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A close-up on a person walking out the front door of a row house, but they are stopped by a metal chain attached to their ankle and connected to something inside the house.

Just Trying To Leave The House with IBS

I’m just trying to leave the house, but something is holding me back. This seems to happen to me every time I decide or have plans to go out somewhere. I can barely put on all my clothes, let alone step one foot out the door before something stops me dead in my tracks and drags me to the bathroom… again. Better yet, I can hardly get off the toilet seat let alone have the energy to put on the rest of my clothes when I’m done. That something is my invisible chronic condition, also known as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). That’s right. No matter what the occasion or where I’m going, my IBS makes leaving my house a huge challenge.

My IBS affected my ability to work

My IBS issues became the most noticeable when I had to leave the house for work. When I had to go to work or a work-related event, my IBS consistently made it difficult for me to make it anywhere on time. Unfortunately, if you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, then you’re most likely allergic to stress. At the time, everything related to my past jobs, let alone life in general, involved a lot of stress that I didn’t necessarily want or know how to deal with (for many reasons).

Due to the mind-gut connection, my IBS was able to pick up on it instantly and automatically. Did anxiety also play a role? It sure did. Anxiety and stress seem to go hand in hand, so it’s very hard for my IBS not to react or get triggered from either. Also, I always hated the embarrassment and awkwardness of having to explain to my past bosses why I was late and absent so much. Who else can relate to that? So, yes, leaving my home to make it to work was always a struggle.

Family, friends, and my IBS

Unfortunately, spending time with family or close friends doesn’t keep my IBS tame either. When I would make plans with friends to go to a party or out in general, my IBS would either make me take too long “getting ready” or cancel plans altogether. “Getting ready” was what I would usually use as an excuse whenever my friends would call or text me regarding why I was taking so long to meet them. When really, I was on the toilet in pain trying to rush, but I couldn’t find the courage to be honest about my embarrassing struggles with my friends at the time. Sometimes I would even cancel last minute saying I was too tired from work to go out.

My excuses weren’t that different when it came to family functions either. Sometimes when my family would make plans to get together, my IBS would make me do 1 of 3 things:

  1. Show up late.
  2. Be there on time but leave earlier than they would want me to.
  3. Cancel last-minute.

In other words, my IBS pulls me back home like a magnet and makes it so hard to want to leave or stay out long enough to have a good time sometimes.

Leaving the house with IBS

Leaving the house can be difficult for so many reasons due to having irritable bowel syndrome, and it can be so hard to explain why in words let alone in a few sentences. Do you think people really want to waste their time on either hearing or talking about a chronic condition and the embarrassing symptoms that come with it? Well, you’re here reading this, so I guess some people are interested. But for most people – the fact that it’s hard for me to walk, stand, or sit sometimes because my anus hurts so much, or I have intense gas pain that won’t go away – they’d rather not hear. I highly doubt people would want to hear or talk about that to coworkers, acquaintances, or even some family members. I know this because I’ve experienced it.

Also, people don’t have time for that and would much rather just go about their business than hear about someone else’s personal problems. Not everyone likes to talk about things that seem miserable and no one really likes to dwell in those things either. Just being honest and realistic here. So, it can be very difficult to even try to open the conversation. However, it is my truth. A truth that is inappropriate to talk about in certain social settings, I get it. It might be easier or best to just seek the proper space or platform to discuss such a topic (like here).

Nonetheless, can any of you relate to my story? Do you find it hard just trying to leave your home due to your IBS, or any other chronic condition? Please feel free to share it in the comment section below. Thanks!

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

  • Peanut
    2 days ago

    Wow this is me, no one understands and thinks I’m making it up. Why is there no relief for ibs?

