no legs'. (Yes that is a genuine comment) or 'I shouldn't have opened my business to profit. I should have opened it to employ the disabled.' to kinder views such as 'Why do you assume that the disabled person is not the best candidate for the job? If he/she is more skilled than the others, my assumption is that he would or could be a better asset moving forward. The laziest folks I have ever hied are typically able bodied, from good homes and have their parents bank accounts to fall back on if things don't work out.'
To reiterate a comment made in my previous blog post 'The largest barrier for people deemed to have a disability is society's attitudes towards them'. Individuals who are deemed to have a disability are also passionate, driven, loyal, hard working and hate having to take a 'sick day' *sniffle*. 

I understand that we live in a fast paced society where at times it's dog eat dog but we too live in a world which is filled with compassionate people who will go out of their way to help someone less fortunate than themselves. The discussion descended into 'who could shout the loudest' with some hot headed opinions being thrown in for good measure. Opinions of which I can only imagine came from people who've never had to tackle a disability of their own. As a result my quiet humble thought-provoking blog link got taken down from the particular site that I had posted it on BOOO!

As a conclusion; we have a long way to go in dragging such topics which make society feel uncomfortable into the forefront and that your opinion is not necessarily correct simply because you shout the loudest. I can only hope that there are more compassionate people in the world than those who are far too caught up in the rat race to show a little human kindness to the fellow folk around them...I too wouldn't mind if they ended up missing their train home. Ha! Take that!

As insightful as the feedback/ debate was I now find myself being left with a new question;
Would you employ someone who has a disability? Let me know your thoughts.
The debate continues...

29 September 2015

I have a disability; there, I said it!

I think it's fair to say that people with invisible illnesses spend a great deal of time trying to convince the medical professions that they are genuinely sick and are in desperate need of the extra support that we find ourselves asking for; after all we know our bodies the best so know when something isn't right. Believe me when I say that individuals with chronic illness will only ask for extra help and support when we genuinely need it. Think about it....if you spent so much of your existence in the hospital/ attending appointments, would you then go and spend even more time in the waiting rooms? I think not; so why do we struggle to get people to believe us when we are genuinely sick. "You don't look sick to me" jeez thanks a bunch, in which case just discredit my burning internal pain seen as I've gone out of my way to brush my hair so that I do not offend anyone as I stroll on by. Maybe the lack of compassion from the medical profession is down to being rushed off their feet or having encountered troublemakers in the past and therefore are cautious about making the same mistake twice.
Why do we even need to convince people in the first place you may be asking. Believe it or not... try as we might, we're not indestructible. For the most part individuals with chronic illness simply plough on through life making the most of things. So when someone is reaching out asking for extra help the least you could do is be a little supportive. It seems so silly that we have to make it so glaringly obvious that from time to time we/ I will need extra support, whether that be emotionally, mentally or physically. There will be times when I turn to friends or family for extra comfort, these are the times that I am struggling the most so please don't make me feel even worse by having to explain in great detail why I need your support. 

I have attempted many times to open up to close friends about my illness and at times I thought that we were making great progress. I understand that there is no manual for being friends with someone who has a chronic illness and I understand that at times it must be tough but just when I feel like we are on solid ground silly remarks pull the rug from under my feet and it feels like we are straight back to the start. 

'My journey is not the same as their journey' I find myself explaining one evening. I can't express how frustrating it is when people compare individuals with chronic illness or how judgemental people can be to those with invisible illnesses. "My friends cousin has that illness and he gets on with things just fine" "Someone at work has the same illness and they work full time" okay great, point duly noted.... what about "My friend has that and is in the hospital fighting for their life". Yes exactly.... comparing chronic illness is a silly thing to do; it benefits no one. I believe that these things aren't said out of malice and friends/family feel like they're trying to encourage us, when in reality they're just making me feel worthless. Don't you think that I am doing the utmost to tackle my own journey with an invisible illness? Do you feel that I'm simply not trying hard enough? 

"Yeah but like you don't have a disability do you?"
'You're disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a 'substantial' and 'long-term' negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities'- Extract from https://www.gov.uk/definition-of-disability-under-equality-act-2010
Both Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis do fall into the remits of having a disability. Surprising as it may seem a person can be seen as having a disability despite having all of their working limbs in place and none of their senses missing (common sense is omitted from this example). "I don't want to be seen as having a disability; I don't want to be treated any differently to others". Great news, there are procedures in place which hopefully prevent a person with a chronic illness being treated unfairly or being at a disadvantage to others. Personally I have no issues with declaring myself as having a disability if it means that I am given the same level playing field as others. I am no less able than the next person... providing that provisions are put into place for me. 
Despite my gutsy attitude to tackle whatever comes my way, I too have to be realistic in accepting that there will be days when I simply cannot get out of bed, or days that I will have to give up as I need to spend time in the hospital... on these occasions I am thankful that I can class myself as having a disability for it enables me to extra support when I need it the most. I am not invincible, nor is my chronic illness steering the ship; it is an equal partnership where each party has a mutual respect and understanding for one another. I do not feel the need to run umpteen marathons or tackle the highest mountains to prove my fighting spirit to the world. 'Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes it's the little voice that whispers... I'll try again tomorrow.'


