My Surgery Recovery Journey & How I Stay Positive | Hannah Witton | AD

My Surgery Recovery Journey & How I Stay Positive | Hannah Witton | AD

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– Hey everyone, I’m Hannah. So last year in 2018, I
had two emergency open abdominal surgeries, one
in January and one in June. So just five months apart. And today I wanted just to
chat through the recovery, journey, process, of
both of those surgeries. Both physically and mentally. And kind of like how I somehow managed to stay positive throughout it all. Obviously with ups and downs,
but ultimately I feel good. (laughing) And this video is sponsored by Olay and their Face Anything campaign. Which I kind of thought
was perfect for this topic. Oh my goodness. From last year, everything
that I went through last year, it genuinely made me
realise how capable I am, in mind and in body,
just, like, how amazing, (laughing) how amazing this like fleshy vessel that I go about the world in is. And it really has made me
realise that I can face anything. Like, if I can go through 2018, then I can really face anything. I want to start with just saying that recovery is different for everyone. This is just going to be
my experience of like, what happened at what stage, and how that whole recovery
process was for me. But it was such a unique experience and everyone recovers
from surgery differently, from trauma, from illness,
so this is me, basically. And the other thing that
it’s important to note, and this was something that was so crucial for me to realise when I was in recovery to kind of help with my mental state. Which is that recovery isn’t like, uphill trajectory, like all of the time, it isn’t like this linear
thing from unwell to recovered. Like, what even is recovered, like I am mostly recovered right now, but there are definitely still some things that I struggle with
that I didn’t struggle with before my surgeries, so
will I ever be fully recovered? Who knows. Yeah, this video’s gonna get deep guys, it’s gonna get deep. So this video is all
gonna be post surgery. However, I’ve never really,
properly delved into my physical and mental state
of being before surgery, when I was really, really ill, and I don’t really want to
get into it in this video. It’s kinda heavy, but I wrote
about it in Scarlett Curtis’ new anthology about mental health, “It’s Not OK to Feel
Blue (and Other Lies)” So I wrote a section for this
book which is about the– pretty much the darkest moment of my life, and that’s out now if you wanna get it, and if you wanna delve into that, but this video is going to
be more positive, generally. And about that experience post surgery because, basically, I was super ill, and then I had my colon removed, and I now have a stoma bag and basically, I woke up from that surgery in a different kind of pain cause I’d just had my body sliced open. But mentally, I just felt
alive and awake again. That doesn’t mean to say
I was suddenly A-okay, and just like, Oh my god, great, I have
a stoma bag now, yeah! But I didn’t feel ill
anymore, so I think like, the first thing in my recovery
was just being grateful. Grateful that the surgery went well. There were no complications. Grateful that the diseased
organ was out of me. Begone diseased colon! That doesn’t mean to say it was hard. There were like, ups and downs in hospital before I was discharged. I had days where I was just like, This is amazing! I’m not ill anymore! And then I had days where
I was just exhausted, and tired, and in so much pain and I remember Dan calling
me and I had no voice cause I was just so weak and tired. Like, I couldn’t talk. And I got so upset that I couldn’t talk to my boyfriend on the phone that I just burst into tears. I felt useless. And then like, the next
day I felt amazing. So it’s just really swings
and roundabouts and basically, this whole story of like, the months and the years after is a lot of swings and roundabouts, a lot of silver linings, a lot of ups and downs. So the recovery from my two
surgeries was very different. Surgery one, because I was so ill and hadn’t really eaten. Like, I was just like on Death’s
door before that surgery. It meant that the recovery
from that was really slow. And then, when I had my
emergency surgery in June, so I was five months
post-op from the first one. And I was like, good. I was like living life, there
was definitely still things that I couldn’t do and
I was still quite weak, but I was feeling amazing and I was like, being able to actively do things. And then that second surgery
really took a knock for me. Mentally more than physically. Physically, it was much
easier to recover from that second surgery because I
already had a level of health. I wasn’t horrendously ill
going into that second surgery. But I didn’t know that at the time. So when I found out
that I had to have that second emergency surgery, it destroyed me. I thought, oh my goodness. I have to start from scratch again. I am back to square one with recovery. And it really took a knock on me mentally. Also, I keep a five year diary. So I have in here like every day like, detail of what I was doing. So I could actually keep
track of my recovery. And when it came to the
second one, I was just like, oh, I went for a walk, by myself today at this time after
surgery, but the first time that I did it after the first
one was like, way after. I was like, oh, I’m like,
weeks ahead of my recovery. Which really then helped
me mentally as well cause I was quite low
after that second surgery. More low after the second surgery than I had been after the first. Which is weird. I think it’s because I was
so grateful the first time and all of that gratefulness
was gone with the second one cause I was just like, really? Why?
Why? How do I deserve this? I actually found in here,
which is quite interesting. So, I had my first surgery
on the 14th of January. I was then discharged from
hospital on the 26th of January. And then in here, I’ve
got on February the 16th: “Walked outside by myself. Got a mani pedi.” Before that I was going
outside, but with other people because I had to hold onto them to walk, and I couldn’t walk really long distances. The day after this was the day
that I got my walking stick. So that gave me loads more independence. So I could actually like, walk further, get on public transport by myself. You know, that’s the big enough thing. “Walked outside by myself”
that it went in the diary. Over a month after having the surgery was the first time that I
could walk outside by myself. And that’s wild! That is such a long time. But the second time
round, it was much faster. So I had my second surgery
on the 13th of June. Oh!
(laughs) I also got a mani pedi after my surgery. Oh my god. This is a thing that I do. Self-care guys. This is apparently my version of self-care is to get my nails done. So I got the mani pedi
on the 23rd of June. So I would have walked to
the salon myself to do that. Although I didn’t make note of it here so maybe it wasn’t a big deal. So that’s ten days. So ten days post-surgery,
going to get a mani pedi. Versus over a month post-surgery so, significantly different
recovery for both of them. Physical recovery much
harder the first time round. Mental recovery much harder
the second time round. And I wasn’t really doing
any physical exercise the first time round. I just didn’t feel ready or just like, mentally capable or
anything like that at all. The second time round though, that was when I really started taking my physical health more seriously. So I started doing like,
the ab exercises from physio and then you may have seen last year I did my “Surgery to 5K” series. So, by the end of 20–