  • StellaR
    3 days ago

    Thnku Hess & all other IBS suffering friends. I am so glad with this site. And all of you. I was diagnosed with IBS C now I have to deal with Mixed C & D . Family members don’t understand it at all.
    Also my friends. I am still dealing with depression
    And Pampers 24/7 . Because i have can’t controle my bladder. In my family there is 1 Auntie (IBS/IBD)and she is a nurse. She has a lot of controle over everything. She can’t understand my extreme IBS symptoms pain etc.
    I have a niece in Europe also hav her IBS in controle. With Vegan food
    Etc. I still @ Home. I have a good understanding with my therapist. But its hurts. Ppl are cruel. I am Tired fedup of pain feeling weak and I am comfortable upstairs in my bedroom with my bathroom near. I used Dusputal. AMITRIPTYLINE. SUMATRIPTAN against my chronic migraine.
    IBS take over my life. And as 1 of you once said i don’t going apologize for my IBS. Or how i feel and experience & deal with my cramps bloating fatigue nausea and so much more. Hope you all have a comfortable weekend send u all lots of hugs positive vibes. Once again thanku all for writing about your experiences and what works for you
    I am glad with you all @ IBS.NET & fb page & support GROUP & THNKU for BEING There. ❤✌ from South America
    Suriname StelR.

  • Kelly Dabel, RD moderator
    2 days ago

    Hi StellaR, Thank you for taking the time to comment and share you story. You are not alone here, I hope this story reminded you of that. We appreciate having you as part of our community. Wishing you some relief ahead. Please reach out anytime, we’re here to support you. Best, Kelly, Irritablebowelsyndrome.net Team Member

  • MannieManolo
    3 days ago

    I really hate being that guy that’s always complaining about his bowels to someone, and some people just don’t understand. The other day someone said told me that we should travel together, and I asked them if they know what IBS is, they said yes they’ve read about it, but I wondered if he read about it why do they think traveling is easy for me. Any way great article Hess.

  • Kelly Dabel, RD moderator
    2 days ago

    Glad this article was helpful to you. You are not alone here. Feel free to share here anytime. Traveling is a tough one for many here. Thinking of you and sending positive thoughts your way for some relief ahead. Best, Kelly, Irritablebowelsyndrome.net Team Member

  • Phealth20
    3 days ago

    I was “moved “ by all of you that shared literally and figuratively!
    I have been living with this condition for many years , and it is a “relief “
    ( sorry so many puns! ) , to learn of others that can truly relate to this heinous plight. May we all find comfort and support so we can live a full and fulfilled life!

  • Kelly Dabel, RD moderator
    2 days ago

    Thank you for commenting and sharing Phealth20. So glad this article was helpful to you and hopefully reminded you that you are not alone in this. We’re here to support you, please reach out anytime. Best, Kelly, Irritablebowelsyndrome.net Team Member

  • Phealth20
    2 days ago

    Kelly,
    Thank you so much for your response. Grateful to have found this wonderful resource and community! Feel well and enjoy the weekend all!
    @phealth20(Penny)

  • Emily
    4 days ago

    Every single day I don’t have plans, I am grateful. Every single time I have an appointment or make plans, I worry my IBS could act up. It never fails. On days when it does act up and I have no plans…I’m so grateful I can be home.

    I’m held captive to the fear of “what if” and the prospect of leaving my house. I’d rather stay home than even plan and go on vacation bc of the traveling. I don’t know why the drug companies haven’t figured out a medication to help. Diet is not the only thing. And sometimes stress only happens AFTER my stomach acts up and I have to go somewhere. So it’s not always stress that brings it on. But when it acts up then stress begins. It’s hard to explain and be understood what it’s like.

    My dream is to be like normal people and just be able to plan and go and have fun without a thought to my bowel issues.

  • Kelly Dabel, RD moderator
    4 days ago

    Thanks for sharing Emily. I hope this article was helpful and reminded you that you are not alone here. Sending positive thoughts your way for some relief ahead. Best, Kelly, Irritablebowelsyndrome.net Team Member

  • seabare
    4 days ago

    Hello Hess,

    As many have already stated, your issue hits too close to home (no pun intended). Having had IBS for over 25 years, I can’t even begin to count all the times I’ve had to excuse myself, leave early, be late or cancel work or pleasant outings. I have had to go on disability as I can no longer guarantee that I can be on time, or travel or work a full day.
    But the most heartbreaking are all the times I missed my son’s events growing up–like the times I missed Trick or Treating as I couldn’t leave the house.
    At least there is this forum to lean and learn on. We are not all alone in our suffering.
    I am always interested in hearing what others have tried and what works for them. I’ve been through all the US pharma out there for IBS and am now trying something from a Mexican doctor after my US doc told me to try to find a clinical trial as he has nothing more he can do for me.
    I’m sorry to have to say, I also feel your pain.

