Tell us a bit about yourself
Hi! I’m Lauren and I’m a 23-year-old living with ulcerative colitis. My passions align with anything related to food and nutrition which is why it bring me so much joy to say I am an Accredited Practicing Dietitian. I love delving into and investigating the links between diet and disease while I further enjoy helping my patients in both a clinical and corporate health setting. Besides the nutrition side, in my spare time I like to experiment in the kitchen and bake delicious sweets as well as cooking up a feast for my family and loved ones.
When were you first diagnosed with IBD?
I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis when I was 8 years old. This year marks my 15-year anniversary with IBD!
How did you react?
As I was so young, I honestly didn’t really know what it meant. It obviously wasn’t until I was older when I started to understand and realise I had this new IBD friend that was going to accompany me along my life. However at the time of diagnosis my reaction was actually positive and somewhat relieved as I had been severely unwell pre-diagnosis. This meant that my diagnosis of IBD could now establish ways to help me feel better while also lead me onto my path of recovery.
Tell us about the St Kilda support group that you facilitate
My St Kilda support group is AMAZING. We meet up every second Tuesday of the month and pretty much talk about everything from sharing our experiences of living with IBD to supporting others along journeys that many of us have previously been through. We are always able to have a good laugh while also being able to show each other compassion and listen to each other’s stories and pathways of living with IBD. When not in our support group sessions, our group chat is consistently buzzing off as we are always committed to helping and supporting each other along our lives of living with IBD.
When and how did you get involved?
I started facilitating the St Kilda support group in 2021. I initially stumbled upon the support group when I was seeking support for myself with Crohns and Colitis Australia. I was member of the support group for four months before the opportunity arose for a new support group facilitator. I obviously jumped on to it as I highly valued the support group sessions and really wanted to continue to be a part of supporting others.
What are the main benefits of these sorts of groups?
These support groups offer an opportunity for individuals who have gone through similar experiences to connect. It can often be difficult to talk to others that simply have not gone through a similar experience such as living with a chronic disease. In our support group meetings, your voice can be heard and acknowledged. Support groups are very motivating and encouraging as well as being a great opportunity to learn.