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I’m not lazy, I have IBS…

When I first started dealing with the symptoms of IBS, people used to think I was lazy because I called out of work frequently and on the weekends all I wanted to do was relax. I just couldn’t help but relax more than anything, and by relax I mean lying down or even better, sleeping. At first, even I myself didn’t understand why I enjoyed relaxing so much. However, if I knew back then what I know now, then explaining why I seemed so “lazy” would’ve been very easy. Just imagine: I have bowel movements more than 6 times a day, and some of those times are in the middle of the night and disturb my sleep. I have consistent pain on the lower left side of my belly and almost anything I eat can trigger my symptoms. I also deal with back pain every day because it’s hard to manage good posture when I’m on the toilet for so long. Oh and by the way, the morning nausea doesn’t help either. Think about it, I’m in constant war with my body, and I get beat up and worn down daily. Of course it gets tiring. How can I not become “lazy” as a result?

I am no longer who I used to be

Throughout the years of trying to lead a ‘normal’ life in society, I have come to the realization that I am no longer who I used to be. For example, I can no longer work a regular job – I have to work from home. By ‘regular’, I mean I cannot go to a place of business and expect to feel fine from 9-5, or for a long period of time. Most of the jobs that I’ve had required a lot of standing/walking, heavy-lifting, and lots of focusing on the task at hand. I cannot do that anymore, at least not without eventually feeling a lot of anxiety, pain, and discomfort. Sure these things seem simple and easy, and to not do what is required by most makes you look like a lazy person to someone who knows nothing about your condition. IBS is not an easy topic to discuss with just anyone, so not everyone I worked with knew or understood what I was dealing with on a daily basis. The common misconception about people who suffer from a debilitating condition is that their illness must be visible to the eye. Let me be clear, just because you don’t see me in a wheel chair doesn’t mean I’m not suffering. I have to work from home, not because I’m lazy, but because I’m in a better state mentally and physically when I do.

Why do I need to relax so much?

Another thing my condition requires sometimes is that I do nothing BUT stay home. Whenever I get invited to go out, half of the times I have to cancel because I’d rather (of course) just relax. Some of my friends and family know that I suffer from IBS, but they don’t understand the extent to how debilitating and limiting it can be. Why do I need to relax so much? Well, despite food and alcohol triggering my symptoms, stress and anxiety also play a big role in how I feel physically. Let’s say I do go out with my friends to a bar… what is constantly on my mind is how bad the beer or cocktails might affect me (because, let’s be honest, who goes to a bar and doesn’t drink?). Then I also worry about where the restrooms are and how clean they are because I get anxiety whenever I can’t use the toilet comfortably. Then I have a constant reminder about my condition because I feel that pain in my stomach that is unfailingly there. So, to answer the question, ‘why do I need to relax so much’, it’s because anything other than feeling stress-free brings upon more pain that I literally can’t stand to deal with.

Spoon theory

The best way I can explain my ‘laziness’ is by referencing an article I read a while ago written by Christine Miserandino that talked about the ‘Spoon Theory’. To give you a gist, the ‘Spoon Theory’ means that someone suffering from a chronic condition only has so much energy to utilize throughout each day, so they use their energy sparingly. Each task they complete represents a spoon, and they are only given so many spoons a day before their energy runs out. Then resting is all he or she can do to harvest enough spoons for the next day. Therefore, whatever that person decides to use their energy on, must be for a necessary, and possibly special, reason. So if I’m acting ‘lazy’, it’s because I’m using my energy wisely, and to do anything but that would mean I would be causing myself great suffering in the future.

Let’s be real folks, not everyone is going to understand our type of ‘laziness’. In my opinion, the reason why a lot of us feel the need or want to have those we care about understand our suffering is because we want to feel validated in our pain. The only validation we need is the constant reminder of what we deal with physically and mentally on a daily basis. No one has a right to tell us how we feel and to what extent we feel the pain. So sure, they can call us lazy all they want. But what they can’t do is dictate how we feel. We are a lot stronger than they think we are because daily we deal with an invisible illness, so use that as your right to be ‘lazy’.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The IrritableBowelSyndrome.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • cfamilyfix
    3 months ago

    Thanks for writing this Hess. The fatigue that comes with this condition is no joke! I still work at a job where it is very physical and lots of heavy lifting (bus mechanic) and believe me I can’t remember the last time I felt good at my job. I force myself to be social since when I stay home it makes me a bit more anxious. Mornings suck! But each day is another that might be the start of a remission ( I hope) until I feel that all to familiar bloat and nausea.

  • HessP moderator author
    3 months ago

    You’re welcome, @cfamilyfix! I totally understand – I used to work a job that was very physical and taxing on the body, which I ended up having to leave due to my IBS. Wishing you much strength and tenacity to help get you through the rough days at work because I can imagine how challenging it can be.

    Mornings are also very rough for me. I actually made a video explaining briefly why I think my IBS is worse in the morning. In case you’re interested, here is the link: https://irritablebowelsyndrome.net/video/ibs-worse-morning/ . Thank you for sharing and being a part of our IBS community! Please know you’re not alone. Sending lots of positive vibes your way my friend. Best – Hess (IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team member & Author)

  • DianeLombardi
    4 months ago

    Need help

  • Chris Hall moderator
    4 months ago

    Hi, @DianeLombardi – Is there information you’re looking to find? I can certainly try to help! – Chris, IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team

  • Roni
    3 years ago

    Hi Hess and thank you for this blog. I can TOTALLY relate with all the above. Unfortunately I am still working outside the home but my supervisor knows my situation and so far has been “ok” with my late mornings. I find myself having to rise hours and hours before I go out in the mornings (That seems to be my worst time with IBS) I have been sick at all times but worse in the morning for some reason. These last few years have been hard I was diagnosed about 3 years ago although I have had IBS for many many more. I also have gluten issues and once I gave up ALL gluten I did improve a LOT but still have days and sometimes if I am lucky a few hours of D… 🙁 and pain. I suffer from extreme fatigue which I also assume is IBS related. Thank you for helping me understand why I say and have said for these last two years … ” I can not wait till Friday, I am not doing or going anywhere I need to chill” I do house chores and wash but it takes every bit of energy I have to “make” it happen!! Glad to see that it is NOT just me that others also feel like just staying home and resting. Frustrating when you see you friends having a good time and you do not feel like doing anything and honestly I have panic if I go out most of the time so I just stay home.

  • HessP moderator author
    3 years ago

    Hi Roni!

    I’m sorry to hear about your suffering and I’m wishing you tons of strength! I understand exactly how you feel – the morning time is the worst for me also and it’s definitely not always a great start to the day. So yes, we do deserve our “lazy” time, and never feel bad about taking it either. In regards to feeling frustrated when you see your friends having a good time, I would suggest inviting your friends over for ‘Game Night’ once in a while so that you not only get to be social, but you’re also at the comfort of your own home where you get to deal with your IBS more at ease. That’s one of my tactics to feel ‘normal’ and I thought I’d share it with you. I’m glad you were able to relate to my article, and please know that we’re always here for support. Thank you for sharing and for being a part of our community! Stay strong!

    – Hess (Author and IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team)

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