I was sat thinking about how nice it was to be working from home, contemplating all of the benefits I now indulge in. One of these benefits, as silly as it sounds, is actually being able to go to the toilet whenever without feeling embarrassed! I know that sounds odd, so let me explain..
My old job, as lovely as it was, was very difficult for me both mentally and physically. I didn’t start until 9, but unknowingly living with Ulcerative Colitis, I was up at 6am – just to go to the toilet; for I knew that if I didn’t, I’d be sat at my desk in pain for the next 8 hours. It wasn’t just getting up at 6am though, it was having to drink a coffee, followed by a cigarette, followed by a mug of hot water whilst slowing eating a banana, followed by trying for the toilet, followed by another cigarette, followed by a laxative or two and so on.. every day, for 6 months. It may not sound like a big deal to you, but imagine being in so much pain, being so bloated, trying everything you could to get rid of that feeling, whilst having to rush to leave for your train into work; even though you got up 3 hours earlier. If my morning routine didn’t work for me, I’d sit in the office clenching onto my stomach as it filled with shooting pains. Once I’d actually got to work, within an hour of being there I would have been to the toilet 3 times, as I’d drunk so much caffeine! I felt so insecure and embarrassed, having to excuse myself every 15 minutes to go to the toilet – I can’t imagine how annoying it must’ve been for my boss! Which led me to think… why was I so embarrassed?
It seems that going to the toilet is such a taboo topic. No one wants to talk about it yet everyone does it. I mean, we talk about sex, we talk about love, we talk about food, all such natural things that everyone of us has some sort of experience with. But what about something as natural as going to the toilet? Something we all do throughout the day. Why has it been made into such a dismissive subject?
I’m not saying we all start greeting each other with “Good morning! Have you been to the toilet today?” No. What I am saying though, is that maybe if we were all a little bit more open and a little less embarrassed, people like me wouldn’t have to struggle so much to seek help. So many people who suffer with IBD and IBS are suffering in silence. It’s more than just a toilet trouble. It’s more than just constipation, diarrhea and stomach cramps. It’s the fear of leaving your house, it’s being in excruciating pain for days on end, it’s having to make excuses not to go out, having to call in sick, terrified of embarrassing yourself at work, but knowing you have no other way of paying your rent. But if we could all lift the stigma of toilet use, imagine how much more at ease people suffering so privately could feel? Not being scared of telling someone, in fear of being humiliated. Not being told it is just an excuse for laziness; and not having to suffer in silence!
The amount of fiber I had to indulge in and the amount of foods I had to avoid just in the hope nothing bad would happen the next day was ridiculous. The frequent use of laxatives that ended up becoming my daily snack, the amount of cigarettes I’d smoke just in the hope that something would happen.. it just made me worse! If someone would have just listened to me, and respected what I was telling them without making it into a laughing matter, everything could have been different.
It’s sad that my body had to take such a dramatic fall for someone to listen to me, without making a joke out of how I was feeling – I even had my doctor rolling his eyes at me! But if we were all a little bit more open and a little bit more accepting starting now, so many people could be saved from the pain they’re hiding from you. And some people hide it well. If we as a society accepted nature for what it is, and turned it into a less stigmatic conversation, we could all become a little bit more open minded, and a little less judgmental.
I can’t wait for a day when someone can approach you with “look I’m having really bad toilet troubles” without fearing a smirk or a giggle from the person opposite. It’s silly really, because everybody does it… but for some people it’s not so second nature!