Love Yourself

So Bad Ass came into being as a website and blog about Inflammatory Bowel Disease and specifically my journey with Ulcerative Colitis and living with a stoma.  Over the past year it has become so much more than that, my journey has taken a different path and I have been inspired to talk more about self esteem, body image and loving yourself.

My name is Sam Cleasby and Im a photographer, writer and public speaker, I am passionate about positivity, I want to teach folk how to love themselves and to see that no matter your size, shape, ability, illness, you are so bad ass.

I believe in looking for that silver lining every day, in laughing, singing and being a giddy goat whenever possible.  I think that mindfulness and appreciation for the things we have, rather than the things we don’t yet have are vital to happiness.  That we need to make time for happiness in our day to day lives.

stoma ileostomy body image photo shoot woman beauty

I write, I work with teenagers on issues surrounding self esteem and body image and Im a public speaker, I believe in shouting loud and trying to make a difference. Get in touch to discuss more.

This is about loving yourself.  Being happy. And being So Bad Ass.

Take a look at my blog page for news and articles.

Follow me on Facebook twitter as well as Instagram and YouTube.

Sam xxx


47 thoughts on “Love Yourself

  1. Wow, I hear everything you say, every emotion you went through echoed mine through my first surgery, I now have a j pouch. Although I could never express it the same way. Brilliant x


  2. Hi Sam, firstly may I congratulate you on your inspirational and emotional talk for international women’s day. I certainly shed a few tears and laughs during it.

    Normally I wouldn’t contact you in this way, a way in which other people could read my comments. However, you have given me the strength to do so.

    I don’t have a stoma, I haven’t been through what you’ve been through recently. I have however have struggled with depression for many years. This depression has escalated from personal issues I had as a child. I have become a bit of a recluse over many years – I don’t have many friends (I really don’t like to be a burden) and live not too far from you, in fact both my children have gone to Anston park schools like yours have.

    I have seen you in passing and even spoken to you very briefly with a mutual friend. I didn’t however, know about your health. Well why would I?!

    I constantly have issues with my body, my appearance, and how other people view me. All of which are impacting on my mental health.

    Last year I had an operation to remove my fallopian tubes. I was initially only having one taken but they decided to take both! Fantastic. Hormonal changes within my body haven’t helped with my depression.

    Fortunately for me the open surgery was done through my Caesarian scar from when I had my second child. However it didn’t help me feeling less than myself and I have to admit (reluctantly)that I still feel that way.

    Your positivity and love for yourself has made me realise that I need to do that also. I just wanted to say thank you for creating ‘so badass’. It has made me realise that there is much more to life in order to make ourselves happy.

    You really are truly inspirational. The next time I see you I’ll introduce myself. But not in a stalking way!!!!

    Della x

    PS I live by fictional characters quotes too! But generally Yoda is my favourite! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am
    An ostomate who has an accessory,
    Hidden from fashion.
    My bag holds items beyond currency.

    I can’t realise the old me anymore.
    I am new.

    Let us use indispensible words
    As fine fabrics, across
    The web.

    Let us see you dance,
    Wearing yours like a sporran,
    For all to see.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your story is so similar to mine, it’s scary! I had emergency surgery at the end of February this year and was so tired of feeling ill that I thoroughly welcomed it. However, since then I’ve become less enthusiastic about my ileostomy and my self esteem is at an all time low. It’s probably not been helped by the fact that my skin has reacted badly to some bags and I’ve now got contact dermatitis all over, including my face. I’ve never thought I was vain before but I clearly am. Your blog 3 weeks post surgery describes exactly how I feel now, how did you pull yourself round? I feel worse now 6 months down the line than I did 6 weeks post surgery 😦


  5. Your story is so similar to mine it’s scary! I had my surgery at the end of February this year but somehow my self esteem seems to be getting worse instead of better. Even though my surgery was emergency, I was so poorly I was thoroughly looking forward to having a stoma and that entailed. 7 months or so on and I feel exactly how you described in your blog 3 weeks post surgery. I would love to know how you pulled yourself out of that spiral because I feel like those feelings are getting worse each day. It probably doesn’t help that I had a reaction to the adhesive on one of the ileostomy bags I was using and I got contact dermatitis which I’ve not been able to get under control yet. It’s all over my body but especially on my face. I would never have described myself as vain before but obviously I must be because I hate the way I am. I thought surgery would be the miracle cure but I think I preferred the invisibility of the colitis before. Now I just think everyone looks at me with a degree of pity. Today is a bad day. Tomorrow will hopefully be better.