  • HessP moderator author
    4 days ago

    Hi @seabare. I’m so sorry you can relate to my article. Your story is resonating with me as well because I also have a son who just turned 1 a couple of days ago, and one of my greatest fears is not being there to experience certain precious moments in his upbringing. I tell myself that I’m always going to fight and do whatever it takes to be there, and I just hope he understands one day that daddy always did his best. Nonetheless, we are all definitely not alone in our suffering thanks to platforms like this one. I truly hope you find the relief you’re looking for with your new doctor. Please feel free to keep us posted on your journey and thanks again for your understanding. Best -Hess, IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team

  • JudyStaed
    4 days ago

    Hess, my heart aches for you. I wish I didn’t understand so well exactly what you are experiencing. I hate to make plans…EVER. In my mind there is always that fear of how I will be feeling or will the colon engage in one of its nasty attacks. I fear it all. I fear class reunions. I fear being invited to weddings. I fear making simple plans with my friends. Thank God my friends are understanding about my condition. My husband always says that I’m disabled but people can’t see it. I think one of the hardest things for me is that I love people by nature and am very outgoing and yet have a very limited social life. I wish I had some words…thoughts…concepts that could help you but I don’t. I have gone in my pants more times than I want to remember while out and the fear lives within me constantly. I also think one of the hardest aspects of dealing with IBS is that the everyday person can not relate. Oh, you could have a headache and they’d all get it but not something like IBS. This very day as I’m typing these words I want to get out to get some things done but I have already made that trip to the bathroom and there’s probably more to follow. Hess, just know in the darkest hours of your IBS you are not alone. Other people who suffer and deal with this situation understand. Most certainly I do. Do not let this condition rob you of your self-esteem. Remember…you are not alone!

  • HessP moderator author
    4 days ago

    @judystaed, thank you so much for understanding and your words of encouragement! Truly means more than you know! The fear of going out in public seems to be a common thing for many of us with IBS. I think the important thing for those of us with IBS to remember is to try to lead a lifestyle that best fits us as individuals. I think the less we try to conform to society and some of its norms, the less obligated we feel to apologize about our own shortcomings or circumstances when it comes to our chronic condition. Now with that being said, I do have my good days, and I make sure to take advantage when I do because I only get so many of them, lol. I just take it one day at a time. Nonetheless, thanks again for your kind words and support, Judy. I truly hope one day we can all be cured from this misery! Stay strong and keep fighting the great fight! -Hess, IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team

  • deejoe
    4 days ago

    I totally understand exclamation mark you’ve described me to a T. Especially when you talked about stress and anxiety making it worse.

  • Kelly Dabel, RD moderator
    4 days ago

    Thank you for commenting deejoe. Hope this was helpful to you. Thinking of you. Best, Kelly, Irritablebowelsyndrome.net Team Member

  • paulabo
    5 days ago

    I feel the same way, sometimes I’m afraid to go anywhere, it really depresses me, it seems like every other day I’m hurting with cramps and diarrhea

  • HessP moderator author
    4 days ago

    Please know that I and many others here totally understand, @paulabo. Do you use tactics to hopefully reduce your fear and anxiety of going out? For instance, like having an IBS emergency kit. I, personally, find that having one in my car helps reduce my anxiety when going out in public most times. -Hess, IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team

  • Elilza84
    5 days ago

    Hi, I was suffering for more than 5 years, I had to go to the bathroom 3 to 4 times a day I had to take imodium every day, but still the symptoms persist. I’m so happy to share my new chapter, finally one Doctor prescribes me cholestyramine, I’m taking morning and evening and now I’m going to the bathroom only once a day early in the morning an no more accidents, this is a prescription medication if you have insurance is about $40.00 but if you don’t have insurance is about $300.00 I got my life back.