(phone beeps) Oh, Siri! By the end of 2018, I had run 5k. From literally not being able to walk and having my abdominal
muscles sliced open. I ran 5K. Granted, the slowest I’ve
ever run it in my entire life, but that doesn’t matter, it’s fine. And even though I’m now
like, getting fitter, and like, doing more exercise and stuff. I’m still not at the running 5K level now as I was before my surgeries. And that’s kind of what I was getting at at the beginning about not having like, an endpoint in mind. So one of the interesting things
that I found with recovery and also how other people perceive it. So from the outside,
I’ll get comments online but then also some
friends have said things like this as well where it’s like, I don’t know how you do it. You’re so brave. Aren’t you bored? (laughs) I don’t see it as bravery. I see bravery as a choice. The act of bravery in itself is that you have control over that situation and you are taking that risk, you are taking that jump, you are doing that thing and you are brave, you are
strong and you are brave. I didn’t have a choice. Everything just happened to me. I was very passive. There was no way for me to like, be brave cause, I dunno, I see
bravery as an active thing. Whereas I was just completely passive through this whole thing. It’s just like everything
is just happening to you. It’s an interesting one because a lot of recovery is just: just get on with it. Take each day as it comes basically. I am usually such a forward thinker. Like, I always live in the future. I’m not very good at being present. However, going through surgery recovery is like one massive mindfulness exercise because it does you such
a disservice to be like, oh, one day when I’m like, recovered, like, one day when I’m better. That does you such a disservice. You just have to kind
of live in the moment, day by day, okay right now a nurse is shoving glucose syrup into my mouth. Great. (laughs) Too sweet. I’m a savoury girl, didn’t like it. So the reason why I had
to have the second surgery was because I had adhesions and it caused like a bowel
obstruction, basically. And guess what? You get adhesions from having surgery. So the doctors told me this and I was like, wait what? I got adhesions from
the first surgery I had. And now you’re gonna get rid of my adhesions by another surgery. And that really made me spiral, a bit. And this is kind of why
my mental health wasn’t as good the second time round because I was just thinking like, well this could happen again. For that second surgery, I
woke up in pain Monday morning and I had surgery on Wednesday. It was that quick. Like the day before, the Sunday before, I was fine like, no signs of anything. It just came on so
suddenly and two days later I was being wheeled
into operating theatre. And I think that really
scared me because I was like, well this could just happen anytime now. Like, how am I supposed to live my life? How am I supposed to make any plans if this could just happen again? And I remember speaking
to like the doctors and nurses about this
cause I was just like– Well, what’s the point? Like, what is the point at all? And they had to kind
of reassure me of like, one it’s really rare. I just got very unlucky. They also were just like,
you can’t live like that. Like, anything could happen
to anyone at any time. You could get hit by a bus. I know I said that this
would be positive but like– (laughs) Hear me out. Like, literally, you have no
idea what is going to happen. There are some things that you just don’t have any control over and so instead, focus on the things that
you do have control over. Which is what you do
with your time right now. I understand that now, like, I’m totally, like, on board with that now, but when they were saying
it to me in the hospital, it didn’t quite click. I hope this isn’t too much of a downer. What I’m saying is: live life! You know, worry about the
things that you can control instead of worrying about the
things that you can’t control. That’s my philosophy now, although, well, I try. But yeah, if stuff goes wrong, you just have to face it as it happens. And speaking of facing anything, like I said at the beginning, this video is sponsored by Olay and their Face Anything campaign. The campaign is all about supporting and championing all sorts of people from all different walks of life who are breaking boundaries, fighting for change, and facing adversity. Olay wants to help you
feel your most confident so you can face anything
that life sends your way. And boy, does life send
things your way sometimes. I’ve been using the Olay Regenerist Whip, which is a moisturiser and I’ve basically just been
using it every morning since we did the fancy Olay shoot. And I really love it. I am such a moisturiser fiend. It smells so good.
(sniffs) It’s like I’m going to the
spa every morning almost. (sniffs) I love it. It instantly absorbs into your face and has like, this really
lovely lightweight feel and it has a matte finish. Which is great because hopefully I’m not lookin too shiny
on camera right now. Oh my god, I get so shiny. So it’s really great to have
a moisturiser that is matte. So Olay has actually partnered
with Young Women’s Trust to help young women across
the UK to face anything. Whatever you donate, Olay will match to fundraise a target of £100,000. I’ll leave links in the description to more details about how to donate and about the Young Women’s Trust. Thanks so much again to Olay
for sponsoring this video. So where I feel like I’m at
now with my recovery is that it’s not dictating like,
my day to day activities as it was in the beginning. It’s kind of still
there in the background. The changes that are happening aren’t as fast and noticeable as
they were at the beginning cause obviously, like,
I was getting better at a much quicker speed. Whereas now it’s like, slow things that I don’t really think about every day but maybe like, in a few months, I’ll look back and I’m like, oh, I couldn’t do that six months ago. That’s kinda cool. And also, I genuinely just
feel a bit in awe of myself. If one can feel in awe of themselves. I feel in awe of myself. I feel in awe of my body and
my mind, that I survived. And not just survived, I thrived. I thrived. Like, through the worst year of my life. Like I said at the beginning, I don’t think I fully realised
before just how capable I am. I have like, this newfound
appreciation and respect for me. (laughs) Which is great. And genuinely, if I can
get through that year, I can face anything. Thanks so much for watching this video. Please do give it a like and let me know in the
comments about something that has happened to you or
something that you’ve done. Either you’re active or
passive in it, doesn’t matter, something that’s happened
that really showed to you how amazing you are. I wanna hear amazing stories
of times you’ve felt capable, times you felt brave, times
you felt proud of yourself. It doesn’t have to be like a health story. It can be personal, or
school, or academic, or work achievements as well. Don’t forget to subscribe and
hit that notification bell. Also, if you haven’t seen yet, I’ve started a new channel. So on this channel it’s going to be sex and relationships content, IBD, stoma, health, and content like that. And then on the other
channel it’s going to be lifestyle, culture, work,
productivity, organisation, books. (sings) Books. Content like that. So if you’re interested
in the kind of content that I make like that, that
is now over on a new channel: More Hannah, go subscribe. Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. Thanks for watching, bye.


