+
upworthy
Health

This mom's empowering selfies show off life with an invisible illness.

She's reclaiming her confidence and sharing what it can really mean to be a mom with Crohn's disease.

Chron’s disease, IBD, irritable bowel syndrome
All photos by Krystal Miller, used with permission.

Krystal, Arabella, and Lukas.


There are a lot of hard things about living with Crohn's disease. Not being able to talk about it might be the worst one.

Imagine being constantly tired, but in a way that even 15 hours of sleep a day can't cure. Imagine going to dinner, but every time you eat something as simple as a roll of warm bread, it feels like it might've had broken glass inside of it.

Then, it's time to go to the bathroom. Again. Is that the fifth time this hour or the sixth? You've lost track. It's a running joke now — your friends think it's funny, but nobody really talks about what happens when you step away. Because, really, you look fine. Just tired.


Crohn's, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is "a condition of chronic inflammation potentially involving any location of the gastrointestinal tract." But as defined by myself, someone with Crohn's, it's like having food poisoning all the time. The symptoms and presentation are different for every patient, but one thing is the same for all: It's an invisible illness, and it sucks.

And let's face it. Talkin' about your poop is taboo.

Chron\u2019s, GIFs, ostomy

Nothing to see here.

assets.rebelmouse.io

A little privacy, please?

Well, unless you're Krystal Miller.

Stumble over to her Facebook page, Bag Lady Mama, and nearly every post has a reference to doing the doo.

Krystal, who lives in Perth, Australia, has Crohn's. She was first diagnosed at 15 years old, and by 22, most of her intestinal tract had been badly damaged by the disease. At that point, doctors decided to remove large portions of her large and small intestines.

family, vacation, permanent ileostomy

Krystal Miller and her husband, Shannon, son, Lukas, and daughter, Arabella.

All photos by Krystal Miller, used with permission.

For the last decade, she's been living with a permanent ileostomy, a surgically made opening in the abdominal wall that connects the lower intestine to an ostomy bag.

Now, at 32, she's sharing her daily experiences through Facebook.

Her posts show raw insight into her world. They're unapologetically blunt, they're full of curse words, and they're gaining traction — quickly.

In an interview with Upworthy, Krystal said she expected to have a few hundred Likes on her page within a month or two of launching it, mostly from close friends who knew about her life with Crohn's. But since it launched Jan. 25, it's reached more than 13,000 Likes.

Krystal Miller, colostomy bag, bag lady mama

Check out her posts and you'll see some serious granny-panty love.

All photos by Krystal Miller, used with permission.

"I did expect it to reach Europe and America because I have international friends," she said. "But I never expected for it to be as expansive as it has been. It's crazy — I actually got recognized at my local shops the other day!"

Her photos show off her day-to-day life with her two children, Lukas, 4, and Arabella, five months, and her husband, Shannon. Each is filled with her unabashed love for her body.

family, feel good story, pregnancy

Krystal, 32 weeks pregnant and wearing her bag, and her husband, Shannon, during their son's fourth birthday party.

All photos by Krystal Miller, used with permission.

Scars, bag, and the ostomy itself are all on display in the hopes that she can help remove some of the stigma around Crohn's and what life with the disease is like.

It's not a comfortable thing to live with physically or socially. It took years before Krystal was willing to open up about it.

"When I was first diagnosed, I was very uncomfortable. I would be in-tears uncomfortable if someone had to go to the toilet after me. ... And when you're young, it's embarrassing and it's pretty f*cking horrific. It's been slow progress , but I just kind of got sick of caring. Like, who gives a f*ck, it is what it is, I can't do anything about it."

She would go to extreme lengths to cover up the symptoms of the disease, especially when using public restrooms. But she credits the surgery that removed her rectum with alleviating a lot of that embarrassment as well. Once her permanent ostomy was in place, many of her symptoms were alleviated, and her experiences with "number 2" became more matter-of-fact than anything else.

"It's been slow progress , but I just kind of got sick of caring. Like, who gives a f*ck, it is what it is, I can't do anything about it."

From there, it became about reclaiming her sexiness and self-confidence, which started with revisiting how she looked at herself.

"When we look at other women, we don't see the same flaws that we see in ourself. And I've had to retrain myself to see myself the way others might see me, to not notice the finer intricacies that I see on myself. Other people don't see the sh*t that we see."

ileostomy, fashion tips, advice

Krystal, Arabella, and Lukas.

All photos by Krystal Miller, used with permission.

But she hasn't stopped there. She also posts fashion tips for other women with Crohn's and shares advice on how to dress the way you want while still being comfortable with a bag.

Fremantle Hospital, stomal therapist, public speaking

Krystal speaking at Fremantle Hospital. She's studying to become a stomal therapist.

All photos by Krystal Miller, used with permission.

