On Jan. 19, Seven Bridges, a 10-year-old boy from Kentucky, died by suicide after reportedly being bullied for his chronic bowel condition and colostomy. Bridges’ colostomy bag was removed as he got older. However, the site continued to leak waste, resulting in bullying. In solidarity with Seven, and to show support for everyone with ostomies, people are now sharing photos of their own ostomy bags on Instagram with the hashtag #BagsOutforSeven.
The hashtag was started by an Instagram user named Stephanie who goes by lapetitecrohnie and lives with Crohn’s disease and a permanent ileostomy. She shared a photo of her own ileostomy bag on Wednesday, on which she had written, “#bagsoutforSeven.”
“I was 14-years-old when I had an emergency surgery that resulted in a colostomy, It was devastating for me,” Stephanie explained in the caption. She continued:
I didn’t know anyone else my age [with] Crohn’s, let alone an ostomy. I thought my life was over. I was ashamed of my body and I was terrified people would find out about my appliance. For years I hid it as much as I could and whenever word got out about it (usually from some asshole ex-boyfriend) I would have an emotional break-down. There were many times I thought about ending my life, I was depressed and felt like I was doomed to live a miserable existence. Over the years I learned to accept my bag and the new life it had given me. Now I proudly show my body for the world to see in hopes that it will maybe help just one person not feel so alone.
Though people may struggle with teasing or body image issues at any age, these issues tend to feel magnified during childhood and teenage years. When you add any type of illness, disability or physical difference into the mix, it can add an extra layer of difficulty.
Stephanie said her “heart broke” when she read about Bridges’ death.
“To my ostomy friends,” she wrote, “I propose that in solidarity we proudly share pictures of our bags. Let’s share them for Seven.”
Many of those with ostomies quickly joined the movement to spread messages of love, support and body acceptance.
f your body has gone through changes due to illness, know you’re not alone.
Stephanie told The Mighty that what helped her the most in accepting her body and ileostomy bag was reaching out to others and finding a community. “It helped me realize that I wasn’t alone and I was able to get a lot of tips and advice from other ostomates,” she said.
When she feels down about her body, Stephanie said she reminds herself of everything she has overcome, and everything her ostomy symbolizes.