Fear and IBS

I noticed a couple of weeks ago, after my last bad flare-up, that I had an unhealthy, irrational fear of going to the bathroom. Anybody else have this happen? I mean, if nature called more than once a day, I would go into panic mode. What if it happens again? Is this another flare-up? My mind raced to determine if I had done anything to agitate the Beast. The fact of the matter was that there was no flare and that my fear was unfounded. Fear is not necessarily a bad thing. Fear can keep us safe. A person who has a fear of getting Cancer from smoking has a legitimate fear that may inspire that individual to quit. This is healthy fear. Human beings also have a natural tendency towards irrational fear; the 'what if' kind. What if my child gets sick? What if I lose my job? What if the world ends? It's important when dealing with IBS to separate the rational from the irrational fear. Fear leads to stress, anxiety, depression and hopelessness. We must learn to train our minds to avoid these kinds of feelings, because I think we all agree, that IBS is enough of a burden on it's own.

Fear, worry and IBS

One of my favorite quotes, and one I try to live by, is from the Dalai Lama. He said that “If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it's not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.” This is an excellent way to address fear and worry. This statement can be applied to any number of life's stressors and for those of us who struggle with IBS, it can provide a source of inspiration and support. So in real world terms, we can say, we have been having a particular bad flare-up, work sucks, relationship is suffering, can't go anywhere... We must first ask ourselves if there is anything we can do at this particular moment to relieve our symptoms? If so, take care of those things without worry. Stop drinking that orange soda before bed and cookies at lunch. Take the medicine the doctor prescribed, go to the gym or take a walk. It's also important to talk to our loved ones and partners about what we are going through. So, we have done everything we can do and we continue to suffer. What benefit is the fear and worry if there is nothing we can do except wait it out. Take care of yourself, do things to make yourself comfortable, be selfish; you deserve it.

IBS is uncomfortable and painful. It takes a toll on our lives. This is without taking into account the psychological factors that manifest with the experience of living with IBS. I’m not saying to ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’, I’m just sharing a point of view, a way of thinking. The fact is, there will be times where we feel as though we have done everything we can to manage the IBS. In these times, it is most important to get our minds right, to prepare for the rest of the journey, because it could be a long one. Developing peace of mind is a very important factor in dealing with a condition such as this. Take time out, get some perspective and stay strong. It’s ok to worry; this is a very natural emotion. It is when worry turns to fear that we start to encounter a loss of empowerment. In closing, you have nothing to fear but….yup.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

More on this topic

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

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.

Community Poll

Have you taken our IBS In America Survey yet?