A voyage of self-discovery.. 

Yes, this is going to be one of those blogs where I talk about myself but I’ll try not to make it too annoying! I won’t put too much hippy stuff in here either (although I have found meditation and mindfulness to be rather wonderful alongside other treatments!) 

I’ve struggled with blogging lately. I’m feeling a lot better Alhamdulillah and I felt I might have outgrown this blog….. fear not though dear readers. I wasn’t ready to give it up either. I won’t be writing as much as I used to about IBD, guts, blood and poop but I can still write loads of meaningless drivel, right? That doesn’t need to change. :p 

I read a few of my posts from last year and it was pretty hard going. I’m so very glad I wrote throughout the Darkness I went through. I was drowning in it. I need to be reminded from time to time to help me keep things in perspective. How things change.. finally, I’m seeing the bright light at the end of what’s been a very long tunnel. I always hoped I’d get to this stage but it was difficult to imagine actually being here. Now I’ve started getting my life in order.. I’ve discovered I’m actually pretty resilient. I know, that sounds awfully boastful but I’m told I need to be nice to myself. So here I am, being nice to myself and reflecting on a rollercoaster of a year. 

So.. resilience. Over the past few years I’ve suffered from horrendous trauma. Physical, mental, psychological, emotional.. I honestly don’t know how I coped. I was going through the motions. On the one hand my body was trying to do its best to attack, I was also dealing with the aftermath of surgeries and on the other hand the psychological hurt and abuse caused by those who claimed to love and care for me took its toll. There’s only so much someone can take, right? I’m annoyed at myself for putting up with it for so long. And believing that I was being ‘patient.’ Putting up with abuse of any kind is not patience. Patience is praying then doing what you can to change your situation. It works the same was as praying for a good job then actually going out and searching for that job. It’d be a bit pointless to spend days and days praying without putting any effort in! Not how it works. If someone genuinely can’t change their situation (e.g. Pain) that’s where forbearance and acceptance comes in.

I still feel ashamed to talk about what I’ve been through. It’s pretty crazy to think that I could be pretty open about my bowels and tales of gore yet I couldn’t (and still struggle to) talk about the underlying issues which were making my mental health so much worse. I won’t force myself, perhaps it’ll get easier with time.  

By the way, I haven’t written anything in so long my head is a jumble of words all desperate to escape. Feel free to scroll on by if this isn’t making much sense to you! I need to get a few things off my chest and writing is therapeutic. 

I think I’ve become rather intolerant of what I perceive to be fakery. I’ve scaled down my social circle to a few very close friends (who help keep me sane!) and an even smaller number of family members. (Those who are genuine. A seriously small number. Like.. five. That’s it.) Does this make me evil? Probably. I simply can’t be bothered by people and things I’m not particularly interested in. I’m choosing to focus on what makes me happy. I’ve been focusing on my mental and physical health for almost five months now. It’s a very short period of time but I’m finally getting somewhere Alhamdulillah! I live in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. I’ve been teaching some wonderful girls. I’m looking to go back to college and university inshaAllah. I’ve made some fantastic new friends. I’m doing things for myself and discovering that Alhamdulillah.. I CAN do this! It’s an incredible feeling. So humbling. I also had my second driving lesson last week – this is HUGE for me! Alhamdulillah. I feel so blessed. I never did see myself doing so well.. I think it’s time to believe in myself. That scares me.. it shouldn’t be so hard to accept that I’ve came a long way. Maybe one day I’ll actually believe it eh?! 

All that being said, this is also a difficult time for me. I have so many emotions and thought processes to work through.. I’ve got to keep moving forward inshaAllah. Some days everything feels overwhelming and I have to pull myself up by the bootstraps and soldier on. It’s the only way. Those days are getting fewer however they do exist. I’m not expecting them to go away completely, I wouldn’t be human otherwise! 

I’ve been trying to figure out how and why people can be so cruel. How do they justify it? There’s got to be an inferiority complex there. Not that I’m a psychiatrist or anything. 😛 why else would someone want to harm others or try to make their life difficult? It baffles me. I just don’t get it. What’s the POINT of it all? Argh this makes my brain hurt! I pray that I never become one of them. 

I was sent the following poem a long time ago. It’s beautiful. I’m going to leave it here and hope it helps you as it’s helped me. ❤ 

Take care of yourself and those you care about, smile a bit more and eat delicious cake,

Love,

Aisha AKA The Gutless Ninja

Ps I’ve started replying to emails. (I know.. about time right?) 

I’m still rubbish at keeping up with social media so I’m not going to stress about that! Feel free to drop me a line at gutlessninja@hotmail.com if you want to get in touch. Or you can leave a comment below. I don’t do any TV/documentary work and I’ve been rubbish at replying so apologies if you’ve contacted me about that. 

Yep.. believe it or not, I’ve had three tv offers in the past two years. I’m almost famous! *dons sunglasses* 😎  

Oh and if you find any typos/spelling mistakes do let Be know. If you find any weirdness it was always meant to be there. Ta. 

