James Wilson has battled stomach problems for years, always putting them down to anxiety. However, the young man was given a Crohn’s disease diagnosis last year. His lifelong toilet issues were caused by an inflammation in his tummy which is typical for this condition.
He told the Manchester Evening News: “I just put it down to general anxiety – not wanting to go in public, not wanting to go at other people’s houses.
“But I also struggled to go physically and always felt some kind of discomfort or pain in my stomach.”
According to the NHS, Crohn’s disease symptoms usually start in childhood or early adulthood and include:
- Stomach aches and cramps
- Blood in your poo
- Tiredness (fatigue)
- Weight loss.
These symptoms may be persistent or they can flare-up from time to time, with periods in between being known as remission.
James received the daunting diagnosis when he was 26 and got “really ill”.
After struggling with fatigue, shivers and stomach aches for a week and a half, he decided to go to the doctor.
He said: “The paramedic at the doctors felt my stomach and he said I need to go to the hospital ASAP [as soon as possible] because my appendix was about to burst.
“I rushed to the hospital and more or less immediately after a few examinations and an MRI scan overnight, I was told I have Crohn’s disease.”
James has been struggling with his mental health ever since the colonoscopy results confirmed this condition.
He said: “I struggle with comparison anyway, when it comes to living a lot of my life on social media and stuff.
“But when I was told that, the weight of comparison was otherworldly because I couldn’t get it out of my head that I wasn’t normal anymore.
“All I wanted was to be whatever I deemed normal and that was being a young lad in my 20s, hanging out with friends, girlfriends, social media – all this kind of fun stuff.”
However, James’ new normal meant that he couldn’t “have a coffee without the hell storm of cramps that come afterwards” or “have a dirty kebab and not have to worry about not being able to go to the toilet for five days”.
He explained that he’s unable to do these “normal” things without a constant worry in the back of his mind saying, “is that going to cause me any kind of pain or discomfort”?
“It’s just frustrating and upsetting to be honest,” James added.
However, his journey inspired him to take to TikTok and spread awareness of the condition in the hope of helping others.
He said: “What putting stuff out there on social media does for me is gives me a voice, helps me feel heard, but also I know in the back of my mind that it’s reaching people that feel the same – isolated, alone – and don’t have a voice.”
Recently, James began to develop alopecia which is a condition that occurs when the immune system attacks hair follicles and triggers hair loss.
While this is another difficult blow, James decided to spin it into something positive and raise funds for Crohn’s & Colitis UK by shaving his head. You can visit the fundraiser here.