Generalised Anxiety Disorder and How Therapy Helped Me.

Today’s post is a little more personal, I’m discussing my own mental health. Now when I’ve done health-related posts I tend to post more about other people’s experiences than myself. But I want to start putting my own personal experiences out there.

I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), which is where you experience anxiety about lots of different types of aspects of your life. So, for example, it differs to social anxiety which is anxiety around people and social situations. I get anxiety about pretty much everything in my life.
I didn’t realise I had this disorder for several years until my GP mentioned a lot of the physical symptoms I experience COULD be anxiety, and not just related to, at that time, what they thought was IBS (which I later found out I had a more serious condition, but that’s for another post). He suggested a form of talking therapy to help me because it was really affected my everyday life, and I was referred for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

CBT is a psychotherapy, where you essentially challenge your own thoughts and negative behaviour patterns to treat some mental health disorders.


When I started attending therapy, this was when I got my ‘official’ diagnosis for my mental health. It turned out my GAD was associated with worry around health, work, my own self-image, and the way other people view me. Now, I’m not awkward with social situations, I’m a very chatty, forward, comfortable person with people. However, I do worry about what people think of me, which spirals my anxiety. That’s one example anyway.

Now I get very physical symptoms when my anxiety kicks in. I panic, get heart palpitations, my breathing gets deeper and harder. I also get hot or sweaty, shaky and have had several panic attacks throughout the years. I also get angry and irritable, which is probably the worst for me, I hate myself when I act out with anger because it’s not the person I want to be. My therapist taught me about the psychology around this spiral of worry, and why it affects me so much, and why I get such drastic symptoms.


It turned out that the beginning of this “spiral of worry” starts with deep-rooted thoughts that you have of yourself, or other people, based on your past experiences (your childhood for example). I’ll not get into my past in this post, but essentially, these deep-rooted thoughts are extremely hard to change in people. So, the aim of the therapy was to intersect the ‘cycle’ before it became a cycle, by recognising when your thoughts are irrational.

Example:
Deep rooted thought (nobody likes me) -> an action or event causes worry (someone doesn’t reply to a message) -> worry starts, symptoms start -> symptoms cause release of cortisol a hormone/ fight or flight response -> more severe symptoms and panic attacks -> more cortisol, and spirals down.

The aim of my therapy was to intersect my worry cycle at the action or event, before I start to worry, by challenging my own deep-rooted thoughts with more rational ones. I was taught to question my thoughts. Why would this person not like me? Would it mean I don’t like someone if I acted that way? Things like that. Now, I do still have anxiety, I’m not cured. But this has really helped me with smaller situations that would really affect me. And I do still spiral and experience bad anxiety over some situations, but it has really improved.

My therapist also suggested practising mindfulness, which I’ve found extremely helpful, and I feel like it’s really opened my eyes to the beauty of the world and made me a more empathetic person. Yoga is one thing that helped me with mindfulness, as well as being aware of everything around me when dog walking... the sights, smells, sounds. 



So, although, I do still have GAD because it’s my brain chemistry and I’ll probably have it for life. Since therapy, I have been able to change a lot of my behaviours that made things worse for me, I have some great coping mechanisms… and I’ve been able to stop taking medication for my mental health. For me, that’s a huge plus. 

I know therapy doesn't work for everyone, but it's always worth a try. You can contact local talking therapies free of charge. It can also be a long process, but if you're willing to put in the work each week, and do your homework (yep, you get homework too), then you should start to notice improvements over time! If you have experiences with therapy, let me know, I love to hear about other peoples thoughts! 



*Stock images from Pixabay & Indoindians

Voices of IBD (20) - Sara's Story

Welcome to PART 20 of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease series, where we talk to people from all walks of life with this condition; to give everyone a platform to share their story, and help to raise awareness.


This week we talk to Sara about her battle with Crohn's Disease.


What is your name and age?

Sara Elizabeth Cain, 35 Years Old

What is your occupation?

Senior Medical Secretary 

What form of IBD have you got?

Crohn’s Disease

How old were you when you were diagnosed?

I was 33 (Nov 2015), however, I had been diagnosed with IBS at age 17 and dealt with it without really getting any additional help or answers from my doctor, who really just brushed me off as a dramatic teenager. After that, I just stopped talking about it.

About the disease...
What were your main symptoms that led to your diagnosis?

