Krystal Miller of Australia looks back at her teenage years as a troubling time.
"I barely finished [sophomore year] as I was so sick," she told BuzzFeed News. "I was sleeping 22 hours a day and was very skinny. I would often have accidents where I wouldn't make it to the toilet."
At age 15, Miller was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, an inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract. Symptoms include abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition.
By age 22, she had surgery. The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America says up to 75 percent of people with the disease will eventually have surgery in their lifetime. During the procedure, the doctors created a hole (called a stoma), removed part of her stomach and replaced it with a permanent external bag for eliminating waste called an ileostomy.
There is still some stigma for people with Miller's condition, even though a 2003 study found that more than 500,000 people in the U.S. have a stoma.
Miller, who is now 32 and a mother of two, wanted to get more public awareness for her condition. She created a Facebook page to show that life with an ileostomy is perfectly normal.
Known as the "Bag Lady Mama," Miller is constantly posting photos and stories on the page.
"Going public [with the ileostomy] was never an issue for me," Miller told Cosmopolitan. "I've always been an open book and naturally felt the need to promote awareness. No one knows you have a bag unless you tell them."
Her page has been well-received by thousands of readers. Several of her fans also have an ileostomy and are forever grateful for Miller's effort to show the normalcy in having one.
"Our scars and our ostomies are our battle wounds we should be wearing with pride," Miller told BuzzFeed News. "I believe these 'invisible' illnesses shouldn't be hidden and we need to talk about it more. There is no shame in having a bowel disease and/or an ostomy."
(H/T: BuzzFeed News)