  • Kelly Dabel, RD moderator
    4 days ago

    Hi Elilza84, Thank you for commenting and sharing your experience. So glad to hear that you are feeling better. For others here who may be interested, in addition to speaking with your doctor, this article may be helpful: https://irritablebowelsyndrome.net/medications/anti-diarrhea-medication-for-ibs-treatment/. Results vary from person to person, but we sure are glad to hear that you’ve found relief. Best, Kelly, Irritablebowelsyndrome.net Team Member

  • miabsch
    5 days ago

    This sounds familiar to me too. Mostly, my IBS symptoms are triggered by food. That means eating out is a real issue. However, they can also be triggered by anxiety, especially when I’m about to fly somewhere. I’ve learned to take 1 Immodium the night before a flight out and then 1 or 1/2 Immodium the next morning before I fly. That seems to work for me. Things go much better for me if I anticipate the potential triggers and take the medication ahead of time. You are not alone and know that many of us are out there trying to discover the best way to cope with this difficult issue. Thank you for sharing your experience. It helps to have a support community for sure.

  • Kelly Dabel, RD moderator
    4 days ago

    Hi miabsch, thanks for commenting! So glad to hear that this article and our community here are helpful to you. We appreciate you sharing your experience and coping strategy. Wishing you some relief ahead. Best, Kelly, Irritablebowelsyndrome.net Team Member

  • patk
    5 days ago

    I’ve had this issue. I’ve found that a combination of Levsin and Imodium helped get it under control — especially if I took it at the first sign of symptoms (Levsin can be taken sublingually for faster effect). Levsin has its own side effects — dry mouth, etc., but I found it a good tradeoff.

  • Kelly Dabel, RD moderator
    4 days ago

    Thanks for sharing your experience patk. Glad you’ve been able to find some relief with that combo. For others here who may be interested in reading more, in addition to speaking with a doctor, this article may be helpful: https://irritablebowelsyndrome.net/medications/antispasmotics-anti-muscle-spasm-medication-for-ibs/. Wishing you the best, Kelly, Irritablebowelsyndrome.net Team Member

  • beachbaby
    5 days ago

    I can really understand this. When I was working I had to take a 40 minute bus ride. Not eating breakfast helped. I usually either took a breakfast bar with me or stopped at the coffee bar to get a muffin. Now that I’m retired I go out with my friends or cousins. Just the fact of going out seems to make my IBS flare up. I usually have to go to the bathroom 4 or 5 times and still feel like I have to go while I’m waiting for them to pick me up. I found focusing on something else usually helps. Once I get where I’m going I’m ok. This is so stressful. I wish there was an answer. My brother wants me to visit him in Florida this summer but I cant see trying to make a plane in time.

  • HessP moderator author
    4 days ago

    Thanks for understanding and I can totally relate to you as well, @beachbaby. I had a very similar morning regimen when I used to work a regular 9-5. My commute was way too long for my IBS to bear and I never had anything for breakfast for the fear of triggering a symptom. Traveling, for those of us with IBS, is quite a challenge in general, so I totally understand your hesitation in visiting your brother in Florida this summer. We have many resources on this site that may help reduce your anxiety about traveling with IBS. But, here are a couple links I think you may find very useful to start off with, in case you’re interested: 1. https://irritablebowelsyndrome.net/living/ultimate-ibs-travel-checklist/ and 2. https://irritablebowelsyndrome.net/living/traveling-ibs-expect-best-plan-worst/. Please know you’re not alone in this and we’re always here for support. Stay strong and positive! -Hess, IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team

  • beachbaby
    4 days ago

    These links are very helpful. Thank you HessP. It is good to know I am not along in this struggle.

  • astra
    5 days ago

    HI, you’re email hits home with me too. I am a teacher and so I have to be to school on time. I am getting up several hours before I have to leave, but often the worst issues come in the last half hour before leaving, which at times makes me late. I have shared a bit with a few people at my school just because I don’t have a bathroom nearby and I have to get someone to cover when I need to run. I have had IBS for 20 years now, but had it somewhat under control for the last 10. Recently, after my mom died, I had a flare up. I have also started with a chiropractor who says the adjustments may be aggravating things, which could also explain this last really bad flare up, but hopefully with time it will get better. It just has to. I have been downing Pepto like it’s water and just in the last couple of days switched to Immodium after reading some of the side affects of Pepto. Not that Immodium is any better, but just different. Yesterday, I had a relatively good day and it felt so nice to not feel like crap all day long, but today it’s back to business as usual. I feel your pain and I think it’s valuable that we have places to vent with people who get it. Thanks for sharing.

