We know it. It’s not easy being around us and our IBS. Many of us feel extremely frustrated and a little alone with our condition. I think most of us feel like a nuisance and want to make light of IBS. While this can be a strategy with people you don’t know well, it doesn’t allow those close you to help you.
Here are a few steps you can take to help others help you:
Talk about it
But not all the time as this will drive everyone insane:) Involve friends and family by helping them to understand what essential trigger foods you need to avoid to enjoy spending quality time with them.
Bring your own drinks with you
Your friends and family may not know what drinks you can have. And the first thing they’ll ask is “What would you like to drink?”
If you come round to see them, they want you to feel good. So bring your own drinks if you need to.
Next time, ask them beforehand if they will have some in, or if you need to bring some. This will help them to think about what for them is a detail, but is important for you.
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 whatever drink you brought with you, while everyone has theirs.
Give clear signals
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 helps everyone, even if it can feel awkward.
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.
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. Ask them to help you find patterns. 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. I just ended up in a heap.
Also 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, and look after the kids, cat, dog, goldfish or other responsibilities while you crash out. If it helps, why not write them a list of essentials and put it on the fridge so you’re no 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.1