To the people that can’t see me: understanding invisible illness


For those of you who don’t know, my name is Becky. I am 15 years old. I’m a freshman in high school. I play soccer. I like to write. And eat Chipotle. 

When people look at me, they see a teenager. A student. A friend. A sister. A daughter. A cousin. That annoying person who color codes their history notes. (Don’t worry; that was just a phase). 

But, none of those people really see me

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IBD is just a donut

SONY DSCIf you live with Crohn’s, Colitis, or any other illness, you’ve probably been given a complex explanation of what your condition is. But do you really know what’s going on inside your body? And if the answer is yes, do you really think your friends would understand if you tried to teach them? Sadly, most people don’t have a clue what IBD is, and trying to explain it to them without getting caught up in a bunch of medical jargon is extremely difficult, especially if you don’t fully understand it yourself. So rather than try to mimic a biology professor, I decided to come up with a simple, understandable way to explain what IBD really is in an entertaining way. I’ll give you a hint: it involves donuts.
So, here we go:

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Yeah, IBD sucks. But life doesn’t have to.

everyone-has-a-choiceWe all have those days. Those days, when, even when we do everything right, things still manage to go wrong. For the chronically ill, those days are especially hard. Because on those days, even if we take all of our pills, do all of our shots, eat all of the right foods, and try extra hard to control our symptoms, we still feel like crap (no pun intended). And that sucks.

It really, really, sucks. Continue reading

Pain: It’s not a competition.

5998567606_e72cf3dbde_bPerson 1: “Sorry, I have to cancel plans tonight. I’m not feeling very well.”

Person 2: “That’s okay. But one time, I had the flu and a cold and I still came in 5th in a 5k.”


Person 1: “Could you do _____ for me? I have a horrible stomach ache.”

Person 2: “Fine. but come on! I have horrible stomach aches every single day, and I still do stuff.”


“Ow! I just got a flu shot and it hurts sooo bad!”

“Seriously! I give myself shots, like, twice a week, and I don’t even flinch!

or, my personal favorite:

Person 1: “Ouch! My knee hurts so bad! I don’t think I can keep running.”

Person 2: “Same! But I have, like, a suuuper high pain tolerance, so I’m totally fine.” 

The above conversations represent something we all know is wrong, but nearly impossible to avoid: competitive pain. While the above scenarios are made up stories, these types of thing happen all the time in the real world, and I have to say I have been on both sides of the conversation a fair number of times. Although context varies and the words used are different, one thing stays the same: Person 1 is experessing pain and asking for help. And, rather than be supportive and understanding, Person 2 comes in gearing everything towards his/herself and makes Person 1 feel badly for not being “tough” enough.  Continue reading

Looks aren’t anything

A short  post addressing where we go wrong in empathizing with others, and how we can learn from our mistakes. 


Wow! You look soooo good! It’s so great to see you feeling better.

Woah, woah, woah. How do you know how I feel? Sure, I may be wearing something other than sweatpants, have a braid in my hair, and a smile on my face. I might seem alert and energetic and there might not be bags under my eyes. But it doesn’t have anything to do with how I feel. Sadly, few realize that someone’s appearance has no connection to how they feel. It’s snap judgments like these that annoy me the most. Because one things for certain, whether we like it or not:  Continue reading

The top 10 misconceptions about Crohn’s Disease that make me want to scream!

Crohn’s disease tends to get a bad rap. Like really bad. Like don’t talk about that it’s gross and creepy bad. People think those who have it (like me!) are some kind of alien bathroom cult that leave a trail of contaminated toilet paper wherever we go. That our stomachs “hurt” sometimes, and that we’re just trying to be annoying by bringing our own food to events. But you know what? We’re not. We are students, teachers, siblings, friends, parents, coaches, artists, and musicians. We are people with a complicated chronic disease, not just exaggerating toilet users. Continue reading

Thanks, but no thanks – How to kindly deal with unwanted advice

4759535950_7bca6684c8_b“You should just eat more. Why would you order a salad if you’re trying to gain weight?”

Um, I can order my own food, thank you very much. 

“You need to go vegan! Trust me, it works.”

Trust you? But it’s my body.

“Go the natural route. Stop taking all of those chemical infested medicines! You need to try supplements and an inflammation free diet. I know it will help you!”

Do you, though? I’d like to agree with my doctor on this one, sorry.

“Maybe you’re imagining it.”

Yep, you got it! I only take all of these shots and pills to help my imaginary disease feel better. All I need to do is stop thinking!

If you can’t tell by now, this post is about advice. Particularly advice that you did not ask for, and do not want. Unsolicited advice, if you want to get technical. Upon being diagnosed with a chronic illness, or any illness for that matter, the people around you tend to throw suggestions in your face without thinking twice. While it is great to seek support from friends and family, when cousin Sally who hasn’t seen you in ten years starts blabbering about how you’re on the wrong medicine isn’t exactly a supportive gesture.  Her words may come from a want to help, but if you have chronic illness, you know that nothing feels worse than being told you’re “doing it all wrong” by someone who has no idea what you’re going through.  Continue reading

Why Me? It doesn’t matter.

14750882233_cf43e135b9_bOften times, the first thing we think when given the diagnosis of a chronic, incurable, and needy disease is “Why me.” We want to know how whatever it is that we have got there. Sure, there are genetic factors. Sure, there are environmental factors. But in that very first moment when you feel like your world has been smushed and cracked open and flipped upside down, it’s not a question of “why me”, but “why me.” We want to know why we, out of all people, became the “lucky winners.” Honestly, there isn’t really a real answer to this question. But for the person who’s asking the question, no answer is not an option. They want an answer, and they want it now. So, here’s my answer: Continue reading