I remember the first few years of living with IBS being extremely hard. I felt so alone because hardly anyone in my life, at that time, understood what I was going through and most lacked empathy. I was demeaned and belittled about my suffering, but I always told myself that I would never make anyone feel the way others made me feel. Thus, I created my Positive vIBS YouTube channel because I wanted to create a place for other IBS sufferers to relate and feel comfortable, accepted, and like they have a support system. From posting creative, sometimes funny, yet informative videos online about my own personal suffering, I discovered I wasn’t alone and there are tons of people around the world going through the same exact thing! IBS has truly made me a better person because it has taught me to value myself and others in a way I never had before. Therefore, I chose the role of helping people that suffer from a chronic condition by showing them how to be positive while enduring debilitating pain.
Driving away from blame
Having IBS has helped me to realize that for those handicapped by a chronic illness, whether visible or not, deserve a lot of credit because of the amount of strength they possess to keep pushing in life. For example, my father in-law underwent a hip-replacement years ago which has deemed him handicapped. Despite his physical struggles with his hip, and over-70-year-old body, he still manages to exercise almost daily and works hard in his backyard to keep his property well-maintained. I know many stories of people who are handicapped by an illness who manage to keep fighting to live no matter how bad their condition gets, and I’ve developed a deep appreciation and admiration for them. Since I myself have a great understanding of what it is like living with chronic pain on a daily basis, I try to embody the same characteristics of those who persist on pushing through life regardless of how hard it is for them.
I used to blame my IBS for making me drop out of college. I also blamed it for not allowing me to hold a job for more than a year ever since it came into my life. I felt hopeless and helpless for a very long time. However, eventually things turned around and I chose to have a different outlook about my IBS. I decided that I want to use this disease to drive me to be and do better in life. I don’t want this disease to take away from others what it took from me. Therefore, I am going to be the example that it is possible to live out your dreams and purpose, and to help those in need along the way, all while suffering from a debilitating condition.
Strength I never knew
Ever since I started this journey, I’ve had so many people reach out to me who are suffering from the same condition telling me their story, and I can’t help but to see myself in them almost every time. I even read articles and blogs from other sufferers of different illnesses, and I can still see a similarity in their struggles and experiences with their disease along with mine. We all have issues with school, work, relationships, and life in general, and it is all because of our chronic condition. If there is one thing I learned about life in all my years of living is that we all may have different walks of life, but one thing we have in common for sure is that we all struggle. So why wouldn’t I want to support and encourage others to fight for life and be positive?
I must admit – I have taken on quite a responsibility since I have people write and email me about wanting to give up on life because they can’t handle living with their condition, especially alone. This is another aspect of their stories where I see myself because I was once in their shoes. At one point, I didn’t want to have to live the rest of my life knowing I was going to be suffering from a condition that would make life so much harder. So, because of this experience, I understand where they are coming from on a very deep level, and that is why my role is very important. If it wasn’t for the fact that I have IBS, or any invisible illness, I probably wouldn’t be the person I am today. Therefore I am somewhat grateful, not due to the suffering, but due to IBS forcing me to change, grow, and find strength within that I never knew I had.