Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer
Are You Comfortable with Flare-Ups Around People?

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.

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.


  • August
    12 months ago

    Since I’m new here I feel like commenting on everything! Only took me 15 years to join something like this.

    Well, I too can say that I most certainly am not comfortable with flare ups around people either. I’ve had IBS for 15 years now and honestly being around others when you don’t feel well is very hard. I’m still studying and I find that the days I’m at college I always feel worse and I spend every single break looking for an empty toilet away from everyone and it’s a small place so that sometimes proves difficult. And then people ask me where I disappear to and why I don’t join them for a coffee. I struggle to say that well I need very long toilet brakes and secondly that I can’t even drink coffee because it makes things worse. The people I have told think I’m just weird so that’s nice isn’t it?

    I agree that talking about it is one thing but often I feel extremely ashamed and embarrassed if people witness my flare ups which is almost every single day.
    I’m a private person too and I struggle with the stigma side of it more than anything. How people have even laughted at me because I was using the loo so often. It’s damaging to your self esteem especially if like me you aren’t a hugely confident person in the first place. I have accepted that I prefer to hide it generally if I don’t feel close enough to someone I choose not to tell them unless I absolutely have to simply because I’ve been unfortunate and have had people either laugh in my face or give me weird looks. Not all bad of course there are lots of supportive people in my life too but generally I struggle to open up about it.

  • nana
    12 months ago

    It’s just awful when people in your life just don’t understand and just keep telling you that you better snap out of it or you’re gonna miss out on a lot of life…ya no kidding ugh!
    I can totally relate to asking if I don’t feel good will you take me home lol. I feel better if I take my own car and do the driving…cos I’m in control.

  • August
    9 months ago

    It always helps knowing that you can go home when you want to, work is most difficult obviously you have to stay there for hours

  • Poll