Living with Crohn’s is no walk in the park, and sometimes it can seem hard to separate yourself from your condition. But this disease doesn’t define you. With the right attitude and knowledge, you can live a passionate and exciting life.

Need more proof? Just read these inspiring stories from real people living with Crohn’s who are making a difference by being vocal, being smart, and most importantly, being true to who they are.

Dallas Rae, 24 - Diagnosed in 2002

Dallas Rae

I wish I had a magic trick that made this disease better, but I don’t. The biggest thing for me is keeping a positive mind. Being negative, even in the worst situations, never helps anyone.I have a unique case where I’ll have complete remission for years then flare severely for months and months. It’s made me live in the idea that tomorrow isn’t promised. You have to live every day to the fullest and take all of the opportunities.

Aaron Blocker, 25 - Diagnosed in 2009

Living with Crohn’s isn’t easy, but it’s possible to live a good life and do some awesome things. I have a beautiful wife, finished a master’s degree, and advocate for the disease. Every day we are getting better at managing the disease. More research is being put into IBD than ever before, and that’s encouraging. The best advice I received is that you can either let this situation make you bitter or let it make you better. Because of Crohn’s, I try to live life to the fullest and take advantage of days I feel healthy enough to do something. I also feel like it has made me more appreciative of the people in my life who support me, and I have seen and felt the immense love from those around me.

Tammy Williams, 49 - Diagnosed in 2009

You are not your disease. You may have a chronic condition, but it does not own you. Find your new normal and ways to work around the inconveniences of having Crohn’s disease. For example, I travel the country in a motorhome, where I always have a toilet with me. Soon after my diagnosis, I was in remission for many years. I almost forgot I had the disease! In 2009, my condition dramatically worsened, and several drugs lost their effectiveness, including steroids. I had no choice but to stop practicing law in 2015, as Crohn’s prevented me from being in the courtroom, among other things. I am thankful that thus far I’ve had no hospitalizations or surgeries.

Alexa Federico, 23 - Diagnosed in 2006

Try, try, try again and be open-minded. There are many options when it comes to treating Crohn’s. Medications, as well as natural treatments, have different levels of effectiveness for different people. Just keep an open mind and try what resonates with you. With the impacts of the disease aside, Crohn’s has changed my life for the better. My IBD diagnosis got me interested in real food and opened my eyes to what nutrition truly means and has led me down a career path. I cherish the little things like having lots of energy, hobbies, and overall I have a positive outlook on life.

LOIS Mills, 25 - Diagnosed in 2015

If you’re suffering from Crohn’s, you are not alone. When I was diagnosed, I knew nothing about the disease or where to turn. I struggled to find people who related and it was isolating. Since I started Gut Instinct, I’ve discovered the online Crohn’s communities that are out there. I have met some amazing people, and we all come together to support and love one another. Having Crohn’s has given me the drive to create an online voice for spreading awareness. There will always be ups and downs. It’s about learning to deal with things in a way that makes life as manageable and positive as it can be.

Maggie Baldwin, 24 - Diagnosed in 2004

Look for the positive in your disease — which is hard. At first, I felt alone. No one else had to take medicines or have surgery. That is why I made a YouTube channel. Through it, I have met people from all over the world that have Crohn’s. When I was first diagnosed, my only thoughts were to get into remission and to have no pain. My focus shifted on living my life with quality. When I was given an ostomy bag, I tried to learn as much about it to improve my quality of life. I realized I enjoyed teaching others about caring for themselves, and that is why I became a nurse.

Paige Calvert, 26 - Diagnosed in 2005

Always listen to your body and don’t feel bad if you have to take some time out on bad days. Think of life’s simple pleasures and have a dream to work towards on those days. Through my teenage years, I experienced a lot of pain, and that affected me. I had a big operation at 15 and went on to have a remission for just under seven years. It taught me to value every aspect of life and to work harder on days when am well. I am so happy with where I’ve managed to get to in my career, blog, and life, even with the struggle of this condition. Work hard when well and never give up your dreams.

Thaila Skye, 31 - Diagnosed in 2010

Don’t feel as though you’re alone. There are many people out there who can support you. I have certainly appreciated the little things in life more. To focus on the happy moments and try not to linger on the sad moments. Since my ostomy surgery, I’ve felt so much more confident than I ever did, and I feel like I respect my body a lot more.

Justin Lane, 30 - Diagnosed in 2016

Crohn's isn't a hindrance, but a lifestyle change. You can adapt and thrive. I've had to change my diet and my social life to some degree, but it hasn't stopped me from doing anything I enjoy. Talk with your friends and family about Crohn's, so they're aware of what the disease is and what to expect from you. I believe that the disease can be managed and conquered by making the necessary lifestyle changes and embracing medical procedures.