Opening the (Bathroom) Door on Crohn’s Disease
When Crohn’s disease advocate Linzy Ross clicked on Instagram’s “Ask Me Anything” feature from the toilet one day (because CD), she meant it. Now she answers those tough questions for other patient while redefining what it means to be young and chronic.
I have had Instagram for about six years. And I started to post on Instagram in a very intentional, positive way about 11 months ago. And it just changed everything. I realized that I had a platform where I could actually share the positive side of Crohn's versus sort of commiserating with others, I wanted to be a voice and be a light for those that felt that they didn't have it.
I get a lot of questions about why I am willing to post from the toilet. And I would say that, because I want to shine light on those dark places that people don't talk about. You know, most people, most women, are not willing to talk about vomit and diarrhea, and I think that it's a bodily function, and especially if you have Crohn's. It is an everyday function, and it's something that I used to feel really gross about, and I don't allow myself to feel that way anymore. It's part of what makes me who I am. I want people to see the raw vulnerability behind this disease.
I wanted people to see that vulnerable place, and I wanted it to be a place that I could hold space for others to ask a safe question. And so I ended up getting a bunch of questions from about blood in your stool to, "I can't poop, and how do I deal with that?" to, "What do you do if you're nauseous while you're on the toilet and have to sort of do both things?" Because that happens with Crohn's disease from time to time.
There's a ton of healing that goes into sharing your journey and helping other people and knowing that it's helping other people and sort of gives it purpose and makes me feel like it's not all for nothing. That all the times that I was in a hospital bed feeling like I was never going to get out of it, knowing that I could be the voice for somebody else, that they can have a life beyond their wildest dreams makes all of it worth it.
I get a wide variety of reactions from my posts. There's like an 80 / 20 rule. Usually about 20% of people feel slightly violated and offended that they have to see me sitting on a toilet, in which I reply to, "You don't have to follow me." But I think that is fear-based, and a lot of people feel embarrassed by things that are taboo in society, i.e., sitting on a toilet and showing that. But then the 80% are people that message me, and thank me, and tell me that I'm an inspiration and say that they want to share so that they can help somebody else.
And it's that percentage that keeps me going because it's never about me. And I never share to shine a spotlight on myself. I just want to help other people, and I know that the only way to do that is by being raw and being vulnerable and sharing.