Acceptance Doesn’t Mean Giving Up, It’s Freeing
There are so many things about IBS that are hard to deal with, but the hardest thing of all is knowing that it’s not going away. One day they may find a cure for IBS and my fingers are well and truly crossed that this will happen. But until then, the only option available is management, where we do our best to stop our symptoms from being triggered in the first place.
But knowing that IBS isn’t going away can be the source of a lot of frustration and anger. The injustice of the diagnosis, the frustration of never knowing exactly what will set off symptoms, and the struggle to keep it under control.
The natural response to such a situation is to try and fight it. To refuse to give up. To yell and scream at it and refuse to let it get the better of you, declaring that you’ll do anything to find that miracle option that will cure you.
I’ve seen this so many times. I’ve also done it myself, believing that there must be a way that I just hadn’t learned of yet. It didn’t matter that my doctor couldn’t help. Surely I could find a way if I asked enough questions, read enough books or articles, and refused to give up.
Stopping the fight
Yet, as strange as it may seem, it wasn’t until I stopped fighting my IBS that it started to get better. It was only when I accepted that my IBS was here to stay that I was able to stop it from controlling me.
At first I was worried that this meant I was giving up. That stopping the battle was a sign of defeat and weakness. And maybe at first it was. I’d had IBS for so long and there had been many times I’d wanted to give up. Times where I’d even considered the value of my life when I was stuck with this never ending painful condition that limited me so much. But what did I have to lose?
So I began to change my outlook and to start the process of accepting that my IBS wasn’t going anywhere. That I could work with my IBS and find ways to control it, even though it would be an ongoing challenge that I could never stop working on.
I had no idea that stopping the fight would be so freeing.
I always believed that fighters were the strong ones and that refusing to give up was a must. But fighting your own body is futile. Like it or not, IBS represents a fundamental change in how your gut works. And fighting that is fighting a part of yourself. It’s no different than fighting the color of your hair, how tall or short you are, or how deep your voice is. Yes, you can use strategies to alter the way those things appear, but you can never actually change them.
It’s the same with IBS. You can alter how your IBS presents by using strategies to prevent symptoms from being triggered. But as soon as you stop using those strategies, it appears as it always is. So you have to keep working at it and never giving up.
It’s only when I realized this that I knew that acceptance of my IBS wasn’t giving up. It was freeing. It allowed me the headspace that I needed to work with my IBS, to discover what it needed to be best controlled, and to get my life back and stop it from limiting me.
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