Krystal does have one thing she wants to say to other people who have Crohn's and other IBDs: It's not always going to be easy, and that's OK.

"We have earned that right to f*cking hate the world," she said. "We are entitled to f*cking be angry and to be sad and to have bad days. If you need to feel sorry for yourself, then feel sorry for yourself. But then pick yourself up and keep going."


This article originally appeared on 04.04.16

Family

Woman goes to huge lengths to adopt husband's ex-wife's baby to save him from foster care

She had lived in foster care and didn't want it for the newborn with no name.

Christie Werts and her son, Levi


Christie and Wesley Werts have taken the idea of a blended family to the next level. When the couple fell in love five years ago and married, they brought together her children, Megan and Vance, and his children, Austin and Dakota.

As of January, the Ohio family has five children after adopting young Levi, 2. Levi is the son of Wesley’s ex-wife, who passed away four days after the child was born. The ex-wife had the boy prematurely, at 33 weeks, and died soon after from drug addiction and complications of COVID-19.

When Levi was born, he was a ward of the state with no first name or birth certificate.

Keep ReadingShow less

Jennifer Garner ad father William John Garner starring in a Capital One commercial.

Grief and gratitude might seem to be in opposition to the other, but in times of loss, they both work in tandem to help us process our pain. As the “Ten Percent Happier” blog eloquently puts it, “grief embodies our humanity even as gratitude allows us to embrace pain and hardship.”

Actress Jennifer Garner recently gave a poignant example of this.

On April 1, the “Alias” star took to her Instagram page to share the news that her father, William John Garner, died “peacefully” in the afternoon on March 30.

Though her tribute expressed the loss she felt, it made plenty of space for humor and appreciation for the precious memories she got to create with her “kind and brilliant” dad.

Keep ReadingShow less

How often should you wash your jeans?

Social media has become a fertile breeding ground for conversations about hygiene. Whether it’s celebrities bragging about how little their family bathes or battles over how often people should wash their sheets or bras.

One of the debates that gets the most diverse responses is how often people wash their denim jeans.

Denim atelier Benjamin Talley Smith tells Today that jeans should be washed "as little as possible, if at all.” Laundry expert Patric Richardson adds they should be cleaned “after nine or 10 wearings, like to me, that is the ideal." At that point, they probably have stains and are "a little sweaty by that point, so you need to wash 'em," Richardson says.

Still, some people wash and dry them after every wear while others will hand wash and never hang dry. With all these significant differences of opinion, there must be a correct answer somewhere, right?

Keep ReadingShow less
Identity

Formerly enslaved man's response to his 'master' wanting him back is a literary masterpiece

"I would rather stay here and starve — and die, if it come to that — than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters."

A photo of Jordan Anderson.

In 1825, at the approximate age of 8, Jordan Anderson (sometimes spelled "Jordon") was sold into slavery and would live as a servant of the Anderson family for 39 years. In 1864, the Union Army camped out on the Anderson plantation and he and his wife, Amanda, were liberated. The couple eventually made it safely to Dayton, Ohio, where, in July 1865, Jordan received a letter from his former owner, Colonel P.H. Anderson. The letter kindly asked Jordan to return to work on the plantation because it had fallen into disarray during the war.

On Aug. 7, 1865, Jordan dictated his response through his new boss, Valentine Winters, and it was published in the Cincinnati Commercial. The letter, entitled "Letter from a Freedman to His Old Master," was not only hilarious, but it showed compassion, defiance, and dignity. That year, the letter would be republished in theNew York Daily Tribune and Lydia Marie Child's "The Freedman's Book."

The letter mentions a "Miss Mary" (Col. Anderson's Wife), "Martha" (Col. Anderson's daughter), Henry (most likely Col. Anderson's son), and George Carter (a local carpenter).

Dayton, Ohio,
August 7, 1865
To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

A 9-year-old goes in on standardized tests and ends with the best mic drop of all time.

When 9-year-old Sydney Smoot stood up at her local school board meeting, I doubt they expected this kind of talking to.



If you need proof standardized testing is setting students up for failure, just ask the students.

Sydney Smoot has a bone to pick with the Hernando County School Board. The issue? The Florida Standards Assessment Test, or FSA for short. On March 17, 2015, Sydney bravely stood up at her local school board meeting to share how she felt about the test and why she believes it's failing students and teachers.

Keep ReadingShow less
Science

2 monkeys were paid unequally; see what happens next

Sometimes you get the grapes; other times it's just cucumber.

Image pulled from YouTube video.

A study on fairness packs a punch.

True
Workonomics



This is short, but it definitely packs a punch.

Be sure to pay close attention from 1:34 to 2:06; it's like equal parts "America's Funniest Home Videos" and "Econ 101."

Keep ReadingShow less