A woman holds a megaphone, shouting into it, and protects a unisex bathroom door, in the bathroom are three stalls and three people give a thumbs up out of the top of the stalls

Why I Advocate

If you had told me 20 years ago I would be sitting here writing about my bathroom problems, I would have laughed. If you had told me 10 years ago, I would have told you that you are crazy. A few years ago, I came across a Facebook group regarding IBS support and awareness. I honestly didn’t know there was such a thing. Who knew millions of us out there, dealing with this alone for so long?

I became a member of the group, and it really pushed me to stand up for myself. I hid my IBS for so long that it was just normal for me to mask my symptoms no matter the discomfort I was in. This is one of the reasons I feel so strongly about bringing awareness to those who do not suffer with this. No one should ever have to suffer in silence. Once you finally speak up, you will realize that, more than likely, many others around you are going through similar situations.

Being more open as an IBS advocate

After speaking more openly at work about my IBS, I realized I wasn’t alone in my struggle. My small office alone had 3 other ladies dealing with similar situations. Thanks to starting that conversation, we all felt more comfortable talking to each other and backed the others up if we were having a bad flare day. It really can mean the world of difference just knowing someone else is there who understands and will not be upset with you if you spend more time in the bathroom than usual.

Once I realized how many people really do have the same problems I do, I also realized most of those that do, don't know it has a name. So many people, like me, just thought this is how life is for everyone. They rush to the bathroom with the worry of not making it. Or the other end, never being able to go and in constant pain. I can promise you, neither one is fun, and no one should suffer in silence. That is part of what this month is about. Letting others know you are not alone. As much as you might feel like it sometimes, we get it, and we are right here with you.

IBS awareness

The biggest reason I feel so strongly about bringing awareness to the IBS community is that the more we stand up and speak up, the more it will be investigated. Who knows, maybe if we speak up enough, someone might be able to come up with a cure. If not a cure, at least something to help us live a more normal life.

Becoming an advocate for IBS is not something I take lightly. This was a huge step for me because I tend to bottle things up and not talk about them. Talking about IBS isn’t easy - for me anyway, but it is something that needs to be done. Nothing bad can ever come from you trying to be a better person. Stand up for those who don’t have a voice or are too scared.

Do you or a loved one have IBS and find support in online forums and groups?

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