Hey! My name is Caitlyn, I'm an 18 year old freshman in college. I was only just recently diagnosed with Crohn's disease in December of 2020, but I have struggled with symptoms for a while. An interesting fact about me is that I grew up in a military family and have lived all over the country.

For me, the hardest part about being chronically ill has been being open about my experience. I have always struggled with truthfully sharing how I am feeling. When I first started to have symptoms in high school, I never felt comfortable saying when I was in pain. I repeatedly fed myself this lie that admitting I was in pain or opening up about my experience meant that I was weak, over-exaggerating, and a burden on others. Almost anytime somebody would ask me how I was doing, I would respond with “I’m doing good”, fearful of actually telling them how I was really doing.

About a year ago, I started sharing my journey on social media and it has allowed me to connect with an entire community of people who had similar stories to mine. Telling my story publicly has not only helped me become more comfortable opening up about my struggles but has also unlocked my passion for advocating and empowering those battling chronic illnesses. I’m realizing that opening myself up to support and love from my friends and family is so important. Being vulnerable does not equal weakness as I once thought. In reality, vulnerability is a sign of strength.

I was drawn to join the PAC because finding a community of people who understand IBD and can relate to the ups and downs of chronic illnesses is really important to me. One of my goals is to use my journey to help others learn how to feel confident and empowered sharing their stories. As I am becoming more comfortable with being open about my journey, I want to use my voice to advocate for the improvement of care for IBD patients.


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