Do people talk to you like you have a chronic illness? No, me either. People talk to me like I’m a completely healthy, normal human being. Even people who know that I have had IBS for years and years and years talk to me like there’s no problem, like I have hayfever or a mild case of the mumps.
There is a very fine balance between moaning about your symptoms all the time, annoying the hell out of everyone and having no thought to the problems of others, and being entirely silent about your IBS and having to constantly pretend that you are fine.
I don’t think I’ve found the right balance yet. Well, OK, in the internet world I talk about IBS endlessly, but in the real world I hardly ever mention it.
And that, in the end, is probably why people talk to me like I’m fine, even when I’m falling apart. If I’m honest I would like more sympathy, more appreciation of the fact that I’m often in pain, more understanding of the things I have had to give up.
But on the other hand, sometimes I just don’t want to talk about the symptoms because then a poor unsuspecting non-sufferer says something like “Oh dear, that’s a shame, have you tried not eating potatoes? That worked for my mother-in-law when she had a touch of IBS last weekend.” And then I just feel more isolated then ever, and find myself having to explain that some IBS cases are not solved quite so easily.
Even when I’ve managed to talk about it I still feel like there’s a huge gulf between my perception of IBS and other people’s. To me it’s a mountain, to them it’s a molehill. And I don’t really now how to bridge that gap.