  6. Hi Sam, I’ve just been listening to you on radio Sheffield and think your a true inspiration to someone who got diagnosed earlier this year!
    Your pictures are truly fabulous!!
    x x


  7. Thanks Sam. Diagnosed with Crohns 3 weeks ago and still waiting for follow up appt. Do not know what Im doing but I fell apon your blog on FB and your words are helping.


  8. Great job Sam. It is a beautiful life you are living but you are not living for yourself. You are living to help others live happily and beautifully. This is altruistic and very rare. Keep it up!


  9. Your an amazing woman! My dad had bowel cancer when I was nine and now has a bag on his stomach and has had his intestine removed. I have grown up with my father dealing with this every day so I know it takes strength to be able to get on with daily life especially with children like you do.


  10. i have i.b.s. and no one understands what it’s like unless you have it or something similar when i need to go it’s so bad i will get over a gate in a field i lost a job through it yet people see you walking around and i can lip read what they are saying maybe we should all wear a badge saying “WARNING SHIT MAY EXPLODE AT ANY MINUTE” lol


  11. Fantastic speech Sam! I am currently having investigative procedures and am looking at my body as a force to be reckoned with. My hysterectomy scar reminds me of how strong my body is. You are an inspiration xxx


  12. Thankyou for the open letter an blog .Will follow you on F B .Being lucky enough to had colostomy reversed I understand everything you said .Your an inspiration Keep it up


  13. I want to thank you for being so brave.
    I read your letter about the disabled toliet and felt like I had to contact you.
    Members of my family suffer from various stomach diseases and i used to suffer badly with ibs, though I’ve reduced it now.
    You describe how it feels and you’re brave enough to show the world, so thank you.
    I’m proud of you


  14. Read your article thanks for writing that, its really great to see something witty,
    funny,descriptive about the daily life and rubbish situations that can happen,
    people can be really thick.
    So glad you are well, look great honey, stay as well as possible, stay funny and witty
    and love all the people that love you, the rest don’t matter.
    Thanks again, loved the article which led me to your website.
    Have had gut problems all my life, get really sick of it at times,
    but life goes on, I used to like sex, eating having fun,but I’m definitely not ready for the alternatives just yet.
    I’m an old girl now age 63 with MS and kidney disease and microscopic collitis, that occurs in people with immune cinditions. I’m trying to keep walking and keeping as well and active as possibke.
    My kids are adults and I’m still embarrrassed re accidents etc with family and
    avoid situations I don’t feel able to manage, I’m selective about who I trust with the
    information, I trust my ex, he helped a lot, but intimate trust was unusual for me.

    My biggest problem at the moment is the only medication that has helped Lomotil won’t be available in the UK till Dec 2015. If anyone knows anywhere that has it I will travel. I’m desperate, I’ve just bought some from a Chinese supplier and hoping they will work but as my pharmacist said its a risk.

    Your article was fantastic and I’m looking forward to reading your blog


  15. I just read a story in our Aussie News that you came back with a reply of someone knocking you of using a disabled toilet……I say, ” Well Done “…..I have no medical conditions and when you have to go to the toilet and the male toilet is full, Then I will use the disabled toilet…..Its either that or a accident in my pants !!..All The Very Best 🙂


