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Dear Crohns Disease

You’re a right little pickle aren’t you?
You joined me in my life at just four years old. I still remember the day I looked down the toilet bowl and saw a big pool of blood, and even my four year old brain knew you were going to be constant in my life. You were here now for the long haul.
You scared me as a child. I wanted to play like everyone else, but instead you chained me to the bathroom. You made me painstakingly thin, and then the steroids made me huge. Other children noticed. I went on a 8 week liquid diet because of you. I spent Easters and birthdays in hospital because of you. I missed months of school because of you. You literally annihilated my large bowel and with every medication, every treatment, you just got stronger. How the hell did you do that? You had hulk levels of strength and despite the fact literally nobody wanted you around, you persisted. Until my large bowel was at the point of no return. They removed 90% of my colon when I was 12, because of you.
I lived with an ileostomy when I was a teenager, because of you. I felt numb to you then – like you had scooped out my ability to feel and replaced it with a large empty hole. But I became a pro at pushing you away – right to the back of my mind and doing everything I wanted to do. School trips, parties, friends, holidays, activities, boyfriends, exams – I did it all. You didn’t stop me from doing anything, you didn’t hold me back. The problem was though – I still couldn’t talk about you. I didn’t know how to explain you.
I went to university to study drama and it was incredible. I met so many amazing friends, and it was the first time I lived on my own with you. It was harder to keep you a secret when you impact so much of my daily routine – my normal. Because of you I had internal scar tissue – and at uni I had to have two major operations to fix bowel obstructions. I had to talk about you then – I had to explain why I left uni for months on end. And my friends were amazing about you. They didn’t care one bit, didn’t see me any differently. Suddenly I realised NOBODY cared that I had you in my life. I was so much more than you. I wondered why I had lived with the burden of keeping you a secret for so long.
This breakthrough was pretty life changing for me. You were no longer a secret. You were just part of me – as much as I have brown hair and brown eyes.
You have made me so strong.
You have taught me to live in the moment. You have taught me to be compassionate. You have taught me to live one day at a time.
I’ve cried lots of fat salty tears because of you. I have smashed plates in anger because of you. I’ve had parts of my body examined and poked by more healthcare professionals than I wish to count because of you (that is one major downside tbh, why can you only be accessed via the rear?)
But do you know what? I am so proud of you. Well, I’m proud of me. You made me who I am today. You make me, me. I am well aware that we are nowhere near the end of our journey together, but now I know that whatever you hurl in my direction, I can deal with it. I’ve got control over you. How you make me feel. I’m not scared of you anymore. And whilst you will probably try to own me for the rest of my life, you should know you never will.
You are part of me, but you will never own me.
With regards,
Bryony
xo
Ps please could I just request one fatigue/pain free day? I think I’ve earned one. Thanks.

A letter to our IBD/gut issues – from you 

Today is World IBD Day.  To mark the day, I wrote this open letter to my IBD and I asked you guys to get involved too.

I was overwhelmed at the words you sent me – I could relate to every single one of them.

They were honest, relatable and some of them, very very funny.

These are your words to your gut. xo

“You’ve turned my world upside down and you try to beat me almost every day, but I always come back stronger, more resilient and grateful in ways I never thought possible.” @laurenhintonx

“WHY ARE YOU HERE?” @claireharman and @natalia.santacreu

“Can you just behave yourself and not give me any more surprises?” @djfranks1

“I’ve grown as a person and all but why did you feel the need to take my colon?” @billieandersonx

“You make frustrated and anxious at times, but I won’t let you beat me!” @_lottiec

“You suck but you’ve made me, me!” @fayezyfizz

“You are exhausting. You make me angry. I hate you for taking away my old life. You’ve made me kinder. You’ve made me stronger. You’ve made me weaker. You make me so anxious I can’t function. You make me fearful and anxious for the future. Thank you for my scar, it looks awesome. I hate you for what’s behind my scar, my body doesn’t work properly anymore because of you. Thank you for introducing me to the IBD community.” Anon

“We’ve had a tough journey together and although at times I hated you, you have made me who I am today. You have showed me how strong I am, you have enabled me to be more compassionate towards others and you have made me realise what’s important in life. For these things I am grateful.” @clemmiemacphersonnutritionist

