1. “I’m a Slave 4 U” by Britney Spears
It wasn’t until the video for this song came up on a YouTube playlist I was jamming out to in my office that I realized Britney Spears and I probably have a lot more in common than I thought. When I heard the chorus, “I’m a slave for you, I cannot hold it, I cannot control it,” and saw Britney dancing around with her hand on her stomach and wiggling her behind, I immediately recognized it as colitis flare. I also have to send my girl Britney props for her ingenious way of hiding that shart stain by wearing the extra pair of “just in case” panties we all keep in our purses on the outside of her pants.
2. “Just Like a Pill” by P!nk
Recently, my therapist and I have been working through my medical PTSD and my anxiety in taking new medications and allowing surgeons to continue to operate on me. When I heard the chorus, “’Stead of makin’ me better, you keep makin’ me ill; you keep makin’ me ill,” it occurred to me that P!nk had probably just left her G.I.’s office with a free sample of Linzess and was currently on the floor of the gas station bathroom having the most painful and largest bowel cleanse of her life. It also occurred to me that we probably have the same G.I. when she declared, “I tried to call the nurse again but she’s being a little b@&%#.” Homegirl knows the struggle is real when it comes to access to healthcare in America.
3. “Bleed It Out” by Linkin Park
When I first heard this song I instantly felt Chester’s pain and suffering. Listening to the lyrics it’s obvious this song is about a person who is in a critical mental state. The more times I listen to this song, the more I realize this is my story and probably yours too. I spent years and years in the bathroom having painful bowel movements and bleeding so much I’m sure if a forensic team sprayed Luminol throughout my bathroom they would be convinced a murder took place there. The pain and agony in Chester’s voice when he sings the lyrics, “I bleed it out, digging deeper just to throw it away,” completely resonates with me, especially when he howls out that he “bled himself out and nobody cares.” It took years of misdiagnoses and medications with horrible side effects to finally find the right doctor with the right diagnosis and the right treatment plan. And then, when the answer was to undergo surgery to place a colostomy, I fell to my all time low where I truly felt I would rather die. I am forever grateful for Chester for putting my feelings into words on so many occasions when I couldn’t.
4. “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” by Taylor Swift
At this point, I’m pretty sure Taylor and I are probably long-lost twins. Since the release of her first single we have been through everything together — puberty, high school, relationships and apparently IBD. Having originally thought this was a song about a pretty difficult breakup, it’s now obvious it’s about her decision to get a permanent ostomy. Totally makes sense now why she likes those high waisted shorts — bag, what bag?
5. “Battle Scars” by Guy Sebastian and Lupe Fiasco
Disguised as a song about a love that didn’t last, I can’t help but wonder if this is a song about an IBD patient and their relationship with their body. This song both reflects the mental health struggles that go along with chronic illness and the days when we feel the courage and strength to be warriors. We also have those days when we look at our stomachs in the mirror and cry silently to ourselves how “these battle scars, don’t look like they’re fading, don’t look like they’re ever going away, they ain’t never going to change.” And then there are the days when we find a safe space to be our true selves, like “Girls With Guts,” where we meet others on the same journey and find love, support and encouragement. We can finally, if only for a moment here and there, stand in front of the mirror and sing out with joy that we will “never let a wound ruin me.”