  16. I know exactly how you feel. I suffer from IBS, multiple chemical sensitivities, and a range of other disabilities, for which I receive the pension. I am especially sensitive to perfume and chemicals, so I have on occasion had to use the disabled toilet, which, as you have noted, gets cleaned less often (and thus has less chemicals) and so is less allergy-causing to me. I also often have a large shopping trolley in tow, since I can’t drive due to my disability and therefore can’t put my shopping in the car while I complete everything I need to do at the mall. You can’t leave your trolley parked outside the toilets–people will steal your things!–and the only loo large enough to accommodate the trolley is (you guessed it) the disabled toilet. But on one occasion, as I emerged from the loo, I was given a lecture and a whole lot of insults from a lady who was with someone in a wheelchair, who had been forced to stand there AN ENTIRE HALF A MINUTE waiting for me to finish! She was able bodied, and standing for half a minute wasn’t hard on her, and yet, she was entirely sure I wasn’t disabled and deserved to cop a large, loud round of abuse and ranting for wasting her precious half a minute of time (and for the record, her abusing me took a lot more time to do than waiting had, so it was clear the person in the chair wasn’t in a hurry to use the toilet, or there wouldn’t have been such time wasting). She was in such a rush to insult me, she didn’t pause to ask if I had a disability at all, or a good reason for using that toilet. Flustered, I actually apologised for making her wait and walked away as quickly and peacefully as I could. But in retrospect, I kind of wish I’d fired back at her with both cylinders and given her a lecture in return about respecting others and not jumping to conclusions about ability or disability based on appearances.


  17. Hi Sam,
    Great name, my granddaughter is Samantha.
    Read your story in our Aussie news, wow, you are a great woman. Bought back a few memories for me as well.
    One being, had to go to a public toilet, kneeling down in front of the bowl to empty my bag, the door had a two foot gap at the bottom, so my feet were poking out, comments I got were not to be mentioned here.
    Also, not sure about your shires cleaning the toilets, but ours usually use a hose, floor is always wet and causes embarrassment’s with wet pants around the knee area.
    Keep up the good work Sam 🙂


  18. I myself don’t have a colostomy bag how ever I no people that do, I am inspired by you and being honest and standing up for all the people out there who get judged every day for the same reasons, your an amazing person keep it up


  19. I love this blog, my dad has a colostomy bag, which he had for the past 10 years, he’s almost 80 now and gets very forgetful, so for me this is a lot of washing of bedding and clothes, bless him, he just forgets to change it now. I’m in the process of trying to get a nurse to visit to help him, I’ve found it a hard process this past few months trying to deal with it, just because, that’s my dad and I just hate to see him getting in such a tangle. You’ve made me realise I needed to take a step back and remember as hard as it is for me, it’s 100 times harder for him, thank you for that… go you, you’re an inspiration… 🙂


  20. hallo, Samantha, you are right, public ought to know and be more considerate. yet one cannot fight ignorance. i have been using toilet for disabled for years out of necessity. only once protest from someone who did not know any better. be blessed and encouraged. inge


  21. Sam,
    Brilliant piece.

    I have Crohns, luckily all the drugs are keeping it well under control, so I have never had an issue with rushing to the bogs!!!
    When I am struggling, which luckily hasn’t been the case now for a number of years, people didn’t understand, ‘ Oh what’s up, you got a bit of stomach ache’ in a sarcastic tone.

    A Bit???, swap you for a few hours, you try it!!

    At the moment I don’t have the need to use a disabled toilet, I don’t consider myself or look at myself in that way, but the condition will at some stage get worse, will I then use my right… Dead Right Love.

    Keep going and keep fighting.


  22. From a Sister that has one kidney I want to say a big thank you!!!
    For the few that understand the bodily function, the pain, the embarrassment and the total frustration. Many a time I have been given the looks, the comments and the lack of compassion.
    I am a 47 year old white lady with dreadlocks going into a disabled toilet, not sure what they think I would be doing???? I always check if there is someone in more need than me if not I go in…If anyone stares at me which they do. My only comment is I have one kidney, I need a wee and move aside, of course done with a bright vocal tone & big smile. By the time they have recovered I have already washed my hands. You are an inspiration Sam, thank you again for taking a stand. You Rock!! Kind Regards FAB from Sydney Australia.