“I knew my body so well until you came along.” @vickimg89

“I’m trying to listen to what you’re saying.” @naineos

“Please can you stop being such an attention seeker!” @katiebenhaaam

“You are not going to defeat me. Even when you hospitalise me I’m still going to win.” @ruth.cotton

“It’s given me compassion for others. You never know what’s hidden behind the facade”. @hegoswife

“Calm down angry tum. We’ve got this.” @the.gfg

“Thank you for making me grow up more compassionate and empathetic. Please don’t be passed down to my baby, like how it was passed to me from my mum. And finally thank you for letting me have my baby boy.” @chronically_successful

“Even though some days you suck, you’ve changed me life in good ways not just bad.” @flower.power.xxo

“You gave me strength and a new appreciation for life.” @bhavini44

“I would say ‘let it go, let it gooooooo!'” @tinaambrose87

“Would you just cease and desist so I could get into a decent exercise routine?” @hannah_views

“Thank you for making me appreciate the good times much more!” @clare_the_pear

“You made me strong.” @allyadamsx

“You made me not take life for granted.” @nmonk_ostomy

“I’m in control.” @em.ily_.__

“You are part of me and I accept you.” @gabriellagrees

Thank you so much to every single one of you who sent in such beautiful words and I’m so sorry I couldn’t include them all.

As always I’d love to hear what you think – you an find me on Insta, Twitter or email me abellyfullof@gmail.com.

Big love

Bryony xxx

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Every single day for the coming weeks I’ll be posting one lovely thing you can do to make yourself feel good as we live through covid-19. I’ll be adding every day to this list so you can check for inspo. In our world right now, we need all the lovely things.

1. Buy yourself a bunch of flowers

2. Make a list of everything you’re grateful when you start the day. It is quite affirming to see it written in black and white (and very therapeutic to write!)

3. Take yourself to some green space – breathe it in and enjoy it

4. Blast out your favourite tunes

5. Eat fresh fruit and veg as much as possible

6. Play a board game or play cards

7. Look at photos that make you happy

8. A good old cup of tea (you can’t go wrong)

9. Find a little place in your home to enjoy the sun – even if that just means sitting by the window

10. Eating meals that make you feel good – from porridge, to pasta to comforting beans and chips!

11. Listen to podcasts

12. Appreciate and enjoy blue skies ☀️

13. Take a bubble bath or a long shower 🛁

14. Read – fiction especially great right now

15. Put together a care package for a friend

16. Meditating and cross stitch

17. Do a yoga class or other virtually

18. Bullet journaling

19. Shop for someone vulnerable or a family member

20. Enjoy the garden at spring time

21. Whipped coffee (OF COURSE!)

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5 weeks of #onelovelything 💕 Every single day for the past 5 weeks I’ve posted something you can do to make you feel good – some free, some cost, almost all can be done at home & they are all ruddy lovely 🌸 i actually can’t get over the fact it’s been 5 weeks already – I started this before lockdown, when I sensed that it was going to be the small things we would be finding joy & comfort in. Doing this means every single day I’ve made the conscious effort to do something that puts a smile on my face, and right now that is so unbelievably important. 🌈 Not to mention these are all very happy distractions. ✨ So here are 35 lovely things to inspire you to do the same – share for someone who needs to see this & save this post to come back to for inspo 🙌🏼 #onelovelything • • • • • • • #crohnsdisease #invisibleillness #selflove #chronicillness #invisibleillnessawareness #chronicillnessawareness #crohnswarrior #autoimmunedisease #mentalhealthawareness #mentalhealth #crohnsawareness #crohnswarrior #ibsawareness #autoimmunewarrior #nocolonstillrollin #nocolonnoproblem #ibdvisible #crohns #covid_19 #corona #mentalresilience #distractions #clapforourcarers #stayhomestaysafe #stayhome

