Welcome to my personal webspace. Sunflowers, Secrets, Syringes And Me will be a place where I aim to blog on a regular basis, about all manner of things. Having been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at the age of 3, I have a lot to say about living a creative and full life under the shadow of chronic illness.
That said, I am a real person long before any label my condition defines me as. So this blog is about the real me, with my real illness, living my all too real reality – the ups, downs and side-to-sides all thrown in for good measure.
For three and a half decades, my Crohn’s has been my darkest secret. I have made it my primary goal to conceal it from the world, letting only a tiny circle of people in to see the real truth of the matter. To talk about Crohn’s Disease, to acknowledge it, to own up to how difficult it often makes my life, has always felt like some kind of defeat. It was as if, simply by mentioning it, I would erase every other part of myself, until the only thing left was the bit that even I hated.
After all this time, I am finally giving myself permission to be me with my illness. There is so much more to me than IBD; there always has been and there always will be. The sunflowers in the title are my zodiac flower, my favourite flower, my signature flower. The sunflowers are me. To all the world, I am impossibly sunny. Always. That is a full-time job which is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain.
The past couple of years have seen a flood of blogs about Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and how it affects people’s day-to-day lives and those they love. Of course, the fact that society allows us to be more open about taboo topics such as illness, has led to increased knowledge of the existence of such invisible conditions. However, I am a firm believer that to gain full insight into any illness, it is essential to explore more than just the textbooks. That means looking beyond the obvious, and examining it in the context of each individual, and the life they lead. You would be amazed by how many variations you would discover.
I can’t help wondering whether my own journey to acceptance would have been a shorter and more direct one, if the world’s awareness had been greater way back then. I always vowed that one day, when I was ready, I would commit to helping others find out about this misunderstood invisible condition, so that maybe the future for IBD sufferers might be a little less dictated by living in the shadows. So I am ready (if also a little scared) to join the ranks of pioneering IBD bloggers, and hold the window up to my own life. Above all, it might even be refreshing to unburden myself from time to time. A problem shared and all that…
Let’s see how I cope with the vulnerability this newfound openness will inevitably bring.