As an IBS sufferer, it’s rare that I experience physically-good days. I get woken up by pain, therefore I wake up with pain, and hence my day starts off with pain. (I know, that was redundant, but emphasis is more the point.) Not only do I get woken up by pain most days, but I’m usually the last one to go to bed and the first one to wake up in my home. That should tell you I’m only a morning person by default. IBS is very complicated – there’s no telling what will trigger my symptoms. I could be eating the “right” food, exercising regularly, getting enough rest, remaining stress-free, and BOOM, out of nowhere my symptoms start to flare up. This is the lack of understanding most people have about IBS (both sufferers and non-sufferers) – is that IBS is more than just stomach pain and anxiety.
Lighting up a dark road
When I thought I was doing everything right, and yet all of sudden I would still suffer pain and anxiety, I would beat myself up because I thought that maybe I was creating the issue myself. There were times I actually believed I was producing my own physical and mental anguish for whatever reason that I probably suppressed and couldn’t bring out to understand. However, when I would go back to my right-mind, deep down I knew that voice in my head was just the mimicking of others who used to tell me that it was ‘all in my head’. Nonetheless, I felt like I needed a valid explanation as to why my symptoms would flare up for no reason, so it came down to just blaming myself, regardless if I was doing everything by the book.
That brings me to my next point; it’s easy to be depressed and upset when living with IBS. Can you imagine the anxiety of not knowing when or what will cause a flare up, or being in so much pain that you can’t concentrate on anything other than the anguish, and on top of that you try your best to do everything except blame yourself? I’ve heard a number of stories from IBS sufferers who feel so depressed that they also feel suicidal because they can’t handle the pressures from society to be ‘normal’, in addition to the constant physical daily suffering. IBS doesn’t give you a choice to feel ‘normal’, only look ‘normal’. Many of these sufferers feel so hopeless and helpless, and on top of that they hate to feel like they’re a burden on anyone. This usually drives them to a deep point of depression. It’s important that awareness is raised about IBS because this illness is truly way more than just stomach pain. I’ve been down a dark road before, and it’s obviously no fun, and that’s where part of my passion to raise awareness comes from.
Despite the complexity of irritable bowel syndrome, I make it a point to find a balance between the negative and the positive. I can’t always control when I will feel the physical pain, but I can at least do my best to be as positive as possible even through the discomfort. All it takes for me is willpower and desire. It’s important that I maintain and fight for a balance for the sake of my sanity, but most importantly because I have loved ones who count on me and want to see me succeed in life, and at life. For anyone reading this who find it a tremendous struggle, please know that you are not alone, and you can always find support here.