Dave H., Journey to Self-Acceptance

Jouney to Self-Acceptance  

By Dave H.

Thirteen years ago, on my 17th birthday, my life took an unexpected turn when I received a diagnosis of Crohn's disease. Little did I know that this chronic illness would not only bring physical challenges, but also lead to an almost daily battle with an unexpected and emotionally draining symptom: mild to moderate fecal incontinence. The day I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease was a whirlwind of fear, confusion, and uncertainty, but I never anticipated the impact it would have on my life. 

As if the illness itself wasn't enough to navigate, I soon faced the added burden of fecal incontinence. The realization that at times I could no longer control my bowel movements left me feeling embarrassed, isolated, and overwhelmed. The incontinence could range from a mild “shart” to a full blown “it’s all coming out now” emergency with little to no warning. My incontinence was the worst during a flare up, and this made flare ups a challenging experience, both physically and emotionally. The fear of having an accident in public and being judged by others became a constant worry. I found myself withdrawing from social activities, and hesitant to go out and risk the embarrassment that an unpredictable episode might bring. It took a significant toll on my self-esteem and overall well-being. 

The emotional impact of fecal incontinence cannot be understated. It affected my confidence and gave me anxiety to even think about going out in public during a flare up. The anxiety surrounding the condition made it difficult to engage fully in life, as I was constantly preoccupied with the fear of an accident. It felt as though I was losing control, both over my body and over my ability to live a normal life. But I quickly realized that I couldn't face this journey alone. I turned to my family for support, opening up to them about the challenges I was facing. Their understanding and support helped remind me that I wasn't defined by my illness or its symptoms. They encouraged me to seek professional help, leading me to a compassionate gastroenterologist who provided guidance on treatment options. 

Living with incontinence required me to adapt to a new reality. I began exploring various strategies to manage the symptoms and regain a sense of control over my life. One of the most significant practical solutions I discovered was the use of incontinence briefs. These became a game-changer for me. Though I hated the idea of having to “wear diapers like a baby” at first, they provided the protection and security I needed during flare-ups, giving me the confidence to go out in public without constantly worrying about accidents. The briefs became my safeguards, allowing me to engage in social activities and live life more freely. Wearing incontinence briefs not only addressed the practical aspect of managing my incontinence, but they also had an impact on my emotional well-being. 

Knowing that I had a reliable solution in place significantly alleviated the fear and anxiety associated with going out during a flare-up. I no longer had to constantly worry about not finding a restroom in time and having an accident, or being embarrassed/ashamed by an unforeseen episode. They eventually gave me some form of confidence, enabling me to have social interactions without constant fear. Through the last 13 years I learned let go of most of the shame and embarrassment associated with fecal incontinence. In embracing self-acceptance and finding practical solutions, I gradually regained control over my life. 

Fecal incontinence remained a part of my journey, but it no longer defined me. Incontinence briefs and underwear have become invaluable tools, offering protection, security, and the confidence to engage in life fully. I hope that by sharing my story, I can inspire others facing similar challenges to embrace their journey with courage, and self-acceptance.