  • HessP moderator author
    4 days ago

    Hi, @astra. I’m sorry you can relate to my article, but glad to know it helps you feel less alone. It’s good to hear that you have a sense of support at work, which can really make a world of difference for people like us most times, if not all times. I’m very sorry to hear about your mom. My sincerest condolences to you and your family. I can imagine such an experience triggering a horrible flare up. Please know you’ll be in my thoughts and have faith that better days will come. All we can do is our best, which is always enough. And, take it one day at a time. Sending strength and positive vibes your way. Thank you for being a part of our community and never ever hesitate to reach out for support. Sincerely -Hess, IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team

  • deejoe
    4 days ago

    At one point I picked up C diff in the hospital so I don’t dare take Imodium very often because it can bring it on.

  • Reb9
    7 days ago

    I also struggle in the same way! It’s hard to explain to people and most do not get it! Work, family and friends! It’s so frustrating, I’ve actually had people say I need to get on with it not realising how hard it can be especially when you are going through a bad IBS phase. I’ve had to change diet soo many times, it’s effected me in soo many ways physically I’ve lost vitamin levels, which leads to fatigue and it becomes a cycle!

  • tmholland moderator
    5 days ago

    @reb9,

    I think frustrating has to be one of the key features of the IBS struggle. I’m guessing you know that you are not alone with the feeling that no one understands. Well, we do here :-). The fatigue is the the thing I hate the most. Thank you so much for sharing and I hope today is one of the good ones. -Todd, IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team

  • aloiamaria
    1 week ago

    I have the same exact problem. It’s very hard to live a normal life. Working has become impossible due to the embarassing situation. I’m thinking of laying off from my job.

  • tmholland moderator
    1 week ago

    @aloiamaria,

    I think you can see from this article and the comments posted that you are most certainly not alone feeling this way. Do what’s best for you and your happiness. This is a very difficult illness and we have to take care of ourselves. I hope you are doing well today. -Todd, IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team

  • aloiamaria
    1 week ago

    Hi Todd, it’s nice to hear from you. I suffer from an illness called collagenous microscopic colitis, which gives the same symptoms as IBS accompagnied by the chronic fatigue symptom. It’s a Real Mess.
    Anyhow we have to find the best way to cope with it without stressing ourselves too much.
    Wishing everyone on this site all the best. Hope to chat with you soon.
    Maria

  • Elizabeth Alvarez moderator
    1 week ago

    When I worked a 9-5, getting to work on time was almost impossible. I had to purposely wake up early to make time for the bathroom. It was so horrible.

    There were times where I would even have to jump out of my morning shower, mid shower, to use the restroom. Sitting on the toilet dripping in water is no fun.

    Elizabeth (team member)

  • HessP moderator author
    4 days ago

    Tell me about it, @thedancingcrohnie! It’s like you’re preaching over here! I def hate when the urgency hits while I’m in the shower! Beyond fun in the moment when you’re trying to keep from sliding off the porcelain throne, but a bit funny when looking back on it. Nonetheless, I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment on my article, Elizabeth! I hope you’ve been having a great week with minimal to no flare ups! Best -Hess, IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team

  • Jayneo93
    1 week ago

    My goodness.. I don’t think I’ve ever read something I relate to so much. I have this every morning! Absolutely running out the door for work and having to keep going back to the bathroom due to flare ups the minute I’m ready to leave
    Thank you for being so honest about your experiences. It means so much to be able to relate to someone and know we’re not alone.

  • HessP moderator author
    4 days ago

    You’re very welcome, @jayneo93! I’m glad that sharing my stories can actually help others feel less alone. I don’t take this responsibility lightly. Please know you’re not alone and we’re all in this together. Keep fighting the great fight and never hesitate to reach out for support! Best -Hess, IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team

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