How IBS Changed My Life
Having IBS has changed my life. A lot. I'm not just talking about the inability to go on a trip with friends or the anxiety that surrounds anything requiring me to leave the house. As a matter of fact, my life would be entirely different if I hadn't gotten IBS. I'm perfectly sure of that.
IBS made me move
My IBS journey started while I was living in Paris. Paris, the city of love. Or, more accurately, the city that makes it impossible to get anywhere in under an hour and requires you to spend a long time in stuffy metros. With no bathroom in sight.
Living in Paris as an IBS sufferer made me miserable. Every day, I panicked about how I would get to work. The journey took 1.5 hours, and I always felt like dying while sitting on the train. Of course, this anxiety usually caused a flare when I got to work. It was terrible. I refused to go anywhere on the weekends because I couldn't deal with the incessant stress anymore.
After a while, I told my partner that we HAD to move. The situation put a massive strain on my mental health, my ability to work, our relationship. I lost many friendships during that time, too, as I could not explain why I suddenly couldn't make plans anymore.
We ended up moving to a small town in France 4 years ago. Now, I can get across town by car within 15 minutes. Most places we go to are accessible in 5-10 minutes. And for some reason, there are quite many public bathrooms here.
IBS made me an entrepreneur
I had always dreamed about starting my own business one day. However, it was the same dream as kids' dream about becoming a famous writer. I never really thought I would do it. Then, IBS happened.
I had a corporate job for the first years of my IBS journey, and it simply didn't work for me. Getting up early was horrible. Being on time every day was impossible. I often had to take sick leaves during bad flares, which made me feel like a terrible employee. Once we moved, I decided to start working from home. I had no idea how, but I knew that it was the only way.
At first, I worked on starting a real business. After realizing that I was unlikely to make money within the first couple of years, I settled on freelance translating. It wasn't the most exciting idea, but it was something I had training and experience in. In addition, I was pretty sure that I could make at least a small income.
I have now worked as a freelance translator and writer for the past 4 years, and it was the best decision I ever made. It allowed me to work whenever I feel good and take breaks when my IBS is acting up. It gave me the freedom to have a baby without worrying about how it would affect my job.
Working from home has been the best solution for my IBS. And since I'm a huge introvert, I don't mind the lack of daily social interaction.
IBS changed my social life
I used to be the type of person who hangs onto friendships no matter what. I don't do that now.
IBS made it very difficult for me to sustain relationships. I moved a lot throughout my life, studied in different countries, and now basically know people all over the world. Only I can't visit them, because my IBS won't let me.
For a long time, I clung to the hope that I would be perfectly well again one day. I promised my friend from university that I would go see her in Berlin. I planned to go to Canada to visit my old roommate. Once, I even invited an old childhood friend over for a week, which ended up in total disaster. Finally, I had to admit to myself that IBS turns all those plans to dust.
I'm far too scared to stay at a friend's house because I need my private bathroom and control over my food. I would never be able to keep up with activities since I can't go out in the morning or at night. When my childhood friend was staying at my place, he kept complaining about the lack of clubbing and how I was 'too complicated' with food. I should have known.
Nowadays, I only put effort into the people who know about my IBS and still choose to stay friends with me, which aren't very many at all. I still keep in touch with some of my other acquaintances, but I know very well that I probably won't see them again. It's okay, though, because now I get to focus on people I'm actually close with instead of trying to be everything to everyone.
How has IBS impacted your lifestyle, job, relationships?
Do you have difficulties with setting boundaries and saying no?