My introduction to IBD wasn't a pleasant experience. I was diagnosed with perianal crohns at age 15 after having surgery on a perianal abscess. I can remember that day clearly when the IBD nurse came down to me after my surgery to introduce herself and give me information booklets on IBD. 

It was the first time I ever heard about Crohn's Disease. I spent the best part of the next 6-12 months attending the wound care clinic in the hospital on a daily basis to have my dressing changed, and I was put on biologic injections not too long after to help manage my Crohn's. This was a big shock for me, it's only looking back now I can see how much it put me back physically, mentally and emotionally. 

Since then I have had numerous bits of surgery done to deal with abscesses, fistula and seton drains. I am currently on Infliximab 6 years now which has been helpful in managing my symptoms. 

Living with perianal Crohn's Disease has been very challenging but it has also made me a resilient person. It has taught me to be grateful and appreciate the small things in life. I have been able to go to college, get promotions in work and I have become a father. Exercise has been a huge part of helping me deal with things. But it's not always an option when I have flare-ups. Even after 17 years living with my illness I am still learning. Having compassion for myself is something I am trying to do more. 

I still find it hard to open up to people and talk about my illness. It's not the nicest thing to talk about no matter which way I try to say it. This has been a bit factor in having more negative feelings like depression and feeling isolated. I'm grateful to have great support from my partner and my family. Once you open up to people you trust, you will be surprised at just how much support you have around you. 

Try to take the good days with the bad. Being aware of how your feeling physically, mentally and emotionally can help you to not feel overwhelmed. For me, Crohn's Disease has literally been a pain in the arse for the last 17 years but you will learn your own ways that you find best to deal with things. Don't be afraid to reach out for help and don't be too hard on yourself.