A man walks away from a ball of frustration and crumpled papers toward a glowing calendar.

2020 IBS Year in Review

I decided that I should say something about the pure frustration and difficulty this past year has added to my life. I don’t generally like to look at years as good or bad, so let’s just call 2020 strange, or difficult, painful? If you’ve read any of my past articles, you’ve seen that I’ve struggled with IBS for about 5 years with varying degrees of success, mental health problems, and illness in general (ulcers, gastritis, weight issues, blood pressure, etc.) With our world focused around the COVID pandemic and a landscape in quarantine, both my mental and physical health suffered, at times, very badly. I’m sure there are many of you who experienced something similar.

The calm before the storm

Interestingly enough, I thought that this might be one of the best years ever, health-wise when my quarantine began. Not having to worry about the day-to-day anxieties that the 'outer’ world causes, my stress levels were at a sort of low. When my stress levels are low, my IBS is well-behaved and causes me significantly less trouble. Unfortunately, looking back, it was the calm before the storm, as the longer I was stuck in the house, I simply found something new to worry about. Whether it was politics, my kid’s schooling, my increasing ambivalence to my diet, whatever it was on that particular day, caused by stress, and therefore, my IBS, to kick into full gear.

The damage of 2020

Now, when I’m having constant, intense flare-ups, experiencing extreme claustrophobia in the house and I truly feel I CAN’T leave, well, that’s when the mind starts to go. I live alone and found myself talking to myself a LOT more than usual. Eventually, I found some relief with some new medication and video therapy sessions with a psychologist, but the damage had been done.

I gained 50 lbs., lost control of my IBS, my mental health, and even my ability to maintain some of my more regular relationships. It did go not well. I felt too heavy to even begin working out or eating properly. I had been alone so much that meditation seemed like torture. I had to take a moment, a day at a time because when things are that piled up, that is really the only thing that works.  But...now...things are looking up.

My IBS is improving

I know that this part of my life is almost over. Things have already started to improve greatly. I’ve worked on the stress and the diet and the IBS symptoms and frequency are slowly getting better. When the IBS is better it's easier to exercise and meditate. When I am healthier, my mood improves. I’m sorry for the downer 'year in review', but I know that sometimes people need to feel as though they aren’t alone in their struggles. Sometimes knowing someone else feels just like you, can help a lot. Sharing can also be helpful to others and cathartic. Here’s to a healthier 2021.

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