Inflammatory bowel disease is a term mainly used to describe the conditions of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Both diseases are long term chronic conditions which usually involve inflammation of the gut.
Because Inflammatory bowel disease is invisible, it can be incredibly hard to seek support and get the help and understanding that is very much needed.
Instead, many sufferers are faced with judgement and disbelief, simply because those who aren’t familiar with either condition refuse to believe that people could possibly be suffering if it isn’t immediately – physically – obvious.
Here are 13 things suffers of Inflammatory bowel disease are tired of hearing:
1. ‘I have IBS, that’s the same isn’t it?’
No, it’s no. IBS is Irritable bowel syndrome – a long term condition affecting your digestive system.
IBD is Inflammatory bowel disease – a term used to describe not only, but prominently, Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis.
IBD is currently an incurable illness. IBS isn’t life threatening despite how unpleasant it is.
2. ‘Maybe if you ate better you would feel better’
Diet tends to have nothing to do with your IBD, you could eat all the fruit and vegetables in the world, you’d still have IBD. While it may work for some, it won’t always work for others – in fact, foods with more fibre tend to put many people into a flare.
3. ‘Try this product, it will cure you’
You’re on Facebook after a long night of no sleep and lots of toilet trips. You open Facebook and you’ve got an inbox from someone you have never met telling you they have the cure for your IBD.
No amount of juices, drinks or diets is going to change the fact you have IBD. While they may help with some symptoms, they are definitely not going to cure your disease.
4. ‘You’re so boring now you never do anything’
It’s not that we’re boring, we’re unwell. Our bodies are constantly fighting a daily battle just to muster up the energy to move from your bed.
We’d love to be able to live a ‘normal’ life, not worrying about where the nearest toilet is or if we’re going to have an accident.
5. ‘Stop being lazy’
I wish it was that simple, it’s not that we’re being lazy. We genuinely don’t have the energy some days to do anything.
When you have IBD, your body is in effect attacking itself and there’s nothing you can do.
6. ‘Why are you sleeping all the time?’
We all love sleep, don’t we?
Imagine waking up constantly tired every morning. No matter how much sleep you do get, you could still sleep for another 12 hours.
7. ‘Do you really need to use those disabled toilets?’
Well yes we do, it’s a difference between having an accident or getting to the toilet on time.
Some sufferers of IBD have had sugery and have ostomy bags, which need emptying and sometimes replacing. A small toilet cubicle doesn’t have the necessary space – or cleanliness – to do this.
8. ‘Exercise, it will make you feel better’
While all of us should be exercising and living a healthy life style. It won’t cure your IBD.
It may help with some of your symptoms but it’s definitely no cure.
And when someone’s literally just a couple of weeks out of life-saving surgery, going for a jog isn’t exactly easy.
9. ‘You’re ill again?’
It’s an incurable illness, it isn’t going away anytime soon.
We may be ‘ill again’ but there’s not much we can do about it. Sorry.
10. ‘It’s all in your head’
It’s most definitely not all in our heads.
There’s no way to sugarcoat this but we wouldn’t be spending so much time on the toilet or in pain, if we were making it up.
11. ‘You’ve lost/put on weight’
With IBD it happens both ways, your body isn’t retaining enough nutrients and vitamins.
This can cause weight loss, it can happen instantly.
On the flip side, some medications used to manage IBD can make you gain weight.
Unfortunately we don’t have much choice or control over our body and we can put on weight.
We don’t need these comments, they’re not helpful or necessary.
12. ‘You’re going to the toilet… again?!’
Like your average normal person we need to go to the toilet, the difference with us is we need use the toilet more.
We usually can’t control when we need to go.
13. ‘It’s just an excuse, surely it’s not that bad’
It’s definitely not an excuse.
Life would be a lot easier if it was just an excuse. We wouldn’t be in constant pain visiting the toilet frequently.
Some days might not be as bad as others but we can’t predict how we’re going to feel.
Sufferers of IBD out there, we salute you, you fight every single day against something that has now become normality for you. If that doesn’t signify complete and utter strength I don’t know what does.
Words by James Conlon