The Value of Community Support
One of the things that I love about people who have an ongoing medical condition is their willingness to support other people with the same condition. To encourage them, to provide inspiration, and to create a space where they can let out their frustrations.
This type of community support is exceptionally important for conditions like IBS. Especially when it’s sometimes difficult getting more than basic support from doctors. It’s also very helpful for the food restriction side of IBS management, providing new ideas and strategies to get you through the day.
I wish that this type of community support was available when I was first diagnosed. But the internet had to mature quite a lot before that could happen – Facebook wasn’t even invented back then. Now though, there are boundless ways to get support from the IBS community. And this is a wonderful thing.
No one understands IBS as well as someone who has IBS
The hard days, the good days, and the struggles as you move from one to the other. Dealing with the never ending pain and embarrassing symptoms. Constantly giving excuses, when you’d give anything to be out there to be enjoying time with friends and family. Being the fussy one with food, who can never eat what everyone else does.
No one understands these struggles as well as someone who is living them.
Don’t get me wrong here. I love it when friends and family genuinely try to understand and be helpful. That is a beautiful thing and something that should always be encouraged. Because we should be able to lean on the people who are dearest to us and who we spend the most time with. But still, these lovely people who will do anything for you can’t quite grasp the true impact of what you’re experiencing.
And that’s where communities come in handy
Maybe you’re lucky enough to have in-person community support. But for most of us, community comes over the internet. This happens for a few reasons. Firstly, because it’s now the norm to search the internet when we’re at our lowest and looking for help. Secondly, because IBS is a terribly embarrassing condition and the anonymity of being behind a computer screen can make things easier at first. Thirdly, because when you’re at your worst with IBS, leaving the house isn’t always an option, but the internet is always there.
I play a role in many online IBS communities, including the IrritableBowelSyndrome.net community, a community that’s part of my own nutrition business, as well as others. And I love seeing so many different types of people, from different countries and different backgrounds, all supporting each other. Providing words of encouragement, tips and ideas to make things better, and a virtual shoulder to cry on when it’s all too tough.
It may seem that as an ‘expert’, I should know enough that I don’t personally need this support anymore. That my role should instead be to support others. But the fact is that communities support and strengthen me, at the same time that I continue to support and strengthen them. Which is a truly wonderful thing since we can all help to make each other’s lives better.
Did you start experiencing IBS symptoms before adulthood?