Remember that time when you were so nervous you felt like your stomach was in knots and you wanted to hurl, or when you were so scared, your stomach dropped and you felt dizzy?
Now, imagine feeling that for no real reason. It’s no secret the mind and the digestive system are closely linked, but some people feel these symptoms- but worse- on a daily basis. This condition is called IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Some important facts are that it affects about 10-15% of the population and about 2 out of every 3 who have it are female.
Basically, it’s a condition where the bowel tract is uber irregular, and your insides despise your existence. There is no real cause or cure for that matter, but a lot of smart, educated people –including my own doctor– believe it to be linked to a sensitive stomach mixed with an anxious personality.
1. It is not something that can be "fixed," only managed
There is not a cure for IBS. I repeat NO CURE! It drives me up a wall when people try to tell me to just “go to the doctor” or “take some medicine”. First of all, don’t make me feel like there’s something wrong with me. Second, please refer to the first point.
Lastly, I already was at the doctor, and he said to me, well it looks like after three months of extensive tests we can confirm that you have IBS! Congrats! Yay! There is absolutely nothing but lifestyle changes that will help!
2. Leaving the house to do ANYTHING is the greatest risk
Okay. So, I really want to go out to dinner with the girls and enjoy a stress-free evening. But we all know, I’ll get there, plop down in my seat, order my food, and pray to god that it’ll get here faster than my urge to poop will get here, which never happens. So I will sit there with a pained smile on my face, my hands twisted in my lap, and my stomach in knots gurgling noises that tell me “Don’t you DARE put that in your mouth.” Or I’ll really wanna do something fun, like go shopping or hang out with my friends, and I’ll be having a grand ole’ time until mother nature bites me in the ass *literally*, reminding me again that IBS has taken control.
I then have to search around like a lunatic to find the bathroom and I spend those five minutes (if I’m lucky but ends up being more like 30 minutes) reflecting on the reasons why I will never again leave the comfort of my bed. Next time, I'm staying in. Life is a gamble and my poker face really sucks.
3. No matter what emotion we feel, we WILL have to poop
“OMG! No way that’s so awesome! Hold on I have to poop.” “I hate him! Ugh! Crap I have to poop now!” Honestly, no matter what I do, I’ll need to poop. Regardless of what I do or feel, I’ll have to poop. Some people pee a lot, well. We crap a lot.
4. Also, pooping really sucks
It hurts. It really really just hurts. And for all the times I have to poop, I only can actually do it 40% of the time, which hurts, and sucks. Or it’s the opposite, which is just as crappy.. Get it… crappy… crap.. No? Okay...
5. We are (usually) not allergic to foods, our bodies just hate us
Let’s just say that there are times where mozzarella sticks just sound so good, and you say to yourself “Maybe this time, I’ll be fine! It’ll be a breeze.” You then spend time convincing yourself to eat the cheesy delicious sticks of fried goodness because last week when you had them, you were FINE. After all that, you chow down, and immediately feel the grumbles of instant regret. And so now you see the most depressing part about it.
6. We LOVE food, food does not love us
Could you imagine no matter what you ate, you’d feel exhausted, in pain, and sick? Yeah..
7. It's not just a stomach thing, it's a whole body thing
Painful, very very painful, achy, nauseating pain. And the battle is redundant because pretty much trying to live and eat like a normal human knocks us on our asses. I mean what did we do to make our bodies hate us?!
8. We really hate public bathrooms
No thanks, I’d rather just suffer in agony than have to crap in a toilet that at least 50 people have used today (EW!!!!) or put myself through the embarrassment of taking 30 minutes in the stall. Also, 1-ply toilet paper? No. Just... no.
9. For us girls, our periods are 20x worse
IBS is basically like a period without the blood in a way, so when a girl you know with IBS has her period...RUN, because I can guarantee she is miserable, she is in a butt load of pain, she is hardly alive, and if you piss her off, you will not survive. She’s in an apocalyptic level of pain and has ZERO time for you or your BS.
10. We are not drug addicts
Despite the mini pharmacy we IBS’rs carry around with us, we are not on drugs. We just need Tums in case we have heartburn and a stool softener/ laxative in case we can't go, Pepto Bismol for nausea and all other gastro grossness, Advil for the cramps, headaches and back pain, and usual gum bc medicines taste quite nasty. Also, we have multiple heating pads and at least four cases of ginger ale.
11. T.M.I. does not exist to us
I can and will tell you the gory details of each…. episode and describe my bathroom experiences in a similar fashion, and I am not sorry. I mean everybody poops... right?
12. No, we cannot 'hold it'
When we say we have to go, WE HAVE TO GO! We don’t mean, “eh I got time” we mean “THERE IS NO TIME.” I cannot hold it, if I do hold it, I may not be able to go for another few days, so kindly get me to a bathroom ASAP or so help me, Jesus.
13. We are not contagious
This is a very unfortunate disorder of sorts and it’s gory and gross and painful, but rest assured, we are not contagious.
14. There is nothing wrong with us
There is nothing wrong with us, besides the fact that our insides hate us. We can still lead very normal and healthy and successful lives with some very mild to moderate lifestyle changes. Symptoms come and go and vary in severity but overall, it’s very manageable.