I know that I can't be afraid of living my life, but how do I overcome that fear? In order to overcome your fear on living, you have to understand what your true limitations socially consist of and then be able to recognize what you are truly afraid of. This is separating the facts from the "what ifs." If you can separate the things that are actual facts about your disease from the things that might happen when you are out, you will be able to enjoy social events more. I also believe there are three simple tricks that can help take some of the stress out of attending social events, and help you live a more normal life.
First, be smart! Do not do something that is actually going to be hazardous to your health! For example, I cannot eat steak due to my disease, so it would be entirely careless to go out with friends for a steak dinner! I need to understand my true limitations and not worry about the one's I can't control. Making a choice to do something that you know will be harmful to your health, will have negative repercussions and will be make you hesitant to go out in the future. So by avoiding situations that are bad for you, you are actually having a positive influence on how you view social outings!
Second, Communicate your limitations to the people you are going to be going out with. In almost every situation, if I were to say, "can we go to this place instead so I can get something too", my friends would be more than happy to accommodate! If they truly are your friends, they will be willing to make changes so you can go with them! So be honest with them about what your limitations truly are, and don't be afraid to tell them how your disease affects you! By slightly altering social events to make you more comfortable, you will enjoy them more and be willing to go out more in the future!
Lastly, understand that if you start feeling ill, you don't have to stay, everyone understands that we cannot control how we feel. It took me a long time to realize that admitting I didn't feel good and couldn't do something doesn't make me a weak person. I thought that I should just tough it out so people wouldn't realize how bad I felt, but that is not healthy. People will understand if you have to leave dinner early or make frequent trips to the bathroom, because chances are they've had the stomach flu and have had those same symptoms. So even though they don't experience Irritable bowel disease symptoms everyday, they probably have had similar symptoms at some point. I still have a hard time leaving events early due to now feeling well, but I've learned that people do not think you are weak for having to leave, they typically are very understanding! So be your own advocate and understand that leaving an event early is sometimes necessary and isn't anything you should be ashamed of doing!
I know this has been a long post and that all of these concepts may not apply directly to your life, but I also know that I am sometimes afraid to live my life and do not want to have this fear anymore! Everyone needs to be able to have fun and relax and I know having IBD makes those things more difficult, but we already live abnormal lives, why not make an effort to make our social lives a little more normal? Because I know that I could do with a little more normal in my not so norma life.