Having conversations with your doctors about things that your body is doing can sometimes be awkward and embarrassing. Especially when it comes to topics that are difficult to discuss – like what happens in the bathroom. For me, it took almost ten years to be able to find a doctor that I was comfortable with sharing my symptoms and working with to discover an official diagnosis: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
IBS is a chronic condition characterized by recurring abdominal pain and a change in bowel habits (diarrhea or constipation). While this may not sound like it’s a big deal, the embarrassment and frustration that I’ve personally felt dealing with this condition for almost twenty years – primarily pain and the need to ALWAYS know where the closest bathroom is in case of a flare-up – can be compounded when you are unsure or embarrassed discussing it with others. Respondents from a 2015 survey reported bowel movements are more uncomfortable to discuss with others than STDs. YIKES!
A new initiative called Picture My IBS offers people a new way to express their feelings about the impact of IBS on their lives, by creating an original piece of artwork in whichever form allows you to best express yourself and your IBS journey. You can submit a painting, drawing, sculpture, collage or any other type of artwork that meets the contest guidelines.
Created by The American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) in collaboration with Allergan and Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, Picture My IBS aims to helps those with IBS find a more comfortable way to communicate with their doctors, to share their IBS journey with others and to show others that they are not alone. This artwork, shared by real people living with IBS, will help elevate public awareness of IBS and shine a light on the many ways it affects people’s lives.
As a real person, living with IBS every single day, here is how I feel:
On a good day:
While not an artist by any stretch of the imagination, you can see from my two pictures that I managed to convey exactly how IBS (and sometimes talking about it) can make me feel.
As part of the Picture My IBS initiative, a panel of judges will evaluate submitted artwork and the Grand Prize Winner will receive a trip for two to a luxury hotel and spa in New York City, and five Honorable Mention Winners will receive a $100 American Express gift card. All winning art will also be featured on the Picture My IBS website.
Whether you have IBS like I do or have loved ones that do, Picture My IBS would love to see your artistic expression. Visit PictureMyIBS.org today for details and to enter the contest for a chance to win one of these exciting prizes.
Disclosure: This was a compensated post on behalf of the Picture My IBS initiative. All experiences are my own. *NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. OPEN TO LEGAL RESIDENTS OF THE FIFTY UNITED STATES, D.C., AGE 18 OR OVER. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. APPROXIMATE RETAIL VALUE OF ALL PRIZES IS $6,500. ODDS OF WINNING DEPEND ON NUMBER AND QUALITY OF ENTRIES RECEIVED. ENTRIES MUST BE RECEIVED BETWEEN NOVEMBER 1, 2016 AND FEBRUARY 28, 2017. ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS AND RESTRICTIONS APPLY. PLEASE SEE COMPLETE CONTEST TERMS AND CONDITIONS AT PICTUREMYIBS.ORG.