Social Life vs. IBS – The Ongoing Battle
Bachelorette Parties. Beach Weekends. Weddings. Showers. Dinner Parties. Tailgates. What do all of these things have in common? All of these events include lots of food, drinks, and fun, and they all take a whole lot of energy. As a young IBS sufferer, I get invited to these events often. There are always at least two options when you are invited to an event. You can choose not to go and miss out, or you can attend, and risk having an IBS flare, spending the next few days wanting for your bed and heating pad. As a social person, I often choose the later, and I am often torn if it’s worth it or not.
I don’t want to miss out on life. I often push myself to do things socially that my body would rather me stay home and lay in the bed. Since I choose to do so, I often find myself in the bed under a heating pad for days following any type of event. What do I mean? Unfortunately, foods, drinks, staying up late, are all bad for IBS, and that’s what these events have in common. If I try to live normally and partake in the celebrations, it literally can take me up to five days to feel normal again. That’s just plain ridiculous.
How to navigate a social life with IBS?
When I attend these events, I try to eat something IBS friendly before I go, so if there’s nothing that I can eat when I get there, I’m not starving, which is also bad for IBS. The worst part is when you go to an event, and you choose the “healthiest” option, and you find out soon there after that it wasn’t the best option for your IBS. Trying new foods away from home that you’re not sure about how your IBS will react is risky!
During my social life, IBS gets brought up a lot. I try not to talk about it, but when people ask me, “Why aren’t you eating pizza? Are you on a diet?” and I reply, “No, I just try to go dairy and gluten free.” They respond with, “Why? Are you lactose intolerant? Celiac?” I often respond with, “I have IBS, and I just try to stay away from these foods that could hurt my stomach.” People are curious by nature, so the 21 questions start, and I’m informed about how they only thought IBS was only if you had explosive diarrhea. I’m happy to inform people about IBS, but then it starts into my other health issues, and then I always wish I had said, “Yes. I am on a diet.” I am an open person by nature, so that’s why I offer up so much information when people ask, but then I always regret it because I don’t want the conversation to be hijacked by health problems. I just want to be “normal” like everyone else! But I’m not like everyone else, and I’m starting to accept that.
Navigating a social life can be hard when you have IBS. You can either skip out on an event, or decide it’s worth it to go, and feel bad for days following. I miss the days when I used to be able to attend an event of any kind, and wake up the next day and feel healthy and normal. I have started to accept that I have to choose between listening to what my body wants, and listening to what my heart and mind want. In the end, I’m still torn between if the days after a big event, feeling miserable, is worth it or not.