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22. Pamper with a facemask

23. Mindful colouring

24. Bake doughnuts 

25. Put a rainbow in your window

26. Take some time off social media – give yourself time to just be

27. Enjoy a herbal tea

28. Write and host a quiz – we’ve been writing them on Powerpoint and sharing them via screenshare on Zoom

29. Take a stroll (in a safe and socially distanced way of course)

30. Cleanse your social media feed and fill it with lovely things

31. Bake banana bread 

32. Lunchtime yoga (virtually) – I love Yoga with Adriene (beginner) and Cat Meffan (advanced)

33. Be kind to yourself – talk to yourself as you would a friend. It’s a hard time for us all and therefore it’s even important to be kind to yourself

34. Mani pedi

35. Draw

36. Buy a new journal 

37. Fill your rooms with lovely things – posters, photos, plants, candles

38. Do some DIY

39. Sunbath in the sunshine

40. Wear something that makes you feel nice even though you’re not leaving the house

41. Use a yummy smelling body lotion or face cream

42. Facetime/zoom your friends and family

43. Eat some yummy chocolate

44. Cuddle a hot water bottle

45. Put flowers in every room

46. Start a new TV Series – we’ve just started After Life (would highly recommend)

47. Curl up and watch your favourite movie (some are made to be watched over and over again!)

49. Spend some time on Pinterest – gathering home inspo, looking at holiday pics, getting inspired in the kitchen or pouring over some feel good quotes (this is one of my fave feel good activities!)

50. Do a puzzle

51. Grow a herb or veg (you don’t need a garden for this – we have a pot of cherry tomatoes!)

52. Plan a themed dinner party for your household – think drinks, food, outfits and music

53. Make cocktails – alcoholic or non alcoholic! We love Jamie Oliver’s Drink Tube.

54. Paint by numbers – you can get amazing canvases and prints you can frame when you’re finished

55. Organise files and photos – do all that filing you’ve been putting off for years

56. Scrapbook! Something I used to do when I was younger but fell out of practice, and now I’m finding my scrapbook groove again. You can scrapbook anything – home or fashion inspiration, photos of family and friends, past trips, ideas for the future – literally anything. I like to use multi coloured felt tip pens and images from magazines.

57. Practice mindful eating – put away all TVs/books/tablets and just savour every mouthful

58. Get creative with card making and send them out to friends and family

59. Go for a run. No expectations and no toxic thoughts if you aren’t at the level you think you should be – just enjoy being out and moving your body.

60. Play a video game and team up with friends to play together too

61. Buy something to support a small or local business 

62. If you feel comfortable, treat yourself to a contactless coffee – many small coffee shops are open now for business

63. Buy a book you would never normally read – challenge yourself to consume something different. I’ve been binging a lot of podcasts recently and accumulated a recommended reading list by doing so. Can’t wait to get stuck in!

64. Chocolate covered stuffed dates – an absolute dream! A must try. Recipe can be found on my Instagram here.

65. Take a socially distanced walk with a friend, if you feel comfortable.

66. Take a virtual dance class! These are SO great for getting your endorphins going – there are tonnes on YouTube and some teachers are also offering virtual dance classes.

67. Plan and cook a three course meal for your household. You can even take it turns and make it a home Come Dine With Me experience!

68. Clear out your wardrobe. Have you always wanted to have a good old clear out but never had time? Now is the time! Recycling centres are now open and Depop/eBay/GumTree is too – it’s the perfect time for a declutter.

69. Donate. Many charities are facing extremely hard times at the moment and are struggling for funding. Now is a great time to give something to a charity you believe in/is important to you – every penny counts.

70. Learn something new. Whether it be a language, a subject matter, a specific skill – it’s never too late to learn something new.

Check back every day for new lovely things to keep yourself feeling good and positive! Feel free to contact me via Twitter, Instagram and email for suggestions!

If you are concerned about the developing situation, please check the World Health Organisation and the NHS website. Crohns and Colitis UK also has very up to date information. ❤️

Stay safe and sending love and positive vibes

Bryony xxx

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Remember that nothing is forever and if it costs you your peace, it’s too expensive. Rethink, re-evaluate and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Bryony Hopkins, A Belly Full Of

Spoiler alert – you can still have a brilliant career with IBD. Now I’ve said that, hopefully you will know what to expect from this blog article – because guess what, being diagnosed with IBD (or any chronic illness) doesn’t mean you can no longer shoot for the stars and achieve your dream career. It doesn’t mean you have less earning potential and it certainly does NOT mean you are not as brilliant and talented as your colleagues.

