Clutching my stomach in agony, I sank to the floor. I was only 10 years old at the time, but my belly cramps were so bad I'd often have to sit down until the pain passed.
'Are you trying to get out of school?' my mum Diane, 53, asked sceptically.
I didn't blame her for thinking I was acting up. Despite countless visits to doctors, no-one could figure out what was wrong.
For the next decade I battled on with pain so severe it often felt like I was trying to squeeze solid concrete through my intestines!
As a teenager I was terrified of straying too far from a toilet and because I couldn't keep food in for very long, my weight plummeted to just 44 kilos.
But despite my fragile figure, my stomach was always bloated and I often looked pregnant.
Graduating from high school, I joined the air force. For a while, I managed to live a normal life.
Then when I was 22, I rushed to the bathroom with what I thought was another bought of diarrhoea.
Looking down into the bowl, I noticed it was filled with blood. I nearly fainted with shock!
When it happened again a few days later I went for tests. Waking from a colonoscopy, doctors told me they had removed a 33cm polyp - an abnormal growth - and suspected I had an inflammatory condition of the colon called ulcerative colitis (UC).
Visiting a gastroenterlogist, I underwent a second colonoscopy. Another 24cm polyp was removed and my diagnosis was confirmed. I was relieved to finally have an answer.
While there's no cure for UC, doctors are hopeful that reducing my fructose intake will help ease my symptoms.
I'm still in pain most days but I'm determined to stay positive. That's why I'm sharing my story to raise awareness about this condition. It's nothing to be ashamed of and I'll keep pushing for a cure.
Originally published in that's life! issue 41 2015, cover date 15 October 2015.
-Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes long-term inflammation and ulcers in the colon.
-Symptoms include constant diarrhoea mixed with blood, abdominal pain and feelings of extreme fatigue.
-There is no known cure, although those affected can often go for long periods with little to no symptoms.