Do What You Think You Can't Do
“Do What You Think You Can’t Do”; I came across these seven words about a month ago. I was sitting in bed after a night spent in the bathroom; my stomach felt like someone was squeezing and twisting it, my knees were throbbing from the medication, my head was pounding from the lack of sleep and I just wanted it all to end. I wanted my duvet to swallow me up and never let me go. But as I was scrolling through Instagram I saw a post with those seven words and I stopped, hovering over the photograph, thinking of the situation I was in. I felt vulnerable. I felt like I didn't want to fight anymore; I just wanted to give up. Until I read that sentence. Seven words I have chosen to repeat every day since. My name is Billie and in January 2017 I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. For those of you who don't know what this is, it’s one of two forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Crohn’s being its sister illness. I suppose you could call them the ugly sisters of IBD. And, in true disney fashion, these ugly sisters actively try to ruin Cinderella’s dress… and I mean that in a literal sense. When I was first diagnosed I had absolutely no idea what Ulcerative Colitis was. I had loosely heard of Crohn’s but my knowledge of the matter went as far as assuming it was an old person’s disease… And goodness, I was about to learn just how wrong I was. My diagnosis sent shockwaves through my life. Prior to my diagnosis the worst illness I’d ever gotten was a cold, and my mothers response to illness was always, ‘’take two Nurofen. You'll be fine’’. So up until then I’d actively managed to avoid hospitals, doctors, surgeries, or any form of medication for that matter. But when it came to being diagnosed with a chronic, life long illness that involved everything I’d managed to avoid, I didn't want it to be real. I didn't want to be sat opposite a doctor at twenty, being told that I was never going to get better; so I chose to ignore it. I put it in the back of my mind and just carried on as I had before. Yes, this was stupid and I don’t recommend it! But looking back, I chose to ignore it all out of fear; fear of what my doctor would tell me, fear of the invasive tests he had to do, fear of what my life would become, and fear of the things I would no longer be able to do. I never thought that I’d be sitting writing about how strong I am because of what has happened to me. But, I guess it’s back to those seven words. In the beginning, I was in a dark place, feeling every single emotion all at once without the headspace or emotional range to deal with it all, so I took to my laptop. I took to the screen in front of me to see if there was anyone else like me, and what I found was an incredibly strong community of people all around the world. I found people coming together to support one another in a time of need, whether that was a need for support, advice or just someone to talk to. I found a community of people I wanted to join. I started blogging; I created Trust Your Gut and decided to use my Instagram account to put my life on show with the pure purpose of helping others around me. I chose to do something that, a few months ago, I didn't even think was possible. I didn't want to talk to anyone about my UC - I wanted to hide it from the world - but now I realise the importance of informing anyone who will listen. Awareness is where it starts making those who are diagnosed find a glimmer of light when you are at your darkest moment. If it wasn't for the social media accounts across Facebook and Instagram, then there is a chance that I would've been stuck in a lonely place for a long time. It is the online communities that spur the hope some of us need to Do What We Think We Can’t Do. It could be as simple as showering, getting dressed, or making a cup of tea; or it could be going for a run, or making someone laugh, or just accepting who they are; it could be that you inspire someone to talk about a part of them they find hard to talk about or that you help someone to post their life all over an Instagram account and create a blog to go with it! Doing the things we think we can’t do is what shows the world how strong we can be, and this is ultimately what the Chronic Illness community I have decided to join is all about; helping someone realise that no matter what you have to overcome - whether that is an illness or simply just a tough time in your life - you can do whatever you want to do! So here I am, not wallowing in the little bubble of illness that you can get ever so consumed in, but doing something that I didn't think I could do. I’m writing to the world in the hope of offering a little glimmer of light to those who need it, and spreading the much needed awareness for chronic illnesses like IBD.