I went to the ER thinking I had appendicitis because I was having such severe pain in my lower abdomen. The tech, who gave me an abdominal ultrasound, noticed something severely off about the loop of bowel that showed up on screen and called the doctor. Next thing I know I was being rushed in for a CT Scan. Turns out that in addition to severe inflammation & fistulas, I had an abscess in my abdominal wall and an elevated white blood cell count. They admitted me and started me on IV antibiotics. 

How did you feel when you got diagnosed?

Honestly, I felt relieved that I finally had an answer and some treatment options. I would have liked to say I was shocked, dismayed, and terrified, but the truth was, it felt like something I had been expecting to hear for a very long time. 

What support did you get during and after your diagnosis?

My parents were with me in the hospital all day long. My husband would have been there too but in my feverish mind, I somehow thought I was doing the right thing by telling him to go to work and that I wasn’t that bad. I, to this day, have no idea why I did that when all I wanted was for him to by my side more than anything, and I know that he was extremely hurt by that. I was very sick, in terrible pain, fevered out of my mind, and really thought in the moment that I was doing the right thing. I honestly didn’t know better. Looking back on it I will never forgive myself for making that choice. My husband is a wonderful, loving and supportive man who has been there for me, and continues to be there for me, every step of the way. I will never take that for granted and will always be grateful to have such an incredible human being as my partner in this life. My husband and my parents have been a wonderful support system through all the hell, and I would not have gotten this far without them.

Do you take medication, if so, what?

Right now I take Pentasa, Zofran, and give myself a Humira injection every other Friday. 

I also take Ambien when I can't sleep; I've had insomnia since childhood and not sleeping seriously exacerbates my symptoms and leaves me barely able to function.


What are your experiences with hospitals? Have you had many stays in hospital or colonoscopies? Do you have an IBD nurse?

I've been in the hospital five times in the past two and half years.  Before that, I hadn’t even so much as been to the ER.

The first hospital stay (in which I choose the hospital closest to my home because at the time I thought my appendix was bursting) was a nightmare. I think some of the worst experiences I had were having my vein rupture during an IV contrast injection, having a nursing student disconnect my failed IV and not report it, which led me to be feverish and without any fluids for 9 hours. My mother and best friend came in and raised hell. At which point they brought down a nurse practitioner from oncology to run my IV. She was so sweet, and a true expert. Her name was Shirley. I think if I didn’t have a viable vein she probably would have created one! 

The next few times were just overnight admissions and a few ER trips for pain, nausea, and one particularly harrowing gastritis flare that will haunt me for years to come.

My next multi-day hospital stay came last year on February 27th, 2017, when I had my bowel resection surgery (ileocolic resection in which my terminal ileum and the right half of my colon were removed) after I developed a bowel obstruction from scar tissue. I was in the hospital for five days, and I must say it was an awesome hospital stay. It felt very strange because I had my surgery in the hospital where I work, so the surroundings and the people were all very familiar, and my co-workers came up to visit me on multiple occasions, which was very sweet.

It just so happens that after my surgery I got a room in the “ultra fancy wing” by pure chance.There were no other rooms available at the time and I was told that I would have to give it up and move to a regular double room if this room was requested. Thankfully no one requested it during the duration of my stay, and I had a huge river view room in a beautiful wing all to myself. That was really nice and was definitely a much-needed experience at a time when I was truly depressed and terrified. 

I have a wonderful Gastroenterologist’s who I have been seeing since my first hospital admission and I would recommend him to anyone. Dr Richard Fazio In Brooklyn NY.

What seems to affect your IBD the most? What triggers it?

Stress. Times of severe stress brings out the worst in my condition. That being said so does food, and I have to be very careful of raw veggies and fried food, my worst enemies. Especially asparagus! Ouch.

Do you currently, or have in the past, struggled with mental health? If so, what?

I have struggled with severe anxiety, confidence, and self-worth issues for as long as I can remember.

I was formally diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) when I started seeing a therapist in my mid 20’s.

Was this because of your IBD, or influenced by your IBD or vice versa?

I think it’s just part of my genetic makeup, as it runs in my family. I am sure this has contributed to my IBD, or at least exacerbated my symptoms.

Do you get support for your mental health?

Honestly, not at the moment. I wish I could say yes but the truth is that as rough as things have been in my life, especially the last few months, I have not put the effort into finding a new therapist.

