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Breaking The IBS Taboo

IBS (or irritable bowel syndrome) is possibly one of the last true taboos that continue to be present today.

BS (or irritable bowel syndrome) is possibly one of the last true taboos that continue to be present today. Think about it, you’re more likely to discuss politics (thanks Brexit and the never-ending elections!) or religion at work, a dinner party or when grabbing a coffee with friends, yet we often shy away from talking about what’s really going on beneath the surface. Or should I say, beneath our midsections.

But once I started talking openly about what I was going through and sharing this online, either on my blog or social media, the number of people who left comments, sent emails and revealed that they too were living with IBS or another digestive disorder, truly surprised me. I wasn’t on my own anymore. And this is why I’m so keen to discuss the issue of IBS and everything that comes along with it. Breaking the stigma of talking about something that each and every one of us does is really important to me, particularly as the condition can also have a serious effect on people’s mental health.

I first started experiencing symptoms in my late teens but each and every time I visited my GP it resulted in me being told that I had a stomach bug and to give it 48 hours. It took years of having practically every test under the sun done (I’m talking MRIs, ultrasounds, stool samples, colonoscopies and blood tests) to finally be given a diagnosis. And even then, I was only told that it was most likely IBS, as there is no test to definitively confirm that you have the condition, only ones to rule out more sinister ailments.

Talking about IBS isn’t gross, or TMI or something to be kept behind closed toilet doors. It’s a condition that affects millions of people in the UK alone.

When I was first given the IBS diagnosis, I felt uncomfortable telling people exactly why I had been off work or had to cancel plans at the last minute. I was afraid of going out anywhere new for food or drink, would get seriously stressed out about taking a long train or bus journey and essentially let it dictate what I could and couldn’t do. Basically, I let it affect every part of my life, in silence, whilst my mind and body struggled to cope.

Thankfully I now no longer feel embarrassed about my symptoms or allow them to hold me back as much as they used to. I embrace life with a love for elasticated waistbands (perfect for days when I’m bloated), know my limits when it comes to certain foods and practice proper self-care, the best that I can. And I’m always here for anyone else struggling with the condition or its symptoms. Sometimes just having someone to talk about it openly, really does make the world of difference.


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