28 September 2015

Chronic illness stole my identity!

It is well documented throughout my blog that over the last six years of having Inflammatory Bowel Disease (in my case Ulcerative Colitis) that it has taken a huge toll on almost every aspect of my life; of which I'm sure many can relate to. Over the years my behaviours, emotions, life choices, plans and thought patterns have all been impacted by this lifelong chronic illness that I now face. Admittedly last year was the toughest emotionally for me as it would seem the events that have surpassed since my diagnosis all caught up with me and the emotions hit me like a ton of bricks. My chronic illness has affected so much of my life that it's been challenging to process all of the new changes. Friendships have been stripped away, a change of employment is on the horizon, even simple things have been impacted such as debating whether to give up the independence of being able to drive as fatigue has made itself an annoyance in my life. As documented I spent many a week or month in my pajamas as the worry, anxiety and emotional distress took a toll on my body in the physical sense and I found myself struggling with chronic fatigue. Pajama days became the norm as too did the deafening silence of my mobile phone, somewhere along the line I become forgotten/ left behind whilst I attempted to process and 'deal' with all of the new changes that I now face....I too realized that I had lost my identity along the way.

Somewhere along the line I realized that my chronic illness had stolen my identity. I would spend so much time filling in various forms that it often felt like I was swimming in paperwork; I can't say that I've ever filled in such vast amounts of paperwork than I have done since my diagnosis. It's frustrating feeling like the whole world wants a piece of you while all that you strive for is to be locked away and left in peace and quiet to process your own thoughts. However these days I find myself in a better frame of mind with a brighter outlook on life. Prior I found myself avoiding contacting friends as I felt like we had nothing in common; the issues that I felt were most important to me ..they didn't understand the significance of. This is where social media and building a strong support system comes unto its own, being around others who 'get it' and celebrate your small wins can bring a huge amount of comfort at a time in which you feel like the rest of the world doesn't understand.

One aspect that I've seen mentioned more than I would like to see within the IBD community and something that I have experienced myself  is this sense that our chronic illness sends us back to the drawing board. Often the plans that we set out for ourselves change or we find that we have to abandon some ideas all-together ... however the remarkable thing that I've seen many times over is this incredible ability for those with chronic illnesses to adapt and change to whatever comes their way. Disheartening though it may be to have to change so many of the dreams and goals that we set ourselves, we too have this remarkable way of adapting so that our illnesses don't end up victorious; in some cases chronic illness spurs many of us on to achieve greater things than we would have if we hadn't been forced to stop and look at the world from a different viewpoint. I've lost track of the number of times I've had to return to the drawing board since my diagnosis; It is hard and difficult to deal with so many set backs in life and having to start from scratch again. At the time it all seemed a little overwhelming though now I feel like I am in a much better place to tackle what life has in store for me.

I've found my zest for life once more and it's a nice feeling after such a long time of moaping around feeling sorry for myself. Once more I am finding the enjoyment in things which gives me hope that others in my position will do too. If you do have to wallow....just ensure that it doesn't last as long as mine did ;) I'm making great strides on the journey I'm currently tackling with anxiety which in turn feels like a weight has been lifted. I am no longer feeling like the world is against me, instead I am curious to see what it has to offer me. For now I'm not looking too far ahead but more-so enjoying the moment while it's here. You may have noticed that I've not been great at keeping up with my blog and partly that is due to trying to find a balance, it's a fine line between becoming absorbed in a world of social media and taking the time to enjoy the outside world. For a long time I've felt torn between the two as I am only too aware of what a huge help the online community can be...it too can become a little overwhelming being around a community where someone is always so sick/unwell.

So for now I'm busy rebuilding the friendships that have over the last two years become strained whilst I locked myself away at home trying to regain my focus and direction in life. Still I feel as though I've no immediate direction to head in but for now I am enjoying reconnecting with the outside world. My blog may have been a little quieter than usual but please be assured that I am working hard on building awareness for inflammatory bowel disease! With that said I was recently able to attend my first awareness walk in aid of Crohn's Disease & Ulcerative Colitis horrah! It was really enjoyable to be able to speak face to face with so many individuals who I had spent time talking with over social media. It too is a great feeling to see so many people supporting the same cause with the same end goal in sight; a cure for both Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.  I will of course keep you all updated with any further developments as and when they come. It is so important to have faith and hope that the future will be brighter for it's what keeps many of us going.