I am 18 years old, a sophomore at Northwestern University studying psychology and sociology, from North Carolina. I am passionate about spending time with loved ones, helping others in any way that I can, and my faith. I love being able to use my creativity in activities and projects and I love learning.
I had been experiencing symptoms of my illness for 2-3 years before seeing a doctor about it. In that time, there was a lot of skepticism about and downplaying of what I was going through. When I first spoke to a doctor, I was told that I was simply stuck in a cycle of constipation and diarrhea. It wasn’t until I was losing blood that my first endoscopy and colonoscopy was scheduled. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in June 2018. I was given a daily preventative to take and felt fine for months. I left for college that fall, and my symptoms had returned in full force by winter. At that point, I was hours from home and couldn’t physically visit my doctor until my next break. I tried different rounds of steroids, with short-lived relief. I had my second endoscopy and colonoscopy this July and was hospitalized short-term a few days after. Now, we are exploring other options to manage my symptoms before I head back to school this fall.
My illness doesn’t always affect me 24/7. Sometimes, I can live almost as if it weren’t there. But when it does make itself known, I often feel like I have to isolate myself in my own room and can’t feel comfortable being away from my bathroom for long periods of time. It also affects my energy and my mindset, causing a spike in anxiety.
Practicing yoga and exercising has been helpful. When things aren’t too bad, these things make a big difference in reducing my stress and giving me some relief of discomfort. My friends are also very supportive and check in on me to make sure I am not overextending myself.
I still struggle with the frustration that comes from being limited. There is a difficulty that comes with having an illness that can be so invisible at times and so debilitating at others.
This quote is important to me because fear comes hand-in-hand with illness. There is always a fear of what the next day, month, or year may bring. This quote has always been a reminder to fight that fear and remember that I am not alone in this.
Find Harlym | @harlymkpike