Do you feel like you get the right support?

When I seek support, yes. But truthfully I have a bad habit of trying to be superwoman and often catch myself trying to give my unconditional support to others, even at my own expense. I know at 35 I should know better and that I alone am responsible for the choices I make. That being said I have been making a very big effort to put myself first as often as possible.

How do you cope?

Meditation, and snuggling with my dogs.

What is your go-to routine for when you are flaring?

Rest, medication, a heating pad, snuggling with my dogs, and going on “bowel rest” (aka a liquid diet) for a few days, or sometimes a week.

What do you do to give yourself a break or relax?

Not much. I'm still trying to teach myself this trick. Anxiety issues often impede my ability to relax as I'm constantly looping worst-case scenarios in my head.

Meditation, mainly mindfulness practices help with this. And hot baths... if I do anything for myself to relax it’s taking a hot bath.

What lifestyle/diet/changes have you made to cope with your IBD?

No raw veggies (except for those safety veggies like lettuce and spinach). Lots of fruit, baby food, smoothies, soup, and eggs. If I'm in pain I'll lay on the couch and snuggle with my dogs.

What advice would you give to someone who may think they are experiencing early signs?

Don’t ignore it. See a doctor ASAP.

What advice would you give to the friends and family of those with IBD?

Be patient, sometimes it takes us longer to do what takes you seconds. Be understanding, we are not ignoring you, we are sick. We are not insulting you by turning down food, we may just not be able to safely eat what you’ve offered. Don’t give up on us if the road gets too hard and don’t stop loving us if we get too sick. Don’t judge us at our worst, just know that your loving support and presence helps us to have more days when we are at our best. Know that we appreciate you.

If there is one thing that keeps you motivated and focused through it all, what would that be?

Honestly, it has been a struggle. Some days I can barely get out of bed and the only motivation I have is the need to earn a paycheck. Other days I feel like I can take on the world!

What is your favourite quote?

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. 
Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” 
Winston Churchill


Thank you Sara for sharing your story here on BecxBlogs. If you are affected by Crohn's or Colitis; please go to the Crohn's & Colitis UK website for further support and information.

You can find Sara's social media on:
Facebook
Instagram


All Loved Up Makeup

I love playing with makeup, and I especially love being artistic with it. I messed around with creating this look, and it's by no means perfect or amazing - but I still wanted to take step by step photos. I'll probably look back on this in the future and be able to see how I've improved since this, and I think that's a really cool thing we can do with blogging. We can document whatever we feel like! So here's a step by step photo guide on how I created this loved-up look!

1. Base Makeup & Brows

 2. Colour Base

 3. Definition with Contour & Highlight

 4. Detail with Glitter, Eyes and Liner

 5. Lashes, Mascara, Liner & Hearts

6.  Finished with Lipstick & Hair


Please do let me know what you think. I'd also like any constructive criticism... what would you improve on, or have done differently? 

Happy Valentine's Day ❤

Voices of IBD (19) - Jessica's Story

Welcome to PART 19 of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease series, where we talk to people from all walks of life with this condition; to give everyone a platform to share their story, and help to raise awareness.


This week we talk to Jessica about her battle with Ulcerative Colitis.


What is your name and age?

Jessica Hyland, 35 years old.

What is your occupation?

Currently unemployed because of my UC. I have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and used to be a police officer several years ago. If I ever reach remission, I look forward to working full time again.

What form of IBD have you got?

Ulcerative colitis. More specifically ulcerative proctitis (confined to my rectum only).

How old were you when you were diagnosed?

33, but I ignored my symptoms for well over a decade. I probably had active UC as early as 20 years of age.

About the disease...
What were your main symptoms that led to your diagnosis?

Bleeding. Lots of bleeding.

How did you feel when you got diagnosed?

I was very confused. I had an awful doctor who didn’t even explain the disease to me. I had no idea UC was a lifelong disease. I had to do a lot of research and reading of my own. 

What support did you get during and after your diagnosis?

Most of my family and friends didn’t (and really still don’t) understand Ulcerative Colitis. They try to be supportive, but it’s still very confusing for them.

Do you take medication, if so, what?

I’ve tried several medications. Started with Lialda and Mesalamine enemas. After a while they stopped working. I moved on to Mesalamine suppositories and Prednisone. I still didn’t reach remission and started Remicade. That made me much worse. I then switched to Entyvio. That worked for a few months. I’m on to Humira now. It’s been a long and frustrating 2 years since diagnosis. Fingers crossed Humira does the job.