  23. Sam, I saw you on BBC Breakfast this morning. Well done for giving this issue so much publicity. I have suffered from irritable bowel syndrome for many years, and given that this physical impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on my ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, it qualifies as a disability under Section 6 of the Equality Act 2010. I urge others to quote this useful legislation in order to address and eliminate discrimination. Sufferers of bowel-related invisible disabilities have various reasons for needing to use disabled loos. In my case and many others’ cases too, I need a source of water that I can use to wash myself before putting my clothes back on. Usually this will be a basin, but a bidet would be much better. Also privacy, not only visually, but audibly is highly desirable by those with bowel-related disabilities. Perhaps you could start a campaign for all loos, both in workplaces and in public places, to be proper self-contained rooms containing basins and even bidets so that we can attend to our disabilities in a dignified and private manner. Anyone who has visited Japan will have noticed that many public loos have built-in bidets or washlets. There is no reason why the same could not be done in other countries such as the UK. Businesses already spend huge amounts on accommodating those with mobility-related disabilities, and it is high time that those with bowel-related disabilities enjoyed the same fair treatment. Just because a disability is invisible, it doesn’t mean that it should be ignored.


  24. I saw your article on breakfast tv this morning and completely understand the issues you have experienced. I had ulcerated colitis 10 years ago which resulted in a total colectomy and now have a colostomy bag. I have been glared at and been on the receiving end of comments about using the disable toilet facilities for many years. On one occasion whilst at IKEA I was using the disable toilet and the door was constantly being knocked and the handle tried which was making me feel really frustrated and annoyed, when I came out I came face to face with a lady with another lady in a wheelchair, who looked directly at me and said ‘these are for disable people not you’. I done no more but lifted up my t-shirt in front of her and said is this disabled enough!! She was very embarrassed and apologised but she should not have put me in this position. I do not regret my actions and would do it again, people need to be made aware that a disability is not always visible. Congratulations for speaking up and making people aware, you have my support


  25. I have just seen your open letter in an article in FeMail. I hope that all those that have ever tutted, stared, glared and muttered negative comments read it and finish it with a little more compassion and understanding of invisible disabilities. Living with a disability shouldn’t be made harder by uneducated strangers and good on you for speaking out.


  26. Hi Sam It is so easy for these idiots to judge without knowing peoples circumstances I have had a similar problem after prostate cancer which left me incontinent for some time but getting over it now thank God, your condition is more serious than mine and I sincerely hope you never have to put up with people like that again and if possible it might improve, I hope so God bless you. Terry


  27. Hi Sam, Thank you for that BBC breakfast interview, I Have a similar dilapidated illness which stems over 30 years ago when Wheat Intolerance was not well known, well after numerous Operations on My Stomach & Bowel Luckily i have not had to have a Colostomy, But i have been left with the Condition of a Gasrtro-Colic Intestinal Fistula i was advised my by Surgeons to have to live with this, if they had to operate again (even if i did have to have a Colostomy) My mortality whould be not very good, they (doctors) said i could die on the Operating table,plus my Abdominal scars resemble a ravaged battle field any way life is good, But i have the same stigma, I have bouts of severe Colic pain,and all the symptoms of Crohn’s & Colitis, I have a Blue Disabled Badge,and Carry a “Cant Wait Card” supplied by the Collitis Society, and a RADAR key to use in Disabled toilets, but i can walk and run for the Toilets like everyone else, but it is this Stigma & that people that comment behind your back that really annoy me, and i Have Stickers on my Car with the saying”Not all Disabilities are visible”, anyway i good go on forever keep up the good work.


  28. Sam, your blog is very informative. I do not suffer from this disease, but I recently got involved with the CCFA Team Challenge here in San Diego. I’m running the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon in November 2015 to support Crohn’s & Colitis. I’d LOVE your assistance (and your audience) in helping me reach my fundraising goal. Please view/share my personal page. Good luck on your journey and I’ll continue to keep reading.

    ❤ Christine


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