Irritable bowel syndrome comes up a lot in medical journals. Your doctor has probably mentioned it to you once or twice when you’ve complained of digestive discomfort. People who don’t have irritable bowel syndrome can think it’s not really a big deal—that it’s akin to seasonal allergies and those who have it can just pop some over-the-counter medication and go on about their day. But irritable bowel syndrome can consume a person’s life. Because of the very nature of the syndrome (it’s not exactly the most glamorous topic) people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome don’t usually talk about it. But considering that between 24 and 45 million people in the United States suffer from it, and two out of three of whom are women, there is a good chance that individuals in your circle of friends have some degree of irritable bowel syndrome. Here are struggles only people with irritable bowel syndrome understand.
1-Dating someone new is complicated
Sleeping over at a new boyfriend’s house is an experience filled with land mines. You wish you didn’t have to explain why you spend so much time in the bathroom, and you wish you could just hop out of bed and have the heavy brunch he wants to make you. But you don’t get to have any mystery in your relationships.
2-Early wake ups ruin everything
Your internal clock is extremely sensitive. If you have to get up at 5 in the morning for a flight, you just can’t go to the bathroom that day. And when you can’t go one day, it makes it harder to go the next day. It’s not that you aren’t a morning person or you like to sleep late—it’s that your bowels need proper rest to work.
3-Traveling can be a nightmare with irritable bowel syndrome
Having to go to the bathroom fast because your train is leaving in ten minutes and being conscious of the long line for the airplane bathroom—these are some of your worst nightmares.
4-Thai food for a first date—HA!
Your date wants to take you somewhere adventurous like a Thai food restaurant or a Szechuan place. You want to be a good sport, but eating that food will ruin the night.
5-Things like camping and Coachella: NO
You aren’t being a Princess or a diva or high maintenance. You literally cannot just use porta potties all weekend. It doesn’t work that way for you.
6-You sneak your office into the bathroom
You try to low-key bring your laptop, coffee, phone, and phone charger into the bathroom. You’re going to be in there for a while, so you may as well get some work done.
7-You take calls on the toilet
You’ve taken serious business calls on the toilet. You’re a master at hitting the mute button at just the right times.
8-You tailor your wardrobe to it
High-waist pants that close tight around your tummy? Crop tops that show off your abdomen? Hah. Those are for other people. You never know when bloat will destroy your day, and you need clothes that accommodate it.
9-You really do need your own bathroom with irritable bowel syndrome
You don’t have a problem sharing space. You’re not spoiled. But you truly need your own bathroom. You’re willing to pay the extra $200 in rent every month to have it.
10-You’ve spent a lot of time and money on doctors
You don’t even want to think about the thousands of dollars you’ve spent on doctors, trying to find out what’s wrong with you. All they ever said was you have irritable bowel syndrome, and there’s really no cure.
11-You’ve canceled plans because of it
You’ve canceled plans you were really looking forward to because your irritable bowel syndrome acted up. Your friends think you’re a hypochondriac or you make too big of deal of “Just a little stomach ache.”
12-Coffee has to be timed out correctly with irritable bowel syndrome
No, you can’t just try this famous Cappuccino place in the city at 4 pm. Coffee has some very special effects on you, and your friend doesn’t have time to wait while those effects take place.
13-Everyone thinks they have the magic cure
Everyone thinks they know the one trick to cure your irritable bowel syndrome. Have you tried this powder you mix into your water? Have you tried this probiotic? Have you tried cutting this out of your diet? Adding that? Yes, you have tried it all.
14-New foods are a bit scary
You never quite know how your body will react to a brand new food, which makes trying them away from home (and away from your bathroom) scary.
15-Surprise visitors are not a good thing
You do not like it when people just pop by your apartment to say hello. Your apartment is your irritable bowel syndrome sanctuary. For all they know, you just got the lighting right, did the perfect yoga pose, and had that tea that helps you go to the bathroom. And then somebody knocked on the damn door.
16-You had a colonoscopy very young
Most people have their first colonoscopy at age 50, but not you! You had one when you were 20 years old. Preparing for and recovering from it is how you spent your Spring Break, sophomore year of college.
17-Your routine is so important with irritable bowel syndrome
You don’t have OCD and you aren’t afraid to shake things up. Your intestines are a delicate ecosystem and they depend on your routine to function.
18-You can’t be rushed out the door
You’re not one of those people who can just hop out of bed and walk out the door. You need at least an hour at home in the morning to see if your bowels have any business to take care of.
19-People think you’re vain
Because you spend so much time in the bathroom. Yeah right—you wish you were in there doing your makeup. That sounds nice.
20-Exercise is complicated
You can’t really exercise unless you’ve gone to the bathroom that day and had a satisfactory bowel movement. Otherwise exercising can just, um, shake things up in a bad way. That’s why you can’t meet the girls for a beach power walk at 10 am on a Saturday.