My brother and I have been dealing with similar symptoms for a couple of years now. While he has yet to be diagnosed, I suspect he may have mild Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s Disease. He was diagnosed with IBS, but some of his symptoms seem closer to Inflammatory Bowel Disease than IBS. I’ve noticed that although we have been going through the same thing, we have had vastly different experiences. Although my experience has been difficult and unpleasant, my brother faced even greater difficulties, probably due to the difference in our ages.
My brother is a senior in college, while I am a senior in high school. I was diagnosed when I was thirteen, and he was diagnosed last summer. I had a better support system because I was so young: My mom helped me to change my entire diet, and my parents helped me with my accommodations for school and provided emotional support when I needed it. I never felt completely alone.
My brother’s experience, on the other hand, was much harder because he was living alone. He was supposed to be preparing for his future, but his symptoms were weighing him down, and he was at a point in his life where his teachers didn’t care that much about his illness. He had to learn how to make his own food, he had to schedule appointments, and he had to force himself to get up in the morning no matter how much pain he felt.
We bonded, in a way, over our shared symptoms. I gave him as much advice as I could, but I knew he would be alone during this time. He also never truly explained to his friends what was happening with his body. If he had been honest with them, they would have been able to offer him their support and he may not have felt so alone.
The main difference between us is that one of us had a support system and the other did not. I know having somebody by your side is a great help, especially mentally. I hope in the future he relies on his friends to help him through difficult times.
Despite the differences, there are many things, to which both teens and young adults with IBD can relate. I found an article on how we can all cope with IBD. Overall, the most important thing is to find a support system.