This initiative is extremely important and I did not want to post one entry with disregarding the magnitude of what else is going on today. I actually look forward to this day because I read all the comments and posts about people opening up about their experiences and hardships when most of the time it is kept inside.

I started this blog as an outlet. It was a way to communicate my battle in an effort to reach others going through it too. By no means can I relate to the monsters of mental illness. My monster lives in my gut. But I can empathize what it’s like to have a disease that is chronic, invisible, stigmatized, uncommon, embarrassing, debilitating, and exhausting.

Some of my worst days were not spent in the hospital room. No, my worst days were spent in my head. And again, I am not trying to demean anyone going through the battle of mental illness, by equating your struggle with mine. But in an effort to understand, I try to imagine my own experience facing anxiety, insomnia, trauma and deep deep sadness. My own experience was confusing, tiresome, lonely, and suffocating. And although minor, compared to what many face, the mental state of my past year has been horrific. So my heart goes out to anyone, diagnosed or not, dealing with heavy weight of an unclear mind.

However, also from my experience I have learned a very important lesson of communication. I have reached out to so many new people that I have come in contact with solely because of my disease. Not only have I learned that I am not alone, but I’ve been given very real and practical advice about my illness. I’ve joined a community of IBDers and ostomates who I some now consider friends. My honesty has been my greatest strength this year because now I have become someone others have reached out to. If I can talk about shitting my pants in public I encourage you all to start talking about your challenges too.

I have seen first hand the power of honesty and talking about our battles. As one friend opened up about her mental illness, another very dear to me contacted her, and significantly helped her. I am so so thankful to my first friend for being there for the other. We need to lean on each other, our friends, family, coworkers, classmates, neighbours, spouses, our PEOPLE. Please, let’s continue this conversation and build a community beyond people with Crohn’s, colitis, or ileostomies, beyond people with anxiety, depression or any mental illness but to ALL people. Let’s treat each other with kindness and compassion. Let’s talk but more importantly let’s LISTEN. We ALL come with extra baggage and it takes GUTS to make a difference.