Why do I have the authority to say this, you might ask? I’ve been working in the media industry since I was 21, and I have been through plenty of blunders in the process of trying to understand how to make my work and Crohns work together. There is no handbook for this stuff and I didn’t realise how easy I had it at university in terms of being able to manage my workload based on my illness. Of course, I had deadlines and exams, but I could revise from my bed, without anyone questioning it. I could write essays in my PJs, saving energy on getting dressed and commuting. I could dip out lectures if I was poorly, and it didn’t mean I was impacting anyone else apart from myself and I certainly wasn’t losing money doing so.

When I got my first full time job out of university as a receptionist at an animation agency, it was a total shock to the system. Not only was I commuting from my parents into London (an hour and a half each way), I was also working 0830 – 1830 hours. I didn’t know how to tell my manager about my Crohns because I barely understood how it was going to impact me at work myself. It was a struggle, but six years on I have figured out a way to try and make it work.

Before you read on, you should know I absolutely do not have this all figured out. One of the gifts of my industry is it is very fast paced, so moving jobs regularly is normal. It’s a gift because I have had the opportunity to try out multiple work arrangements with no impact on my future employability (because every young journo is doing the same!). After having to tell managers about my Crohns so many times, I think I have finally nailed the conversation about my chronic illness and I’m not scared to ask for what works for me anymore, and that’s what I want to share with you in this blog.

Bryony Hopkins, A Belly Full Of

My story

I have always worked and never been afraid of hard work, but I didn’t know how to balance my Crohns until I started work after university. I had my first Saturday job at 16, and always worked throughout the summer at cafes, bars, shops – anywhere that would pay me, basically! I worked as a receptionist after university for 4 months, before I landed my first job in a large news organisation. Getting this job was the first time I had a conversation with any manager ever about my Crohns. I never declared it at my Saturday jobs (I suppose my 18 year old self thought I didn’t need to), but after a brutal 4 months of not telling my workplace at the animation agency, it was clear as day that I needed my managers to be in the loop.

Shortly after I started at the news broadcaster, I had a huge bowel obstruction and needed major abdominal surgery. I was off work for 8 weeks in total and my bosses were absolutely amazing and totally supportive. At this stage, you would have thought I would be able to have the same conversation with my manager when I moved to a new department. But I didn’t. Plagued with feelings that I wouldn’t be seen as good enough (combined with my own imposter syndrome at even being a TV producer), I didn’t tell any managers. I worked shifts for a year and a half full time and it led me into a pit of exhaustion. So much so, I quit. I led myself to a point of complete exhaustion that I couldn’t see the wood from the trees – and I was convinced I didn’t want to be a journalist anymore. I moved into a completely different role in a new organisation, which I convinced was right for me. It wasn’t.

At this point I realised I had to start telling everyone who was involved in my work life about my Crohns. I am extremely fortunate I returned to the same organisation as a freelancer and have since had unbelievable support from every department I have worked in. It took that entire experience for me to realise that if I wanted to make my dreams a reality, I had to be honest and I had to ask for what I wanted. Since then, I have worked a mix of full time, and doing part time when my health was unstable. I am now starting another new role in a different department in a week (at time of writing), and I’ve already told them about my Crohns. It is unbelievable relief for me to be able to do so, and actually helps me perform better at work.

How to have a conversation with your boss about your IBD/chronic illness

From the questions and comments I’ve received in my inbox, this is the thing you guys dread the most! However, I think this tick list will help you prepare for the conversation and how to have it. Honestly after years of avoiding this conversation and now having it seemingly every 6 months, I can promise it is really not as bad as you think! As always would love to hear if you guys have any further tips – so please do message me if you do!

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Top tips for dealing with colleagues

Ultimately colleagues don’t need to know the ins and outs of your illness like your manager does, but equally, if your health demands you are absent for recovery or appointments, this may impact them (it certainly works that way in my industry). I have found it best to let my colleagues know they can ask me questions at any time, and I will always explain if someone asks why I was off sick/away. I won’t announce my life story or tell them the ins and outs of Crohns unless they ask, but I will make it clear that it’s not a secret. Equally, don’t feel obliged to share more than you are comfortable with – and if you have concerns, don’t be scared to raise issues with your manager.

