An anxious man sits inside with a cooler, beach towel, and sunglasses sit in front of him as he looks out the window to his friends preparing to load up a truck and head to a lakeside BBQ.

Public Fears with IBS

Living with IBS is a constant and daily battle, especially during times when I’m in public. In fact, because of my condition, I don’t go out as often as I used to due to fear of having a major flare up while I’m out. Plus, on the rare occasions that I do go out, I tend to overindulge, whether by consuming tempting trigger foods, alcoholic drinks, or doing some sort of strenuous physical activity (like dancing or walking for long distances). Needless to say, IBS doesn’t make it easy for me to enjoy myself much in public without suffering some major consequences either during or after any occasion. For this reason, I’ve developed a few fears of being in public places that I wanted to share because I’m sure many of you can relate.

Fear #1: Can’t find the restroom

Whenever I go to any public place, the first thing I make sure I spot is where the restroom is. Knowing that the urge to run to a toilet can happen at any moment, the location and proximity of the nearest bathroom is so crucial to me being able to enjoy myself. For example, when I go to the movie theater, I make sure to always sit at a seat on the aisle, so I can easily get up to relieve myself without climbing across a sea of legs to get to the exit. The movie theater always has a restroom, but there are other places where the public restroom is not so easy to find. When my wife and I head to New Hampshire to walk the trails, I always have anxiety because there aren’t always accessible portable restrooms there. During our walks, I find myself looking into the wooded areas for potential places that I could “go” if an emergency happened. This fear of not being able to find or make it to the restroom in time while in public really makes it difficult to enjoy what would be a peaceful stroll through the park.

Fear #2 – The restroom is disgusting

Speaking of going to the park, many outdoor public areas only offer portable restrooms for people to use, which is not always an option for me. The public restrooms are often disgusting, smelly, hot cesspools, making it difficult for me to stand in there for more than 5 seconds, let alone use the darn thing. Sometimes I’m so turned off by the look of the restroom inside that I can’t possibly go at all, and if I need to have a BM, that’s an issue. I end up having to hold it, well, try to hold it, leaving me in such uncomfortable pain that I have to leave for home immediately. This brings me to my third fear of being in public…

Fear #3 – Having an accident while in public

I think everyone with IBS-D has had this fear at least once, the fear that we won’t make it to the restroom in time and will soil our clothes. The worst part of it is that you may be far from home and will have to wait until you can change or shower. This fear usually creeps up on me when it comes to attending summer barbeques or parties in general. At any moment, I could eat or drink something that doesn’t agree with me, and if there isn’t a restroom nearby, who knows what could happen. The thought of having an accident in front of all my friends is traumatizing enough, and I’m sure they would never forget about it after.

What are your biggest fears when it comes to being in public with IBS? Drop a comment so that we can all relate.

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