Sometimes, with all the talk about diet, exercise, mental and physical wellness, ideas about our relationship to our environment and the people in it, gets lost. The importance of people and activity to our mental and physical health cannot be understated. Because we suffer with a physical disorder, we spend a lot of time thinking about how to treat ourselves. How should we eat, are we able to exercise, is this or that doctor the right one? While I have said many times how important it is to care for ourselves and to be good to ourselves, it is also very important to let other people into our lives. It is so easy to isolate ourselves from others when we don’t feel well. When you don’t feel well a lot of the time, isolation has a tendency to become a problem for some people. Having nothing new causes us to stagnate intellectually, emotionally, spiritually and by relation; physically.
Break the habit
I personally don’t like to be around anyone when I am having one of my IBS battles. I don’t want to touched, spoken to or have anyone within five feet of me. This is natural and I’m sure many of you feel the same way. We need some space to heal, but it is also important to accept the support that you are being offered. We don’t want to be around other people for a variety of reason, most of them psychological. We don’t feel good about ourselves, we are embarrassed by our condition, we feel listless and don’t want to make the effort…the list goes on. If you live alone and don’t work, this can become a very significant obstacle to any recovery from IBS. You get into a pattern of suffering alone and it becomes habitual. You become ok with it. It is remarkable what human beings are capable of getting used to. Break the habit. You need outside, you need another room and you need people.
The colors of life
I am not saying that you should start joining every group on Craigslist or that you need to start collecting vast amounts of friends. What I’m saying, is get out of the house when you don’t feel like it. Try it…eventually you'll see that it lifts your mood. Getting out of the house is the starting point and you can go as far as you are comfortable. Going to the grocery store, the library, the coffee shop, the park; all great places to start. A simple conversation with a cashier, a comment about the weather to the person standing in line with you, a smile at the elderly gentleman who just walked in the door…these are the colors of life. We need to let life in, even if we don’t feel up to it. If you find that you enjoy these outings, go the next step. Join a gym, a club, a support group or volunteer somewhere. You will find helping people in need will do wonders for your self-esteem and state of mind. If you are not there yet, be ok with it.
Lastly, I’d like to say that it is possible to have a relationship with a significant other, family or friends and still be isolated. What happens, is that we stay in our comfort zone and experience the same conversations, rooms, foods, behaviors all the time. Let other experiences in, let the outside world touch you, break the routine. New experiences and new people feed the mind and the heart. Don’t shut yourself away from this because you are not feeling well. Isolation is no good for anyone, especially folks suffering with an illness like IBS. Alright now everyone…to the streets!
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