New Year. New Experiences.

By Erin Ard

Hi everyone! I wanted to kick off this new year by sharing more about me, my experience with #IBD, and my goals being one of your IBD Fellows!

For a snap-shot of my life, I love creative writing, drawing, vamping up old furniture, and DIY projects. You can usually find me watching a romantic comedy with a glass of wine, playing Mario Party with my roommates, cooking up new healthy recipes from scratch, or camping at my parent's trailer in central Wisconsin. I am terrible at taking pictures, so I rely on my friends to document our adventures. I love everything about fall - the comfy sweaters, jumping into piles of leaves, and pumpkin spice flavored coffee drinks. I found a love for human ecology and nutritional sciences when I attended University of Wisconsin - Madison, #GoBadgers! I have a passion for helping others live a healthy life, especially people living with a chronic disease. I am 23 and I've been living with Crohn's disease for 10 years now.

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Crohn's has had a great impact on how I live my life. It has taught me a lot about myself and as much as I like to think otherwise, still affects me today. Many of my symptoms have faded but I can name a few that decided to stick around. Hip joint pain, gut pain, fatigue, random short-lived fevers, anxious thoughts, and more. Although, I'm still trying to figure out if and how Crohn's plays a role in my anxious tendencies.

I've been on Remicade for 9 years, so its normal to see small bruises on my arms from IV tubes and getting blood drawn. One of the many perks of living with Crohn's is having people point out or question my colorful arm bruises :).

Aside from medication, a healthy, well-balanced diet has been my focus since I was diagnosed. I also try to incorporate other practices to make a healthy lifestyle for myself. I have adopted mindful practice to discern any connections between Crohn's and my mental health. It has also been a great way to manage stress, especially while I was an undergrad. I also try to stay fit by doing fun exercises! For me that is yoga, Pilates, dancing, hiking, running, you name it! I strive to keep both my body and mind strong.

Although, IBD will manifest in everyone's bodies a bit differently and everyone will have different life experiences, I believe we can all learn from each other. I don't know many people with IBD and haven't had much of a voice in the IBD community yet, so I joined the CCYANetwork to connect with others and share my views. I am using this platform as a way to connect with you and find peace by bringing this source of insecurity to the surface. I hope some of you will find thoughtful inspiration from my stories.

With love,