What are your experiences with hospitals? Have you had many stays in hospital or colonoscopies? Do you have an IBD nurse?

I’ve been fortunate that although I’ve had a lot of bleeding, I’ve never needed to be checked into a hospital.

What seems to affect your IBD the most? What triggers it?

I’m still not quite sure what my triggers are, as my body never seems to react immediately to things.
I’ve been on a new diet called “The Plant Paradox” that has been working well. It has improved my symptoms. Basically, no grains, dairy, legumes, or beans.

Do you currently, or have in the past, struggled with mental health? If so, what?

When I was younger I struggled with being overweight and would say I probably had some depression. Overall though my mental health has been pretty good. I thank CrossFit for that. I’m able to exercise daily and I’m in very good physical shape, despite my disease.

Was this because of your IBD, or influenced by your IBD or vice versa?


At times I would definitely say IBD has affected my mental health, but only temporarily. I would have a good cry, dust myself off and keep fighting. I keep a positive attitude.

Do you get support for your mental health?


If I needed support I’m sure there would be ways for me to receive help.

Do you feel like you get the right support?


Yes. I’m very self-reliant though so I probably don’t need it as much as some.

How do you cope?
What is your go-to routine for when you are flaring?

Strict diet, lots of water and exercise. Try to keep my stress levels low.

What do you do to give yourself a break or relax?

Just basic things. Relaxing, watching movies, and taking long hot showers.

What lifestyle/diet/changes have you made to cope with your IBD?

My diet change has made the most difference so far. Again, I really think exercising regularly has really kept me from the hospital. I do realize that not everyone can exercise. In that regard, I feel very fortunate that I have Ulcerative Proctitis only. 

What advice would you give to someone who may think they are experiencing early signs?

Go to the doctor. Get as many tests run as possible. Don’t ignore it. If you feel the doctor missed something or isn’t listening to you, get another opinion.

What advice would you give to the friends and family of those with IBD?

Be patient and understanding. 
This disease causes so many complications like fatigue, skin and eye problems, even lupus. Be there to listen when they feel like giving up. Encourage them to make good choices to improve their quality of life. Do some reading of your own to try and understand their disease.

If there is one thing that keeps you motivated and focused through it all, what would that be?

I wouldn’t necessarily say there’s just one thing. I think just loving life and wanting to do whatever it takes to enjoy it keeps me focused.

What is your favourite quote?

That’s tough. I don’t think I have one that applies to my health or motivates me. Maybe one from John Wayne? Something like 

“Life is tough and even harder when you’re stupid.” 

Basically, to me, that means make smart choices. Listen to your body. 


Thank you, Jessica, for sharing your story here on BecxBlogs. If you are affected by Crohn's or Colitis; please go to the Crohn's & Colitis UK website for further support and information.


Valentine's Date Makeup

I've always been a sucker for Valentine's Day. I enjoy dedicating a day in our busy lives to our loved ones, whether it's your partner, best friend, or family! It's also quite nice to have an occasion to look forward to I reckon, it keeps me going when the stresses of life get me down!

Here's the makeup look I'll be sporting this Valentine's Day with my boyfriend. I'm really enjoying the contrast of pink makeup with my new green hair and I pride myself on using affordable makeup. I've mentioned this before, but I'm in the process of moving to only cruelty-free makeup, so the majority of this (but not completely) is created with cruelty-free cosmetics. 


I like to show a comparison of my face without makeup because it really helps to show the power of cosmetics. As you can see, I have oily, spot-prone and scarred skin, so it's a lot to work with!


I used my Urban Decay Naked 3 palette because I haven't used it for such a long time. It used to be a firm favourite of mine, but I just reached for different products over the last year. So, I dug it out and decided to create a mauve, shimmery look.


I also tried out my new Marc Jacobs Highliner which I kindly got sent, and it really helped bring the look together. That extra pop of colour made a big difference from everyday makeup to date night.


