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How IBS Changed My Life

Last updated: March 2022

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.

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