Adult male crouching in tiny house. He is sad. Surrounding him are silhouettes of people having fun outside.

IBS and Guilt: I Should Not Feel Guilty, But I Do

I cannot tell you how many times I have had to cancel plans or tell people that I could not go to last-minute events. Quite frankly, it has been a lot over the years. I feel chained to home, and it makes me feel guilty. I know I should not feel that way, but I do.

Of course, I do not feel guilty because people do not care why I cannot leave home. I have grown weary of trying to explain the situation to people who do not care. These are the people who know I have IBS and simply do not care how it affects me. I am talking about the people I am closest to. These are the people who know, understand, and have compassion.

The disappointment of missing out on life

While they may understand why I must stay home at times, it does not make it any easier for me or them. I am still missing out on family functions and simply going to visit family. I am still robbed of precious time with the people I care about. That makes me feel sad, and it makes me feel guilty.

You see, it is not that others do not want to spend time with me. They want me to be able to enjoy time and activities with them. They understand why I cannot, and it is not an issue. It is a disappointment for me and for them. The guilt of having to decline more and more invitations is growing. I feel like I am missing out on life.

Finding support is important

Sometimes it feels like living with IBS is not really living at all. It is a matter of mere survival. We are isolated at times, and if we do not have someone in our inner circle who also has IBS, it can feel pretty lonely. Of course, we can always find support online, but it would make it so much better to have someone who really does understand all of it to say they understand when I decline an invitation.

No one in my inner circle has IBS. Maybe that is best because I am certain that 2 of us trying to schedule around flares would be impossible. Still, it might ease my guilt. Someone saying they understand is one thing. Someone actually understanding is completely different.

Declining invitations makes me feel guilty

Regardless of how others feel about it, I still feel guilt. It is not because anyone makes me feel guilty. I just do. My IBS now seems to be in a constant flare with no relief. For whatever reason, it has worsened. This means that I am even more restricted than before. I have had to decline many invitations over the past two years.

Telling my children I cannot go makes me feel guilty. My children are grown, and having them try to include me in everything is priceless. Having to turn them down causes me a great deal of guilt. I never want them to get to the point where they assume I cannot do something and just stop asking. I do not want to miss time with them, as I am of an age where I realize time passes quickly and is limited.

Missing out on making memories

Why do I feel guilty? I feel like I am robbing myself and my loved ones of precious time and memories. My IBS is stealing precious time that we can never get back. It is robbing them of memories they could treasure for a lifetime. That is why I feel guilty. I feel like my IBS is taking the most valuable thing I can give them - my time.

If you carry this same guilt, know that you are not alone. Many of us do. How do you handle the guilt?

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