An exhausted woman lies on her side in bed, watching a show on her laptop and holding a hot water bottle against herself.

Bringing Post-Flare Fatigue into the Spotlight

I’d like to bring the realness that is post-flare fatigue into the spotlight, because I often find this the toughest symptom to live with. I deal with fatigue on a daily basis with my IBS but after a flare it amplifies and I feel almost bed-bound in my body.

Fatigue and IBS

Spending often hours on and off the toilet, emptying my bowels, leaves me feeling empty. Like I have nothing left. I’ll stumble from the bathroom to my bedroom and lay there, depleted, waiting for the next feeling of urgency. Once that passes all I want, and need, to do is sleep. My body craves it.

I can sleep 8-9 hours and still feel like I need more. It takes a huge amount of effort and energy to raise an arm or lift a leg out of the covers. My limbs feel like dead weights, hanging by side. Moving, even the few steps to the next room, is a huge effort. My brain will feel fuzzy and I’ll have a leftover feeling of emptiness in my body.

Describing the feeling as being drained doesn’t quite cut it. It feels more than that. It’ll take my body a full 24 hours to begin to feel normal again.

The powers of rest and sleep

In those 24 hours I have to make rest a priority. I sleep and sleep and sleep until I start to shake the tiredness. I’ll prop myself up with pillows and stick a series on. Anything to distract my mind from the feeling that I should be doing something else. I’ll fuel myself with water and rice and veg, avoiding any trigger foods or things that will only give me a temporary high. I’ll soak into a bubble bath before pulling on fresh pjs. I’ll drink copious amounts of peppermint tea and cuddle a hot water bottle. All the standard things I rely on when I have a flare, I continue to gravitate towards on those post-flare days.

Give yourself a break

I try to show myself some compassion, which I still sometimes struggle with. I remind myself that my body is powerful and strong and that it had decided there was a reason for that flare. That it’s ok for me to clear my day and spend it regaining my strength. I have to listen to it and accept it rather than try to power through. Because if I do that I know my recovery will take even longer.

I’m lucky that I’m freelance now and get to work from home most of the time, so I have the power to adjust my schedule to suit my IBS needs. I can start work late if I need an extra hour in the morning or work a weekend if I need to catch up.

Sometimes the guilt I feel for putting my the needs of my body first still catches me by surprise. But I am getting much better at prioritizing my health before everything and everyone else. Because if I’m not feeling my best, my work will show that.

How do you deal with the post-flare fatigue?

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