Reaching For Connection: How Instagram Changed My Life As I Faced My Crohn’s Diagnosis

There are an estimated 1.386 billion active Instagram users logging on each month, there is an account for anything and everything you’re looking for. Social media has grown and changed over the years that often times it feels impossible to keep up. Networking and connecting has brought people together and helped so many accomplish milestones they never thought possible.

When big things happen in life, we desire to share. Mainly with those close to us but also those around us. It’s natural! When life throws curveballs, we often feel isolated and alone. (That is also very natural.) Social media has broken the mold for people all over the world experiencing hardship and difficult journeys. That is exactly what happened to me and to put simply,
it changed my life.

In 2017, I started sharing my walk with an incurable disease, Crohn’s. I was in my early 20s but I grabbed life by the horns and made the best of it. In 2020, my invincibility came crashing down. I wasn’t getting better, in fact, I was getting much worst. I shared bits and pieces of my life from a hospital bed to those in my circle. It wasn’t outreach, it wasn’t a huge community, it was simply letting family and friends know that I was alive.

In December of 2020, I had life changing (and saving) surgery to have my large intestines removed and have an ileostomy placed. I didn’t share this decision and I didn’t post right away. After taking a few weeks to heal and adjust to my new normal, I shared a video and the most unexpected event took place. Something I had never experienced or thought possible. I received hundreds of comment and thousands of private messages, every time I signed on, I had hundreds of new followers. Days went by and weeks passed and I was answering countless messages everyday about this journey I was on, about the decision I had made.

During such a vulnerable and delicate time, I found that sharing information, posting relatable videos, how-to clips and connecting with this new found community, I was apart of something much greater than myself. This growing community was a major factor in the healing that took place within the first year post-surgery.

In the midst of sharing, it didn’t take long for the reality of sharing to set in.
The reality that not everyone will understand the hardship someone has been through. The reality that there will be people to gaslight you and invalidate the struggle you’ve experienced. It takes perseverance to overcome those hurdles, not let the negative words of others impact the story that you’ve lived. Growing an online community has not only helped me with acceptance but has shown others that they aren’t alone and that they too, can share! The platforms where I’ve shared have helped me cope just has much as they’ve helped others.

At the end of the day, the positive outweighs the negative.

We naturally desire community and the online platforms have made that possible. I’ve made friendships with people from all over the world. I’ve made connections that wouldn’t have been possible without sharing that first video or making that first post. My vulnerability has turned into humble pride and has only multiplied. I’m so proud of the women, men and youth that have decided not to live their lives in silence or hiding. The parents who have found community for their newborns or toddlers facing similar health circumstances. It truly takes a village and everyone deserves to feel connected. I wouldn’t be where I am in my healing journey if it wasn’t for the growing community of warriors who’ve selflessly shared their journey to help others.