5 Lies You Tell When You Have IBD

You Aren't Lying Because You Want To — But Sometimes You Feel You Have To

Nobody sets out to be a liar. We especially don't want to lie to our family and friends. But our inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can sometimes put us in a position where we just don't know how to tell the truth. In other situations, such as at work or school, or we are afraid the truth will be too much information for some people to handle, or that it could affect our career in a negative way. 

The end result: We tell a lot of fibs. It would be nice to be honest, and honesty can start a conversation about IBD that could wind up educating other people about the disease. Awareness is a big issue for people with IBD, because the public perception is that people with IBD have mental disorders or brought the disease on themselves with a poor diet or stress. Talking about your IBD with other people and offering them the truth about the disease can go a long way towards changing their perception.

When you are afraid of losing your job or your health insurance, you need to do what's right for you. The time may come when you are able to talk about your Crohn's disease or your ulcerative colitis, and when it does, you'll be ready for it. Until then, you're probably going to find yourself stretching the truth at times. Here are the things you may find yourself saying when someone confronts you about canceling plans or how many times you've been in the bathroom today.


"I'm Fine"

Fingers crossed behind back
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When you have a chronic illness, and especially after you've been hospitalized, people tend to ask you how you are feeling. It's a loaded question: if you answered honestly, some people might react negatively. So, typically, you answer with "I'm fine," "I'm OK," "I'm doing better," or some other variant. The people closest to you will know that this is not true, especially if you are having complications or you are taking a lot of medications. But for acquaintances or coworkers, you just might not be ready to share very much with them.

Related: "I'll live," "I'm sure I'll feel better tomorrow," or "I'll be OK."


"That's OK, I'm Not Hungry"

No Thanks
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The only food available is trail mix or corn on the cob, and even though you're starving, you declare that you're not actually hungry at all. In some cases you can prepare for this situation, but in others there's not a lot you can do so you just need to roll with it. You can't eat the food, it won't go over well with your body right now, but you're starving. So, you starve in silence, or maybe sneak off to eat a piece of white bread in the corner when no one is looking.

Related: "I ate earlier," "I have food allergies," "I'm vegan/vegetarian/paleo/low-carb."


"I Must Have the Stomach Flu"

Empty Toilet Paper Roll
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Most people won't comment when they see you in the bathroom multiple times in a day (or in an hour), but some people will ask you what is going on. Usually, it's because they care about your well-being, although there is the rare person who is asking because they're just plain nosey. Everybody knows what it's like to have diarrhea for a short time, even healthy adults have diarrhea two or three times a year. Telling someone that you have gastroenteritis or "ate something bad" usually shuts down the conversation pretty quick. 

Related: "I drank too much water," "I have a really small bladder," "I think my dinner is repeating on me."


"Sorry, I Have Other Plans"

Plan B Blackboard
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One of the hardest things for friends and family to understand about IBD is why you may not be able to go out for dinner or drinks, or why you might cancel plans at the last minute. It's tricky to balance relationships when you are just trying so hard to hold yourself together and you don't have the energy to be able to do the social things that other people are doing. Even when you do tell the truth, people can get upset if you must cancel plans frequently, or need to turn down their invitations.

Related: "I'm just too busy," "I have to work," "I can't get a babysitter."


"You Know, I Take a Lot of Vitamins"

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People with chronic illness may take a lot of different medications. It can get tricky to fit them all in: you may have to take them at different times during the day, with food or without food, and it's possible you can't combine some of them. This could mean that it looks like you are constantly putting pills in your mouth. Passing them off as vitamins or supplements seems to be a more acceptable way of handling the situation.

Related: "I'm on antibiotics," "My doctor says I need vitamin D/iron/calcium."

Are You Ready to Tell the Truth?

Living a full life while keeping a chronic illness is challenging. There are times when you may want to just gloss over your disease, especially when you don't have the energy to spare. Everyone has to make their own way, and sometimes you just need to do what's necessary to get along. But when you are ready to become an advocate for yourself or others with IBD, consider talking about your disease with someone who doesn't know you are ill. You have the opportunity to spread awareness and it will most certainly help other people to support you. It may even help you to better understand yourself.

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