Elise’s story: The Phoenix Rises

09 November 2020

Lots of people living with Crohn’s and Colitis find creative outlets to help them manage their wellbeing and navigate the difficult situations that these conditions can present.

For Elise, who is supporting our Christmas shop this year, this outlet is creative writing.

As a writer, I tell a lot of stories. Stories of love, hate, good and evil. But unlike all of those other stories, this one is my own. This is the story of a survivor, a girl against adversity and you guessed it, a Phoenix.

Living with Colitis

The Phoenix Rises

I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis when I was seven years old, when I had roses in my cheeks and light in my eyes. I used to see the world as this fairy-tale place, this kingdom of happiness and immortality. But when I was diagnosed with Colitis, my entire perspective on the world changed. As a little girl, it wasn’t easy to see pools of my own blood in the toilet, cope with the excruciating pain in my belly or be throwing up everything I ate.

My medications weakened my immune system to try to stabilise me. They changed the way I looked physically and made me gain and lose weight. I used a wheelchair after developing anaemia as my energy levels were next to none. My hair fell out in patches on my head and grew back with a vengeance in others, my bones were fragile and my skin was ghostly. This stripped away any self-confidence I had and made me into an anxious and paranoid person, afraid that the world saw me as a circus act.

I later had a few years of remission, repressing all of these traumatising memories of theatre visits and blood. I wanted to hide who I was, afraid of humiliation if anyone knew. I experienced anxiety and was diagnosed with depression and PTSD from my experiences alongside further physical conditions too.

While I had so much support from my friends, family and a good few of my teachers; the majority of those at my school were ignorant to the struggle I was going through. All they saw was absences on a spreadsheet or a girl who looked tired all the time. I suffered verbal abuse because of my illness.

‘Is there something wrong with your brain?’. ‘Elise is a freak’.

I felt inferior to so many others and was underestimated in so many aspects of my school life.

Little did they know that I had always been stronger than any of them.

During the pandemic, the word ‘resilience’ has been thrown around a lot but few of those people know the true meaning. I have always known. Every time they pushed me down, I rose back up again. A Phoenix rising out of the ashes of their ableist prejudices, every time I exceeded their expectations. One day those who don’t carry the burden of our disease will know how strong we have been, on that day the Phoenixes will make an aurora of the night sky as bright as the dawn of day.

For those of you who are reading this, my story isn’t a tragedy.

My story is a triumph. You are not alone and we will not give in until this silence is broken. My story is one of many out there, some of which will remain unheard if this silence continues and others who are a beacon of hope for those who are suffering. Never give up, don’t let those who know nothing of our demons determine your worth.

You are not just a person with a chronic illness, you are a survivor. You are a Phoenix Rising.

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