Many IBD sufferers go through the bathroom battle on a daily basis. Just knowing that someone else is in the bathroom can cause enough anxiety to make you have diarrhea. Many get angry with their significant other, children or roommates every day. “They shouldn’t be in there so long because I need to go NOW.” But the reality is that EVERYBODY POOPS. Sure, it really sucks having Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis and needing to go more frequently, more urgently, but it isn’t fair to the others in the house when the Crohnie claims the bathroom for themself. Having IBD doesn’t give you dominion over the bathroom. If this is an on going problem, it is up to us, the IBD warriors, to find an alternative.
I have had bloody diarrhea in so many trash cans over the years because the only bathroom in the house was occupied. As humiliating as it is to have the runs in a trash can, it’s better than screaming at whoever is in the bathroom and demanding they pinch it off and get out. Leave others to poo in peace, like you want to be left in peace when you’re in there for the 50 millionth time that day.
Constantly being angry and demanding they stop mid-poop to accommodate you can eventually cause them to develop bathroom anxiety. This can lead to their own pooping problems. I’ve spoken to several people who believe that the on going bathroom battle with their IBD partner is causing them or their children to develop digestive issues. One man even asked me if the stress over the bathroom can cause him to have UC like his wife. This never-ending battle can also create major divisions in the relationship. When one partner feels that their needs are never considered, that they constantly have to take a back seat, resentment begins to grow.
Every single person with IBD has had the “Should you be eating that,” conversation at least once. If you live with other people, you probably have arguments about what you eat on a regular basis. It’s so annoying but that conversation often comes about because they are also stressed about the situation. When you live with other people and go down the “I know I shouldn’t eat this but …worth it,” route, they have every right to be upset. Your poor life decisions are also negatively impacting them. Not only do they have to see you suffer the consequences of a poor choice, they also have to suffer through not having access to the bathroom as a result.
Having IBD is so hard and we desperately need the support of the people around us. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have to take any responsibility for ourselves or our decisions. There are things you can do to improve your bathroom situation … and your health. Start a food journal and learn which foods are causing you the most digestive upset and sending you to the bathroom the most frequently. And maybe most importantly, put yourself on a schedule! When I’ve suggested a schedule, many have come back with, “You can’t put diarrhea on a schedule!” Well, duh. That’s not what you’re doing. You’re putting yourself on a schedule which can help your body calm down and get into a rhythm. Wake up, go to bed, eat and go to the bathroom (even if you don’t feel like you need to go) at the same times every single day. A consistent schedule can help reduce the sense of urgency and also improve your sleep. Doing this seriously changed my life. I no longer run to the bathroom in a panic. I effortlessly and painlessly go at the same times each day.
If you’re in a new relationship, talk about the bathroom situation prior to moving in together. A second bathroom might be a necessary investment for a harmonious household. It’s also up to you to bring it up. So many people get angry with their significant other because they are in the bathroom but the issue was never mentioned and they have no clue their IBD partner is even upset. Then those angry feelings build up and can eventually lead to an explosion of resentment over something they had no idea about.
Set yourself up for success. Talk honestly with the people you live with about the bathroom situation. Put yourself on a schedule and stick to it! Start a food journal and eliminate your trigger foods. And keep a lined container or portable toilet handy for emergencies. You can conquer the bathroom battle!
Check out my blog about food journaling for tips on how to keep a detailed journal.
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