I have UC. For me, UC has been more of an emotional battle than a physical one, so far. I have had depression since I was 12 and I also have PTSD. I am a self harmer and also struggle with suicidal tendencies. All this was before I even had any Ulcerative Colitis symptoms. Before I had any idea what Ulcerative Colitis was. Before I was diagnosed, Nov 2010.
August 2010. I was doing so well, mentally. I had not yet been diagnosed with UC. I was not really taking my symptoms seriously at this point. August, despite having to attend a court hearing to get a restraining order against an ex boyfriend, was a good month. I had my 21st birthday, saw old friends I hadn’t seen in years, and got an opportunity of a lifetime – I was invited to be an advocate for the Kids Helpline, after having given them my testimony and raising nearly $900 for the charity. Life was great! My depression, for the first time in my life, was under control.
I had a very rough childhood. I moved around a lot, nearly lost my mum to an eating disorder, and was being abused (physically, emotionally and sexually) by someone I trusted. My parents divorced when I was fairly young and my dad re-married. My mum was in and out of hospital for a number of years, so dad got full custody. I lived in an abusive step-family for 4 years before dad went through another divorce.
By age 16, self harm had taken over my life. I had been on anti-depressants since I was 12 but they never really helped. Over the next few years I followed my mothers footsteps with an eating disorder and uncountable (Psychiatric) hospital admissions. At 18, I overdosed and ended up in a coma. The doctors said I wasn’t going to make it, but I did. By age 19, I had already had a miscarriage. I was smoking weed, popping pills, and binge drinking. I spent nights on the streets. I got into abusive relationships and I continued to hurt myself.
I had dropped out of school. Got kicked out of rehab. Fired from my job. Ditched by my best friends. My family didn’t know what to do with me. I had run away from home so many times and eventually moved in with a boyfriend.
I had just turned 20. My life was a mess. I broke up with my boyfriend and moved nearly 1000km away from my family and home.
I wanted to turn my life around. I was sick of self destructing and just surviving. I wanted to LIVE! I started going to a local church and made some fantastic friends. I eventually got myself a place to rent, and I even got myself a kitten. I was hapyy. Then my ex started harassing me and making threats so I had to go through court to get a DVO (Domestice Violence Order) out against him.
Brings us back to August, 2010. I had been having some strange bowel movements and pains for a few months prior, but I thought nothing of it. By November I needed a Colonoscopy. I still didn’t take it that seriously until my Gastroenerologist said “Ulcerative Colitis”. I had never heard of it before and the name kind of freaked me out. Over the next few months I was put on medication after medication. Doses went up and down, and back up again. I started to get quite sick but mostly just in constant pain. I suffer migraines, but was told that I can’t take any of the painkillers that I would have normally taken for them, as it would irritate the UC.
January 2011, things were going well. Symptoms were easing and side effects decreasing as the doses were lowered.
End of January… FLARE! I knew it. Thats just my life in a nutshell. Good things just don’t happen to me. The depression was coming back. Then I was put on an IV treatment of the steroid I was taking (Prednisolone). I was hospitalized. Not in a medical ward, but back in the Mental Health Unit. The high dose of steroids was making me unbelievably depressed and suicidal. I had never been suicidal as a result of chemicals before, and it felt strange not being suicidal due to my past, or my situation. I felt such despair and lack of hope and motivation. For 3 weeks I was in that ward, having the IV treatment. Once the doses were over and I was back to a lower, oral dose, I was fianlly discharged and could go home. My UC symptoms were easing up again, slowly, and so was my “chemical” depression. But unfortunately the weeks in a Psych Ward gave me plenty of time to think, and to get myself into my natural state of depression. I started self harming again regularly. I have been clean from (illegal) drugs for a year now, but I have been so close to going back. I am still drinking a fair bit, but with the illness and meds, it doesn’t take much these days to get me drunk!
My life at the moment is still a roller coaster. It always has been. With everything I have been through, all I want is a break. It seems ridiculous to have so much bad luck in only 21 years.
I have had enough trouble with trying to get work, discrimination, and even making friends, just because of the self inflicted scars on my body. Now, not only am I trying to raise awareness for self harm and mental illnesses, I now have another “invisible Illness” to try to explain to people. And lets face it… people are pretty darn ignorant.
I am trying so hard to be strong, and to keep fighting. I know its a miracle I am even alive today, but part of me still just wants to give up entirely.
Fellow UC’ers… does is get better? IS it worth fighting through?