My base makeup consisted of the Collection Prime and Ready Primer, Elf Flawless Finish Foundation, Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer and the Rimmel Stay Matte Powder*. I went for a deep contour and subtle pink blush using the Makeup Revolution Blush Palette, and a lovely lilac shine using my Sleek Solstice Highlight Palette. My new favourite brow duo is the Elf Microbrow Pencil and the Pixi Brow Gel. For my eyes, I created a slightly smoky, but pink-mauve shimmer eye look using the Urban Decay Naked 3 palette, and created winged eyeliner with the Soap & Glory Supercat Eyeliner and Marc Jacobs Highliner in (Pop)ular. I finished with the Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara* and the Rimmel Kate Lipstick* in the shade 20 which is a beautiful bright pink.

Overall, I'm super happy with the finished look, and I can't wait to wear it for our Valentine's Day date. We're going to Durham for the day to go sightseeing and enjoy a meal overlooking the river.

Happy Valentine's Day ❤


* Not Cruelty-Free

Voices of IBD (18) - Jamie's Story.

Welcome to PART 18 of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease series, where we talk to people from all walks of life with this condition; to give everyone a platform to share their story, and help to raise awareness.


This week we talk to Jamie about his battle with Ulcerative Colitis.


What is your name and age?

My name is Jamie Pearson & I am 25 years old

What is your occupation?

Unemployed at the moment and  due for surgery soon but do football studies & I started blogging.

What form of IBD have you got?

I have Ulcerative Colitis

How old were you when you were diagnosed?

I was 18 years old when I was Diagnosed

About the disease...
What were your main symptoms that led to your diagnosis?

Main symptoms were bleeding from the bottom, more regular emptying from my bum & so much more tired.

How did you feel when you got diagnosed?

I was in shock when I was first told I had Ulcerative Colitis. I had no clue what UC was so looked it up & then was like wow, a big change in my life.

What support did you get during and after your diagnosis?

I had a good IBD nurse who was so supportive and even after she always made sure things were ok and checked it I needed anything.

Do you take medication, if so, what?

I was on Pentasa tablets and then steroid tablets but not anymore.

What are your experiences with hospitals? Have you had many stays in hospital, or colonoscopies? Do you have an IBD nurse?

My experience with hospitals wasn't bad at the start, just with quite a few admissions in the hospital with steroid drips does affect the experience. I do have a IBD nurse who is amazing. I’ve had 6 Colonoscopies in my time with UC which at first wasn’t nice but it’s for your own safety.

What seems to affect your IBD the most? What triggers it?

Stress is a massive part that affects my IBD the most and even when I have a cold or feel really low it can affect my IBD.

Do you currently, or have in the past, struggled with mental health? If so, what?

 I went through Depression which was helped with therapy and antidepressants.

Was this because of you IBD, or influenced by your IBD or vice versa?

IBD was an influence in being depressed.

Do you get support for your mental health?

Therapy & antidepressants.

Do you feel like you get the right support?

The support I had did help with opening up about things.

How do you cope?
What is your go-to routine for when you are flaring?

At the start when flared up it would be stress. I felt upset and so down in dumps but when in a bad flare up I ring my IBD nurse up, and she goes through the options available.


What do you do to give yourself a break or relax?

Football is my break as when I play or even watch it, does take my mind off what is going on with myself.

What lifestyle/diet/changes have you made to cope with your IBD?

Some eating habits have changed from fizzy drinks to eating more healthy. Even exercise helps. Simple things like walking or sports.

What advice would you give to someone who may think they are experiencing early signs?

My advice would be, any time you’re worried or things are not right, go book an appointment at your local GP surgery and get checked over. Never fight it.

What advice would you give to the friends and family of those with IBD?

It's a very hard battle but keep fighting. So many people have IBD, so get on social groups.

If there is one thing that keeps you motivated and focused through it all, what would that be?

I think there’s always someone worse off than me, I am strong and this will not beat me.

What is your favourite quote?

Believe & Achieve.
Believe in yourself & watch you achieve things you never thought you could do.

Thank you Jamie for sharing your story here on BecxBlogs. If you are affected by Crohn's or Colitis; please go to the Crohn's & Colitis UK website for further support and information.

Cheap or Free Date Ideas!

To celebrate the fact it's now February, and I'm always a sucker for the run up to Valentines Day, I thought I'd share some date ideas that I've done with my boyfriend, or plan to do in the future. They're great if you're on a budget, and you certainly don't need a lot of money to enjoy some quality time with your loved one!