  1. This may seem not that impressive compared to other people's stories, but two years ago I went to Germany to be a teaching assistant on my year abroad and it was so hard. I was living on my own in the middle of nowhere with absolutely no one my age in the town, I had no wifi and the teachers in the school were unfriendly and did not help me to settle in at all. At the time I didn't realise how down I was, but looking back at my 5 year diary (I also keep one!) I can tell that I was just so unhappy, so I'm really proud of myself that I got through it. I'm also proud that I found a solution – I decided to move to a city nearby and even though that meant I had a 3 hour round trip each day, I knew that it was worth it.

  2. I had emergency abdominal keyhole surgery (appendicitis) in 2017 from witch I’m unfortunately still trying to recover. Your successive recovery process is helping me with my own very slow recovery journey.

    I think that by sharing your story you are giving lot’s of people hope that they can get through really though things.

  3. I'm a student mental health nurse and we talk a lot about "discovery" rather than "recovery". Recovery seems to mean either getting back to who you used to be or going towards something, neither of which are that realistic or meaningful for people. Discovery is more of an ongoing process where you find out who you are now, maybe many times over. I feel you may identify with that! Lots of love, you're amazing xxx

  4. I got severely ill with pericarditis in jan 2018, and am still recovering as I developed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic Pain, POTs syndrome/Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia and IBS. It was tough, I was barely in school and lost a lot of friends and mentally I was in a bad place. My life had fallen apart, I didn't feel like a person, I wasn't able to do things I loved or just be 'normal'. My partner at the time left me nearly a year ago, which was another low point, leaving me feeling unloved and unwanted and like there was nothing I had to give in life. I was just a burden. But a year and 9 months on, I've come so far. I built up stronger connections with a couple friends and I have a strong relationship with a partner who is everything and more. I even managed to get an A Level, and now I'm working towards an AS Level, grade 8 bass guitar and grade 8 LAMDA (to build up my confidence). I can do more than a year ago, even though it doesn't feel like it. I'm able to judge my energy levels better and find ways to manage my energy and so I can actually do more. I still struggle and have bad days, but I'm mentally in a better place, and know that I can get through things. Even if it's difficult. I know myself better, and I don't think I would ever know myself as well as I do now or be in such a mentally better place if I hadn't got ill. I have support and I'm forever grateful for it, and I'm proud of how far I've come.

