My Crohnaversary is coming up next month, it will be 17 years on June 22. I find myself mumbling to myself every now and then, “If I knew then what I know now.” I thought it would be fun to write a letter to my 14 year old self.

Dear 14 Year Old Julie,

My condolences on your recent diagnosis, I’m not going to lie, it sucks. It is okay to be upset about it, you’ve just been diagnosed with a chronic disease and there is no cure. React in some way, please. Don’t just laugh it off. Sorry to be so grim, we will get to the fun stuff soon.

Don’t make excuses for your friends not understanding, help them understand. It’s okay to ask them for support, you’re going to need it. It’s not easy to talk about, but bottling it up for ten years is going to do some damage. Your future self here knows what she’s talking about.

There will be a few people that will let you down, there is nothing you can do to avoid this. It’s okay to be upset and hurt, but I promise you there will be more than enough amazing people in your life that will more than help make up for it.

Don’t be afraid of putting yourself out there for anything. Crohn’s will put you through the ringer, but don’t let it get in the way of everything else.

Putting on a brave face is pointless. Let those around you in on your struggles, they don’t need you to be fearless every day.

There is no shame in any of this, you’re going to be battling a disease and many times you will kick ass at it. Take pride in that, you’re a bad ass (literally).

Oh, and things will change once social media comes around, it will help. Use it as a tool to find the support you need. Just wait until you hear what they will call the pound sign (#).

Listen, shit is about to get weird. Buckle up and hang on tight. Enjoy life when you can, it will make the bad days easier.

If you will listen to one thing I tell you, then let it be this: let people in. Don’t shut the world out, you’re apart of it.

The rest you will figure out as it happens.

Love,

A much older and tired Julie

Happy World IBD Day!

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