  1. Have fish n' chips at the coast.
  2. Long, cosy walks... dogs optional!
  3. Local free museums and galleries.
  4. Cinema night... or movie night at home!
  5. Bake cakes together.
  6. Go to a dog or cat cafe.
  7. Visit landmarks at local cities or even your own city!
  8. Have a karaoke night with your favourite songs and musicals. 
  9. Go bowling.
  10. Have a couple photoshoot together with your own cameras.
  11. Have a picnic.
  12. Enjoy some amusements, even just 2 pence machines!
  13. Go on a scenic bike ride.
  14. Play co-op video games together, or have a general gaming day.
  15. Go ice skating.
  16. Go to a trampoline park together.
  17. Find a new, quirky cafe you've never been to.
  18. Sample foods at a world food buffet.
  19. Go to a dessert restaurant and enjoy sundaes and waffles.
  20. Have a pamper night together, with facemasks and massages.

January Favourites 2018

I can't believe it's the end of January already... it's flown by! I haven't done a favourites post since October last year so this was long overdue. There's quite a few things I've been loving this month but I managed to whittle it down to 8!

My first favourite is The Body Shop Seaweed Oil-Balancing Clay Mask, which you may have seen in my recent skincare post. I've been using this mask probably way more than I should, but my skin is thanking me for it. I've always preferred clay masks to other types, and this mask really feels like it's giving your pores a deep cleanse.


I've been mourning Christmas this month by wearing very bright, colourful, and I suppose summery eyeshadow. My favourite combination at the moment is red in the crease and a yellow lid. I know that sounds odd, but it looks amazing with my warm toned skin and blue eyes. I'll likely do a tutorial or a post just on that soon! I've been using this Makeup Revolution #Revoholic The Matte Edit palette the most.


As you might have known from my social media, I've been making a transition to cruelty-free makeup and I recently replaced my foundation with this Elf Flawless Finish Foundation. It's quickly become a favourite. Not only is it good, medium, buildable coverage, but the colour match for me is brilliant, and it's long-lasting on my oily skin, which doesn't crease.


I've been setting my makeup every single time using this Makeup Revolution Pro Fix Oil Control Fixing Spray, and I've noticed a difference in how long my makeup lasts. It also helps to leave a matte finish, so my skin doesn't feel as oily throughout the day. Not only is it a great price, but it's lasting me forever so it's great value for money. 


I recently got this NYX Microbrow Pencil and it's a great dupe for the Soap & Glory pencil or the ABH pencil. I much prefer when eyebrow pencils have a very fine tip so I can focus on the detail in my brows rather than just making them thick and dark. It has a spoolie on one side, which is always handy too.


There are 2 TV shows that I've been obsessing over this month. The first one is The Good Place on Netflix. The episodes are short and sweet and always end on a cliffhanger. If the new season wasn't being released weekly, I'd have definitely binge watched the whole lot. It's quirky and fun and if you haven't already seen it, I'd give it a 10/10 so it's totally worth trying!


The other TV series I've loved is Victoria. Eric and I have genuinely watched the whole 2 seasons and the Christmas Special over the last 2 weeks. Which is kind of crazy to watch so much TV but we were hooked. The story is incredibly interesting and has some great side stories throughout too. It tackles important political topics and is just all around a great watch.


And last but by no means least... I feel like we need a drumroll here. No doubt anyone who follows my social media will know exactly what's next. It has to be The Greatest Showman, not just the film - which was fantastic, but the soundtrack too. When I saw it in the cinema I left feeling so elated and I also shed a few tears. I've had the soundtrack on repeat pretty much every day. I literally cannot fault it. To top off a month of my obsession with it, I won this print with the lyrics from 'This Is Me', from Kayley Mills on Instagram. It's proudly showcased on my wall of pictures now.


As you can tell, I fell in love with a lot of new things which, if you haven't tried, you certainly should! If you haven't seen The Greatest Showman or the TV shows, then my gosh where have you been? Get them watched and let me know what you think!

Voices of IBD (17) - Erica's Story

Welcome to PART 17 of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease series, where we talk to people from all walks of life with this condition; to give everyone a platform to share their story, and help to raise awareness.



This week we talk to Erica about her battle with Crohn's Disease. 

What is your name and age? 

Erica Knight, aged 40

What is your occupation? 

Stay at home mum, apprentice blogger

What form of IBD have you got?

Crohn’s Disease

How old were you when you were diagnosed? 

35

About the disease...
What were your main symptoms that led to your diagnosis?

