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To Those Who Do Not Have IBS

When I think about things I wish others knew about IBS, I can make a list a mile long it feels. If you have ever had a stomach bug and it feels like it’s never going to end, that’s my life 90 percent of the time. The upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea, bloating. This is only a small part of it, though. Granted, these are the most debilitating symptoms. These are only a small portion of what we deal with daily.

Boundaries with IBS

One of the hardest parts I face with IBS is having to say no to people. If I could tell you one thing, if you have a friend or family member with IBS, if they ever tell you they can’t go out, or eat at a certain place, or turn down food, please understand their body can’t handle it at that time. We aren’t using it as a cop-out. I am a happy-go-lucky person most of the time, and I can mask my symptoms so well that my own family doesn’t know when I am having a bad day. That makes for a hard day when I have to say no to something. Becoming good at hiding symptoms can be a blessing and a curse in this situation.

IBS awareness and education

Just because on the outside, we look like we are having a symptom-free great day, odds are we aren’t. I have way more bad days than good, but if you ask my friends and family, they wouldn’t know. Something we learn early is how to hide everything to make us look more “normal.” No one likes to admit that there are only a few things they can stomach without bouts of diarrhea or constipation. It’s embarrassing explaining why I can’t eat your grandma's award-winning food because I don’t know if the bathroom is close enough for me not to have an accident. It’s hard, guys and gals.

IBS and mental health

The mental aspect. That’s what is hardest for me and what those without IBS need to understand the most. IBS can cause so much more harm to your mental health than your gut at times, in my eyes. I took medicine for years to stop diarrhea but doing that caused so many other issues. I was in a constant panic over if I would have breakthrough accidents. Or what if the meds didn’t work that day. Trying to hide everything for so long became second nature but caused me so much anxiety. I would get in my head so much that I couldn’t focus on anything other than hiding everything symptom.

IBS is uncomfortable

Today things are better. For those of you who don’t have IBS, it might be uncomfortable to talk about what we go through daily but just give us a moment. No matter how uncomfortable that small moment is for you, remember this is our daily life. We live this every day with no break. We can’t flip a switch or take a pill to stop it. This is our life.

Have you had an honest conversation with your loved ones with IBS to see what they are going through daily? If not, you should consider it.

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