I Feel Ashamed of my IBS
Last updated: March 2023
I’ve been writing for IrritableBowelSyndrome.com for a little more than 6 years and have written several hundred articles. What I would like to establish here is that while the themes are limited to probably 20 or maybe 30 things, the details are always changing and evolving.
IBS changed my perspective
My thoughts on diet changed almost monthly (sometimes daily) for the first couple of years. I didn’t know how to manage IBS when I started. I learned and became a better person for it. I became healthier, and my lifestyle improved tremendously. I struggle with Bipolar disorder as well, and while IBS and mental illness are very different in many ways, there is certainly a correlation. With every improvement I made to my life regarding my body, my mental health seemed to improve as well. Unfortunately, there is a panacea, a cure-all for everything that ails us. I could begin to list the number of health issues I have seen while working on the site.
When things improve, we tend to forget about the pain that took us to make all the changes in the first place. There was a time not so long ago when I thought that I had cured my IBS. Yes, I know, there is no cure for IBS. Recently, when the flare-ups came back with a mad fury, I was quickly reminded of what I struggled most with when I was first diagnosed in 2005; shame.
Feeling ashamed about IBS
While a hundred other things were bothering me about this illness, it was that feeling that I was dirty, not healthy, not desirable, and not regular, which was a daily struggle until I dealt with it. Well, I have to deal with it again because, along with the IBS, the shame and humiliation have also returned.
Hiding it at work, hiding during family parties. My sister says, "I thought you were doing better with THAT." Yeah, well, I was, and I’m NOT now. Living with my two 18-year-old sons on weekends in my small apartment is the hardest thing. While they certainly don’t care whether or not Dad is in the bathroom a lot, I know it concerns them because they know I’m sick. I have explained it to them, and they are relaxed about it, but that still doesn't help the fact that I feel like the idealized vision of a father that I presented when I was younger and in better shape. I can't play ball now; I can't run now; I can’t do many things NOW.
Anxiety and IBS
I am letting the shame turn to anxiety and the anxiety turn to depression. Once you are down there, working on the rest of the things you need to do to get healthy again is almost impossible. So what next. As I said, I have Bipolar disorder and a lot of experience with anxiety and depression. I have worked as a counselor, a social worker, and a suicide hotline advocate. All of which are not helping me right now. What will?
The one thing I have learned from dealing with several different illnesses, including IBS, is that you must reach out for help when things are spiraling on you. You can't help yourself in these situations. Don’t be proud. Let someone help you. I have a therapist and have for a very long time. Sometimes I don’t see her for a while. My first call was to her to set up weekly meetings until we get this under control.
Along with that comes a med check. I go to a psychiatrist for obvious reasons for my medication, but your family doctor can be equally helpful with talking about these feelings.
Which of the following symptoms of IBS do you experience most frequently?