alt=a person holding a pencil with paper in front of them tries to come up with some icebreakers.

IBS Icebreakers

Reentering a social life, in a new city, has come with a mired of challenges. There were certain things you could rely on in your neighborhood, or with your friends back home. You have your shared experiences, school-time memories, and common interests to help carry beautiful friendships right along.

I could joke about my IBS?

Since I was diagnosed last year, accepting what I have IBS has been way less straightforward than I thought it would be. As someone who also suffers from migraines, I have the protection of bringing that up first. Head pain comes with a lot less social stigma than poop does. Poops are inherently gross, messy, and private. Even talking about it can be seen as immature and juvenile. Though, to that, I may say. Look, I’m just trying to bring alleviate some of the pain I struggle with through my own brand of humor. Could you cut me some slack?

How am I supposed to share that I write for a website where I talk about my terrible butt times to an audience of fellow butt blasters?

It’s something I have spent a long time brainstorming in order to get the best, least offensive, and most approachable outcome. I want to be able to share what I do! Since becoming an advocate, I have loved finding out about what I suffer from and connecting with others who feel the same way. I’ve always loved a community, whether it’s on a film set, a neighborhood friend group, or you all. I’m at home. I’ve found the most honest I am, the better the bonds I forge are with strangers. People appreciate honesty, even if they’re smacked in the face by it. Is it off-putting? Maybe; I see it as a quirk! I need to be able to talk about what I do without seeming like a nasty pervert who loves to talk about his butt.

Phrasing may be the key

I’ve been trying to talk about my own gut health with a level of irreverence that doesn’t initially reveal the absolute discomfort I suffer through. Using humor and language as a safety net to catch me from getting too unpleasant about my pain. If I were to broach the subject, and we’re all friends here, I trust you; I would say:

"Hi, I'm Sawyer, and I write about medical issues I deal with, like migraine and IBS. I figured, why not try and help people instead of letting my a** put me in the garbage can!"

Now what do we think about that approach?

I was direct and morally driven, with some colorful language to suggest I am a fun and cool guy. Maybe it was awful and inappropriate, especially with a first impression? Good, I’m glad I can get some of these duds out before I have to go befriend another stranger.

Accepting who I am has been a huge part of my IBS journey. It’s reworked everything, from how I eat food to how I navigate the city. I can’t keep hiding this part of me, no matter how much self-guilt I inflict. We, as people, punish ourselves for things in our control. Things that nobody may notice that we do. I’m just taking one self-esteem issue, I can’t control, off the table. Maybe strangers aren’t ready for me to talk, candidly, about what I do, but every movement starts with one very confident person standing up and making change.

How would you bring up your IBS with someone? Would you? Would love to know!

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