My name is Danielle Tolan I’m a 24-year-old hairdresser who lives with Crohn’s disease.

My IBD journey first began back in 2019 while I was away on holiday and started to feel unwell abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, blood in stool and extreme weight loss. When I returned home after a few days away I was admitted to hospital and spent over a week there I had lost so much weight I was down to skin and bone.

They found it hard to diagnose me and I was discharged with minimal answers it was suggested that I try a gluten-free diet to see if that helped. From here my symptoms were on and off for around 2 years and on bad days I was having around 10-15 bathroom trips. I was so frightened of what was happening to me that one of the days after seeing blood in the toilet I cried in my Mams arms and she assured me that we would get to the bottom of it. I was back and forth to my GP and gastroenterologist and had numerous A&E visits. I had a lot of tests done - colonoscopies, MRI scans, biopsies and stool samples.

I was officially diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in June 2021. I began taking mesalazine but unfortunately, this didn’t work for me and I was still suffering from flare-ups. I had a major flare in May 2023 and after my consultant saw me quite quickly and performed a colonoscopy it showed my bowel was very inflamed. I started on steroids but unfortunately, these also didn’t work for me and with the many side effects I really couldn’t wait to finish the course.

We then looked at my next option infusions in the hospital or injections I could do myself at home and as I am young we decided to begin with biologic injections. They have been part of my routine for six months now and will be for the foreseeable - thankfully they are helping with my disease although I still have some difficult days.

It was definitely hard to come to terms with being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in my early 20s but speaking to other people who have IBD it has made me realise I’m not the only one feeling this way.

Being a hairdresser I was always so used to being on the go all the time and with it being such a physical job I decided it was best to reduce to working part time as the extreme fatigue took its toll and some days I struggle to even lift my head off the pillow.

I no longer drink alcohol as it has such an effect on my disease, sometimes I struggle with what people may think of me now because I feel I am no longer as sociable as I once was and I find it difficult to enjoy a night out.

I am still learning how to balance everything and continue to keep a record of what triggers my symptoms. I can be quite hard on myself and sometimes think ‘why me’ while remembering how much my life has changed since having IBD. On days like this, I have to remind myself that some days having a shower and getting dressed is an achievement for me and I’m not to compare myself to anyone else.

I am very lucky to have a good support network around me and they continue to help me throughout my IBD journey, especially on my bad days.