Person curled up in bed with laptop and dog

Sometimes I Just Need a Break

I feel like my IBS often acts as a reminder that I need to slow down and take a break.

Flare-up

When I’ve been working really hard for some time or had a few pretty stressful days, I sometimes wake up in the morning feeling dreadful and get an IBS flare-up. And it’s not the type of flare-up that lasts for a couple of hours and then I’m fine. It’s the type of flare-up that leaves me tired and exhausted for most of the day.

In situations like this, my body and mind seem to go into full recovery mode. If I don’t have anything specific planned or a deadline coming up, I’ll honestly just stay in bed reading or watching videos on my computer without talking to anyone.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been traveling a bit and visiting my family. At the same time, I was working on a project that takes up quite some time. I was constantly talking to co-workers, spending time with my extended family and friends, trying to get tons of things done and get the most out of my time.

But when I woke up this morning, I knew that today would not be a productive day.

A reminder to take care of yourself

Despite having eaten perfectly safe foods yesterday, I had pretty bad IBS symptoms this morning. Even after the flare-up I was feeling nauseous, couldn’t eat, and didn’t have any energy whatsoever.

It’s like my IBS is telling me when enough is enough. I don’t get to set my own boundaries anymore, let alone push them. The illness does it for me.

I’m an introvert and know that I need to spend time alone to recharge. But I don’t usually like to do that when I’m visiting my family. Given that I don’t see them nearly as much as I would like to, I try to get the most out of my time with them, even if I’m a little exhausted in the end. But apparently, I don’t get to do that anymore.

Whenever I get a flare-up around people, even when they’re close relatives, they always get worried about me. They keep thinking that I ate something wrong and ask me why I’m feeling that way. It’s hard to explain that it doesn’t have anything to do with food sometimes. That my body just likes it’s daily routine and doesn’t appreciate when I break out of it too much.

Taking time off

It’s especially hard to retrieve into my own space in these situations. Not necessarily because people won’t understand, but because I don’t really want to do it.

Yet with a chronic illness like that, I don’t always get to do what I want. Sometimes, my IBS decides things for me. When I’ve had too much of everything, it flares up and there’s nothing I can do besides take a step back and let my body recover.

I’m not sure whether it’s only a bad thing. Maybe it has a positive side to it, too. I do have a tendency to overdo everything: to work too much, socialize too much, put too much on my plate. My IBS strictly reminds me when I’ve crossed the boundary and forces me to take a step back.

Basically, I just have to take a break. I need to not work, not talk, and not be productive for a while until I feel better and can get back up without making everything worse.

I guess that it’s better to see it as an automatic reminder to take care of yourself, although it’s not a very pleasant one. But seeing it as such is definitely better than getting angry at my body and trying to push through anyway.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The IrritableBowelSyndrome.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (2)
  • jthomp9
    1 week ago

    Thanks for the article. I’ve had IBS for several years. Whenever I have a flare up, I’ve noticed that I’m tired, sometimes exhausted, but didn’t understand why. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one that experiences this side effect.

  • Hannah Noonan moderator
    1 week ago

    I’m glad that you enjoyed the article @jthomp9, I have often felt really tired during flare-ups too, it can be really draining! I love Karina’s tip about taking time for ourselves to recharge, I find that so important – Hannah (IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team)

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