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IBS is More Than Just Stomach Pain

IBS is More Than Just Stomach Pain

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.

Finding balance

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.

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.


  • ADITYA0811
    2 weeks ago

    You are not alone ,you will feel better.We got a beautiful life ahead ,we will live it the way we want !

  • HessP moderator author
    2 weeks ago

    True, indeed, @aditya0811! I am def not alone and I have so much to be grateful for in my life. Thank you so much for the encouragement and support! – Hess, Team member

  • teddy102
    4 weeks ago

    Reading this makes me want to cry for my 14 year old son. IBS is horrible for a teenager that just wants to be ‘normal’.
    He is a fun outgoing boy who is so keen to take on the world with his mates when he is feeling good.
    But when IBS flairs up it robs him of all that. He withdraws, cranky, irritable and unable to do any of his normal things. Then it takes ages to settle. The chronic pain is hell

  • HessP moderator author
    3 weeks ago

    I totally relate and feel for your son, @teddy102. I’m sorry that my article evokes sadness for you. When I was younger dealing with IBS, what mattered to me the most was that my parents supported me and didn’t belittle my pain. You clearly are doing an awesome job supporting and advocating for your son, and I’m confident he appreciates it deep down.

    Please let your son know that there is an IBS community out there who truly understands what he’s going through, so he’s not alone. Sending positive vibes to both of you and keep fighting the great fight! Thanks for taking the time to read my article, and most of all, thanks for being an awesome parent! Best – Hess, Team member

  • ADITYA0811
    2 months ago

    Hey ! I can totally relate,positiveness and will power are most important thing one can have during flare up or pain,one thing I do during that time is to appreciate small things like I have 10 fingers to play with,a hand to move or I can smile in front of mirror,or can simply pursue my hobby,or simply lie down and try to build a wonderland of my comfort which helps to understand myself even more in these times, what I am missing and help me know things that are important in my life.

  • tmholland moderator
    2 months ago

    Hi @aditya0811,

    I just wanted to say that your statement about ‘building a wonderland of my comfort’ was one of the more inspiring things I read this weekend. I will be sure to keep your positive words in mind the next time illness is making me blue :-). Thank you for sharing. -Todd, Team

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