I know I've written about my stomach issues before, but since I am currently dealing with them, I felt inspired to write about another aspect of this horrible syndrome. The hard part is explaining it to people. Ya know, the social aspect. It's not a pretty issue. Most aren't, but if you have throat or eye or chest problems, it might not be too difficult telling other people, but telling others that your IBS is acting up can be difficult.
This is difficult because 1. Just saying IBS is hard enough, explaining it is even worse. 2. People take everything personally, they assume you're lying. 3. They don't understand the seriousness of it, and assume you're being dramatic.
Since I'm not sure what you call someone who has IBS, I will just call us BSers.
Sometimes BSers have to cancel plans or avoid planning ahead because... well, bathrooms aren't always available. If they are, no one wants to spend the entire evening in the bathroom while your friend is outside either having fun or judging you. And, yep, sometimes BSers drink alcohol despite their issue, but a lot of the time, it's not worth the agony just to have a few drinks with you.
Sometimes BSers have to miss school or work because... same reason, along with the fact that like any pain, having intense stomach cramps can really make you grumpy and exhausted and make it hard to focus.
And, whether you knew it or not, IBS pains are extremely painful. It can ruin sleep, fun, and nearly any other activity. It really affects every part of one's life during a bad flare-up. Unlike worse diseases, IBS doesn't really have a treatment. From my experience, all doctors do is shrug it off and tell you not to drink caffeine or alcohol, not to eat big meals or chocolate, not to blah or blah... and, none of it helps. At all. So, why bother skipping out on the good things? Not that it's not worth trying and seeing if anything changes over a couple months, but for most people, being shrugged off by the doctor and then nothing improving is a really disheartening experience. The message is that nothing will ever change. Every meal you eat is a potential death trap of complete stomach disarray.
Sympathy is not the goal, as that won't make it better. A little empathy and understanding is what the world is lacking. Like many diseases, disorders, and syndromes, there's not enough knowledge, research, or concern.
I wish I could say it's not as unpleasant as I am presenting it to be, but it really is debilitating. For something so common and so horrible, the lack of empathy for those who suffer is unfortunate. Mostly because people are scared to talk about it, to explain their symptoms. Most BSers just unhappily go along, trying to make things work.
Dear body, give me my life back!