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For years I've spent my days in and out of the hospitals, fighting this secret fight that no one quite understood. Daily I struggled to get out of bed because I had no strength to do that simple task. I spent years with people calling me a hypochondriac because there was nothing wrong with me on the outside. But on the outside looking in, you can see what is happening on the inside. No one could see the pain that was slowly crippling me, the fear that I felt when I ate, because even that had had me torn between two options; do I eat, because my body needs it, or do I eat and be in pain for the rest of the day? I know, some options, right?
For nine years I've lived with Crohn's disease, the silent epidemic. You see the commercials now so often, but it does not do the disease any justice. For nine years I've cried because it was too much to get out of bed, it was too much to eat, too much to drink, too much to breathe. No one cared to sympathize because I didn't look sick. So what did I do? I fought alone, spent countless nights in the hospital hooked up to machines, having high doses of steroids pumped into me to boost up my immune system. I remember one time being so sick that I ended up in the emergency room; all I passed was blood, vomited blood, lost a ton of weight. None of my clothes were able to fit me, because I was so skinny. I was in my twenties weighing a solid 85 pounds. I was admitted to the hospital immediately, and hooked up to tons of machines in an isolated room. I've had the most uncomfortable procedures done on my already frail body. Still, people thought that nothing was wrong.
But why are we so quick to criticize people on what they are feeling? There are tons of silent diseases out there, Crohn's just being one of the few. It's time we start asking questions when people voice how they feel; you may not see the sickness, but it does not mean it is not there. What you perceive on the outside is not always what is being experienced on the inside.
Do not let your friend and family members fight this fight alone! Support is needed to help through the day with this battle. I've heard many stories and seen many cases in which people have had to completely remove their intestines and live with a colostomy bag—yes, a poop bag attached to the side—while others have died because of starvation from not eating to avoid the pain.
The invisible disease is very much real. But how can the world see it if they refuse to listen to the people speaking out about it? We're screaming for people to hear us, we no longer want to fight this fight alone. We are desperate for some help, a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on, someone to hug, letting us know that we have some support. It's all we are asking for: Hear our voice, don't us shut down anymore. Do not let us suffer alone any longer. A friend makes an enormous difference for a person battling a silent disease. Be a friend, be a sprinkle of hope, a silver lining to our stormy days. Be the strength we do not have on most days, be our push, our wall to brace on.