Why Most Men Don’t Talk About Their IBS
IBS is an embarrassing topic to talk about for many obvious reasons. However, I believe there is a reason why most men, including myself, don’t like to talk about their IBS in public. The reason is because doing such a thing would be to admit or show weakness, which is hard for many of us men to do. Growing up, I was raised by male figures (both related and not related to me) who taught me to always show strength and fearlessness. My interpretation of that was to never really talk about my pain or sadness, and to accept life the way it is (pretty much). This understanding was a result of always getting belittled or told to “suck it up” every time I complained about pain I was having. Thus, I grew up caring about what other people thought of me whenever I showed any hint of weakness.
Suffering in silence
Now, some of you might already know that I created a YouTube channel to raise awareness about IBS, so you would think I’m contradicting myself right now. However, being this courageous to speak up about my IBS didn’t come easy at first. It took me a long time to open up about my IBS because I was afraid of being perceived as someone who was complaining all the time, or as a man that was weak and incapable. If one is truly open about their IBS and how it makes them feel, you will certainly get a sense of their weaknesses, and that was not an easy thing for me to accept.
Many men have been brought up with the psychology that always being strong, never crying, and showing little to no emotion was normal, so we tend to keep our pain bottled up inside. We don’t always know how to allow ourselves to feel vulnerable without being defensive at the same time because that skill was never instilled in us as children. So instead, many of us have had to suffer in silence.
Being an advocate
After a while, I learned how to grow out of that “always be macho” mentality because my suffering, along with many of yours, outweighs the significance of my insecurity. After experiencing what I have with IBS, and hearing many of your stories, I knew that all that macho-manliness had to go out the window for the sake of raising awareness and doing what’s right for those with invisible illnesses. Being an advocate and some sort of support system for those who need it has become more important to me than being afraid of showing or admitting my weaknesses.
I understand I am not most men, and I wrote this article in a somewhat subjective manner, so I cannot speak for all men. However, based on my experience of being a man and having been around many circles of men, many of us were raised in a similar fashion. It’s important that we’re careful with how we teach this concept to the next generations of boys because we don’t want more men to keep bottling up their emotions until it destroys them. Otherwise, we’ll never get a real and authentic understanding of how IBS affects men in general. IBS is a very serious chronic condition, and it negatively affects that quality of lives of millions of people, so this illness is truly no joke. I believe speaking up is part of doing what is right. Overall, men need to be more vocal about how debilitating IBS can be, without fear of being vulnerable to their peers.
Have you checked out our free IBS food journal?