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Do you have difficulty setting boundaries and saying no?

Living with IBS requires a delicate balance between managing symptoms and prioritizing personal well-being. Setting boundaries and learning to say no can be difficult but is often necessary.

Tell us about a time you had to say no to something you wanted to do. What boundaries did you set that helped you make that decision?

  1. I have often had to say no to something I wanted to do because of IBS, or the shut-off, gut-focused curse of it all. But usually that doesn't involve other people. I might want to go for one of my long hikes in a beautiful woods, but can't go (like I used to!)


    Social scenarios are not a huge thing with me. But I have mostly been fine going out to my friend's home in town. to either have dinner or someone's birthday, or Christmas etc, or to help out during the day.
    There have only been a couple of times I've had to phone her and tell her I won't be coming.


    I have nothing to do with restaurants, nights out, pubs, or holidays, travel etc.


    But last year a really monumental family issue occurred. I only have two remaining family members and the both live hundreds of miles away, in slightly different directions, up north.


    I was almost literally screaming inside because I knew I was not capable of either the long troublesome travel (changing trains, crowds, etc) Also I had no escape, and it was impossible to just say "no" to it all, but that's what my body kept saying. One huge fat no!
    So reluctantly my voice said "yes". However I had to pull out last minute from the travel and very heavy stress because my body wouldn't let me do it, and I had no control over that. The added stress made things worse too. It was the very last thing in this world I was capable of doing
    I had to say NO to something it was literally impossible to say NO to.




    Since then, knowing at some point I am definitely going to have to say YES, I just trundle on, doing what I can from my end. So my no is a "no" with elements of flexibility and I can still balance that out with certain things I can do to help from home.
    But all of my instincts wish I could just say a flat "no" and never have to do it.
    The learning-to-say-no thing doesn't always work in some situations.
    But IBS has taught me not to have to say automatic YES to every single request someone might give me.

    1. Not being able to firmly say "no" is so, so hard. I feel like that every time I get invited to weddings and other events... Do you know if and/or when you'll have to travel for that family issue yet?
      Karina (team member)

  2. Things went more quiet and steady for a while, but suddenly the last couple of days further issues have arisen, which means I may have to do that travel plus all the work when I get there and the sheer discomfort of staying/sleeping there, -fairly soon.
    I certainly would say a definite NO to it if that were possible. But this is a situation where that is not at all possible whichever angle it's approached from.
    And guess what? My gut is "psychic". It started complaining two days before I heard that news. The little flare up has passed a bit now. But it was definitely as if my gut sensed something coming before any of us (the family members involved in this issue) knew about it.
    I don't know how that is rationally possible, but it obviously is.
    I have no choice but to steel myself and soldier on with the obligations in this event anyway.

    1. I think our bodies sense when something is wrong, and for us with IBS, this manifests in our guts.. this definitely happens to me to.
      I'm so sorry that there are further issues now and you'll have to travel soon. I feel the stress this is causing you. 🙁 Hopefully, things will go as smoothly as possible and after that, you won't have to go through that again. Please keep us updated!
      Karina (team member)

    2. You're not alone, I think most of us have felt that way... has shared some great advice with you. We have a free IBS journal you can download here: https://irritablebowelsyndrome.net/living/food-journal-download, if you're interested.
      I also wanted to add that stress and anxiety can be huge IBS triggers. As someone who has anxiety, it's definitely my biggest trigger and can cause flares even when I didn't eat anything wrong. If you have a similar issue, you might feel like diet doesn't do much and addressing you nervous system can be very beneficial (although that's easier said than done...).
      Karina (team member)

  3. I am so sorry you are suffering like this. IBS really is difficult, I know. But your situation sounds very difficult indeed. Have you got any help from your doctor? If you have IBS D there are some medications which can help with that. So can trialling the Low FODMAP diet for some people.
    Another thing which can help is keeping a food-and-symptoms diary, to give you an idea of which foods are calmer for your gut and which ones do not suit you. My advice would be to speak with your doctor if you haven't already.
    Meanwhile, keeping your diet very VERY plain and simple should help to calm down your tummy. Doing that when things get very bad certainly helps me.
    It depends whether or not you have IBS with diarrhea or constipation, which foods are better for you right now. More "binding" foods can help with IBS-D, and sometimes wholefoods and vegetables and fruits can help with IBS-C.
    I hope you will feel a bit better and able to manage soon.

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