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How to Break the Ice When Disclosing IBD to Friends

When you live with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), nothing feels more awkward than being with a group of friends that has no clue what you’re thinking: Where the heck is the bathroom?

Honestly, I wonder at least once a day what life is like when you’re not obsessing over toilets. Do people actually live like that? When you’re surrounded by people, it suddenly feels like the biggest, loudest thought in the room. You want to focus on the conversation and fully engage, but 50% of your attention is toward the line forming at the door toward the back. 

Or maybe it’s another scenario — you’ve been struggling for months with unexplained symptoms, and no one knows what’s been going on. You finally have a diagnosis that explains it all, and now it’s time to disclose to the people closest to you. You want to, but the words escape you once you’re sitting down to do it: What will they think? Or ask? Will they even care? Will they even understand? The internal questioning is endless… perhaps the loudest query is, Why not just keep it to myself?

Well, first of all, please don’t keep it to yourself. It’s always up to you when you want to share with someone, but a life with IBD is really isolating if you don’t find that support network.

Second of all, especially when it comes to close relationships — especially romantic ones — I do understand the hesitation on when and how to share your news. It can feel like an uncomfortable conversation, especially if people don’t know what IBD is (although they can probably gather from the name). 

If you’re ready to break the ice but not sure how to crack it, here are some suggestions to consider:

Dedicate a place and time to talk. Having a set time on the calendar can help you have a goal time to people liking feelings
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