Why Advocate for IBS?

My mother actually asked me why I would put my name and face to articles about IBS and more specifically, my own IBS. Her candor took me off guard, but my answer required no time to develop. I advocate for IBS because I believe that because of the stigma associated with the disorder, it remains mostly unknown and uncared for within our society. Disabilities deserve to be talked about because they affect many of the wonderful people in our society that can bring an awful lot of joy, talent, personality, intellect and love to our world when they are well. Being an advocate allows you to bring awareness, compassion and understanding to people who suffer.

Accepting illness

Personally, I decided to advocate for IBS for exactly the same reason I chose to be a caseworker for people with mental health and substance abuse issues. These people are the misunderstood, the perceived burdens, and outsiders in the community at large. This is not due to any fault of their own or character defect. Regardless of the severity of the challenges they face, the fact is, they all have an illness. It seems counterintuitive that someone might be treated poorly, or not treated at all, because they have an illness. I've said many times before that I see so many parallels between the day-to-day struggles of someone with mental illness and someone with IBS.

Let's look at the similarities for a moment. Each group has a disability that at times in their life (or most of their life) cause problems with employment, finances, relationship, overall wellness and almost every other important facet of a human being’s existence. The biggest similarity I see is that because of the complex and socially unacceptable nature of each of these disabilities, they are oftentimes just swept under the rug. The fact is, that without accepting people with illness or disability in their lives into discussions about our community’s wellness, we are cutting out people that can contribute so much to that community.

Let your voice be heard

I know that before I was diagnosed with IBS, I thought it was just some sort of bathroom trouble that people had. No big deal, right? I heard whispers that my Uncle had it and that was about it. I had also seen it mentioned in health-related articles and it has always seemed like some kind of an afterthought. Then…the trouble below began. Soon after I was diagnosed with IBS and the severity of the condition became all too clear to me. It began to affect every aspect of my life. Then I started reading about the condition and visiting sites like IrritableBowelSyndrome.net. I began to see the overwhelming breadth of the problem and how many people’s quality of life was destroyed by this problem. Well, being that I have no problem being open about my struggles and as I’ve said before, I’m proud to be part of this community of super resilient individuals, I decided I would lend my voice to the cause.

The more people that can candidly and clearly explain the nature of their struggles with IBS, the more people will begin to take it seriously and include it among significant health problems. That being said, the more people that advocate for IBS, the likelihood of additional support mechanisms becoming available will increase both online and in your community. So, if you are able, please lend your voice, computer, or pen to bring awareness to this very important disorder.

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