People sit in cubicles working in a grayscale office setting, except for one man who is highlighted in a neon orange spotlight. He looks anxious and is sweating.

I Wish I Wasn’t At Work Right Now

I’m sure many people who suffer from IBS can attest to the fact that it is not always easy managing this horrible condition in any setting, including one’s job. I’ve always found it hard to control my painful and embarrassing symptoms while at work because stress and anxiety has a way of automatically triggering my IBS symptoms.

Unfortunately, stress inevitably comes along with any job, so my IBS symptoms would always be triggered in that environment. Needless to say, I can hardly remember having a good work experience outside of my home while living with irritable bowel syndrome.

Managing symptoms at work

One of the most frustrating things my IBS did when I used to work at an office job was that many times it induced intense anxiety. Because of this extreme anxiety, which would get worse the longer I stayed there, it was hard for me to even “want” to go into work every day. The idea of managing embarrassing symptoms in a stressful and uncomfortable environment was not appealing nor conducive to my health, to say the least.

And, funny enough, the anxiety my condition brought to me throughout the day made it even harder to be productive at work. I recall so many occasions that I would get very embarrassed while walking by my coworkers’ desks as they noticed every time I had to run to the bathroom due to my condition. It was also just as humiliating and awkward when I had to abruptly leave work early because my chronic pain became too much to tolerate.

At the time, I didn’t want just anyone knowing about my chronic condition because of how humiliating it can be and feel sometimes. Therefore, pain and anxiety would eventually affect my overall health and quality of life, sometimes in traumatic ways.

Difficulty concentrating because of IBS

Another frustrating thing my IBS did while at work was that it would interrupt me many times, if not all the time, never allowing me to finish most of the tasks assigned to me. Again, I had a really rough time learning how to navigate a job while also learning to manage a debilitating invisible illness. Therefore, I struggled with concentrating on a job task long enough because my chronic condition would force me to either feel or think about the pain and torture it was putting me through.

I recall many times rushing home on my work break just so that I could be in the privacy of my own bathroom without fear of judgment or shame. Actually, I can remember many embarrassing and inconvenient moments my IBS created for me at work, and every single time I felt so alone and would ask “why me?”.

My IBS made me antisocial at work

Last, but not least, another frustrating thing my IBS did at work was making me antisocial. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve always been a friendly and easy person to talk to whether at or outside of work. However, whenever coworkers would ask me to hang out after work hours, I could never find it in me to accept the invitation. The reason is that sometimes when I do go out, my IBS would eventually overreact, force me to act awkward around my coworkers, make me leave early, and possibly leave me suffering for days after.

Thus, I would always find it hard to socialize at work, whether it be at work functions, lunchtime, or any event involving food or drinks (which, let’s be honest, is when the most socializing happens). Since I couldn’t really enjoy those aspects of work like everyone else, sometimes it just seemed easier to be alone in misery and not there.

How does IBS affect your quality of life?

I realize this article isn’t much of a positive piece. However, my job here is to raise awareness on how IBS affects the quality of life for many people, whether good or bad. Can any of you relate to not wanting to be at work due to the difficulty of managing symptoms? If so, please share it with us in the comments below. Thanks for taking the time to read my article and take care!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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