I’d suffered from misdiagnosed IBS since my teens. Stomach pain, loose stools, passing blood etc for years. Immediately prior to diagnosis, I had flu-like symptoms, high temperature and awful abdominal pain which the GP was convinced was appendicitis. I was sent to A&E where they carried out a CT scan prior to taking me to have it removed – which was a bit of luck!

How did you feel when you got diagnosed?

I was given the diagnosis by a junior doctor at about 2am in the surgical assessment unit. “Good news it’s not your appendix. It does look like Crohn’s though. I don’t know much about it so you’ll have to wait until the morning for the consultant”.
The only person I knew with Crohn’s was bald and skinny. I was neither. I Googled it and scared myself stupid

What support did you get during and after your diagnosis?

At the time, not a great deal. I had t wait weeks for an appointment. They didn’t have IBD nurses at my hospital at that time. Now they do and they are fab

Do you take medication, if so, what?

Yes, I tried Pentasa but it was too late and I had to have a bowel resection. My most recent flare has presented with active Crohn’s in my colon and a fistula. I am on Infliximab infusions every 8 weeks and Mercaptopurine daily. Vitamin B12 injections every 3 months

What are your experiences with hospitals? Have you had many stays in hospital or colonoscopies? Do you have an IBD nurse?

Following my initial colonoscopy to confirm Crohn’s I have had 8 operations. The first being the bowel resection, unfortunately, that went wrong and I had an anastomotic leak which nearly killed me. I had an emergency laparoscopy and ended up with a stoma, mucous fistula and a stint in intensive care. That stay was 4 weeks in total. I had the stoma reversed 7 months later, I was in for 4 to 5 days. I developed an incisional hernia so that was operated on, it was a bit of a mess of adhesions and I was in 4 to 5 days again. Unfortunately, the mesh used to repair my hernia became infected so I had to have another emergency operation to remove it. That was fun.
I then fell pregnant and had a period of being well before having another flare after my baby was born. I had a fistula and had to have 3 operations on that before I could go on the current medication.

What seems to affect your IBD the most? What triggers it?

Both big flares were following pregnancies but that may have been a coincidence. I would say being run down or stressed makes it worse. I don’t have trigger foods, unlike some people.

Do you currently, or have in the past, struggled with mental health? If so, what?

I’ve struggled with depression since my teens. I try to remain positive but obviously having this amount of ill health affects me. Especially the side effects, needing the loo, bowel incontinence etc.

Was this because of your IBD, or influenced by your IBD or vice versa?

I think they go hand in hand. It causes depression and in turn, the depression can make the IBD worse.

Do you get support for your mental health?

I have had counselling but not specifically Crohn’s related. I’ve been on anti-depressants in the past but not at the moment.

Do you feel like you get the right support?


Probably not, I need to come to terms with it properly at some point. Right now I feel like I am winging it.

How do you cope?

Having two young sons I try to just “get on with it”. I can’t stop or spend too long worrying about it, I don’t have the time or energy.

What is your go-to routine for when you are flaring?

I now call my IBD nurse. I am in a constant flare at the moment, it’s just being managed.

What do you do to give yourself a break or relax?

Sleep!

What lifestyle/diet/changes have you made to cope with your IBD?

I’ve been a vegetarian since I was a teenager. I haven’t really changed my lifestyle much. I am not as active as I’d like due to the fistula

What advice would you give to someone who may think they are experiencing early signs?

Go to your GP and demand to be tested. I wish I had made more of a fuss rather than accepting that it was “stress-related IBS”. It might have prevented me from needing the operations, at least at that time

What advice would you give to the friends and family of those with IBD?

Be supportive, understand “bad days”, be there for them. There are times we’d love to go out but we just can’t – we don’t want to let people down. Turn up with some chocolate and put the kettle on and have a good giggle instead. Visit us in hospital – we appreciate it

If there is one thing that keeps you motivated and focused through it all, what would that be?

My family, my friends. I write about Crohn’s on my own blog and Facebook page. I get some lovely comments from people. I am open about it and have a laugh about it. It’s what keeps me going

What is your favourite quote?

"It is what it is"


Not because I’ve given up, but because life is what you make of it. You can’t change what is thrown at you but you can change how it affects your future.

Thank you for sharing your story here on BecxBlogs. If you are affected by Crohn's or Colitis; please go to the Crohn's & Colitis UK website for further support and information.

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