How Writing About IBS Changed My Outlook On The Illness
Writing about IBS was the biggest step I took when it came to accepting my illness. It made me feel less alone. It helped me understand that I didn’t need to be ashamed of my condition. And it helped me be more open about it with the people around me.
Connection instead of isolation
When I first got diagnosed, I felt so isolated. I couldn’t talk about my symptoms with anyone. My boyfriend didn’t understand how hard it was. The doctors I saw didn’t take me seriously. Most people suggested that it was all just in my head.
I kept researching IBS online, but all I ever found were medical articles describing the nature of the illness. Somehow, I didn’t even think to look for articles written by actual IBS sufferers. Maybe because I felt like I was the only one in the world going through this struggle.
Then, I decided to open up about it on my blog. Maybe someone would relate? And they did. I started getting comments from people who were going through the exact same thing!
After a while, I found this IBS community. I was able to read stories, hear others' experiences, and tips related to IBS. But most of all, I suddenly felt like it was okay to have IBS. My illness became something I could connect over, rather than feeling isolated all the time.
Writing about IBS has led me to discover other people’s articles and experiences with the illness, and it really changed my perception. What once felt taboo and impossible to talk about isn’t anymore. I know I’m not the only one struggling, and it feels good to be aware of that.
Who would have thought that I could one day write about bowel movements and digestive issues? I certainly didn’t. But when you open up and people relate, it becomes easier to talk about these things.
Now, when I have an IBS flare, it’s just that: an annoying flare. I don’t panic anymore because my body does unspeakable things that I need to hide from the world. I’m less ashamed to admit that yes, I’m currently suffering from IBS symptoms.
Physically, flares are still really hard, but psychologically, I’m able to accept them much better now.
Turning a negative thing into something positive
At first, IBS was a black spot in my life. I would never have thought that I could find a positive side to it. But being able to write about it, connect with others, and discover a community of people dealing with similar issues has definitely brought a silver lining to it.
Instead of being this terrible condition that ruined my life, it became a source of creativity. Writing about it helped me understand that having a chronic condition was hard, but not all bad. That it had made me more compassionate towards others. That it could even be something to bond over.
And this mindset is not only limited to the online world, either. Since I started writing about IBS and engaging with other sufferers, I became more open about it in real life, too. Now, I’m the one making others feel better about their struggles. It’s crazy how many people have IBS, and yet you’ll never know until you speak up about your own experience!
The therapeutic act of writing
I can’t tell you how many of my articles about IBS were written while I was at my worst. During seemingly never-ending flares, missed opportunities, in anxiety-inducing situations, or when I just felt like I couldn’t handle it anymore.
Whenever I failed at a social gathering due to my illness, I would work through the experience by writing about it. When I had my baby, I wrote more than ever before, because it was the only way I could get through the conflicting experience of being a new mom with IBS.
IBS is something I will probably always struggle with, but writing about it helps me make peace with the illness, time, and time again.
Do you think there is enough awareness of IBS?