Dealing with money worries

It’s all very well me saying go part-time, but we all know that this means a pay-cut and actually, this really isn’t always viable. I think this is why it is so important to establish an open conversation with your manager. If you have a chronic illness, you should also have the right to ask for reasonable adjustments to make your job work for you, which may include flexible working arrangements, like working from home or reducing your hours when your health requires it. To learn more about reasonable adjustment and other options, click here.

 What are your rights as an employee?

Many of you, like me, will have really understanding employers who value your work and value YOU. However, if you feel you are being treated unfairly, Crohns and Colitis have brilliant advice here.

Go get it 

I really hope this blog has provided some helpful advice for how to cope with managing a career with IBD. The thing is about having a chronic illness is that it makes you question everything, and I firmly believe we should never ignore these questions. Remember that nothing is forever and if it costs you your peace, it’s too expensive. Rethink, re-evaluate and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.

If you’ve got this far – THANK YOU! As always, please do get in touch with your thoughts – love hearing from you all!

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Two images side by side, one enjoying a day at Ascot Races and the second in hospital

I have been both of these people over the past 10 months – and that really is the story of me living with active Crohns.

2018

Let me take you back. It was November 2018. Ahead of me I had Christmas, a incredible 7 week trip around Australia and Singapore planned and I just found out I landed a new job which I’d be starting in April 2019. I was so pumped for the things to come, but my body was having other ideas. My Crohns symptoms had started flaring to a level I couldn’t ignore and before I knew it, I was whipped into hospital to have a joyous flexi sigmoidoscopy to have a good old look at what was going on (I don’t have a large intestine, hence the flexi rather than a colonoscopy).

I always have sedation when I have a flexi (sorry but after 23 years of Crohns and some kind of camera up my bum at least once every 18 months, I made a blanket rule for myself to always have sedation. It just makes the experience slightly more pleasant), so when I woke up I was totally disorientated. When I heard my consultant say “we’ve found some severely active Crohns”, I was kind of hoping I was dreaming. Alas, I was not, and the second thing he said to me in my drunken-post sedation state was “but the good news is, we have options before more surgery”. I wobbled out to greet Josh who was waiting for me, still slurring my words from the sedation to say out loud for the first time “I have active Crohns”. The shock was similar to someone hitting me round the head.

For context, I was diagnosed with Crohns Disease when I was four years old and I am absolutely no stranger to having active disease. When I was 12 years old I had my 90% large colon removed, lived with an ileostomy for three years and was re-joined when I was 16. After that I had many scar tissue complications which involved multiple operations, but I never had any ‘active’ Crohns (read my full IBD story here). In 2016 I had minor-moderate flare, which I got under control with the liquid diet (read all about that here) and since then with the help of Adalimumab, I had generally felt pretty well. So to be told this was no longer the case and there was a very real reason I was shedding a large amount of blood – it was quite a shock.

So it was November 2018 and I was due to fly to Australia in less than 5 weeks for the biggest adventure of my life, and I had severely active Crohns which was in no way under control. The first thing they gave me was mesalazine suppositories – which it quickly became clear did absolutely nothing. I continued on the adlimumab, but as it got closer to Christmas, I began to get increasingly anxious that I was going to take myself to the other side of the world with no proper working treatment. Not to mention, I was exhausted. Barely functioning, barely socialising and barely stringing sentences together – the Crohns fatigue was REAL. Two days before we flew to Australia at the end of 2018, I was given high dose steroids. It wasn’t what I wanted, but I also wanted to feel well and enjoy the trip Josh and I had saved so hard for.

