Charlotte's story
1st June 2017

Charlotte's story

Inspiring Body Strength: gutting into gear with IBS

I created this image; a lightning bolt to resemble the strikes of pain hitting the gut, the gradient colours as IBS is so variant for individuals – and my own love of bright colours to show my individuality.

The concept behind the title is a pun on IBS, I wanted to replace what each of the letters stand for with something related, but a feel-good factor.

“You have IBS.” Three words that summarised this agony, this humiliation, this disgusting condition. I was approaching 18 years of age and this was not something that boosted my confidence when I was planning my carnage on the town with friends, who were getting their provisional driving licences, not IBS.

Prescribed a box of pills and six years later, I realised these would be with me for the rest of my life. They never took away all of the symptoms, but they at least allowed me to live my life and not worry about a bog every time I went out.

At least 1,000 hours I spent on powdering my nose, curled up on the floor, biting into towels so people could not hear my screams of agony. At least 10,000 excuses as to why I had been ‘so long’ in the bathroom. The winds are heard a million miles away.

What I have learnt as somebody with IBS is that whilst you will always have the condition, you can change your perspective and that of others. Learning to laugh at my condition has sparked the cheer amongst others. If you laugh, so will other people. I truly believe that. I have a partner who accepts the smells, sounds and sensations in the packed bag of IBS. I laugh when I let rip in public, and usually, so do others. I embrace it.

Embrace is a big word. Usually it is not easy, but it certainly makes a difference if you can master the art.

Today I don’t feel so well.
Tomorrow my stomach will swell.
Yesterday I was in pain.
Last week, I felt like a large drain.
Last month, I ate something bad.
Next week, I might feel sad.

No consistency. Yo-yo. Up and Down. Unpredictable.
That is it. My body and I do not feel stable.
I crease up on the floor, my appendix a large cable.
But friends, family, colleagues – don’t know me by the label.
“The girl with IBS”.

Often catch 22.
Stress equals IBS. IBS equals stress.
Like a constant wheel turning.
Stomach always churning.
An inflamed gut almost burning.

If it will define, let it be positive.
Go ahead with the life you want to live.
I want to promote IBS which captures strong mind and guts.
“The girl with inspirational bowel stories.”

Charlotte has had IBS for over 10 years. She works at the University of Sheffield and is in the process of setting up new support groups in the area.


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