Find Your Inner God/dess
Living with IBS, or any invisible illness, can sometimes make you feel lost. It can strip away your happiness, destroy your confidence, and make you feel utterly alone. At times, if you're anything like me, it can leave you searching. Searching for something to help you feel confident and happy again, searching for answers.
I am not a religious person. I never have been. I do not believe that a higher power guides us or controls our destiny. What I do believe in is the power of psychology, the power of the mind. Though cognitive behavior therapy has never quite worked for me, I find that when I combine it with introspection and action (dialectical behavior therapy), it can work wonders.
Learn control and keep yourself grounded
At times, when I am frustrated with my IBS there can be serious mental health consequences. I feel sad, lost, and even anxious. I no longer feel connected to myself or my life - I feel like I cannot control anything in my body. In these circumstances, I often find that what is missing is the need to be grounded. If you can, sometimes trying to meditate can truly work wonders. I'm not necessarily talking about sitting cross-legged on the floor, surrounded by incense and candles (though, if that works for you, awesome) but rather, simply taking a moment to be quiet.
Sit, stand, lay down, do whatever makes you feel comfortable, and simply breathe. Take a few seconds, minutes, or an hour to simply let yourself calm down. Try to focus on something, your breath, the clock ticking, a song, or even your pain. Let yourself be mindful of the emotions and discomforts you're feeling. If your mind wanders, it's okay. Acknowledge it, and move on. I am a very visual person so I try to imagine the things I wish to feel. For instance, to ground myself, I like to try and imagine a steel rod going through my head, down my spine, to the ground (or bed, or whatever you're on).
You're probably laughing at me. Rolling your eyes and thinking that this is stupid. I get that. I've been there - heck, I'm still there. But you'd be surprised what taking a few minutes to calm down and breathe can do for you. Literally and symbolically, feeling grounded can truly help you find some semblance of control in your life.
Distract yourself with a spell
Don't worry, when I say spell, I'm not talking about Sabrina the Teenage Witch (although, let's face it, she was pretty great). I'm talking about using something, anything, to allow yourself to change in the same way that some believe a "spell" symbolically changes something. Instead of grinding up newt eyeballs with herbs, I'm simply asking you to distract yourself with something you can control. Your hair, your makeup or clothing, your bedroom, your coffee mug - anything that brings you joy, change it. And when you change it, remember the happiness it brings you, the satisfaction you feel as you pull those new socks on, or take a sip from your new teacup. Embrace this change in your life and recognize that there are things you can control. Go to your favorite salon/barber and get a new haircut. Put weird makeup on and be silly, or wear a polka-dot bow-tie for a day. Change the way you think, the way you see yourself or the world. Bend your reality. This is a spell.
Your IBS talisman
Another wonderful way to feel grounded or remain calm when your IBS is driving you crazy is to find an object that comforts you. A ring, necklace, watch, or trinket that you can have with you at times of need. Find a symbol that you can focus on. This does not have to be a religious object (however, if that works for you, go for it), just something that you can feel, touch, hold when you're feeling discomfort, sadness or anxiety. The next time you feel that cramp coming, or get frustrated by your bloated belly, hold that object. Feel that? That's not magic, it's simply psychology. You have created your own 'talisman' simply by using your mind. You thwart evil (or your IBS symptoms) with an object that you see as important, powerful - that is magic. Sure, magic and witchcraft aren't real, blah, blah, blah. And you're probably still rolling your eyes at me. But let's face it, the power of your mind is truly a magical thing.
*This article was inspired by Jaya Saxena and Jess Zimmerman's Basic Witches: How to Summon Success, Banish Drama, and Raise Hell with your Coven (Philadelphia: Quirk Books, 2017).
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