A distressed-looking man lies in pain on his side on a bed in an apartment as he talks on the phone. Around him are signs that if he were not in pain, he would be getting dressed in a suit to go to work or school.

I Used to Skip School and Work Because of My IBS

Oh, how I don’t miss the days when IBS began making my life a living hell. I started dealing with IBS when I was a sophomore in college, and it was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. As I mentioned in my past articles, it all started with a bacterial infection, called Helicobacter Pylori, that eventually transitioned to IBS. However, at the time I didn’t know what IBS was, that I had IBS, or even how to deal with the painful symptoms that it came with. To go from having no chronic illness to actually having one was quite a learning curve for me, especially being a young adult still adjusting to life outside my parents’ home. As a result, my attendance and performance during college and even at several jobs afterward declined tremendously.

I missed school because of IBS

I used to skip many classes in college because I was in so much pain a lot of the time. As I stated before, I didn’t have a name to the illness I was experiencing – I just knew I was dealing with embarrassing symptoms. Therefore, I couldn’t find the courage in me to talk about my health concerns to any of my professors or advisors, let alone close friends. When I would experience symptoms such as stomach pain or bouts of nausea and/or diarrhea, I would normally do so in silence because I knew and felt no one would understand. I literally woke up many early mornings in pain and rushing to the bathroom to vomit either through one end or the other. At that time, I’d confided in certain doctors and relatives about my symptoms and I was made to feel like my pain was all caused by stress and/or was all in my head. My feelings and painful experience were belittled, so it only made sense for me to suffer in silence while I was in school. Therefore, I skipped classes without notifying or even communicating with my professors or even close friends. As a result, my attendance, grades, and social life suffered greatly. After my fourth year in college with graduation nowhere in sight, I ended up dropping out and decided to join the workforce with the skills I had acquired in hopes that changing my environment would reduce my stress (like the doctors suggested).

Side note: By no means am I blaming solely IBS for my decision to drop out of college. I take responsibility for not informing my school about what I was going through. Had I done that, things might have ended up differently… but I can’t change the past, and I’m just sharing my thought process at the time

I missed work because of IBS

Joining the workforce didn’t make any difference with my IBS, however. What did change was my willingness to communicate with whomever my manager or supervisor was at the time that I would be absent. To be honest, though, I didn’t always share the complete truth (come on, we’ve all been there). There were times when I said I had a family emergency and therefore couldn’t make it into work. Sometimes I would admit that I was sick, but I just wouldn’t share how severe my symptoms were. At that time, I didn’t know how serious to even take myself because if doctors couldn’t find anything and certain relatives didn’t believe me, then I must be making it up right? I questioned myself many times because I didn’t have the support from those that I yearned it from the most. Therefore, I suffered in silence many times while at work because I felt no one would understand, which was indeed the case at many jobs. There were a few people that understood a little, whether they had family members or friends that dealt with similar issues. Some workplaces were even willing to accommodate some of my needs, such as a personal bathroom that I had a key to. Yet, there were still days that it was just too hard for me to even go in, and I would call out… several times. My professionalism showed through my communication and my quality of work, but not so much through my attendance. Because of this, I was let go or asked to resign after taking medical leave.

Living with IBS has been very difficult for me, to say the least. I recall these memories of hard times I’ve had with IBS because I want to share different perspectives on how this condition can affect the quality of life for not just me, but many others across the world. Have you had to miss work or school frequently because of your IBS? Feel free to drop a comment below!

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