The Hardships of IBS
It’s important for those who don’t suffer from IBS to understand that this disease is more than just using (or not being able to use) the toilet all the time and having stomach pain. IBS causes a whole world of problems that has yet to be fully understood by most people, including physicians. There is so much information today in books or online about IBS, much of it being theories about the possible causes of IBS and what triggers it (i.e. food, anxiety, or stress). However, a lot more research and experiments must be done now and in the future to gain a better understanding of what really causes IBS and how to cure or reverse the damage it causes. I do believe and have hope that we’re getting there by raising awareness on online platforms and the recent rise in drug development for the treatment of IBS and other gastrointestinal diseases. Nonetheless, IBS in the current state of medicine cannot and should not be summed up to simply “toilet issues” and “stomach pain” because it’s way more than that.
If you don’t believe me, then here are some real hardships that IBS sufferers have to deal with on a regular basis:
Frequent bowel movements and stomach pain take away from productivity at the most inconvenient moments which affects a person’s job security and capabilities. I can personally testify that I have lost numerous jobs in the past because of the severity of my IBS, and as a result I dealt with financial hardships.
I feel this is an important aspect of “toilet issues” to mention because not many people understand what we IBS sufferers truly go through in the bathroom. Many IBS sufferers experience “tenesmus” – the feeling of having to use the toilet when you really don’t need to, or the feeling that every bowel movement is “incomplete”. Thus, we spend most of our days on the toilet (or near one) dealing with great discomfort and pain.
Lack of sleep
The constant body aches affect a person’s ability to sleep. Many people end up waking up in the middle of the night constantly due to pain or the sudden urge to use the bathroom, which can also make it very hard to have a productive day.
Lack of energy
The struggle to develop energy or motivation to do anything at all can be extremely difficult. Many IBS sufferers fight to function in life every day due to constant low energy (chronic fatigue) and pain from using the bathroom so much.
Lack of a social life
The relentless anxiety and the constant pain makes our social life hard to enjoy, and near impossible at times. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to cancel plans due to my symptoms, which has caused me to become more distant from my friends and family.
The depression or depressive episodes that occur when we don’t fulfill the expectations of others or ourselves makes it impossible to maintain a sense of optimism. The constant daily struggles take a huge toll on our mental state, and as a result many of us IBS sufferers deal with depression.
The fears we start to develop that affect our quality of life. For instance, the fear of having an accident in public, or the fear of not pooping for days and having to deal with constant discomfort stops us from going on vacations or enjoying the moment. There is also the fear that IBS could develop into something worse or fatal because it truly gets to be that painful sometimes.
What I hope people understand from this article is that IBS affects the quality of lives of millions of people and should not be taken lightly simply because it’s labelled as non-life-threatening. Due to IBS, many of us have fears of even stepping foot outside of our homes because we just never know when the urge to go or sudden stomach pain could occur. The pain or urge to use the toilet can kick in at any moment and therefore can lead to a bout of mental anguish, embarrassment, hospitalization. What we suffer from physically is out of our control and we can’t help that it also affects our mental state, which is why IBS is more than stomach pain and having to use the toilet all the time (or lack thereof). I hope that this article sheds even just a little more light on the types of issues that IBS sufferers deal with on a daily basis.