How My Family Feels About My IBS
When I first started dealing with IBS, my family wasn’t as understanding as they are now. Actually, the first couple of years were quite an emotional roller coaster for me because on many occasions when I wanted their understanding and support so much, I often didn’t receive it, and as a result, I would get very depressed. Don’t get me wrong, my family loves me, but there’s just some things they are naïve to when it comes to certain aspects of health; and since we’re all human beings, I can’t blame them for that.
The older generation of my family is from the Dominican Republic, and they were always taught to work hard, no matter how sick they felt. This is not an exaggeration because I can barely recall a time when my dad ever took a sick day from work when I was a kid, unless it was so bad that he could hardly walk and get out of bed. My mom was the same exact way. For instance, there was a time when she pulled a neck muscle and could barely move her neck side to side, but, of course, that didn’t stop her from going to work. She wore a neck brace and did what she had to do to provide for her family. My parents didn’t come from a wealthy background, so going to work to put food on the table, keep clothes on our backs, and maintain a roof over our heads was without a question something that was a must to stay afloat. So, I understood why my parents doubted my suffering and didn’t support me much because they didn’t think my pain was debilitating and figured it was something I should be able to tolerate. Unfortunately, they, and other members of my family, were wrong.
Advocacy and awareness changes attitudes
After years of trying to convince my family of how serious my condition was, I eventually gave up and just decided to focus on taking care of my health. I took it upon myself to do lots of research on digestive issues and different ways to cope with having IBS since I was even lacking support from doctors and other medical professionals. I gained so much knowledge and experience by focusing more on my health that I decided to take what I’ve learned to social media.
The more I posted about ways I was taking care of my health, the more I seemed credible about my IBS to my friends and family. I showed photos of me exercising, cooking healthy meals, and inspirational memes; the typical posts when you’re practicing positivity and self-awareness. I also posted facts about IBS every once in a while just to help raise more awareness about it, and that also caught the attention from certain friends and relatives. At first, I felt like I didn’t know how to function without having their full understanding of my situation. However, persevering through the unknown and staying positive shaped me into the person I am today, and it also helped me figure out where I wanted to see myself in the next few years. Because of that experience, I was able to gain the confidence in myself to start a YouTube channel (Positive vIBS) to help raise awareness about irritable bowel syndrome, and eventually I was given the opportunity to contribute for this wonderful site called IrritableBowelSyndrome.net. Ever since I began my career as an online content contributor, I’ve been able to advocate for myself and so many others across the globe going through the same things that I was, which validated the severity of my condition even more. Suddenly, the people closest to me began recognizing the term “IBS,” and some of my family and friends were even apologetic that they didn’t believe me before, which, I must say, was somewhat satisfying to hear.
Before, my mom would never want to talk about it or try to learn more about my condition. Now, she speaks to others about it and gathers bits and pieces of information when she decides to. My dad never cared to ask much, and to some extent still doesn’t, but is surprised that I can earn a living by creating content about what I go through with IBS. My siblings used to belittle my condition, or just didn’t believe me, but now they have become somewhat supportive of my journey to raising awareness. Overall, it’s a step towards progress which is fine in my book.
It seems that the moment when I decided to stop focusing on attaining the understanding and support from those who didn’t care (much), and started focusing on doing what’s right for me and others who also go through this, the more those who didn’t care much came around to believing my situation (eventually). All in all, it’s a work in progress getting my family to fully understand my condition and how much it disables me in many ways. However, my journey is not about them anymore; it’s about raising awareness and supporting those who suffer from this horrible, debilitating disease so it can be taken more serious as a disability.
Do you have difficulties with setting boundaries and saying no?