Anxiety and Fatigue

Anxiety and Fatigue

I will begin by saying I am NOT a doctor. I can only make observations about my experience with IBS and share them with you. Sharing our lived experiences can be very helpful in understanding that other people are going through the same pain as you are. I have mentioned before that one of the most frustrating and debilitating aspects of my struggle with IBS is the weakness and fatigue I experience, especially during and after a bad flare up. I have found that altering my diet and exercising more have helped decrease the intensity and the duration of malaise. Recently, however, I discovered something a little different about the feelings I experience during these periods. I’m wondering if any of you can relate or maybe just never noticed it. I’m talking about the existence of anxiety and extreme stress within this exceptionally ‘tired’ feeling. I’m sure it’s there…trust me, I have a lot of experience with anxiety ;-).

Mind-gut connection

My last bout with the malaise, fatigue or whatever you want to call it, was a couple of days ago, and I decided to sort of mentally/physically examine my body to see just what it was I was experiencing. I think the basis behind all this, is that doctors typically give me the ‘mind-gut’ explanation for this phenomenon, but nothing really to help relieve the symptoms. So, I decided to take it upon myself to give myself sort of a self-examination. What was it I was feeling? More than tired, certainly. A bit painful, but not anything excruciating. The first thing I noticed that the feeling sort of was sitting on top of me. Resting in my shoulders and arms, but also in my thighs and back. I started to stretch, forced some yoga. Then I began to meditate to see if I could pinpoint the problem areas. The it dawned on me…this was a familiar feeling. This was the tension brought about by stress. The more I stretched and yoga’d, I could feel some relief and a bit of strength returning. I should say that this feeling did not last. Within fifteen minutes of my experiment, I felt crappy again. But, I had hit on something. Not only was there obvious tension from stress, but that another significant part of my overall crappy feeling was definitely…anxiety. I can say that it was actually pretty intense once I started paying attention to it. As much experience as I have with anxiety, it is almost always causal with me, meaning an environmental stressor or situation would cause it. This was existing without the usual stressor. There was something else triggering this anxiety. I believe it was my IBS… So, I am here today not to dispute the ‘mind-gut’ idea, but to offer another observation about how it manifests within our bodies.

The conclusion that I came to was one that many of us have already realized. There is a negative reciprocal relationship between stress, anxiety and IBS. I believe that by taking care of this part of the illness through exercise, yoga, meditation, self-soothing or whatever mode of comfort you care to undertake, it may relieve these bouts of fatigue that I have found so many of us struggle with. Anybody else noticing this?

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