7 Annoying Social Situations IBS Sufferers Face

*this post was originally written on an old blog site of mine in 2016, and I moved the content here when that site was deleted.


So I have IBS. It’s common and it’s rubbish and I mostly think it’s just a lazy term used when doctors can’t be bothered to find out the actual cause of your body’s daily battle with food. Not only are there such delightful symptoms like severe abdominal pain and a ballooning stomach, but there’s the added joy of having to do the things that are considered by many to be social no-nos.

Unbuttoning your trousers in public

No, I’m not intending on getting done for indecent exposure, and no I’m not doing a sexy striptease at my desk – sometimes those jeans/trousers I put on in the morning just simply don’t fit me by 2pm. Imagine eating your biggest Christmas dinner; you’re super full and super bloated. In the comfort of your own home you can change into PJ’s, but for us IBS sufferers who can get this feeling after 2 bites of any given lunch, the next best thing is undoing that top button. Otherwise the circulation may be cut off from our mid-region and we’ll be turned into sausages.

Eating at inappropriate times and places

Little and often tends to be the best way to cater to my IBS. That may not be the case for everyone. However not eating can be just as bad as eating the wrong things, sending your body into overdrive when you do eat. So, sometimes I can be *that* guy on the train with my smelly/delicious food, or I may have to whip out some snacks from my bag at the park, pub, in a meeting. It can get awkward and inappropriate, but I’m your girl if your stomach is rumbling as you wait for a bride and groom to finish their 3 hour photoshoot.

Deliberating longer than is necessary over a food menu

Shout out to all my waiter/waitress friends – I know how much it sucks when tables take forever to order. But sometimes we have to practically proofread the menu to make sure there’s no known IBS-aggravating ingredient in there. Apologies to all those we IBS-ers dine with, we anticipate your hangryness.

Breaking wind in public

Sorry to totally bust the myth, but some girls do fart. Moreover, they even burp! A lot of these girls (and a lot of boys) have the luxury of saving their own body noises (and sometimes smells, soz) for the loo, or whenever they are alone. But with IBS, a fart can sneak up on you without warning. There’s no holding that baddy in, and honestly, even if we could we wouldn’t want to. That’s just more pain and grief we don’t need.

Having to have the awkward pregnant conversations

Ok, so this one doesn’t apply if you’re a guy, but many of the lady IBS sufferers will know exactly what I’m on about. Don’t get me wrong, my IBS belly has gotten me a much needed seat on a packed and sweaty tube, preventing me from inevitably fainting. Yet I’ve been offered a seat more often than is comfortable, looked at knowingly and even glared at in a pub for drinking with what isn’t even a food baby, never mind a real one, causing my belly to protrude. If we’re lucky, this is where it ends, but in Glasgow where strangers still talk to each other in public, there can be a “when are you due” conversation for which you either have to invent a mythical baby to save any embarrassment, or attempt to explain the truth without mortifying the stranger.

Pooing in public loos

OMG I poo! It’s disgusting, I know. While we’d all like to pretend we don’t poo and it doesn’t smell, unfortunately that just isn’t the case. And for some IBS sufferers, there are times where there’s just no getting away from it. When nature calls, we either gotta go, or try and wait it out and end up in more agony later on.

Fighting for your water

Water is my constant saviour – if I don’t have constant access to some then there’s always a fear that my mouth will dry and stomach will flare. This means I almost always have water on my person, desk or in my car. But sometimes you’re just not allowed water – ask any airport security person! Or festival/gig security, nightclub doorman…. the list goes on. So, sometimes we’ll hold up the queue when we fight for our water (not in an airport, I don’t have a deathwish), wait while the bouncer checks whether it’s alcohol or water or some sort of radioactive poison, and then possibly not even get it back anyway. We apologise in advance for your inconvenience.

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