Crohn’s And Colitis Awareness Week

Assalamualaykum/hello/greetings,

My name is Aisha, AKA The Gutless Ninja, and I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2010. 

Such a small sentence, right? Yet it’s a huge marker in my life. I now find myself referring to life ‘pre-diagnosis’ and ‘post-diagnosis’ and boy, do I wish I could knock some sense into the pre-diagnosis me and tell her to get a grip, enjoy every single day and NOT take the luxury of pooping for granted! 

That’s right, the luxury of pooping. Although UC is not just a pooping disease, it was one of the major symptoms. I was rushing to the bathroom up to twenty times a day, passing painful, bloody diarrhoea. Add the awful, cramping stomach pains (Carrie Grant has described them as being WORSE than childbirth) which felt as though my insides were being twisted then poked with hot knives, the constant fatigue, skin issues such as rashes, aching joints, rushing to the loo following every mouthful.. you get the average day in the life of a person diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. IBD is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks healthy cells and causes inflammation. There is currently no known cause or cure. I feel like yelling this at those who claimed I was faking my illness or that it’s caused by junk food or that ‘loads of people have it and they’ve been cured!’ But I try to be a nice human being so I’ll keep quiet. 🙂 

And the absolute worst thing was that I hid my symptoms. I was too embarrassed to tell anyone that I was bleeding loads whenever I went to the toilet. We just don’t talk about poo, it’s a taboo. Especially in our south Asian culture. This is wrong on so many levels. My silence made things so much worse. If I had been diagnosed sooner, maybe my body would have accepted certain medications and the disease wouldn’t have been so severe. 

So I kept quiet and hoped that by ignoring my symptoms, they’d go away. In case you’re wondering, here’s a short list of some of the symptoms experienced by IBD patients: 


Many thanks to Girls With Guts on Facebook for the infographic above. 

Surprise surprise, my symptoms didn’t go away. They didn’t particularly like being ignored either, so things became a lot worse. I was still too ashamed to speak about it or see a doctor. 

Now, 6 years (yikes! Where has the time gone?!), countless weird and wonderful medicines (mouse juice, anyone?), numerous blood tests, X-rays, colonoscopies and two major surgeries later.. here I am. I’m missing a few bits but I don’t actually miss them. If you’re new to the blog, I’ll tell you: I no longer have my large intestine, appendix, rectum, anus or sphincter muscles. Fun, right? It’s one of the best decisions I EVER made! 

I have an ostomy. The end of my small intestine is sticking out and I attach a bag over it to collect my poop. This has presented its own challenges but right now we’re happy with each other. 

The purpose of this post is to get people talking. Don’t ignore any problems. Nothing is more important than your health. There’s NOTHING to be ashamed about if you notice any problems with your poo! And if you have friends, family or colleagues with IBD, please take a few minutes to tell them you’re there for them when they cancel plans at the last minute, or when they can’t go somewhere simply because they don’t know where the toilets are, or when they’re exhausted after taking a shower and have to rest for three hours. One of the best things any of my friends ever said to me was: ‘I’ve been reading about IBD and how it affects you. Please feel free to talk to me anytime. I may not understand what you’re going through but I’m here for you.’ I was in tears because it’s such a beautiful gesture. 

For those who’ve been following the blog.. I owe it to you to explain my absence. WordPress tells me it’s been around 6 months since I last posted.. gulp. 

I’ve had a lot of struggle with in terms of my mental health and I went into hibernation so to speak. I’ve teetered on the brink of another breakdown. Alhamdulillah, things are a LOT better now. I’ve made some major changes in my life and I’m learning to be happy again. Last month was full of smiles and for the first time in ages, I laughed until I was gasping for breath! It’s the simple things. ❤ my heart is at peace. 

I still struggle with anxiety but this time, I’m learning how to cope. I try to listen to my body when it needs to rest.. most of the time! 

I removed a major cause of stress and anxiety from my life and I request your prayers/Duas with this as it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I realised I needed to do something when I felt suffocated, drowning in darkness and on the verge of another breakdown. I didn’t think I’d survive this one. I couldn’t go back to the darkness I was in last year. The very thought was terrifying. That’s when self-preservation kicked in and I decided to do what was needed. 

Rosie is also doing well. She’s farting, whistling, gurgling and popping her way through life. 

And the most exciting bit.. I’m a Patient Advocate for Convatec! This involves speaking at patient events, giving my views on ostomy products, raising awareness and above all, working with the most fantastic team of superheroes! Take a look here and view their inspiring stories.. I’ll post more about that soon. 