  5. Pulled myself out of depression, put my needs first, and made some major life changes that helped me truly thrive 🙂

  6. My teenage years… Moved school at 13 because school couldn't deal with me having mental health issues & suspected autism (still undiagnosed, not fun) to a Christian school where I was never accepted and constantly having to stand up for my little band of queers to senior management, lost a friend to a very public suicide & didn't tell anyone for 5.5 years, bullied & abused in almost every way possible for 3 years at school, dealt with my dad's health issues, came out as trans at 15 & lost all of my friends over it and family didn't understand enough to accept it, sat my GCSE's mid mental health crisis with no support, chronic, undiagnosed, untreated pain and recurrent injuries, moved out of my parent's home at 18 to keep myself safe, had another mental health crisis before my A levels and was in hospital when I should have sat them, had everyone in shock that I've survived so many suicide attempts and 7 years self harming with barely any support, 2 OD's in the space of a month that could have killed me, best friend saved my life from 100 miles away by getting people to look for me when I couldn't keep myself safe, 3 times. Lost another friend to suicide, found out 3 months after he died on world suicide awareness day, had to deal with the pressure of trying to look after my little sister, OD'd again because I couldn't cope.

    Now I'm alive because I metaphorically and literally chose to walk myself back from the edge. Redoing my last year at college and on track to potentially get 4 As, applying for uni, leaving supported accommodation as soon as I can, finally fitting in with a friendship group at college and long distance friends that are my chosen family.

    I didn't feel brave because it felt like a passive participant in it all. But I consciously decide every day to get up and keep going, and I feel brave for that.

  7. I understand the whole mental and physical recovery issues. I just turned 50, and so far I've had 30 surgeries and currently need #31. I've averaged one every 12 to 18 months for the last 10 years. Most are small surgeries thank goodness, but I still have to recover from them. I'm at a point I no longer worry about the surgery, that's old hat. It's the recovery that worries me. So Hannah bravery may not be the word to describe what you're going through. But you are being a badass for making it through to the other side of 2 surgeries.

  8. You are absolutely spot on with the bravery assumption, its the same with 'you're such a fighter, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger' as the opposite suggests that those who don't make it through either were weak or didn't 'fight'.

    Anyway, in 2006 at the age of 20 I was diagnosed with Diamond Blackfan Anaemia, a really rare bone marrow failure disorder that is usually diagnosed in childhood. In brief, my bone marrow doesn't produce any red blood cells (amongst many other things), and since then I have had a blood transfusion every 6 weeks. I forget sometimes that not everyone has a day case admission as a routine thing. I have a full time job, a husband and live a normal every day life, being able to do that is the thing I feel most proud of. Its actually made me a better person, I'm more self aware, more considerate and mindful, but also more inquisitive and empowered to learn. As its such a rare condition it is very unlikely that I can visit a Doctor who has both experience and knowledge of the condition, so I have had to find the balance between making sure I get what I need without sounding like I am trying to undermine the professional. Its a very fine line!

  9. I got into my maths degree after a really hard last year of school in a bachibac program (mixture of the Spanish and French education system, which meant I was doing a French and Spanish history, a French oral and a French literature exam to get into uni as well as a maths, physics and biology exam, also to get into uni)!!

  10. Times I felt capable or brave?
    Running my 1st Half Marathon, despite having a snapped MCL from an old injury.
    Didn't think I could do it, set my fastest time, a PB.

    Raising money for Cancer Research by setting a Guinness World Record in gaming.

    Going self employed full time… this is probably the biggest one, that I'm thankful for every day.
    I have ADHD, which make a "Typical" work day difficult for me.
    Now I can set my own hours, I get varied and satisfying job, and even gave a talk at EGX recently to help people get in the same field.

    I try to keep perspective on all accomplishments in life tho, very hard to do.
    Too often we concentrate on the next achievement, pushing our goals further away as we achieve them.
    Sometimes it's worth being present in the moment and appreciating our achievements, loving ourselves and the life we have crafted.

  11. Thank you for such an inspiring video. It's so nice to hear someone talking so openly about disability. When I was 14 I was diagnosed with a brain tumour which I had removed, but it led to complications meaning I now have a shunt (plastic tube and value keeping me alive!). When I got diagnosed it ignited this weird passion to do well in my GCSEs which I was doing at the time! I managed to get 10 A* grades and I'm damn proud of myself for it. I rocked it! Life isn't completely easy now, but whenever I'm going through something I always remind myself that I got through that. Xxx

  12. Hannah, thumbs and fingers and all digits up to you – you are awesome. I am struggling with my own health issues (at age 72 – so not so strong) but determined to win out. And watching you an what you've been through is encouraging to say the least. Happy Days : )

  13. Dont think it is really rare. Have had numerous surgeries since my emergency ileostomy. Just have to keep positive. It gets better. Eventually

  14. I'm feeling proud and capable right now because I just moved into my first apartment on my own from living in a toxic family home and I've been working hard to build consistent healthy habits! It's an imperfect journey but in still proud ♡

  15. You are brave, by choosing to have and maintain the best attitude you can, when you could choose to complain and wallow in self pitty forever. it is a choice and you are making the best one for you and the people that love you by loving yourself well

  16. hey hannah, I know that a while ago you were going through your make-up and figuring out what's cruelty free and what's not. I wanted to let you know that Olay is not cruelty free in case you were still sorting out your cosmetics by that.

