Are You Comfortable with Flare-Ups Around People?

I love reading what other people with IBS share about living with the condition. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who needs to know where the bathrooms are just in case, and the tips I get from other posts are often very helpful.

But there is one thing that always intrigues me: Am I the only one who has trouble dealing with flare-ups outside of my safe space?

A lot of people seem to have anxiety related to finding a bathroom in case they have a flare-up. I have that, too, but I’m also anxious about other people witnessing my flare-up. It’s one thing to talk about IBS (and I’m fine with that now). It’s a completely different thing to actually get symptoms when other people are around.

I wish I could say that I am completely comfortable with my condition to the point where I don’t get embarrassed about things like that anymore, but I would be lying.

Sharing my IBS experience

I’m a private person and I don’t like sharing negative parts of my life with other people. I’ve had to work on that character trait of mine quite a bit when I got IBS. Keeping it all to myself just didn’t work. I needed the support of others and I need people in my life to know what was going on.

Thanks to this community, I got a lot more comfortable to share less pretty details of my IBS journey in writing. In turn, I can talk about the illness in person a lot more freely, too. Knowing that I’m not the only one really helps! But despite all that, I still cannot deal with flare-ups around people.

When I’m at home, preferably alone, I know how to make myself feel better. I’m okay when my boyfriend or my family is around, too. But if we have people over, I get super anxious about having a flare-up. Even if we’re staying at home. And if I’m not at home, it’s even worse. The only thing that helps is when I have access to a bathroom that is far away from everyone.

Ways to make it better

I didn’t want to write this post just to complain. Even if I still struggle with this topic a lot, I have found a couple of ways to make things a little easier for me.

One of them is telling people about the possibility of a flare-up. A big part of my anxiety is about making a bad impression on people. So if I warn them that this might happen, I can see their reaction in advance and feel better about it. The truth is, most people don’t think you’re weird if you have a flare-up and just want you to feel better. Seeing this in advance helps me calm down my anxiety about making a bad impression.

I also much prefer using large public restrooms instead of small restrooms with only one toilet. I cannot stand having people waiting in front of the door! So whenever I need to find a restroom in a public place, I will always opt for something like a big McDonald's rather than a small restaurant.

Finally, the best way to calm my anxiety is to find a way out in advance. If I’m out and about, I always make sure that I know how to get home. If I’m going somewhere with my boyfriend, he always has to promise me that we can leave if I start feeling bad. We almost never actually have to leave – but I like knowing that I can. And if I have people staying over at my place, I like to eat outside in the garden. This way, no one will be in the house if the food doesn’t sit well with me and I need to use the bathroom.

I hope that with time, I’ll learn to deal with flare-ups around people a bit better. After all, I know that I really shouldn’t be embarrassed about a chronic condition.

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