The Stigma around "Poop Talk"
Unfortunately, I understand how embarrassing and uncomfortable it can be to talk to others about our bowel movements. None of us asked to be affected by IBS, and can often feel singled-out. As a child that grew up with IBS, I didn't want anyone to find out. It was particularly embarrassing at school, as I would eat and immediately my stomach would begin feeling sick and making awful noises, often during "quiet time". Unfortunately, that embarrassment didn't ease very much as I got older. There were certain foods I was unable to eat, and had to be on special diets, all while feeling the need to "scoot around" the subject with my friends. When I started dating my ex-husband, I was always so terrified of what he would choose for dinner, or panic about what I could possibly eat at a restaurant in order for my stomach to behave itself afterward. And of course, there was the fear of what would happen or what he would think of me if it didn't. I know so many of you understand this fear. It still happens!
The benefits of being more open about your IBS
When I became a nurse, I began to see just how many others suffer from the same symptoms I have always had! Not only had I been mortified to speak to anyone, even my doctor, about my issues, but my patients were, too. I found that, in like many life circumstances, if you can relate to someone, share your struggle! So that's what I did, and still, do, and the outcome is worth it. Once my patients didn't feel alone, they were able to open up and even make light of the situation. Not only does it help them, but it helps me, and in return, it was beneficial when they spoke to the physician.
Find your community!
From a medical and personal standpoint, I know how difficult and non-personable physicians can be, but they can't effectively treat you unless you make yourself vulnerable and honest about your symptoms. I know it's scary and uncomfortable to talk about your "poop." I also understand how trying it can be with family members, particularly the ones who downplay IBS and make you feel guilty by shaming or even making jokes, but I've simply learned to love them from a distance. Your health is so important, and you have every right to speak about your condition and take care of yourself! I absolutely love this IBS community and think everyone is so brave for sharing your struggles here. Find your tribe! And that's exactly what we are here for!
Do you have difficulties with setting boundaries and saying no?