A young woman shares her experiences with Crohn’s disease.
Kate Montgomery was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, an often aggressive inflammatory bowel disease that attacks the lining of a person’s gut, 11 years ago. She spent most of her 20s exhausted, researching and testing any possible cure — and dealing with the more mortifying aspects of having to wear an ostomy bag. We talked through her story for Impolitikal, and why she’s feeling better than ever.
How long have you known you have Crohn’s disease?
I was diagnosed when I was 23. I was really lucky in a way because I went to the doctor when I started having symptoms, and she said, we need you to have a colonoscopy, and they took biopsies and diagnosed me with Crohn’s. That was the process of my diagnosis. It takes a lot of people years to know what the issue is. I’ve had it for 11 years now, in fact almost exactly 11 years, because I was diagnosed on the 12th of May.
Your hated having surgery the first time round, and then you had to do it again several years later. How did you deal with that?
It was really tough to start with, but I’d already started seeing my therapist by then. Without her, I never would have coped the way that I have now. If you told me of two years ago that I would be like I am now – putting my story on the internet, and wanting people to know about it, to help them, I just wouldn’t have believed that that could be me. My therapist has enabled it, but I’ve done the work. It took me a long time to not be like, you’re a freak, no one’s going to ever be attracted to you. I hope you liked having sex in your 20s because it’s never going to happen again! It was really hard having my self-esteem so flattened.
The two things that I did differently this time were the therapy, and I went to the gym a lot – because all the Prednisone had fucked my bone density. Going to the gym and feeling strong was something that I had never experienced before. I had never lifted weights before. The shape of my body has changed, and I like it. But just feeling strong when I used to feel so weak is a really amazing thing. Also, since the day I started lifting weights I haven’t had a panic attack.
Why do you think that is? Is it partly to do with feeling physically strong, or do you think there’s a physical reason?
I think it’s the brain chemistry – something to do with endorphins, or just that I’m using my nervous energy in a different way. But definitely, when I exercise, everything’s easier to handle. It doesn’t make my anxiety go away, it doesn’t stop me ever feeling depressed, but it makes everything easier to handle. Nothing ever feels too big, or too awful in the same way that it used to. And I’ve learnt to rely on my friends more. When you’re an anxious person your brain tells you that no one wants to hear it. That you’re a burden to your friends or your family. I’ve learnt that that’s not how it works. Your friends don’t care.
|Read on: Crohn’s Took My Bowel, But Have You Seen My Abs? | HuffPost|