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Anxiety with IBS

Hi Everyone, I'm a 24 year old male and was diagnosed with IBS when I was around 18/19. I take Mebeverine and Amitriptyline religiously and in the last few weeks I've had a Colonoscopy; nothing abnormal was found so I must just have IBS, I guess.
I've never reached out like this before, but I'm really struggling with the anxiety associated with IBS. The slightest stomach cramp and that's it, all my plans cancelled. It has a big impact on my life and my fiance's. It's ruined many events for us, including trips away, social events, and visiting family. I would love to be more adventurous but I find I can't leave the house without constantly worrying about having a flare up. Even more so lately because I have been finding that my body gives me less notice and I don't expect it as much. I haven't eaten anything that would usually cause it for example. Today, I travelled an hour and a half to see family. I was driving and almost there when I went to pass gas and the worst happened. Needless to say, I turned around and travelled an hour and a half home again. I'm grateful I have such an understanding partner, but incontinence really isn't common for me and I'm worried this will knock the confidence that I've been trying to build up for years. It would be comforting to hear if you also struggle with the anxiety around IBS, whether it ruins your social events like mine, whether you're constantly thinking about it like me, and how on Earth you manage it. Thank you so much.

  1. I hear you loud and clear. Yes, I have struggled with this a ton. I think the biggest piece of advice I can give, is you have to get ahead of it and be prepared. This helps ease the anxiety. For example, if I am on a car trip I bring a portable toilet with me in the car. (check them out on amazon). I have a change of extra clothes. Wipes. Plastic bag to throw soiled clothes in. Knowing that I have a plan in place for an accident makes me relax more. Oh, and I suggest wearing womens feminine pads. I know that might be weird for you but it's better than a diaper. It will add a layer of protection if you have a small leak and you can just change the pad rather than your wardrobe. It makes things easier. Also, breathing techniques are super helpful when you feel your gut acting up. -Elizabeth (team member)

    1. Hi, sorry you're impacted so badly. The aim of CBT and hypnotherapy is to reduce awareness to the bowels. As suggested, it's good to be prepared in case of incontinence and live your life in spite of IBS.

      1. Anxiety is totally normal to feel with IBS now in your life.

        I developed IBS back in 2011 and anxiety associated with it was a major problem. I've had to cancel soooo many plans because my bowels would go off, often for no reason at all. There are times when even just having water triggers a b.m. I ended up losing all my friends over time because they hated that I always had to make rain cheques.

        I, too, am very grateful for having an understanding partner.

        Elizabeth is right, planning ahead can really help reduce anxiety cause sh** happens😝
        I have a travel toilet seat (see pic) and use a blanket over my lap so that people just think I am sitting at the side of the road. I have two rolls of toilet paper in the car. When my IBS is a little extra while on the road, I place a black garbage bag to sit on in case of accidents. I have a travel version of the squatty potty so I can bring it with me, there isn't always small and sturdy substitutes at hotels, friends homes, etc. I usually pack at least an extra 5 pairs of underwear and three extra pants/shorts. Oh and extra socks!

        Another major thing in helping with the anxiety was surrendering myself to the reality that I have IBS and sh** happens. Learning to roll with the punches and trying to make the best out of a sh**y situation. (Excuse the puns, I use humor to help cope and survive) I know, easier said than done.

        I have a story on here called "Never Trust a Fart", I talk about the two times I accidentally pooped myself. https://irritablebowelsyndrome.net/stories/never-trust-fart

        Hope this helps
        Travel toilet seat

        1. I feel your pain!


          I am 34 and have had IBS-D for around 7 years and I regularly have to cancel plans. I have even gotten to the stage where I will go an entire day without food (even safe food) to limit the risk of a reaction and thus a BM.


          This isn't always successful as then the anxiety kicks in and messes it up.


          I am "lucky" in that I have managed drives etc without incident BUT it have been very close. The regular drives that I do I know every service station and rest stop along the route, god forbid the road is closed!


          Traffic is a killer for me, the minute I am at a stand still I am anxious and then the aches start.


          I'd say for the most part if I lived a life of no events just eating well (and safe) and just going to work I'd be well managed, but add an event (concert, theatre trip, holiday) its stressful.


          My partner is "okay" but he doesn't get it and we have fallen out about it a number of times.


          I am just starting to look at what out there to manage anxiety as I believe this is what is killing my event plans.

          1. This is so relatable! Events and driving are a big one. I would ask your doctor about anxiety meds for sure. I was put on some temporarily and it helped my IBS symptoms tremendously. It was pretty shocking actually. I got off of them after a bit because I didn't like the other side effects. I felt groggy and drowsy but if you need a moment of help I think it is worth it. I'm glad I was on it temporarily. -Elizabeth (team member)

          2. Hi there, you've spotted that anxiety makes your IBS worse. The next stage is to use non-pharmaceutical techniques to reduce anxiety. Once your mind-body focuses on actual threats (few for most people), your mind will learn that bowel symptoms are not threats. It will take about 2-3 months.

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