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Dealing with IBS Flare-Ups Around People When You’re an Introvert

Flare-ups always suck. But they suck a little bit less when I’m in my own home where I’m comfortable. Preferably by myself. I’ll curl up under a blanket on the couch or in bed, make myself some tea, prepare a heating pad, and put on a Netflix show – preferably one I have already watched so it doesn’t matter if I miss half of it.

But things are different when I’m not at home. Especially when I’m staying at other people’s houses.

Not knowing how to retrieve without being rude

As an introvert, I’m always more comfortable on my own, but I like socializing too when I’m feeling good. However, the moment my IBS starts acting up, all I want is to be in my own space.

The biggest problem always is: how to retrieve into my own space when there are people around and I can’t get out unnoticed?

I’m writing this sitting in my boyfriend’s old room at his parent’s house after I almost ran out of a conversation with his mom. Why? Because of my IBS. Apparently, it didn’t like the yogurt I ate tonight. It’s not a surprise, really, but I had no choice because she put it in front of me, and I didn’t feel comfortable saying anything.

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I wish I was better at communicating how I am feeling without sounding needy or being really awkward about it. So I usually don’t say anything and try to get out of the situation. And that is hard to do when you don’t want to seem rude.

Being antisocial during a flare-up

The thing is, I would have totally dealt with the situation if my IBS hadn’t been acting up. But the moment it starts, all my social skills go down the toilet. And my communication skills right with them.

But can I really expect everyone to understand what’s happening without me saying anything? Do I have to print out flyers explaining how to recognize the signs of a flare-up and apologize in advance if I just disappear?

Right now I’m thinking that this can’t be it. There must be a better way to deal with these situations.

Putting yourself first

And then again, maybe it’s not about the retrieving but about the coming back. Because let’s be honest, once you’ve disappeared to deal with your flare-up, it’s quite awkward to get back out there. If you’re an introvert with an IBS-inflicted lack of social skills, that is.

So maybe I need to stop being so hard on myself. Living with a chronic illness is not easy and maybe I just need to cut myself some slack. It’s okay that I need to be by myself. It’s okay that I don’t feel like explaining that to anyone when it happens.

What’s more important is that I get back on track when I’m feeling better. That I get back to the people I left like nothing weird happened.

Turning the situation around

So that’s what I did. I told myself that it was okay to put my own well-being first in these situations. It matters more than being 100% polite. I went back to the conversation later like nothing happened, and I realized one thing. Indeed, nothing had happened. No one was looking at me funny, no one said anything, no one probably even noticed as much as I did.

This proves to me once again that I worry way too much. And it leads me to a rather positive conclusion: I don’t have to worry so much about dealing with IBS when I’m around people.

It’s okay to retrieve into my own space when I don’t feel well. And it’s okay to get back out when I’m feeling better.

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.

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