A concerned woman has one hand over her heart and the other on the shoulder of a woman smiling and radiating a confidence rainbow.

When People Say, “I Don’t Know How You Do It”

I was having a discussion with my mum the other day about how people react to chronic illness. She also has a chronic health condition that has affected her since she was a teenager. We both concluded, that it is really frustrating when people say to us “I don’t know how you do it,” or “I don’t know how you cope with it." The simple answer is, I don’t have a choice.

After I got my diagnosis and was told what my outlook with IBS could be like. Initially, I felt distraught that there was no real treatment or cure. I wondered how on earth I could possibly live a normal life with this condition. But, I had to gain some perspective. Wallowing in self-pity and filling my head with lots of negative thoughts, was not going to help me. I thought to myself, what is normal? Does anyone really live a “normal” life?

There’s no doubt about the fact IBS is very limiting at times. However, it’s not life-threatening and I decided I’m going to do what I can, to live a full as life as possible.

Unsupportive people

Personally, I find the statement “I don’t know how you do it,” really unhelpful. I also don’t know what people expect me to say in response to it. Or even how to react to it. It may just be that people, don’t understand that it’s actually quite negative to say that to someone. So, I find it best to just smile and move on now.

I’ve learned over the years that we deserve to have a fulfilling life, just as much as anyone else. Even if that does mean that we have to adapt. I want to surround myself with people who say “you’re doing amazing, despite the hurdles!” These are the people I need cheering me on from the side-lines.

Giving up and not living your life just shouldn’t be an option and it certainly shouldn’t be pointed out as one.

Adapting my life with IBS

I’m now of the opinion that life’s hardships give you an opportunity to grow as a person and change as a result. I must admit, I definitely didn’t feel that way when I first got my diagnosis. However, I’ve written a post before about how I believe that IBS has made me a better person. I truly believe that it has. I’ve become much more compassionate towards others and understanding the fact that many others may have struggles in their life. When I am met with, “I don’t know how you cope with it,” deep down I know I’ve learned a lot along the way. This is an opportunity I wouldn’t have been given if I wasn’t sick with IBS.

My life has had to change in many ways in terms of work, relationships, friendships, etc., but I am grateful for these changes I’ve made.

Practice self-care

Self-care is something I never used to practice before IBS, I lived life at 100 miles an hour. Although at times my IBS can be very unpredictable, there are times where I feel like it’s my friend who is telling me to slow down and take some time out. Stress is a big trigger for me and I’m not the best at identifying when I’m stressed myself. But, my IBS certainly does that for me.

IBS has given me opportunities that I wouldn’t have had before. I’m part of a supportive community that does an awesome job of raising awareness and inspiring one another.

So, if you are met with “I don’t know how you do it”, perhaps you can point out, "I have to and I’ve adapted, learned a lot, and grown as a person from my situation."

Have you been able to adapt to your life with IBS? Tell us about your journey.

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