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Getting Past the Pain: Self Discovery and IBS

When you realize that you can’t be the person you imagined or do the things you wished you could because of your IBS it can be absolutely, heartbreakingly debilitating.

I don’t know about you, but there are times when I feel like throwing my arms in the air and giving up. That’s it, sweatpants and boring, tasteless food for life! But then I remember that I don’t want to live like that -life in that bubble sucks. Plain and simple. So how do we get out of the rut? How do we move beyond the pain and fear and become who we want to be?

The road to self-discovery

Being able to move past the pain of IBS is not easy. Learning to live with or get over your fears is next to impossible. So why am I suggesting it? Well, for one thing, I’m sick of simply accepting that life is hard. Life sucks, then you die; it’s a cliche I’d like to be done with. Why do we need to accept the suckiness (yes, that is the technical term)? Why is it always one way or the other? You’re meant to either accept your life or not, that’s it. Well, I’d like to challenge that mentality. Instead, let’s try and imagine a world where getting over or accepting fears aren’t the only choices. Let’s imagine a world where we not only have multiple choices but also, can learn to embrace our pain and fear.

Embrace the pain and fear

I know, it sounds paradoxical and contrary to self-care but perhaps that is because we assume that everything is black and white. In contrast, maybe it’s not about choosing one or the other, but rather, finding a way to embrace all the colors and shades. Ultimately, life isn’t about polarization. Light and dark, hot and cold, sad or happy; these are not absolutes, nor are they singular concepts. There are grey areas and millions of colors on the spectrum, temperatures vary immensely, and emotions are so inescapably intricate that it’s almost impossible to imagine! Nothing is black and white. Nothing.

So, why are we discussing this? Isn’t this supposed to be about IBS and coping with pain? Well, yes, but there’s more to it. Just like nothing is black and white, this article is not simple one thing or another. It’s several aspects of coping and living rolled up into one tiny package. It’s not perfect, nor complete. Rather, this is simply a way to help you see how polarization limits not only your choices, but also the affect those choices have upon your life.

Self-discovery can come from the strangest places

Learning how to embrace our pain and fear isn’t a simple feat. In fact, you’ll most likely have many failed attempts. I, myself, have tried wearing high-waisted jeans to embrace my bloated belly only to find that my IBS had teamed up with my fibromyalgia to form one super lovely cramping game along my waistline. Did this mean that for almost a year I decided I couldn’t wear high-waisted clothes? Yes, actually, it did. Did I miss out on living an image of awesome, stylish, full-figuredness because of it? Yes, actually, it did. Have I recently reassessed the situation? Yes, actually, I have…. okay, you get it. It’s not a perfect process, but being able to re-imagine your image and reassess your clothing choices is simply one of the many, many ways you can learn to embrace your pain and fear.

I know that clothing choice might not seem massively important on your list of troubles, but, it’s a start. For me, reassessing my clothing choices wasn’t simply about finding a new pair of pants. Rather, it was about rediscovering what image I wanted to portray, about finding out who I was. How you want to present yourself to the world can be an intricate part of your own sense of self. Therefore, if image and self-esteem are issues that you know you struggle with -especially with regards to your IBS -then start there. If social relationships -or lack thereof -are the crux of your anxieties, then try to reach out, find out what friendships matter to you, what kind of person you want to be for yourself and others.

Whatever it is, find your catalyst. Enter the world of discomfort and self-reflection in order to grow. Find your fears, understand the pain you feel and learn to embrace your life rather than simply accepting it.

Coping vs. living

It’s not always about coping; sometimes, our ability to cope becomes a crutch that we lean on in order to ignore our own self and can be just as detrimental as repression if used in a polarizing way.

To be, or not to be, is NOT the question. The question is, how do you want to be. Ultimately, what life do you want to live and how can you get there?

Good luck. Now, go!

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.


  • lynngrow
    1 year ago

    Has anyone had any experience with the ALCAT test?

  • ExplodingGuts
    1 year ago

    To be human is to be in a constant state of assessing whether life is livable – whether quality of life is sufficient to want to sustain it. When the prospect of exploding guts preclude travel, live theatre and often basic recreation, quality of life is markedly reduced. My explosions are now manageable (so far) with Immodium, and I see from experience that the medical establishment is pretty much useless. So this is probably as good as it gets. It’s not satisfactory by any means but aside from the explosions life is still good. If/when that changes, I may take action to end it. I would not have gone on indefinitely w/o relief, and the medical men were all unable to provide it in a lasting sense. It is a daily struggle for all of us.

  • Chris Hall moderator
    1 year ago

    Thanks for weighing in, @explodingguts. I can empathize with the statements you’re making. The hit to quality of life that accompanies living with IBS can be substantial, even when symptoms or episodes are moderately managed. I know from several of your last comments that you’ve had less than stellar experiences with various medical professionals. I truly hope you’re able to find the help you deserve. Have you tried finding a GI through the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation? If not, here’s the link: One of our contributor’s wrote about a dark time she went through with her IBS here, and I thought I’d share her experience with you. It’s no doubt a daily struggle. I hope things only get better from here. Take care, and thank you for continuing to share with us. – Chris, Team Member

  • ExplodingGuts
    1 year ago

    Very kind. Thanks very much, Chris. I have/had a gastroenterologist, a top man who also teaches at the med school. This is who ordered my colon/endo procedures, which revealed nothing. No follow-up was sought beyond advice to see a GP in Sept./Oct. In other words, that’s all he could do for me. But thanks for the link. If it gets bad again I will try the link, but appt would require a GP’s referral, and GPs may not be inclined to make a referral to a second specialist for the same problem. I would have to plead a very strong case – not sure I could. I don’t feel my man did anything wrong but I could be wrong.

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