“People assume”

I have had IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) since the age of 9. Symptoms vary considerably from person to person; I have a very severe form of it from which the main symptom is chronic pain. No painkillers I have ever had do anything to relieve the pain, except when delivered through an IV in hospital. During a bad flare up I can be in tears and shaking, unable to even get up to get to the bathroom to throw up. As a side effect from the disruption to my digestive system I have also developed stomach ulcers. Due to my symptoms I will never be able to live on my own, and am unlikely to be able to hold down a full time job. Last term I missed about a third of my lectures due to illness.

The reaction I get when I talk about my condition to others can be very upsetting. IBS comes in much milder variations so people generally do not consider it to be a disability, although in my case it certainly is. People assume I can control it through diet, as some people can, and do not believe that I have tried eliminating literally every food I can think of to see if I can find a trigger. People also constantly feel the need to tell me that they understand what I am going through. When I call up someone to say I can’t come out and meet them due to illness, they often tell me that they know where I am coming from and start telling me about a cold that they have, and asking me if I have tried special tea/generic painkillers.

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