Brittany, when were you diagnosed and what was that first experience like for you?
I’ve been diagnosed for about 8 years almost and I still remember the moment the doctor told me. I had no idea what the term “Ulcerative Colitis” when he said it so he had to explain it to me. I was referred to a GI doctor and it just kind of went from there.
Had you ever heard of ulcerative colitis before, if so how much did you know about it?
I hadn’t besides knowing my Dad had it but is managing it really well. Honestly, all I knew about it was that it made you need to use the bathroom more than normal.
What was your support team like at the time (doctors, parents, friends)? Were they helpful?
The doctors were super helpful actually. I may be biased cause I had the same doctor for a few years and he was great but moving twice has caused me to get two new doctors. My friends are always supportive, especially the ones in the IG community. Since my dad had it, he was able to talk to me a little about his experience with it.
What was the biggest challenge for you when you were diagnosed?
Honestly, cutting out certain things, alcohol, gluten, red meat, sugar, etc. I love food so that was very challenging at first.
How do you deal with moments of being overwhelmed? (any tips/pointers?)
Sometimes when I feel so overwhelmed, I meditate! I’ve learned to stop and process my emotions when I’m feeling some sort of way about my UC.
At what moment did you realize that you wanted to speak up about your UC? Was that scary for you?
I wanted to be more open about it when I saw other people be vulnerable about their chronic illness and it influenced me to do so on Instagram. I believe the first person I saw be open about it was my friend Rachel, @thenoglutengirl.
Your Instagram promotes a lot of ‘therapeutic activities’ to help deal with your diagnosis. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Becoming more of an “outdoorsy” person has definitely taught me an appreciation for life. I really enjoy hiking because it gives me an opportunity to get away from the city and get alone in my thoughts to process things. It contributes to my mental health for sure.
If you could empower other UC warriors to find their voice and continue their journey, what would you say to them?
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. After dealing with an eating disorder for 8 years in middle school and high school, and being diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis as well as a liver disfunction I have learned to listen to my body’s needs. What foods I can digest, how hard I can push myself working out, etc.
Okay now for the fun stuff… Can you please tell us a hilariously, yet awkward story about an experience you’ve had with UC?
Recently I had to fly somewhere and flying never works out great for me because I usually have stomach problems the day of. I had to keep getting up during the flight multiple times to go to the bathroom and I had to pass the same people every time. I’m pretty sure nobody else wanted to use the bathroom after me. The flight attendant at one point asked me if I was okay or nauseous and I simply said that I had an IBD and left it at that.
Tell us something new/cool you’ve learned about yourself since you’ve been diagnosed…
I actually enjoy baking! Before I didn’t mind baking if I had to but I actually enjoy baking now. I am always looking for new recipes!