Situations That Don’t Work with My IBS

Last updated: January 2019

Over the past three years, I have noticed that some situations are particularly difficult for me due to my IBS. Usually, it’s the most normal, everyday situations that suddenly become the cause of anxiety. It makes them difficult to avoid, and even more difficult to explain. But still, knowing what causes me to panic and my IBS to flare-up does help me be a little more prepared.

Having people (other than my family) stay over at my place

Logically, I should love inviting people over. I’m in my own safe space and I always have a bathroom nearby. But for some reason, I don’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I am always happy to have people over for dinner or any other activity, really – as long as it’s during the day. But when people want to spend the night, I start to get really anxious. What if I start getting sick during the night? Or in the early morning? What if they witness a flare-up of mine? You get the idea.

Somehow, the idea of having a flare-up when other people are supposed to sleep makes it worse. For one, it’s really quiet at night. And you can’t explain anything if you don’t see the people.

For the past couple of months, I’ve been forcing myself to say yes to overnight guests anyway, because I do love company and not everyone lives close enough to visit without staying over. I’m doing my best not to think of the night that lies ahead of me so that I don’t get unnecessarily anxious. But right now, I know that we’ll have overnight guests in two weeks and I’m already feeling uneasy about it.

Having construction at my house

On a similar note, I don’t feel comfortable at all with construction at my house. Even if the construction workers don’t stay overnight (that would be weird), I panic every time we have to have something done around our house.

I think that this is because construction usually starts quite early in the morning – and I don’t do mornings. It forces me to get up super early to hopefully be done with IBS by the time they get here. But getting up early drastically increases the chance of me having a flare-up! Add the anxiety caused by the prospect of having people around for most of the day, and you can almost be sure that I’m not going to feel very well.

Every time we had construction workers coming over – and it must have been 10 times since the beginning of the year – I had a major flare-up in the morning. I basically survived the day on Imodium, with a blanket and a heating pad.

Not even my boyfriend gets this. I mean, what’s the big deal? People are coming over to do their work, and it shouldn’t impact me at all. I honestly don’t even know why – but I still feel like this every single time.

Planning activities in advance

In general, I avoid planning activities in advance as much as I possibly can. Not all types of activities, but those that require me to be at a certain place at a certain time.

Despite my IBS, I love going out, and I love doing different things. But I need to do them at my own pace! I did dancing classes for a couple of months, and I loved them – except for the fact that every Thursday was filled with the anxious thought ‘I don’t want to get sick today’. Logically, I almost always did. I didn’t have full-blown flare-ups, but I never felt quite right, either.

It does annoy me that I’m not able to plan as many things anymore. Yet in some way, this constraint has also made me more spontaneous.

Sharing a car with other people

Sharing a car with other people is basically the same as planning activities in advance. I cannot deal with having to leave at a specific time. Especially when I’m leaving for quite a long journey!

Whenever we went to visit my boyfriend’s family, he used to always offer his friends a ride. And I would be totally fine with it, until about two days before the journey. Then I would start thinking about the possible consequences.

What if I had a flare-up at the time we were supposed to leave? What if I got symptoms in the car and had to stop multiple times? What if I started feeling bad and couldn’t retrieve into my own space? And what if everyone thought that I was weird and unfriendly because I felt too bad to talk to them?

I have not yet figured out a way to deal with this, unfortunately. While I have no problem with short distances, long journeys still can only include my boyfriend, my family, and me.

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