Do They Believe That My IBS is Real?

One of the most common things I hear IBS sufferers say is that people who don’t have IBS just don’t understand or can't appreciate what it’s like to live with IBS.  It’s almost like these people don’t believe what you’re saying.

Often when I am discussing my symptoms or just mentioning that I have IBS, sometimes I’m unsure if the person I’m speaking to actually believes me.  After all, there is no test to diagnose IBS, no definite way to show someone a piece of paper, an x-ray or a blood test result and say “look, see, it’s real, it says so right here”.  IBS is a syndrome, a collection of symptoms without any definable cause or exact set of symptoms or pathology results that confirm that you do indeed have IBS which makes it so hard to convince someone that what you are experiencing is real.

When I have explained my situation to someone and I walk away from the encounter with the feeling that they don’t quite believe me or get it, I can get angry and frustrated.  Would they like to live with this and see what it feels like? Why don’t they understand that I’ve tried everything and nothing works? Why are they looking at me like they just don’t trust what I’m saying?

It can become very disheartening to hear someone laugh off what you’re saying, or say silly things like “just stress less”, or “are you sure it's IBS”.  Sometimes I just want to defend myself and explain what it’s really like, but I don’t, because they just won’t get it.  These looks or comments can make you second guess yourself.  You can start to wonder if you really do have IBS, if it really is just all in your head, if you are over exaggerating your symptoms.

Perhaps in the future IBS will be better understood, maybe IBS the term won’t even exist as we know it and it will be named something else because the exact cause, diagnosis method and treatment will be definable and accurate.

But regardless of what happens in the future I’m here today to tell you, and to remind myself, that what we are experiencing is real.  IBS is a real condition.  It may be mild at times, or severe and maybe you’ve figured out your triggers and you can go for days or weeks without symptoms.  Everyone can have different triggers, different experiences and different symptoms of IBS, but it is real.  I believe you, because I’ve been there, I’ve felt it, I’ve experienced it and I’m not the only one.

I’m so glad that I am part of this IBS community, where there is no judgement, just understanding and acceptance that what I am saying is real.  So share your stories on this website or on the Facebook page, interact with others who have IBS and be there for those people who don’t have anyone who believes them, we’re all in this together and it’s no nice to be understood and believed.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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