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Honeyzzz I’m back and WE ARE OFF 🇦🇺✈️🇦🇺 and what does an English person do before a 24 hour journey? Have a good cuppa of course! (With almond milk obvs) Christmas has been an joyous whirlwind and I cannot believe we are sitting here at T2 about to embark on a trip we’ve been planning for months.🥰 In all honesty, December was such an uphill struggle with my #Crohns – I did wonder if this moment would ever come. But here we are and I can’t wait to spend 6 weeks with my best friend & properly rest my body & soul 💖💖Hope you’ve all had an amazing Christmas – first stop, S Y D N E Y 🇦🇺✈️ I’m also officially open for foodie recs 🙌🏼 #abellyfullofhappy • • • • • • #glutenfree #dairyfree #foodblogger #foodblogeats #glutenfreelife #glutenfreedairyfree #londonfoodie #foodietravel #ibs #crohnsdisease #invisibleillness #gratitude #wordstoliveby #positivevibesonly #travellife #australia #passionpassport #sydney #nye #seetheworld #abellyfulloffood #sydneyaustralia

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2019

The Budesonide steroids got to work extremely quickly and our trip to Australia was AMAZING. I was still taking Adalimumab at this point, so I travelled around the country with all my meds (click here to find out how I did that) and I felt great, I loved every single minute of it.

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‘Will I ever be able to travel like I used to with IBD and my tummy troubles?’ The answer is HELL YES you can! 🌍 You just have to find out the best way to do it for you. I am so excited to share the first blog post of a mini series I am publishing on my site, which shares lots of tips and tricks I’ve learnt after my 6 weeks travelling #Australia. First up – ‘how are you camping with tummy problems??’ 🚌 This was the most common question into my DMs and I totally get it. Staying in a campervan or a tent inevitably means being further away from bathroom facilities & that obvs is a massive root of anxiety for many of us. And genuinely, if someone asked me to camp on the other side of the world 10 years ago I would have said no without a minutes thought. But I embraced this adventure and it was AMAZING. I so hope you find these tips useful & empowering too. Link in bio & as always id love to hear what you think 🌟✈️ #abellyfullofcrohns #abellyfullofhappy • • • • • • #glutenfree #senzaglutine #glutenfreelife #glutenfreedairyfree #dairyfreelife #londonfoodie #singluten #foodietravel #ibs #crohnsdisease #crohnsandcolitis #colitis #intolerances #invisibleillness #positivevibesonly #ibs #ibstips #crohnswarrior #australia #campervanlife #campervanculture #eastcoastaustralia

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I returned to the UK in February feeling good, refreshed and ready to kick arse in my brand new role, which was starting in April. That didn’t seem to last too long, as in March I was served with a stellar Crohns slap in the face in the form of an abscess on my bum. I unfortunately have experienced one of these before which required surgery, so I know all well how quickly the situation can escalate. I had three (yes three!!) rounds of antibiotics before it got to the stage when I had to go to A&E and have emergency surgery to drain it. It all happened so quickly it was such a shock – it also happened one week before I was due to start my new job. Talk about timing!

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Last Monday vs This Monday🥴🤯 Pic on the left: Last Monday served me a stellar Crohns shaped shock in the form of emergency surgery in A&E. Albeit minor, it was under general anaesthetic and has left me with a new wound to add to the scar party! Josh and I went straight from Cotswolds to A&E and 36 hours later I was high on morphine after surgery, with a open wound. 💖 Pic on the right: this is me, yesterday, starting my new job! No, I’m not 100% and I left early to have my daily wound dressing & lie down (literally), but I am beaming because Crohns has not bloody beaten me. 💖 I am not sharing this for a pat on the back (Josh, my friends + my family are giving me enough of those 🥰) I am sharing because this is exactly an example of when #Crohns will slap you in the face when you least expect it. But the point is with laughter, love and determination – there is nothing that can’t be accomplished. And a prime example of how you can never, ever know what someone is truly going through just by looking at them. Whatever your unexpected curveballs are, I urge you to laugh more than you cry, be kind to everyone even if you’re struggling yourself & trust that it will all get better. Because it always does 🙌🏼 #abellyfullofcrohns **FULL DISCLAIMER: I have not been this positive the whole time. In fact this morning I had a meltdown at my wound dressing because it made me late… but then I got a coffee & got on with it #hustler🤣☕️ ** • • • • • • #glutenfree #dairyfree #foodie #foodblogger #glutenfreelife #foodietravel #ibs #crohnsdisease #invisibleillness #gratitude #positivevibesonly #wordstoliveby #judgementfree #realtalk #wisdom #colitis #chronicillness #chronicillnessawareness #invisibleillnessawareness

