To My Lecturers and Classmates, Have Some Understanding.

Not many people spend as much time as I have done trying to get into university and when I finally got in I thought it would be the beginning of my new life and also my new career. However, I am now in my third week where I have been attending regularly and I have to say I’ve never been more anxious about going anywhere in my life.

Firstly it’s intimidating being 22 when most people who are also freshers are 17/18 and always out socialising and making friends. I struggle with this because I’ve spent so much time around older people while in hospital and all those nights I’ve had to spend home with my parents and family due to having Crohn’s and now it’s safe to say I feel fairly alienated to my peers.

Secondly, I doubt that I’m the only person attending my university with some kind of digestive troubles that cause you to need the toilet a LOT. I might look okay on the outside but under my clothes andinside it’s a totally different story. For one, under my jeans and tops is a bag. Not like everyone else’s bags for their laptop or notebook… mine is where I basically poop into. I know it isn’t a nice thing to hear spoken about if you’re new to hearing about these things but in this day and age it’s a scarily common thing to come across.

I’ll put it in terms most people understand, I heard before that over 80% of the population will get IBS at some point in their lives. That means some of you must have already experienced that in your lives so far. How did you cope with that? Do you remember the feeling of being that ill well? Well having Crohn’s is basically instead of your intestines becoming irritated by certain foods or activities like drinking alcohol, every single thing people like myself eat or drink causes inflammation, stress makes it worse, moving around can make it worse and with having your immune system attack you constantly leads to this.


The intestines on the left are the way yours probably look if you are healthy or have IBS… people with Crohn’s and other types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) look much more like the right and are often far worse. Mine for example were so bad that the whole organ was attached to other organs in my abdomen and even started to fall apart and leak fluids into my abdomen which has caused me a lot of problems this last year.

To get back to my point, I have an invisible illness which means I’m not “determined to be first out the class” and I’m not being selfish. I’m just trying to be as close to a toilet as possible and explaining my situation to a complete stranger in person is absolutely terrifying and I’m determined not to be defined by my illness or my bag. So when I’m in a lecture and I rush out, being pointed out as I need to leave a lecture theatre is mortifying, (I’m looking at you lecturers and guest speakers!) I’m only rushing because I’m about to have a bag leak all over myself and when you point me out you have left me on the verge of tears on more than one occasion.

I don’t think for a minute people should have to know my whole situation but in general a little bit of common courtesy to everyone without the bitchy comments I got today for sitting at the end of the row and having to go change my bag mid lecture have made me severely question how I feel about being open about my illness. I don’t post things like this to get attention or to have people pity me but I DO think it needs to be brought to attention because I want my time at university to be positive, and people being horrible and basically victimising anyone who leaves the room or sits at the end of the row instead of moving in will begin to make me question my choice in going to uni and I don’t want anyone else in my situation to end up feeling the way I do at the moment. So be less quick to come out with your comments next time because most people aren’t leaving for the sake of it, they’re leaving because they HAVE to.

I’m so sorry to the regular readers who know this is nothing to do with my blog purpose but it’s something that has been bothering me a lot the last few weeks and today was one step too far.

Jen x

3 thoughts on “To My Lecturers and Classmates, Have Some Understanding.

  1. Hi Jen. I’m a lecturer (not in your country), and I just want to say please hang in there and learn. Some lecturers are understanding (like me) and some aren’t. Sorry. Please know that as you get to the later years the classes will get smaller and you will get to know some cool lecturers. First year can be crazy.

    Hopefully your uni will have a support system for people with challenges. Sometimes this is called disability support, which is challenging for those of who don’t consider ourselves disabled – it’s the lack of toilets and regimented lecture system that discriminates. Anyway, these guys are usually good people who want to help you fight discrimination. Dumb titles, but excellent cheer squad.

    You don’t have to disclose anything to anyone. Ultimately, it is your choice how you learn (yes, I know the bag doesn’t exactly give you choice). My point is take charge, find support, and get an education. There will be stupid roadblocks along the way. Chances are you are stronger than everyone in your class.

    And, as an IBD-er and lecturer, please know that there is one of us in the world who understands. Sorry I can’t teach you.

    1. Hey! Thank you so so much for your lovely comment, I really wish you were my lecturer as I’m really considering leaving at this point because why get myself into debt with student loans when all of this is happening and making me hate it. I even had a panic attack last week at the thought of going in so it’s a tough bit I’m at. Thank you so much too for making a difference, your students are very lucky to have you and I really hope your IBD is under control

Leave a Reply