  17. I always laugh when people talk about how brave I am for being able to go through all my health issues (total collectomy/ileostomy in 2015 and lived transplant in 2017). I don't usually know how I respond and just laugh it off saying "Eh. It was either that or die".

  18. So much of this video resonated for me and I am so glad you shared it. I had a total hysterectomy at the age of 26 after fighting life threatening complications from delivering my son for nearly two years. By the time I found a doctor who would listen to me, I was already dying. The surgery saved me physically, but I was in a really dark mental and emotional place for a long time. Healing from all of that DEFINITELY made me realize how strong and determined I am. Now I look back on it as a gift in disguise. I hope you continue to gain strength and healing!!

  19. In the words of Brene Brown "There is no courage without risk". So just surviving – going about your day – isn't a risky activity. Or it is at least the one risk (risking you won't suddenly die for some inexplicable reason) we can't really bother ourselves about. So that is why I agree that it wasn't necessarily brave of you to go through recovery. It was perhaps resilience but not bravery.

  20. I totally relate to what you're saying about bravery. I was born with a birth defect called a cleft lip and palate and have had around a dozen surgeries since infancy to correct it. Friends and family told me from a young age how brave I was and it never made sense to me. I always felt like bravery had to involve a choice to do the scary thing, and I never had a choice. I kind of hate the word brave for that reason. Thanks for making videos like this, Hannah! They've really helped me along my healing journey and recovering from a lifetime of surgery. Much love ❤️

  21. Have always loved your videos Hannah. A week ago I got diagnosed with a chronic kidney stone condition and told I will have to have my kidney removed. I now can''t work or do much until I have had the surgery which they said could be in 2-3 months since I am on a waiting list. I am nervous about it all but it feels like this video came at the right time and shows me that things will be okay and I will recover and feel better than I do now

  22. Well I never really recovered, it effected a lot of parts of my body. U have to be careful osteoporosis, chronic infections, tendinitis….. take care of vitamins and other ingredients your body doesn’t get anymore. Mentally I m fine;)

  23. I'm just a month and a bit into recovery (I rolled a wheelchair van of 9000 lbs/4000 kg and my left arm was pinned under the vehicle) and… yeah. I still have the arm! But I am just starting to regain use of the arm and then I'll be relearning how to use the arm. I'm trying to curate my emotions (not denying the 'negative' ones but rather reinforcing the 'positive' ones) but… i'm just so tired.


    My friends and family have been so supportive and functionally helpful. I still have the arm and will regain most of its use. And while the scars won't be pretty, and I lost a patch on my head where hair won't grow back, I'm choosing to live without hiding any of my scars. I want people to see that they don't need to hide their scars to be pretty and confident or strong. Heck with it. Mentally I'm… crushed. I'm so used to having excellent propioception and my left arm feels like a foreign body at the moment. But I can recover and I hope someone sees my scars and is less afraid of how theirs will be perceived.

    But that's still not brave to me. In my mind, this is just how I need to be to survive. Anything less than facing this head-on and treating it as a fight, and I'll collapse. I am pretty sure the first person to call me brave will just cause me to start bawling lol

  24. Hanna, I have had 11 surgeries, three of them for adhesions. My first surgery was at the age of five for appendicitis. I am 82 years old, so you have some time to catch up with me. Getting old is a priviladge that many people do not receive.

  25. You are an amazing person Hannah. I suffer from an illness that can 'Hit" at anytime. Sending my body into complete chaos. No warning. Leave my house perfectly fine, 15 minutes later- on my way to the hospital. No warning. Just BAM. This has been ongoing for years. Concerts? Events? Travel? I sometimes feel fine. Sometimes get a tour of the emergency health facilities. Add in anxiety, and over time, depression, things get bad. So Positivity? Just one day at a time. Sometimes and hour at a time. Living in the present moment, and SO grateful for days without issues. It's all we can do sometimes.

  26. I am proud of my body for adapting after fourteen surgeries and so many obstructions on order to have an amazing son who is going to be 10 soon. He and I are both autistic and have EDS but we never let anything stand in our way or hold us back

  27. I have hypomobility and fibromyalgia and get called brave after I've had to take a few days off work and get back (frequent cycle) and to be honest I het annoyed with it because it's not brave it's living with a chronic illness and it's gotten and getting worse over the years and for the most part I get really down about it all and have to stop myself from spiralling (I'm currently on my second day off work this week because I'm in too much pain and I had a day off last week, I'm getting really sick of having to take time off)

