Hard Times: IBS-M

I recently have had a change in the way IBS affects my body. I’ve learned that this change is called IBS-M. I was diagnosed with IBS about 18 months ago and have only experienced the IBS-D variety until about a month ago. Without being too graphic, I experience SEVERAL trips to the bathroom with diarrhea or very loose stools. Sometimes it would be for days, weeks or up to a month. This was almost always followed by 3-5 days of extreme malaise and I was relegated to the couch. As I learned to manage my IBS, through diet, exercise, medication, meditation and a variety of other coping skills, my flare ups decreased in duration and the period of malaise either became shorter or did not happen at all. As I mentioned, recently this has changed. I still experience the original variety of IBS, but now it is followed by days of constipation and back pain. I have seen my doctor and he has offered several suggestions, but I would like to talk about the extreme stress this change in my life has caused and my plan for how to deal with it.

Two new illnesses

I have been very open about the fact that I suffer with extreme anxiety and stress issues, that ultimately lead to depression. Before I started experiencing IBS symptoms, I had taken every step to learn to manage my mental health to the point that I felt stable enough to work in the mental health industry and support others with these types of issues. IBS almost completely destroyed my progress and hard work in the first few months of experiencing the symptoms associated with IBS-D. Over the course of many months, I listened to my doctor, listened to my therapist, read the posts on this site and learned, gradually, to change my diet and my lifestyle. If you’ve read any of my other articles, you know that I have not always been successful, but was determined to manage my new illness. Well, now it seems I have TWO new illnesses. Obviously, IBS-D and IBS-M offer two completely different experiences. I am frustrated because I now have to constantly adjust my daily behaviors and plans to deal with two different physical problems. They are both painful and debilitating and I honestly feel like I have to start all over again, learning how to manage my IBS and to stabilize my mental health.

I am, however, trying to be positive. For me, dealing with my mental health and developing a healthy perspective on my new problem is primary and paramount. If I do not have the mental fortitude and emotional strength needed to combat this problem, I will not be able to continue to work on just how to go about doing the absolute best things I can for my health. In the meantime, I have gone back to basics. I am simply eating the healthiest diet I can, still going to the gym and still drinking lots and lots of water. That’s what I can do right now. I have some follow up with my doctor coming soon, mostly to deal with back pain symptoms, and I promise to keep you up to date with my progress. Hopefully, by sharing our stories and pain, we can help each other get through this horrible thing.

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