If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) you are NOT alone.
To do our part in helping spread further awareness about IBS during April’s IBS Awareness Month, we are sharing different stories of various individuals who have IBS.
Name: Olivia Location: Chicago, IL Instagram @survivinglowfodmap
What symptoms do you experience with IBS?
I have IBS-C and SIBO, so mainly I deal with constipation, gas pain (especially in my back), bloating and nausea. I do have diarrhea as well, especially when I’m stressed or ate something my stomach can’t tolerate.
What has been the hardest challenge with IBS?
The hardest challenge for me has been navigating my social life with IBS. I always have to make sure I have access to a toilet, and food I can eat. If there’s a situation with food I can’t eat, I either pretend I’m not hungry, bring my own snacks or don’t go out. I never agree to go out if I’m unsure of the bathroom situation. Thankfully my closest friends know about and understand my tummy troubles, but most people in my daily life do not know I deal with IBS and food restrictions which makes socializing hard.
What has having IBS taught you?
Having IBS has taught me to really enjoy the days that I feel well and to not take them for granted. It’s rare that I have a full day without any symptoms, so I need to make the best out of them when they do happen. I also try really hard to not let symptoms affect my mood, but it’s something I’m still working on.
How do you manage having IBS on a daily basis?
I have been Low FODMAP for a year—I very rarely break this diet and often pay for it when I do. I take Miralax every morning, however, this is something I’m slowly taking out of my daily life. I also have been getting acupuncture once a week to hopefully help regulate things. I take a heating pad with me almost everywhere I go.
What’s your one “pro-tip” for living with IBS?
My “pro-tip” is to try not to be embarrassed about having IBS. EVERYONE poops. Some of us just struggle with that a little more than others. There is nothing to be embarrassed about. I think if all of us start talking more openly about our IBS, it will slowly become less of a taboo subject.
What do you wish people knew more about with regards to IBS?
I wish people knew more about how serious IBS is. I have had many people in my life not take my IBS seriously, they assume that I’m being overdramatic and don’t realize how much pain it really can cause a person. I wouldn’t be on a diet that has almost ruined my social life if I wasn’t in serious pain on a weekly basis. I also wish there was more research on IBS. I think there are so many factors that affect IBS, and hopefully someday there will be more options to help us ease our symptoms.