My #GetYourBellyOut story: Charlotte

When I was first diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, I knew nothing about the illness. I knew nothing about what it entailed, how it could change my life, or how it could develop. I did a lot of reading and tried my best to work out what it was that I had. I felt so alone.

A year and a half later I had emergency surgery to remove my large intestine which left me with an ileostomy, I was in shock. Again, this was something I had never heard about. Something I had never seen. Again, I felt so alone.

After being launched into this new world, with my new life, and new chance to live, I found a great support and second family within GetYourBellyOut. I connected with other people in the same or similar situations to myself, both new and old to life with an ostomy. This became a great comfort to me, and helped me through a lot of tough situations, and questions I had, because there was always someone who would answer your question, any time of day.

From the day I became diagnosed to the day I had surgery, everything went so fast, with only a year and a half in-between. My life changed rapidly within a few years, and what was once normal for me, was now a distant memory. I had to find my new normal.

The journey hasn’t always been easy, but I have tried to keep strong, to keep positive, because after all, the surgery and bag saved my life. I have become a member of a community full of passionate and caring people, and we all have one thing in common. I love being part of this family and making new friends. It is amazing having a safe place to share experiences and questions with people who totally understand, who never judge and are helpful.

Together we are trying to help build each other up, raise awareness and have a welcoming warm place to land from time to time. Thanks to the support of others I have carried on helping to raise awareness through my own social media.

I am, and will be forever grateful for organisations like GetYourBellyOut and its community members, for being there, supporting me and introducing me to new people, new experiences and making me feel welcome and normal in my new life, as well as giving me space to give back to the community by being available to be able to help others in need too.