  28. I think my biggest win yet is the fact I gathered the will power to hand over my resignation this month (btw. in my country you still have to work 2 full months after you do it). Unfortunately I am sometimes too much of a "people pleaser" and I am on very friendly terms with my supervisor and colleagues but at some point one must admit that it is not worth it to do a lot of overtime, take extra responsibilities and generally ease the work life for others/organization if it results in one's burn-out. Sometimes what looks like a loyalty is just fear of failing others. Well, now I am looking forward to having a little break in beginning of 2020 and looking for some new exciting job. Also once you realize there is never "a good time" to quit, it gets easier to do it 😀

  29. I get called inspirational all the time but I don’t feel it, like I just got on with life.
    I was taken into care when I was 13 after my mum had her leg amputated and my extended family (bunch of arseholes) couldn’t look after me anymore. I experienced the loss of both my parents at the ages of 18 and 21. I still managed to get a first in my degree and now I have a job as a support worker for young people in the care system. 😊

  30. This year has probably been the worst so far. I'm in my mid-twenties and my mum died six months ago. I would have never expected to lose her that early in my life. On top of that I went through a breakup. I'm so tired of losing people and of being strong. Nevertheless I know now how strong I am actually. Like you I know now that I can handle a lot. Life is so unfair but I'm not going to give up so there's not much you can do other than to just live on.

  31. When I was 15, I found out I had scoliosis. I went through a year of physical therapy that didn't correct it then had surgery when I was 16. The doctor couldn't even fix all of it. The doctor said that was the best they could do. At 16, I was basically told I was going to be in pain for the rest of my life. I just had to deal with it. That really messed me up. It took a lot of time for my mental and physical strength to recover from that. Then, when I was 19, I got hit by a car while crossing the street. It broke my ankle. I already had problems with that ankle because my scoliosis caused me to put more weight on that foot than the other. I had to get two surgeries on it. I now have chronic back and ankle pain despite having surgery. After that happened, I really wanted to give up. I was so angry. Why did I keep getting hurt? Why couldn't I just be healthy?
    I joke that I'm just alive out of spite at this point. Chronic pain can't kill me, depression couldn't kill me, and a car couldn't kill me. I'm currently studying abroad in South Korea. 16 year old me was scared to leave the house and now 21 year old me left the country! When people hear about my surgeries, they say "you're so brave." And like you said they act like having surgeries was a choice! That wasn't it. Me continuing to live was a choice. We're brave enough to keep going.

  32. I have dyslexia and when I first started school I really struggled to read and write. After failing my first stats test when I was 7 I was diagnosed and given support, for which I am very grateful to my parents for noticing and pushing the school to give we the help I needed. I loved books (still do) and was determined to learn to read, when I learnt to read my first book Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg I read it in front of the whole school in assembly. I now have a first class BSc honours degree from the university of kent and a full time job within the field of wildlife conservation. I have come a long way since I started first started school and there were times when I really struggled and got frustrated with myself but I am proud of what I have achieved so far in my life and not let my dyslexia hold me back.

  33. You are brave. Not for what happened to you, but to share such a personal story with the world. I don’t know if i could ever do that, and to see somebody who went through something so difficult, both mentally and physically, speak so openly about their experiences is inspirational. ❤️❤️❤️

  34. You mentioned being brave as an active thing and you don't consider yourself brave because everything 'just happened to you'
    However, I think you overlook your bravery in how you handled things afterwards. You could've just sulked and gotten into a completely different headspace. Your choice however, was to take things as they came every day and be active in your recovery. That's bravery too! It's still an active thing, but not so much physically as mentally

  35. I’ve just found out I have received a 1st for my degree. During my degree I got diagnosed with 2 different chronic illnesses and I was really unwell. Uni was so difficult because of it but I have done it I have passed and I got a 1st! 👩🏼‍🎓

  36. I haven’t had to have surgery yet for my IBD, but it may happen one day. Thanks for making it not seem so scary! 💜💩

  37. Hi Hannah. I have experienced the same. I had tow major surgeries ileostomy in October 2018 and ileostomy reversal in March 2019. In India generally we don't get these kind of immune disorder but to my fate I got Crohn's disease which lead to the death doors. I was hospitalized immeadiately for ileostomy surgery and survived. My parents and my wife's support is much appreciated in helping from my recovery. In India no one knows about this disease and had to suffer and it was so expensive. However I recovered and started going to work since three months. I thank God that i made through all the difficult situations

  38. In November of 2017 I had an emergency colostomy and part of how I found you was searching for "stoma" on twitter. I wish a kept a recovery journal. I do remember in the first month that I was home after being at the hospital I would reassess and know that this week was better than the last. That's what kept me going. I need to force myself into the mindset that my body is a wonderful thing as that it has recovered from all this and now I'm back to normal. I'm still traumatised in a lot of ways I can't articulate. And I'm old; I'm 41 with two kids and a family and everything else on my shoulders that comes with it.

  39. Positive doesn't always mean hearts and rainbows, it means you talk about what you went through and then how you came out of it. I loved this. Very open and honest.

