A woman is walking on a city street, not knowing that she is about to be right under a piano falling from the sky.

The Worst Thing About Having IBS is Not Knowing When It’s Going to Strike

The worst thing about having IBS, for me, is that I never know when it’s going to strike. My IBS-D has a mind of its own and likes the element of surprise. Except, it’s not a pleasant surprise. More like the one you never wish to get.

All I’ll get as a warning is that deep bubbling feeling in my gut. It’s like an internal rumble before the damn breaks. That feeling is my two-minute warning to get myself to the nearest toilet, wherever that may be.

The two minute warning

In those crucial two minutes I have to do all I can to keep my cool. Not let the panic, the rush of adrenaline and the anxiety of the situation takeover and result in a meltdown. I have to focus on the task itself, finding and then locking myself in a cubicle. It feels like the whole process is done with me holding my breath. Only once I am sat on the throne and my bowels can do as they please, do I feel safe to release a sigh of relief.

I’ve had that urgent feeling in the comfort of my own home. While out at dinner. In a club. At family members' houses. During a small dinner party. While relaxing poolside on holiday. While on a train. At a festival.

You name it, I’ve been there.

Needing safety

What I sometimes find the most humiliating is the noise that comes with urgent bowel evacuation. Because unless I’m at home on my own, it is highly likely that at least one other public toilet cubicle will be occupied. There may even be a queue. It’s a tough ride. One that leaves me feeling a bit broken and empty. Depleted of energy. If I’m out when I have a flare I often want to retreat home as quickly as I can. Back to the safety of my bed, my own bathroom, my pajamas and my hot water bottle, to ride out the storm.

That urgency brings with it not only the physical symptoms but the crushing disappointment of having to let people down. Canceling things. Changing plans. Juggling emotions. And that plays on your mental health.

Can't plan around IBS

I’m a planner. I like to be in control. And with IBS, especially the urgency factor, I don’t have that. It’s all taken out of my hands. And it can drive me mad. It’s the inconvenience of the whole thing. It’s a wild rollercoaster of a ride I can’t seem to ever get off. Although my response to them has calmed somehow with the help of CBT and new techniques.

As I write this post, I’m sitting in my comfiest clothes, under a blanket with a hot water bottle clamped to my tummy because the night before I’d had an urgent flare, which appeared from nowhere and with no obvious reason. It feels like it never ends. Especially when you can’t pinpoint the trigger.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

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.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.

Community Poll

Do you have a good understanding of what triggers your flares?