My name is Autumn; I am 20 years old and I am currently in college. I am from Ohio and was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in July of 2008, when I was just six years old. I have had Crohn’s for nearly 14 years. Something most people don’t know about me is that I absolutely love to travel. Long road trips (at night is my favorite!) and going and seeing places I have never been to before is something I really love and enjoy… I see a lot of adventures in my future! A couple places I would love to visit one day would be Canada and Disney World. OH...I really want to fly on a plane!

One of my biggest struggles I deal with next to my Crohn’s disease is IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). IBS tends to go hand in hand with Crohn’s disease. Around November/December of 2021, I started having IBS related symptoms. I have been having a lot of bad belly pain and urgency (Diarrhea, IBS-D) which has affected my work, school, and everyday life. This has led to feelings of frustration, hopelessness and low mood.

IBS, just like Crohn’s disease, can interfere and make life very difficult. I don’t know when the pain will come or how intense it will get, which brings on anxiety and can make things even worse for me. It is also hard to make and/or keep any plans which can bring me down sometimes. 

I have also developed lactose intolerance over the last year and a half, which progressively got worse over that period of time, so I now avoid dairy completely as one less cause for pain! Another big struggle for me has been feeling very alone with my Crohn’s as I’ve gotten older (especially since the end of 2021 when IBS symptoms started). All these things combined makes my mood low and my feelings big! I don’t have any friends or family who have Crohn’s disease, so no one knows or understands the real struggle behind this invisible illness and just how tough it can be. I can see this changing soon, when I join ImproveCareNow and the PAC!

I find running a great help for my IBS symptoms! I enjoy running and it helps provide relief from belly pain before it ever even hits me! I can’t go for runs during moments of high belly pain to get relief because the slightest of movements makes my pain worse and brings on urgency. During that time, I tend to lay in bed curled up in a ball embracing it until it passes. Along with running I have been working closely with my GI Doctor (Dr. Michel) and trying different medicines to see what works and what may not work. I have tried IBGard, and now I’m currently on Viberzi to help with IBS-D. I’ve also been working very closely with an IBD Psychologist (Dr. David) who has helped me to learn ways to cope with pain, especially during times of high pain. Just having that support and comfort has helped me through the tough times of IBD/IBS symptoms and times of feeling alone. Through these experiences I have learned I’m much stronger than I thought I was! I often tell myself: I was given this life because I'm strong enough to live it!

What attracted me to ImproveCareNow and the PAC was knowing I could meet others that also have Crohn’s disease and IBS! I used to share my illness only with close family, but recently I confided in two of my best friends. It was a huge step for me, but the feeling of support from them has been overwhelming. It also made me realize that I want to continue to be open and share my story with others! I really care about others and hopefully sharing my story might help someone else feel comfortable in sharing their story too!

The PAC can help me with my Crohn’s obstacles because they also have this invisible illness; we can relate to one another.  Hearing their thoughts and experiences about something I may be currently going through I think will be helpful too.

I would love to be a part of making an IBS-related toolkit. I’ve already been asked about doing an IBS podcast! So that’s a possibility too…I want to contribute and help others in any way I am able to!

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