IBS can affect every aspect of life – physically, mentally, socially, professionally – though many do not realize the full impact. The unpredictability of this disease can make it very difficult to live the same “normal” life we had prior to the onset of symptoms. As is the case with many chronic illnesses, over time, those with IBS begin to develop a new concept of “normal.”
So we asked you in the community…What’s your new normal with IBS? And this is what you shared:
My New Normal Is…
Mapping out the bathrooms
“I scope out the bathrooms. And I obsess over diet and supplements.”
“I map out restrooms wherever I go. I think I know all of them now”
“I always know where bathrooms are after eating anything”
Many of you in the community mentioned that a big change in your life has been mapping out the bathrooms wherever you go to ensure you know where to go if the moment strikes. Another approach that can help alleviate the stress of finding a restroom when you need it is the “Can’t Wait” card, based on the Restroom Access Act that passed in 2005. Read more here.
Predicting the unpredictable
“Never knowing when it will hit”
“Carrying, besides my purse, a bag containing a whole “nother” set of clothes. Including underwear plus Lysol wipes/spray and baby wipes!”
“It is terrible to have you never know when it will hit”
“It sure is unpredictable”
One of the hardest parts of managing IBS is its lack of predictability – sometimes you can do everything “right” and a flare up will still come out of nowhere. In preparation of this, many of you described having an emergency pack with you at all times, including a change of clothes, baby wipes, etc. Another suggestion from this article written by Emily Downward is to keep a list of all the strategies/techniques/items that have helped you with a flare up in the past. These things could include peppermint tea, gentle exercise, heating pad, etc.
Waiting for relief
“I quit eating beef five years ago quit eating pork five years ago no dairy nothing fried but yet still having problems pretty soon I’ll be down to eating bread and water”
“Always being bloated with gas that doesn’t want to expel. Ever.”
“I don’t know what to do. I feel like a stuffed sausage”
“The last 2 days I have been horrible – constant diarrhea and horrible stomach cramps, bloating, and just ukky. But I keep remembering prior to this I really had 2 good weeks. I know I’ll get good again – just have to hold on and wait.
It can be especially frustrating when you feel you’ve tried everything and the only thing left is to simply wait and hope for relief. Waiting can be infuriating. In fact, our 2017 IBS In America survey revealed that 62% of respondents felt frustrated that they might never find a way to manage their symptoms.
“I often avoid going out to eat with friends because of the IBS”
“I just stay home”
“I very seldom go far from home and it’s not for weak gotta watch everything you eat and try and keep your stress level down”
“I don’t like going places that I don’t know! My norm. Is work and home and sometimes work is just unbearable because of this IBS”
One of the most unfortunate results of IBS symptoms is the inability to enjoy yourself out with friends. So often it can feel like a social life is impossible with IBS – avoiding restaurants, parties, celebrations, travel, etc. “FOMO” can be a real and ever present thing when managing this disease, but it doesn’t have to be. These three articles provide tips and strategies for enjoying a life outside the home with IBS:
- Social Life vs IBS – The Ongoing Battle
- FOMO and IBS
- Socializing with IBS
Fighting through the fatigue
“Increased fatigue. Sometimes I feel like I’m losing the daily battle, but can still plan to win the war.”
“I’m Always Tired! Always”
“Some days you just feel like resting all day long, but we can’t because we have things to do.”
Fatigue can be one of the most underestimated symptoms of IBS and can be incredibly difficult to manage. Coffee and a nap just doesn’t cut it sometimes! But as our writer, Todd, says in his article “I believe that there are days for action, days for retreat and days for doing…nothing. IBS is a war, not a single battle…”
Share your thoughts in the comments!