A bathroom decorated for Christmas features a garland-framed mirror that shows the reflection of a woman sitting on the toilet with a resigned, sad expression on her face.

Holidays, Grief, and IBS

This time of year is rough for me. Stress is a huge trigger for my IBS. Fall has always been my favorite time of year but living 6 hours from my family has made it tough. We have always tried to make the drive down for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Sometimes that just isn't feasible though. A car ride for me normally consists of many bathroom stops on the way turning a 6-hour drive to sometimes 8 hours or more.

This time of year is hard

To add to my stress, this time of year is hard on all of my family. My father's debilitating stroke happened 5 years ago. Then a year later we lost him. November 23rd would have been Daddy's 78th birthday. Needless to say, I spend a lot of quality time with myself in the bathroom during autumn.

This year is a little different for me. My new gastroenterologist has started me on a new medication. For the last month, it has seemed to help. As we all know, sometimes, there just isn’t enough medicine to fix everything. Mentally I am in a better place than I have been in the last several years. That doesn't seem to help my gut though. Sometimes it feels as my stress just sits in my gut waiting to rear its ugly face. Today is that day.

Waiting out IBS flare days

On days like today, I stay home, drink plenty of water, eat as bland a diet as possible and just wait it out. I’m not new to flares. My IBS-D has been known to show up out of nowhere, feeling like there is no end in sight. There is an end though. That's what is hard for me to remember. Tomorrow or the next day, sometimes the day after that it will be better.

Remembering this isn’t how it will always be is what gets me through the hard days. Knowing I have a support system helps as well. Having a family who understands that this isn’t just something made up has been a huge help. Make sure you have friends and family who know your situation. With IBS-D sometimes I feel embarrassed to explain why I spend so much time in the bathroom but more times than not people really do understand.

Looking ahead

Today I will push through this flare. I will put on my big girl pants and be okay. I will mourn the loss of my daddy on his birthday. Soon I will be surrounded by family and I will give thanks for all that I have and all those who have passed on.

How do you cope with stressful events while having IBS?

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