Oh, I’m still reading and trying to get everyone else to read! What have you all been up to? What are you reading at the moment? Please leave a comment below and let me know! I feel I’ve been hiding from the world and it’s time to come back. If you sent any messages and emails, I’m sorry I didn’t reply. My head has been a mess and I’m just starting to tentatively engage with the world. 
Be nice, spread peace and eat cake,

The Gutless Ninja

P.S. if you could please raise awareness of IBD this week, that’d be fab. Please like my Facebook page (I’m not really active on other platforms at the moment) where I’ve shared lots of information. If it helps even ONE person then it’s worth it. ❤️

3am Thoughts: Anxiety and stuff

Assalamualaykum/hello wonderful readers 🙂

(Here’s a link to the About Me page if you’re new to the blog.. It explains a bit about who I am and why I blog)

I have this urge to write. I’m not entirely sure that’s a good thing at 3am, when I usually make very bad decisions. But this blog has been an outlet for so long and I need to get all this off my chest so this is as good a place as any.I haven’t planned this post so do forgive me for the jumbled paragraphs. I’m sure it all sounds better in my head!

I’ve been taking Sertraline for a couple of months. It’s an antidepressant and anti-anxiety drug. Also works for PTSD. I’d tried two other pills before but they gave me horrible side effects. This one is working much better Alhamdulillah. For ages, I was pretty embarrassed about this, avoided starting the medication because of the associated stigma. Then I took the plunge and actually started feeling so much better after a couple of weeks.

So how has it been? I’m mostly used to it now so I don’t notice any bad effects. At first, I was terribly drowsy and my jaw felt tightly clenched. I’m glad that’s eased, it wasn’t painful but it was really uncomfortable!
There was the usual (and probably expected) input from my family when I started these pills. They’re not seen as a good thing. Mental health isn’t widely understood. But now I think they’re coming around to the fact that the medication actually helped quite a lot. The bad dreams stopped. The panic attacks lessened. I was able to go out again.

So.. I was supposed to see my doctor in December to have the dose upped. Only I thought I was perfectly fine and there was no need. I’m smart like that. Clearly, I don’t learn. Here I am again, scared to sleep because I know I’ll have the awful nightmares. The worst thing is that the nightmares seem so real. All involving places I know well. I often wake up shaking and in tears.

And the anxiety has made a grand comeback. Yay. More panic attacks, sudden bouts of tears, feeling terrified.. It’s about as fun as it sounds. Currently, it feels like my heart is being squeezed. It’s not easy to breathe. But I’ve got to keep going, right? Because that’s what courage is.

I’m going to call my doctor on Monday and see what needs to be done. They’ll probably up the meds and offer counselling.. I’m not sure I want to go for that. It sounds like it might be helpful however my anxiety is pretty bad so I’d really struggle to talk to a stranger. The thought of it makes me feel sick with dread.

I’m listening to Qur’an everyday, focusing on the words and the meaning. I’m so blessed to be able to understand Alhamdulillah. It’s helping but this test is pretty difficult. I’m still struggling. It’s kind of hard to explain.. I know that I can’t control the way I feel (boy, that took me AGES to understand and accept!) so I try not to feel guilty. However, there’s this little voice telling me that I’m a terrible person because I really ought to be feeling better by now. There must be something really wrong with me if I’m not which quite obviously means that it’s my fault.
Confused? So am I. (Thought I’d list the weirdness in my head so I’m not the only confused one. 😀 I jest…)

On that note, I’m reminded about a conversation I had the other day. When someone is going through any form of mental illness, others will give them Duas/Surahs to read, tell them to pray harder. Which is a good thing. What gets me, however, is when it’s generally assumed that the person struggling with mental health issues must be very low in Imaan (faith). This isn’t always the case so PLEASE word your advice carefully.

If a person is still calling out to the Almighty whilst they’re in the depths of sadness and despair, when they feel hope slipping away, when they know that none besides Him can save them.. That is a beautiful thing. It shows strength and courage.

Telling someone who’s already struggling with a serious mental health issue that they just need to pray harder or do more can be highly detrimental.. It may even put them off completely. The best thing to do? Listen. Be there for them. Tell them you’ll make dua (prayer) for them. Ask how they’re feeling. In general, be supportive.
I keep reminding myself: ‘This too shall pass.’ Tests aren’t forever. There’s a reason for all of this even if I can’t see it right now. I posted this on the Facebook page earlier, I think it’s a beautiful Hadith.

SubhanAllah. I pray that Allah forgives my shortcomings.

This is really quite therapeutic.. I do feel slightly better after writing everything down. If anyone reading this is going through any hardship, please know you’re not alone. It may get worse before it gets better but you can and will get through it inshaAllah ❤

One final thing.. I’ve had a brilliant few days alhamdulillah for which I’m truly grateful. I managed to be productive and get things done. Reconnected with a few friends. Felt utterly calm. Honestly, it feels great! It had been a while. Each good day feels all the more beautiful because I know I need to cherish it. InshaAllah I’m hoping that once I get some sleep, it’ll be another fantastic day.

That’s it from me. If you want to keep up with my blog posts, pop your email into the ‘subscribe’ box on the right.

Oh and please forgive the typos (of which there’ll be many), I’m absolutely shattered and if I go back to edit now I won’t post this at all! Take care everyone. Have a great weekend 🙂