Hello 🙂 My name is Erika Squires. I am from somewhat of a smaller town in Kentucky and am currently pursuing a degree in Elementary Education. I love learning new things, spending time with loved ones, and connecting with new people. I have a passion for education and helping others. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in the spring of 2018. My journey with this disease, although hasn’t been long, has been messy to say the least. However, through all the obstacles that I have faced, my family and I continue to stay thankful for this wonderful life.
I share my story in hopes of educating others on a disease that is often not talked about. So many people live in constant fear and isolation due to IBD. My only goal through sharing my story is to help others understand that their diagnosis does not have to be the end, it can be the start of a beautiful, new beginning. 🙂
Since the day of my diagnosis, my life can easily be compared to a roller coaster. There have been ups and downs, twists and turns, and sometimes this life really does flip me upside down. However, I always leave each experience with a newfound understanding of myself and of life as a whole.
Because of Crohn’s Disease, I have learned that the little moments in life, the moments we so often take for granted, are the most precious ones. Before Crohn’s Disease, I lived life two paces ahead. I filled my schedule up until every line in my planner was written on. To me, if I wasn’t busy, I wasn’t useful– I wasn’t needed. Crohn’s Disease taught me that where I was, was exactly where I needed to be. The saying, “You never know what you got, until it’s gone” became all too real for me. My ability to do the simplest of things on my own: walk, talk, eat, bathe, etc. proved to be the most difficult tasks at times. I learned quickly to not take those everyday things for granted and to appreciate each day for what it is: a blessing.
Because of Crohn’s Disease, I have learned the importance of grace over perfection. Life is messy and is rarely ever perfect. Grace is something we all deserve, but rarely seem to give it to ourselves. Once I learned that simply just waking up and doing my best each day was enough, life became a lot less stressful and a whole lot more enjoyable. I have also learned how to love people exactly where they are and to appreciate them not for what they can do, but for who they are.
Because of Crohn’s Disease, I have learned that all bodies are beautiful pieces of art that have the power to tell incredible stories. I have learned to love my body and appreciate everything it has done and continues to do for me. At one time, no medication, treatment plan, or surgery seemed to make things any better, so I was convinced that my body had given up on me. Instead, it was doing quite the opposite. On the hardest days, when I felt like giving up, my body never did. It fought through the hardest days of my life, so I would be able to celebrate the best days.
To be honest, I could write a book on all the hard lessons that Crohn’s Disease has taught me. But through all of those hard lessons, I left each one feeling more grateful than ever before. Some people think I’m crazy when I talk about my illness as being a blessing. But, I couldn’t think of it to be anything less than that. Because of Crohn’s Disease, I do my best to live each day treating it as the special gift that it is. Life is crazy and it gets messy, but because of Crohn’s Disease I laugh a little louder, smile a little bigger, and love a whole lot sweeter.
Love, Erika 🙂
Erika is a 23 year old senior student at Lindsey Wilson College located in Columbia, Kentucky. She is currently taking up a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Communication. She is involved with a lot of different organizations on her campus and loves connecting with new people.
When she graduates, she will return to her hometown in hopes of obtaining a job at one of the local elementary schools. Erika was recently diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in late 2018. Her condition happened fast, and in less than a year with battling the disease her colon was removed resulting in a permanent ostomy bag. Despite the hardships and struggles that Crohn’s Disease has brought upon Erika and her family, she continues to be grateful for the wonderful life she lives. Her hope with joining Girls With Guts is to empower other women that battle these diseases everyday and to let them know that they are not alone and that their diagnosis is not the end.