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Girls With Guts Retreat, 2016

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This organization will change your life more than anywhere else and these people understand. This is family. These are the people you're supposed to be with and these are the people that you're supposed to share your story with. They get it. And you don't have to explain or pretend or be anything other than who you are. It's just an amazing, amazing opportunity. I lost everyone because I was so sick. And, you know, I just remember having months where if I made it to class that was good enough. But on the other hand I also look at who I am as a person now and I know there are probably some people here who are going to hate me for saying this but like If I could go back to when I was diagnosed and check yes IBD or no IBD I would probably still out of pure insanity check yes. Because for all the shit it's put me through I am a better person because of it. I have so much more compassion. I am so much stronger. Everything that I have done I know I have done against all odds. When I graduated I was like, "I did that." And instead of like this I had people tagging all over the neighborhood "Melissa has a shitbag." And my mom, I love her, she went around with sharpies and crossed it all out. But for me to have to deal with that at 15-16 years old, it made me so freaking strong that I feel like nothing can get to me now. Like if you have that tagged on walls at 16, nothing can hurt you. I don't know how I got through the "shitbag" years without this because if I had this it probably would have been a lot easier. One of the reasons we're all here this weekend is to show each other compassion and have compassion shown to us that most people outside of our community don't necessarily have... Not because they don't want to, but because it's different. They can't understand it the same way. Most of your friends probably don't have weekends like this. They do not have Retreats. So there's all of these things that we have that those people just don't have. They can't have. They don't have these friendships with someone who can understand you so purely. So I am going to read something and if it applies to you I would like you to take a step forward. If this is the first time at this Retreat take a step forward. Because of IBD I have cancelled plans. Because of IBD I have suffered with anxiety. I have lost a friend of relationship. And because of IBD I have become a true girl with guts. You are among people who have gone through very similar things if not the same thing that you have. A lot of people struggle with all these different conditions, all different kinds of stuff. And that together you can be stronger. And that that's what this weekend is all about. We're here to lift each other up and to be ourselves. We don't have to explain our illnesses to people here. You can just be yourself. You know one of the things I've gained from it (IBD) is I feel like I have become much more of a detail oriented person. Because I feel like everything that we do requires so much planning and forethought. Like okay we're going to go camping. Where are the bathrooms? How far are the bathrooms? What am I going to eat? What can I pack that I can eat? I feel like I have an understanding of the bigger picture sometimes because we have to think through all of those possible options. We are going to be making Kintsugi bowls. Has anyone ever done this before? Alright, awesome. So Kintsugi is an ancient Japanese art form where you take different pieces of pottery and you build them back together. And basically it resembles that you can be a beautiful piece of pottery but you can shatter and break which is something that most of us can probably relate to at some point in our lives. The glue also bonds the pieces together so that they are stronger than the bowl was originally. Life is always something. One thing that it's taught me (IBD) because of my IBD is that I have determination, I have tenacity, I'm independent, I'm strong. And I'm gonna finish this no matter what because of everything that I've dealt with. So thank you so much for having me. My name is Neilanjan Nandi. Everybody calls me Neil or just, "hey you." I am from Philadelphia, which has been my home for the last 11 years pretty much. But I'm from all over the country I can give you my bio data later. And this lecture I've been telling all of my colleagues and all my friends and family and I've been so excited to come here because it's a big honor. It's a unique type of lecture. It's about sexuality and intimacy in IBD. And this is a very, very important area that doctors and other health care professionals don't always address. We are literally fighting our bodies. Our bodies are fighting us. And it feels really good to not really be at war to accept ourselves and to feel joy being in our bodies. So thats one thing I love about Zumba. *Music* I've been working since I was, you know, 12 about straight through until a couple years after my diagnosis I got so sick that I couldn't physically be up and about and working everyday. And I feel bad asking my parents for money because I know they're trying to retire and they're trying to save money for that and I feel bad taking money away from that just to feed myself. But I do have to remember that they've stepped up and been my support system and said well okay, this is what has to happen right now. I've been with Girls With Guts for two years now and its like honestly saved my life because there have been times where I'm like, "what's the point?" That's why I'm so involved with GWG and the CCFA because I'm trying so hard to help with the community to like figure out how we're going to deal with this. I think someone said earlier it's not just a pooping disease. It's like a physical, emotional, like body imagine physical and I'm trying to make people aware that just because we look one way we're totally dealing with head to toe issues. We can't do this if people don't come to it. And everybody who comes brings something really special and unique. And each one of you make the weekend important. So the goal of the weekend is to have you all find that person, those people. We want you to build your own support networks and we hope that it started here. It's just been really wonderful to watch you guys grow, evolve, work together. And whatever setback or changes you make, you guys bounce back. And you really do put your heart into it. And I see it every year and I really appreciate that and I'm glad I get to come back every year and witness it. Cheers to that. You are tough, you're Girls With Guts.

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Duration: 8 minutes and 17 seconds
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Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
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Posted by: ibdgirls on Feb 13, 2017

The Girls With Guts Retreat is a weekend-long event providing opportunities for women aged 18+ with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and/or ostomies to foster friendships and learn ways to improve their lives emotionally, mentally, and physically. Girls With Guts recognizes the importance of surrounding one's self with supportive, positive, and encouraging individuals who inspire each other to move into the future with heads held high, free of any shame previously associated with the disease.
This years retreat was held at Trout Lake Retreat Center in Stroudsburg, PA, on September 30th-October 3rd, 2016.

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