How to be more supportive of people with gastrointestinal diseases

When you have any condition that affects the gi tract such as IBS it can be very stressful to go anywhere because you are constantly worried that you are going to have a flare and get embarrassed in front of your friends and family. Why can’t we just make dietary changes to control our symptoms and prevent having these flares out in public? Yes, I will give you that the symptoms of pretty much any gastrointestinal disease are not pleasant and making dietary changes may help can help with having less flares but it does not mean you will never have any because sometimes you don’t know what caused them so there is no way you could have prevented them.  Wanna be more supportive of someone with a gastrointestinal disease? Here are a few ways on how you can show your support!

Try and understand-  If people with gastrointestinal diseases knew when they were going to have a flare they just wouldn’t go out in public that day but unfortunately, that is not always the case because most of the times these problems arise unexpectedly. With any type of gi condition, there is always the possibility of having a flare and let me remind you it’s more embarrassing for the person experiencing it than the person witnessing it. No one is asking for you to fully understand our condition because we know that’s impossible but we are asking that you try and understand! Read articles, ask people who have the condition do whatever it takes to help you better understand what it’s like to live with that condition.

Don’t mock- When you have a gi condition as much as you may try to prevent all flares when you’re out in public it is nearly impossible to do so. If your friends are laughing at someone because they are in the bathroom for forty-five minutes that does mean you have to. Be the bigger person and stand up for them and if you aren’t comfortable doing that just ignore it because laughing with your friends about a problem someone cannot control is very childish. No, not everyone that spends a long time in the bathroom will have a gi condition but unless you know that person and know for a fact they don’t it’s not fair to judge or make fun of them.

Educate yourself– Eww that’s gross I’m glad I don’t have that!  Some disabilities especially ones that affect the gi tract will not have pleasant symptoms but before you make any hurtful accusations about a disability please educate yourself by talking to someone who has that disability or researching it because you may learn that it is not as terrible as you originally thought it would be.

Don’t ask embarrassing questions– I don’t care how well we know each other if you ask me a personal question out in public I will never give you a straight answer because it’s embarrassing. If you know me personally and you so happened to notice I am having problems then why are you asking personal questions out in public and not waiting until we get home? What is it that you need to know so badly that can’t wait a couple of hours? If you know someone who suffers from a gi condition you may have a lot of personal questions that you want to ask while out in public but if that person is anything like me they will probably not give you a straight answer or will just get mad at you for asking for so unless you need to know at that moment wait until a more appropriate time to ask these more personal questions.

Gastrointestinal diseases are not something that most people want to talk but it’s something people should not be afraid to talk about because these conditions are just as important as other disabilities. If a disability is not of interest to you and grosses you out then fine I am not going to judge you for it or ask you to go study gi diseases because we all have different hobbies and interests and that may not be one of them. What I do ask is that you don’t make fun of someone who has a disability regardless of what it is because that will make them more self-conscious of themselves and make it difficult for them to embrace their disabilities.  If you have any questions about how to be supportive of someone with gastrointestinal diseases please leave them in the comments below.

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