How Telling My IBS Story Has Helped
In a previous article, we highlighted the responses from our IBS advocates who shared how challenging it can be to write about IBS. It seems to be a balancing act between sharing TMI (too much information) and helping others by being vulnerable.
In this article, we’re sharing what our advocates said about how opening up about their IBS helped them. Some say it has helped them develop a kinship with others, while others say they are more confident due to their acceptance through writing. We asked the advocates, “Has opening up about your IBS helped you in any way? If so, how?” Here is what was shared.
Speaking up when it matters
“Now that I have opened up about having IBS, I am able to speak up about my needs during flares. Anyone who has IBS knows how much of your life consists of dealing with symptoms. I don't feel like I am hiding a big part of my life now.”
“Opening up about my IBS led to me talking about other important concerns such as body acceptance and mental health. Realizing that IBS is intrinsically connected to so many other topics made it easier to address everything else. Connecting the dots between IBS, anxiety, acid reflux, fibromyalgia, and self-esteem or body acceptance helped me open up; without discussing all aspects of my health, how could I really tackle the subject of one? Learning to accept a bloated belly or having an episode of depression without judging it has been some of my biggest accomplishments -and I’m not even close to completing the process.”
“It has helped me develop a kinship with others, serve as a resource or source, and generally made me feel better about my own experiences with the condition, both past, and present. I also learn from others, and by extension try different diets and methods of management, often to find new things that help.”
“I do think it helps to talk about it – by sharing personal experiences with IBS, we learn that we are not the only person who has been embarrassed, ashamed, and pained to live with this condition. Awareness, education, research – all of these things are essential to finding a cure, and I feel like I'm just doing my part by being open about my experiences.”
Writing about IBS gave me confidence
“By writing about IBS, I became more confident and sure about myself as a person. I began to accept IBS and Fibromyalgia as a part of who I was instead of wishing it would go away. Having a group of people who understood helped me to feel more at ease with my diagnosis as well.”
“I think opening up about IBS has helped me open up about other, personal subjects. For example, I used to be afraid to speak about my experiences of PTSD though I could advocate for PTSD awareness in general. It just felt too personal. Now, it’s easier.”
It helps me process the pain of IBS
“I think it helps me process what I feel about dealing with, living with IBS. it's cathartic. I've gotten good feedback from people and it makes him feel good to know I am helping support them, too. I find I'm most inspired to write when I'm experiencing a flare-up, which seems to help me deal with it.”
Writing helps me normalize IBS
“Opening up about IBS online has helped normalize the illness in my head, so that I’m now more open about it in real life, too. Whenever I share experiences that I feel no one else has, the comments from people who can relate also make me feel a lot better. And lastly, being more open about IBS has relieved some of my anxiety related to it.”
Do you find comfort in sharing? Consider writing your story with others who get it.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to IBS?