Five women

The Downside To Having Your IBS Well Managed

I’ve never met anyone with IBS who didn’t want to get their symptoms under control, or to have them go away completely. And having IBS myself, that’s something I understand fully. For the longest time, achieving symptom-free days was my goal; but I’ve since accepted that having small twinges and an occasionally dodgy bowel movement is as good as it’s likely to get. So long as it doesn’t stop me from living my life, I’m happy. Recently though I found a downside to having my IBS so well managed…

When you live with something every day, it’s ‘normal’

Living with IBS symptoms on a daily basis isn’t pretty and at times it can grind your life to a halt. Yet, when you live with those symptoms every day for years on end, what you’re experiencing comes to seem ‘normal’, at least to the extent that you almost forget what it’s like to live without pain and to have reasonable bowels.

Now I’m not saying that IBS symptoms are something you should just accept. Please don’t do that because there are solutions that can help to ease your IBS, even if it doesn’t go away completely.

Instead, I’m saying that when you experience something on a daily basis, you start to adapt to it. Not because you want to, but because you’ve got no other choice. You learn to live with the pain, the inconvenience, the way it affects you, and how it impinges on your life. And you adapt and make whatever changes you need to so that you can get through the day with a semblance of normality.

But when you find a solution, your experience changes

When you stop suffering from IBS symptoms on a daily basis, your first thought is about how amazing it is to be without the pain. The next thought is that you can’t believe how much you’ve put up with for so long.

But after a while, when you’re no longer experiencing severe daily symptoms, you sort of forget just how bad your IBS was. Sure, if you sit down and really think about it, you can remember the really shocking days, but eventually those memories start to fade, especially after you have months, then years, without major problems.

And then something happens and it hits you all over again

No matter how well my IBS is managed through diet, there’s one trigger that can bring me to my knees faster than anything else… stress. That’s why I make huge efforts to decrease the stress in my life and use lots of little techniques, including simple breathing techniques, meditation, and exercise. I’ve also changed my life a lot to remove stress from work and other pressures.

But life happens. And so does stress. And recently it caught up to me when I was trying to do everything all at once, plus meeting the demands of other people. No matter how well I ate, exercised, slept and meditated, I couldn’t stop the stress from adding up and triggering my IBS.

There were 4 days of sheer agony, with repeated bathroom visits, shocking cramps, shaking and shivering that wracked my body, nausea and loss of appetite, and very low energy. Once the worst was over, I needed a full week to recover from it and get back to normal.

My first thought was, “I can’t believe that this used to be my normal”. But after I got passed the pain, this experience made me appreciate my symptom free days even more.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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