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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!

Thanks for reading!

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


  • ADITYA0811
    5 months ago

    I am also missing college and also I have interview as my placements are going on,this adds to more anxiety and stress but I have found that you can work on your symptoms well by exercising ,jogging early morning , meditation.Please don’t give up,I hope you are better now and are living the way you wanted to be.

  • tmholland moderator
    5 months ago

    Hi @aditya0811,

    Thank you for your wonderful suggestions and positive thoughts. I don’t know where I would be without exercising and meditation. Thank you for contributing to the conversation and I hope you are well today. -Todd, Team

  • babsmurdock
    6 months ago

    I absolutely know how you feel! I too missed a lot of work because of my IBS and even though I was very honest about my condition, I was also let go because of excessive absences.
    It was so frustrating and as you may have experienced, only made my IBS hurt more. I still tried to prod on through pain and frequent attacks until a couple of years ago when my migraines which used to come once in awhile became much worse.
    I now have chronic migraines to add to IBS and can’t work at all. Its incredibly frustrating and at times very painful but I’m dealing with it.
    I hope you have found some relief and quality of life and work.

  • tmholland moderator
    6 months ago


    It sounds like you’ve had a very challenging road. I thank you so much for sharing and being so supportive of others. I know you have the strength to find some relief and quality of life and work in your life :-). I hope you are well today. -Todd, Team

  • alisonmcorreia
    6 months ago

    Before I started working from home, I’d call out of work at least once per week and go in late almost daily. I had given my job a doctor’s note explaining my IBS and asking for an accommodation, but they denied my request. They then allowed me to work from home for only half the day and drive to the office the second half. This didn’t help my work load or my anxiety. They then put me on a performance plan because i wasn’t getting as much work done, but this was due to the accommodation they put in place of having to pick up in the middle of the day and drive to the office… After deciding that I wanted to quit because I didn’t feel understood or accommodated, they then offered to allow me to work from home full-time. It’s so incredibly frustrating when you don’t feel heard or understood when a condition like this is out of your hands.

  • HessP moderator author
    6 months ago

    So glad you understand, @alisonmcorreia. I’m sorry to hear about your experience, but like Todd said, you’re definitely not alone. So many of us face similar struggles in the work place, let alone in life, and its unfortunate that we have to fight so hard to be taken seriously. Nonetheless, I’m glad you’re able to work from the comfort of your own home where you can best manage your symptoms. Thanks for taking the time to read and share, fellow Bostonian! =) Stay strong and positive! Best – Hess, Team member

  • tmholland moderator
    6 months ago


    Know that you are not alone in your situation or your feelings. Frustration and anxiety don’t do very much for your work, do they? I have found myself in a very similar position to you, as has Hess (the author of the article), as have many others IBS. We deserve more accommodation. We deserve more empathy. Sometime we get it, sometimes not. Sounds like you are making the absolute best of your situation. Good for you and thank you for sharing. -Todd, Team

  • Neesie
    6 months ago

    It’s easy when you have understanding supervisors. Not so easy with co-workers.

  • HessP moderator author
    6 months ago

    I agree, @neesie. It would probably make it so much easier to go to work if everyone understood how IBS actually affects a person, especially coworkers. Thanks for sharing and keep fighting the great fight! – Hess, Team member

  • ldonne
    6 months ago

    Hi @hessp,
    I think sometimes we look back and think had we said something would that have made a difference? I did say, and still making my condition known with medical notes, diagnostics imaging reports, history and physical consult notes, it made no difference to me. I wasn’t accommodated.

    Just from my experiences, I think my situation was more personal …. My job allowed days, afternoon and night shifts, and still I wasn’t able to be on afternoon or night until I got better to go back on days.

    They missed out on hard working individuals like ourselves, because having ibs and working with it is like having 2 jobs.

  • HessP moderator author
    6 months ago

    Hi @ldonne,

    That’s so unfortunate that despite all of the proof you had, you still didn’t get accommodated. I hope you never have to face that kind of obstacle again. And you’re right – managing IBS alone is like having a full-time job. Not many people understand the toll it takes to stay on top of our health. My hopes for the future is that everyone starts to comprehend the effects IBS truly has on a person’s quality of life. Well, as always, thanks so much for sharing and being able to relate to my article! I hope you’re feeling well and stay positive! Best – Hess, Team member

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