Being 19 is both fun and difficult at once. You usually have little responsibility, but you also often suffer from insecurities as you learn to get to know and love yourself.
Still, if I were to compare my teenage years to 19-year-old Aimee Rouski's, I'd have to say that I had it pretty easy.
But while Aimee outwardly appears as ordinary as any other 19-year-old, one major factor sets her apart: she suffers from Crohn's disease.
Aimee has long hidden her secret beneath her clothes, concealing all signs of her illness.
Crohn's is a gastrointestinal illness that can cause many symptoms. Some get stomach aches and diarrhea while others have much more serious problems.
In Aimee's case, the disease has almost cost her her life. At 15, doctors had to surgically remove both her colon and rectum, leading her to be forced to live with an ileostomy.
Her lack of a small intestine and rectum means she requires an opening in her abdomen from which her stool may exit into a bag.
This operation entailed removing muscle tissue from her thighs - which resulted in large scars on the inside of both her thighs.
Aimee has accepted her illness and all that it entails, but she knows there are many who do not. She's aware, that just like her, many continue to try to conceal their condition, feeling embarassed or ashamed.
Now she wants to draw attention to the problems of Crohn disease, in order to help more people speak out about their illness. She took to her Facebook page:
"No one will know unless you tell them. People who know will still love you and still find you beautiful. Your illness is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about."
Aimee explains that the ostomy bag has never bothered her much because she knows it makes her feel much better and improves her quality of life overall. Everyone close to her knows about her bag, and she is ashamed to have it anymore.
Aimee's passionate Facebook post has been shared over 20,000 times and she is very happy about the positive feedback she received.
"I've received several messages from people who say that I've educated them, inspired them, given them better self-esteem and that they learned to accept themselves a bit more, which is wonderful to hear."
See Aimee's original Facebook post below:
I think Aimee is incredibly strong and brave to share her story so publically. Help us to share Aimee's important message so that others don't have to be ashamed of whatever illness they may be suffering from. Thank you for your courage, Aimee!