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During this whole saga and the recovery period that followed, my other Crohns symptoms started to show their ugly little faces. The consultant appointment that followed was basically me crying about the abscess, crying that my symptoms had come back mixed with me telling the doctor very firmly (my mum said I was frighteningly firm!) that I needed a new treatment plan. So I came off adlimumab and started Ustekinumab – a different biologic drug. Little did I know that takes up to three months to work, so coming off the steroids just made me flare again so back onto the steroids I went. So as I sit here writing this, I feel amazing, but I’m on high dose steroids and Ustekinumab. Why does that sentence warrant a but, you might ask? It warrants a but to me because I am due to taper down my steroids very soon – and my track history follows the pattern of flaring up as soon as the steroid dose is reduced. So I am loving this feeling – but also feel well aware I have no idea how long it’ll last. What I HOPE is the Uste is working some magic in the background – and that will be what will prevent another flare up.

Now

This probably all sounds very negative – but the truth is, I honestly haven’t been unhappy during this time. Of course, I’ve had some real lows (the abscess really pushed me to breaking point), but overall I have tried to take it all in my stride and I have had unreal support. I started my job in April full time, but in June it became clear that full time shift work was not working in my favour. I went part time in July with the full support of work – and will continue that arrangement until I feel the time is right. Josh, my family and my friends have been there for me every single step of the way and I am very lucky I have multiple people I can call on if I need to. Despite my active Crohns, I still travelled around Australia, I still have been on holiday to Portugal and Spain, I’ve attended weddings, socialised, worked and I’ve hosted not one, but two A Belly Full Of events.

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💞 Crohn’s disease & mental health 💞 I’ve shown you so many ‘glam’ bits of my life recently that I realised it was about time I shared some other real bits – the #Crohns real bits. This photo was taken on Monday when I was having my first dose of a new medicine called Ustekinumab. I felt SO optimistic about this Med after my operation etc – and I still do – but my body had a very weird reaction to the IV (only temporary!) and I’m not going to lie, it unsettled me. Whilst this little wobble might not sound like much, the past two days I have been an emotional wreck. Welling up at a drop of a hat, having to practice deep breathing because I feel like I have an elephant is standing on my chest and then today I saw my GP and she said ‘and how is your mental health doing, whilst you are coping your Crohns?’ I was so stunned by the question I was speechless. Until I realised I legit haven’t been asked about my mental health by a doctor in relation to having a chronic illness for about 15 years. ✨ Of course my Crohns impacts my mental health. How could it not? Chronic illness can encompass your entire life – and recently it certainly has with me. My feelings aren’t unreasonable – it all stems from my brain trying to process what the hell is going on with my body. In my 23 years with #IBD I’ve experienced some lows but I have always come out the other side. Talking helps a lot – as well as knowing it’s okay to be angry and frustrated. It’s #mentalhealthawarenessweek and that is why I’m sharing this extremely personal post. Because I would hate anyone to look at my feed and think I cope with it all like a boss – because I don’t🙈 ✨If you ever feel like you need to talk there are many places you can do so – @mindcharity, @heads_together and @samaritanscharity are all an excellent place to start #abellyfullofcrohns • • • • • • #glutenfree #dairyfree #foodie #foodblogger #glutenfreelife #foodietravel #ibs #crohnsdisease #invisibleillness #gratitude #wordstoliveby #positivevibesonly #judgement #realtalk #wisdom #selflove #chronicillness #londonblogger #chronicillnessawareness #invisibleillnessawareness #mentalhealth #chronicillness

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My life philosophy is very much take every day as it comes and I truly live by this. I don’t worry about next week/next month and even next year, because I’ve learnt my Crohns can slap me in the face when I least expect it and I find it easier to just focus on the present, rather than worrying about what might happen in the future. Living with a chronic illness is a constant rollercoaster and focusing on the negatives never helps anyone does it? BUT what I do think is helpful is being honest, real and open. So I hope I have done this through this blog (and my events) – because I know how crippling isolating this disease can be.

If you’ve read to this point – THANK YOU! And I always love to hear what you think. This blog and my whole platform is about real and honest conversations. If I’ve inspired a thought or there is something else you’d like me to write about, please let me know!

Find me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or email me on abellyfullof@gmail.com.

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bryonyhopkins