Dirty Bourbon has been advocating for our invisible disability community since 2020.
This week is invisible disability week, and we’re back with another content creator who advocates for our community, Christine Olivo or @myibslife on Insta, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube!
Christine is such a gem. Her Instagram reels are honestly so relatable, and as a fellow IBS warrior, her upbeat spin on some really shitty situations (pun intended) makes the world a better place.
We asked Christine why she invites us, the internet, into her daily “shit show” called life (her words) and she shared why she does what she does, and her best advice for fellow invisible disability friends.
Dirty Bourbon: Why do you advocate?
Christine Olivo: It’s funny, actually - I totally fell into patient advocacy on accident. It started when I created my Instagram page, MyIBSLife, which was just a dumb meme account I started as a way to sarcastically cope with the struggles and anxieties I have everyday with IBS. Once more and more people started following my account, and I realized how many thousands of other people struggled with the same exact problems, I became passionate about raising awareness on all types of gut issues and chronic illnesses. I continue to do it so no one else ever has to feel as alone or embarrassed as I did for 10+ years.
DB: What's one thing you wish people would understand about your invisible disability?
CO: I think Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) gets a bad rap for being a “made-up” condition, where you just get ‘bad tummy aches’ and sh*t your pants sometimes. I wish people knew how much more complex and draining living with IBS can be, both physically AND mentally. It’s more than just symptoms of diarrhea and constipation (which… like, can we just agree that sucks in general?!) — it’s bloating, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, brain fog, mood swings, fatigue, etc. And it can be different every single day.
DB: How does spoon theory apply to you, if at all?
CO: As with many people who have some type of chronic illness or condition, I feel as though my spoons are ALWAYS low. On ‘normal’ days, when my pain and symptoms are present but manageable, my spoons are more plentiful, but still low. It can still be exhausting just doing simple everyday tasks (showering, cleaning, working, etc.) that everyone else seems to do with no problem. On flare days? Forget it. I have only enough spoons/energy just to survive the day.
DB: What drew you to Dirty Bourbon, what does the brand mean to you?
CO: Jamey was my first insight into Dirty Bourbon when I randomly saw him on my TikTok ‘for you page’ a few years ago. His realness and rawness on what it’s like to live with chronic illness hit me RIGHT in my feels, and I stalked his TikTok page for so long afterwards. Once I watched his videos and found the Dirty Bourbon website with all their merch, I just felt like I was in a place where I belonged and was understood. Every video and piece of clothing designed by the Dirty Bourbon team just perfectly encapsulates what it’s like to live with chronic mental and/or physical pain, but with a badass warrior twist to it.
DB: What's the hardest thing you've overcome in life?
CO: Suicidal thoughts and tendencies. For anyone else struggling out there, I promise there are brighter days ahead - Please know you are not alone and please keep fighting. (DB Note: If you’re struggling, please reach out for help. 988 is a hotline with 24/7 free and confidential support.)
DB: What's a good day look like for you?
CO: Being able to eat 2-3 full meals in a day without feeling sick, being able to stay focused and productive on work and being able to feel truly and fully present in my life that day without being fixated on my pain or symptoms.
DB: What's one thing you love about yourself?
CO: My resilience to bounce back from any and all hardships life throws at me!
Click the links to follow Christine’s “shit show” (again, her words) on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, or Twitter.