We are going to write this in two parts, the first to the parents and families of teenagers with IBS, then to teenagers themselves, we hope not be be offend anyone, we simply wish to help expose the suffering that IBS can induce in young adults.
To Parents and Families
We all remember our teen years, some with joy others with less fond recollections. The one commonality is that most of us remember that it was a difficult time. Hormones, friends, relationship, love and discovery all come tumbling down on us at once.
Compare that to the adult life of work, stress, sleep, eat and you may remember that young adults/ teens do not have it as easy as we may think. Throw into that mix, a condition which few really understand, least of all their peers and you have a potentially corrosive situation.
You may like to think that you understand IBS, but without experiencing it, that is relatively unachievable. IBS and IBD’s are difficult for others to comprehend. To offer up sympathy and understanding, human nature dictates that we like to see the wound. If we see someone park in a disabled spot, we like to see physical evidence for their occupation of that spot.
Our need for physical evidence makes it so hard to comprehend a condition, which many view as nothing more that an increase in the amount of times you need the restroom. The ridiculous amount of digestive symptoms all lumped under the title IBS guarantee that many are able to trivialise the condition.
We are here to ensure those who do not have the condition, that it can be painful and utterly debilitating. It can be humiliating and deeply unpleasant, you may not be able to see the wounds, but left unchecked IBS can inflict massive psychological scars which may take many years to heal.
IBS can effect, moods, academic performance, concentration and mental health. We are not wishing to dramatise the situation, we are simply trying to emphasize the need to support and understand your loved one. This is not the trivial little disorder so many make it out to be. If you child has it already it is most likely to be a condition which is very difficult to treat, and this will require your patience and care.
How to help
The number one requirement for any parent, relative or friend of an IBS sufferer is patience. While some things may help, there is no known cure, so your loved one will have to go through many procedures and many failures before finding what helps.
It can be frustrating for all concerned, but a calm rational head will make the whole process easier. At all times do try and remember the difficulty this condition can create. Most problems are best shared but for Teen IBS sufferers there are very few outlets for their condition. It is such an embarrassing condition when you are young but fully aware of your surroundings. You can not really talk to friends about it, communicating with parents can be problematic, and outside of those groups you will find few people who know or care enough about you to help.
On this note, we would also suggest that you are in a no win situation, pushing a teen to talk never works and has inevitable conclusions, whereas failure to communicate also leaves a vacuum. Teens will often assume that you know how they are feeling, so do try and swot up.
If you are taking the time to read this, then you are already doing a great job, learning about irritable bowel syndrome and how deeply it can effect your loved one shows that you have real concern. Remaining calm and supportive is one of the very best ways that you can help, and your consideration will be appreciated in the long run.
We all know teenagers can be hard work, they can test every facet of your good will. That said, if you can roll with it, in the long run you will have helped you loved one immeasurably. So much of the development which creates us, occurs during this phase of life. Building blocks are being put in place and this is your chance to ensure that they are on strong foundations.