  40. The thing about bravery hit different. My mum passed away a year ago so I took time out of uni to look after my sister as she was finishing her A Levels. People say you're so brave to do this despite everything, but you're right I didn't choose to do that (because what else was I going to do abandon my sister?) I did what I would want to happen and what should happen – it wasn't brave it was me being a decent sister.

  41. My biggest bravery/ “oh shit I did that” moment was going on holiday to New York by myself for a week. First time I’d done any flight, let alone long haul, by myself. First time I’d spent more than a day in foreign country by myself. I didn’t know anyone and it was for me, with anxiety, a MASSIVE deal and I still can’t quite believe I did it

    let me just edit this and say i personally don’t feel brave through hardship because, like in the video, i don’t feel like i have a choice

  42. I was born with duodenal atresia and had a surgery at four days old. Eighteen years later…. on the 31st October 2018 the world turned upside down. I was in agony, i was admitted to hospital on the 5th November to investigate me of what going on with my abdominal. So then, it was confirmed that i had adhesions. On the 14th November i had a major surgery (open), both mentally and physically post recovery. I was in tears, stressed and wanted me to go back to be an independent again. I'm now 11 months post-op, doing really well and returning to my favorite job (i returned back to work in January). I'm currently gaining my strengths back up and running again meaning i want to get fit. My mind have been all over places that this would happen again in the near future. We never know….do we? Let make most of it!! WELL DONE HANNAH!! You're doing really well xox

  43. Your positive mindset is something that I want to aspire to have. I struggle with depression and have done since I was 14, and I find it so difficult to be positive on a daily basis, even for one thing that I’ve managed to achieve – I beat myself up constantly about it.

  44. Becoming a Mom made me realize how amazing I am. I grew a human, pushed her into the world, and have kept her alive for 2 whole years. On top of being a wife, and having a full time career. At the beginning I thought, how do people do this? It was much harder than I had anticipated (and I thought I was well prepared). But it has also been so much more wonderful than I anticipated. It still feels like a dream sometimes – is she really mine? I'm so grateful that I get to be her Mom, and I'm constantly amazed by the things I am able to do for her.

  45. This was such a great video. Thank you Hannah. I felt everything you have felt (I have Von Willebrand's Disease type 3) and I had to go through 2 surgeries back to back and it just wore me down emotionally. I feel very validated. Thank you.

  46. I truly hope you realize how much you help people with your posts. I've had ulcerative colitis for almost 25 years now. I've just been scheduled for surgery on Dec 9th, which will most likely result in a permanent ileostomy. I've been binge-watching anything that I can to learn as much as possible about what to expect. All I can say is thank you for what you do. It really does make a difference, and I am grateful that you are so open and honest about your journey. Best wishes always.

  47. I've lived with UC and constant flare-ups for 11 years and still have my bowel, but I'm running out of drug options and surgery is on the horizon for me. In that time, it hasn't stopped me working, earning an Honours then a Masters degree in English and generally living life as fully as I can. In fact, my health problems have probably helped me face anything else in life without fear, because any other horrible experience I've had was nothing compared to a bad UC flare-up.

  48. YES on the not-brave thing!! I have always had such an issue with that (and 'inspirational'), but never been able to fully put words on it. Lack of choice is a good way of putting it!
    I also think those things partly bother me because I think it's part of (unconscious) ingrained ableism on some level? To not be able to put yourself in a sick/disabled person's position, and instead of trying to relate, saying they're brave/inspirational allows the person to distance themselves.

  49. As a 64 year old American male, it would be hard to think of a perspective more different than yours… and yet, I have felt so much kinship between my experiences and yours. Keep up the good work!

  50. I’m 8 years into my chronic illness journey and this video put my experience into words for the first time. Basically explained my own thoughts back to me. I can’t put into words how grateful I am. A huge puzzle piece just clicked into place and I’m smiling and crying at the same time. Much love to you Hannah.

  51. So, you're not gonna like this, but Hannah there's a typo in your chapter in the book "it's not okay to feel blue".

  52. Hey Hannah, I was just wondering if you could recommend me any charities, articles, Government policies etc. on physical disabilities. I am a uni student trying to write about inequalities for people with a physical disability, and how they are often seen just for their disability, and how they are often treated as vulnerable and fragile. Your videos have taught me a lot about people's misconceptions about people with a disability and I wondered if you could help me out?

  53. Thank you for mentioning the 'you're so brave' comments as this really bothers me, as the only choice I have is to continue surviving day by day, or to commit suicide. I do wish I could stay as positive you are, but after 8 years of living with a severe chronic illness (11 years overall) I struggle a lot with staying hopeful for my future, and positive about my present.

