Nothing seemed to work. So she pushed on, getting a place at Loughborough University to study communications, and then a job as social media manager for a corporate company. But all the while, her condition was making her feel isolated and anxious.
“I felt panicky all the time,” she says today, sipping mint tea in an east London restaurant. “My palms would sweat and my heart would race. I didn’t want to go to work or venture far from home. I’d try to envisage how every day would pan out and was always anxious if i was going out for dinner, or staying at someone else’s house.”
IBS is a chronic condition affecting the large colon and requiring long-term management. It affects one in seven on a daily basis and for many, like Hatcher, can be utterly debilitating. In 2013, it was the largest cause of days off work in Britain, with sufferers staying at home for 22 days of the year.
For Hatcher, things culminated when she had to call in sick from her job after a restaurant meal had kept her up all night. After suffering in silence for years, she finally felt her symptoms had reached a point where they were interfering with her life too much.