IBS Relapse

The topic of the day is IBS RELAPSE. Now, I know we can look at this a number of ways, but for the purposes of this article, I would like to deal with the ‘fall off the wagon’ variety of relapse. Relapse can be defined, in general terms, as the return to sickness after a period of stability. Relapse can occur for many reasons. IBS, symptoms and flares can ease for periods of time, only to return through no fault of our own. This is not what we are discussing here. We are talking about the people (me included) who work very hard to determine the proper diet, right doctors, medication, exercise…and then stop caring about one or all of these things for whatever reason. We have taken a certain amount of control back from the disorder, only to lose that control due to circumstances that usually seem like they are out of our control. Sometimes the circumstances ARE out of our control. Life happens and our focus is directed to something other than caring for ourselves. This is when relapse occurs.

Anything can cause a relapse

Relapse creeps up on you, doesn’t it? I went several months without a major flare up and basically became careless. I stopped respecting the power of the disorder. That, and I will be moving to new accommodations shortly and as we all know, moving is stressful. So, between my wishful thinking about a possible remission of my IBS and the stress at home and at work, I slowly started to cut corners. After enough corners were cut; sick again. Very sick…very, very sick. I had forgotten about the power of IBS. I had forgotten about the crippling discomfort, lack of energy and absolute inconvenience that is IBS. Now, since we all have different personalities and stressors in our lives, the reasons for a relapse after a good, healthy period can be any variety of things. It can be something as simple as being very busy. I can be something as traumatic as a loved one passing away. IT CAN BE ANYTHING.

Back on the wagon and eyes on the road

I suppose there is no full-proof plan to avoid returning to the facilities. What I think we need to be mindful about is that this thing doesn’t ‘go away’. We may take the power back, but it is only ours to keep if we make the management of IBS part of who we are. It is like any part of healthy living. What we eat, how we exercise, how we worship, how we enjoy ourselves, how we are fulfilled are all a part of who we are. If you exercise for two weeks every day and then never exercise again, one cannot say that exercise is a part of who they are. It’s the same with our management of IBS. It has to be more than habit or perseverance; it has to be automatic. This may take a very long time for some people to come to terms with. Some folks just won’t ever be able to do this. THIS IS OK. THIS IS HARD. We just have to identify the things that can make us as healthy as possible and try to let them become a part of us. There is no shame in relapse. There is no failure in relapse. It is just a part of recovery and I know that a kind of recovery is possible with IBS. So…let’s get back on the wagon and keep a sharp eye for those bumps in the road.

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