“I am not my digestive system”

When i was 14, I took a medication that killed most of the bacteria in my gut. I have lactose intolerance, fructose intolerance, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which causes me to not be able to digest certain foods. It has been something that has followed me, haunted me, through my high school and college years. I cook most of my meals so I know exactly what is in the food. Many times, however, life catches up with me and it is not enough. Having to run to the bathroom because I “ate something wrong” was something that happened 4 times a week. I’ve had to deny my friends’ parents cooking and received the awkward stares. I’ve had surgery because of it. I once threw up in the middle of a state test and had to report to the school nurse every week to “make sure I did not have an eating disorder.”

I became “the girl who throws up.” Through this process, others have made assumptions about what running to the bathroom and strictly controlling my diet frequently means. I have been told I was disgusting. Many have asked why I couldn’t control getting sick. I have had people stick their fingers down their throats and gag at me as they passed me down the hallways. Someone once told me it was all in my head and I just needed counseling. My illness became a stigma of why I couldn’t be normal

But I know I am so much more than the girl who gets sick all the time. My illness is not who I am, but a challenge that I fight every single day. I am Sarah. I am not my digestive system.