Should You Speak Up About Your IBS?
Last updated: August 2021
No one likes to talk about bowel movements. It’s not exactly the best subject for a dinner conversation so it is no surprise that most IBS sufferers keep their diagnosis to themselves.
I was in denial about my IBS and Crohn's
I know for me personally, when I was first diagnosed I didn’t tell anyone. I mean why? It’s embarrassing and it has to do with poop. Only my family and closest friends knew that I was dealing with severe Crohn’s and IBS.
To be honest, I was in denial. I thought that eventually, my stomach issues would go away after some time and that one day I would be back to normal, so I didn’t want to let a lot of people know. I was pretty good at hiding the fact that I was constantly running to the bathroom. And if someone would casually notice and ask if I was okay, I would just play it off as if it was no big deal.
Coming out of the darkness
I was amazing at being aloof about my condition until with time, sadly, I really didn’t have a choice. For some time, things got really bad. I had to cancel on friends, and miss family get-togethers because I was literally stuck on the toilet. I started to feel like a prisoner held hostage behind my little secret. I also got tired of suffering in silence and suffering alone without any support.
With time, I just decided to be more honest and get rid of the shame attached to having IBS. So what? Everyone uses the bathroom. Everyone has had that moment where they have to run to the bathroom and unleash. Everyone can relate to stomach pain and sickness. So I just began to open up.
What does opening up about IBS mean?
Now, let me just say, when I mean open up about my IBS, I don’t mean that I was shouting it from the rooftops and telling strangers that I have major problems with my digestive system. That was definitely not the case. However, what I did do, was not hide it.
So to clarify, if I would be sick for example, and disappear from a meal or meeting, if someone would ask me if I was okay when I got back, I would be honest. I would say, "No, I’m actually not feeling the best because my symptoms are acting up."
Usually, 9 times out of 10 the person will be extremely compassionate and ask if there is anything they can do to help. And if it is someone that doesn’t know I have IBS and they seem concerned, I will just say I have IBS. It’s really no biggie.
And you know what is amazing, most people say, oh my gosh my mom has IBS or my best friend suffers from IBS too. I know how awful it can be. I’ve even had some people say, "Oh my gosh, I have IBS too!" And it truly is the most comforting feeling on the planet.
Finding support for IBS
People are way less judgmental than we think. And when you share, it opens up a door for others to share back and in turn create a bond and support.
So from my personal experience, I say it’s better to be open about it and not hide behind the shame. I’ve found that being honest actually creates a more positive experience when dealing with a diagnosis like IBS.
Are you open about your IBS with others? Were you always open or did it take time to let others know? Share below, we love to hear from you.
Which of the following symptoms of IBS do you experience most frequently?