alt=two woman lying against pillows with their hands on their stomachs talk on the phone to each other.

Having Support With a Chronic Illness

A support system is an essential part of living with a chronic illness. I know quite a few people around me with chronic illnesses, in varying degrees and types. This includes, but is not limited to a few of my family members and friends having Crohn's disease, my own father having Ulcerative colitis, and one of my closest friends having AS. It also seems like more and more of the people around me are getting diagnosed with IBS or at least experiencing a constant onslaught of IBS-related symptoms (for instance: a friend of mine recently mentioned he's had to stop eating garlic and onions so I gave him a little push towards the journey, yes journey, towards potentially getting diagnosed).

What the support means to me

Having people in your circle that actually know what it's like to have a chronic illness is a huge weight off of your shoulders. You're able to discuss things that people without chronic illnesses wouldn't be able to understand, like how an onslaught of crippling pain can ruin your whole day. My cousin, who has Crohn's, and I were on the phone the other day discussing how working from home has made life so much easier when having a flare-up (I am obviously not trying to compare the two but the bathroom discomfort can invoke the same emotions, such as the same feeling of public embarrassment).

Looking for support?

For instance, not having to feel embarrassed for being in the washroom for too long a time at work is the best feeling, honestly. It is refreshing to feel listened to and understood. That is why this site has been so wonderful for me. Reading everyone else's articles on their experiences with IBS also helps me feel incredibly supported, even if it is not being directed right to me.

Feeling unheard because of IBS

"Stop eating too fast," is the most common thing people, especially my family, around me will say when I complain about my IBS symptoms, particularly when I am having a bad flare-up. I could be eating as slow as molasses, but "stop eating too fast" would still be their go-to. Sure, eating slower helps digest food better but that is not going to just magically fix my IBS.

That's the whole thing with an illness like IBS... it does not just magically disappear. So telling me to eat my food slower a million times a day without any additional help or assistance is not the least bit beneficial. My mother keeps telling me "I don't know what I can do to help you..." Nothing, Mother, just let me suffer in silence (read: partial joke) without criticism or condescension towards a problem that literally plagues me every single day (not to be dramatic or anything!) Getting upset with me when I'm not feeling well, or if I'm particularly gassy on any given day (and sometimes my gas feels non-stop), isn't going to help me... It actually causes me more stress, which then consequently leads to worsened IBS symptoms.

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