We are always looking for things to help with IBS. But what about asking the people close to you for their help and support with IBS too?
We know it’s not easy being around us and our IBS. Many of us feel extremely frustrated and a little alone with our condition. And most of us feel like a nuisance and want to make light of IBS.
Here are a few tips to help others help you with IBS:
Talk about it
Involve friends and family by helping them to understand what essential trigger foods you need to avoid, to enjoy spending quality time with them.
Make it clear that when you go to the bathroom, you don’t know how long you will be. Let them know not to wait for you, but to just carry on.
When people forget – try not to get upset
They don’t regularly suffer from IBS, so they will forget!
This doesn’t mean they don’t care, it’s just human nature.
Maybe they serve up melon as a quick starter, and they have forgotten you can’t eat melon.
Tell them gently “Sorry, I can’t have any because it sets me off”, and leave it at that.
Reassure them that you are fine just sipping away at your glass of water, while everyone has theirs.
Give clear signals
Most of us feel like a nuisance and want to make light of IBS. But that can create confusion for those around you.
In the case of the melon, don’t force yourself to eat it anyway because it is easier.
You know you will pay for it.
And no-one will understand what is going on.
They may think this is you being picky because you are not being clear about your needs.
Being clear and consistent helps everyone, even if it can feel awkward.
Other people are not mindreaders.
If you have a partner or someone you spend a lot of time with, they may want to support you but not know how to. If you involve them you are empowering them to feel useful.
Ask them to help with IBS triggers
One of the most valuable things they can do for you is to be your mirror and guide you.
When we are in pain, or feeling fatigued, we simply don’t have a clear head to see what is triggering us.
For example, it was my husband who saw that eating outside in the sun triggered me, even if I was careful what I ate. He could see the pattern repeating itself. While I just ended up in a heap.
Tell them what you need when you have a flare-up
Let them know what they can do to help you when you are having a bad time with IBS (granted, half the time we don’t always know ourselves:)
- Maybe they can prompt you to take meds, drink water.
- Maybe they can give you a hug while you have a good cry, and then leave you alone
- Or they can look after the kids, cat, dog, goldfish or other responsibilities while you crash out.
If it helps, why not write them a “What to do” list of essentials and put it on the fridge so you’re not trying to explain this while rolling around in pain.
Letting them know is involving them in your challenge, and empowering them to help you in the way that you need.
Get outside support and help with IBS
When certain friends or family members are a pain or make a big deal out of your IBS, avoid them.
And look to an outside IBS support group instead. There are many on FB full of other IBS sufferers who really understand. They will listen and give you support where no-one else can.4