  54. This video is brilliant Hannah! My story also involves two traumatic events that happened quite close together. I was in a car accident this time last year, flipped over 3 times and we were lucky to walk away. Then late Jan this year I was violently attacked on my way walking home whilst on the phone to my boyfriend. Long story short, it ended it him strangling me until I lost consciousness. I didn’t know the person. He is being sentenced this November in crown court, and I’m going to watch. I don’t know how I will be, but I think it’s something I need to do. I’m proud of myself though, I still graduated from Uni in July with a first class honours, and I was also awarded for best in my cohort for a film I made about trauma. Your videos really resonate with me because trauma; and quite frankly being a woman sometimes, is so complex and difficult. I am glad that it is spoken about and shared universally. So thank you. Thank you for helping me this year. Katie x

  55. I relate to this completely! I had spinal fusion surgery 7 years ago to fix severe scoliosis and I’d get so frustrated when people told me I was ‘brave’. It wasn’t brave, I had to have the surgery otherwise my spine would have crushed my lungs and killed me – it was a necessity, anyone would have the surgery in the same situation!

  56. I’m definitely struggling with the aspect of chronic illness where there isn’t an end point to recovery. I have pretty severe asthma and my breathing has just got worse and worse despite medications. I can’t even run for a minute ugh

  57. Everyone's sick of hearing about your stoma. I can only imagine what your boyfriend puts up with. Your all me me me me.

  58. Good evening Hanna hope you are doing ok. Great to see your positivity and showing people what you are going through. Would love to see you come Here Down Under and Talk of your journey.

  59. You're so inspiring Hannah ! I understand your definition of bravery, and it's true that you didn't have a choice in what happened to you, but you did choose to push yourself – physically and mentally – to get better ! So I guess we could talk about resilience / bouncing back ?

    I've never faced any big surgeries like that or any physical disease, but I do have a story about mental health and grief. Almost 12 years ago (when I was 11), I lost my dad. It was the worst experience in my life and it has affected me for many many years. Things added on top of that, but I used to be really depressed all the time : what was the meaning of living a life where I couldn't talk, or share anything with my dad ?

    Eventually I managed to get better because I slowly started to realize that, in the first place, I was supposed to live my life for myself and not for others. As I write it now, it sounds easier said than done, but it actually took me years to realize it. Then I started felling better, more in control of my life : I wanted to pursue my dreams and projects, enjoy my life with my friends, my family and my boyfriend, and not always come back to this, not define myself as "the girl who lost her dad".

    I decided that it would for sure leave a small scar, but that it was up to me to make sure it wouldn't be wide open again. To do that I try to focus on the present moment, to take care of myself and to notice everything that makes me happy 🙂

  60. When people say you are brave, they mean that you have motivation and determination.
    As someone who has been more or less depressed for well over 30 year, i know i don't have that motivation, determination or will to live.

  61. This is incredibly relatable – I have epilepsy and in 2016 gave myself third degree burns during a seizure, leading to a skin graft over 5% of my body. It was physically so tough but I felt incredible and so powerful and in awe of my body and what I was capable of persevering through. Then this summer, the same thing happened again – much less serious burns over a smaller area but it affected my mental health so much more – just like you said. It just felt so unfair and like my health was so far from my control and – being older this time and living with friends at the time – it felt so much more offensive to have my independence taken away from me like that. Thanks for your content, it's been so helpful to hear from another young person managing a chronic condition. While I agree it doesn't feel brave – it's just what you have to do – hearing your story has helped me feel more sure that I can get through it too.

  62. I just found your page from Jessica K-F and I bought a 5 year journal just now. I've been meaning to do a journal, so hopefully I can stick to an easy short one. Thank you!

  63. 3 1/2 years ago, I went in for a routine colonoscopy. "Something" happened and I got perforation. I went back to the hospital and was rushed into abdominal surgery. I ended up being in two hospitals for almost 3 weeks after getting an abcess. I was SOOOOOO SICK!!
    I started feeling pain, about 1 mo after surgery and I was pretty sure it was adhesions. I knew I had a scarring problem and I had been a massage therapist years ago so I looked into a non-surgical alternative.
    I have been using it since then, its covered by my insurance. Its called viseral manipulation. It really has made a tremendous difference. I see a Physical Therapist who is very trained in it. Might begood fir you if you have any more problems.

  64. Dear Hannah, I believe you might agree with the Ol' Sarge … first rule after surgery, as soon as you are able, git yor arse outta bed!!!

  65. “Five k series” got recognized as “hey siri” when you said it on my phone — i exited out and then the video showed it happened on your phone too. Very meta moment.

  66. Coming across these videos today has been an eye opener. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis when I was only 12. Growing up in small midwest America it took months of rotating doctors and trial and error to actually get my diagnosis down. I ended up have a temporary stoma for about 3 months once they removed my large intestine along with 6 inches of my small. Ended up getting a J pouch and have just been dealing with the lifestyle changes by myself as nobody here really know what I'm going through or doesn't wanna talk about it. I'm 25 now and finally realizing theres others who have similar lifestyle changes and problems they have to deal with…in a way it's comforting I guess..

  67. Hi Hannah, your videos are helping me so much. I'm from Brazil and I'm glad I found them, ileostomy is totally new to me and although it is temporary I'm quiet scared and your videos are helping me getting by. Can't thank you enough 🙂

  68. Hi Hannah your videos have been helpful I’ve got to have colon removed soon, because of fap and it scares the living daylights out of me.

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