Balancing Work Life and IBS Life

Living with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) can be such a challenging balancing act that it can become difficult to navigate life. Between commutes, work-life, social anxiety, and food triggers, trying to find that balance to be a functioning person can often require some clumsy and rewarding obstacles.

Pivoting to a new job

As a member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), being on strike has become an incredible test of strength. Not just in worker's rights and union solidarity, but it means that for me to continue to provide for myself, I needed to get creative and find myself working for a job again that I hadn’t done since way before I joined the guild, or even got diagnosed with IBS in the first place.

In 2019, I used to be a school photographer. Someone who’d travel all over New York state, in the wee hours of the morning, to set up photography equipment and photograph school kids of all ages for their yearbooks. Looking back, I have no idea how I managed to get up that early, let alone leave the house and go on hour-long commutes!

Was I okay?!

Now, I can’t imagine how I was able to trek outside my abode, before any stores with bathrooms are open, driving through heavy morning commute traffic. Maybe I was naive, or at least my symptoms weren’t as bad. Regardless, picking up this type of job again has been quite the stressor.

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We strategize in the face of all odds

I never thought I’d be back here, at a job that simply laughs in the face of IBS. A job that requires me to photograph all school day, with lines and lines of kids, all ready to take their picture... at schools I’ve never been to, with bathrooms that are completely alien to me.

As someone with IBS, it has been paramount for me to scan a building for potties like some sort of rat hunting for cheese. A toilet pervert who seeks nothing more than a careful egress for when the going gets tough, and it does!

Accepting change

I knew I wasn’t going to be able to rely on taking the train, which has toilets, and end up on a film set which also has frequent downtime and toilets, for the foreseeable future. I also knew that I needed to work a job that I’m good at, and now that I’m familiar with.

Accepting that change, one of my biggest triggers, was coming my way helped pave the road ahead of me.

Imodium to the rescue

Imodium has become my favorite thing in the whole world. The other day, I asked my captain where the bathroom was in a school, on our second day of working there. She was flabbergasted that I hasn’t used it the day before! I was hesitant to admit that I was stopped up for miles, but shrugged it off implying that I had some sort of gargantuan bladder.

You know, a cool and normal thing to say.

Working this job has inherent stress, outside of juggling IBS, but I know it’s something I have to do. I’m finding that I’m rising to the occasion, through cramps, poops, whatever it may be. If there’s one positive thing to look at here in my sticky situation, it’s that faculty restrooms at schools absolute rock.

It’s like an oasis in the desert! When you have potpourri and two ply toilet paper, any job is possible.

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