Powering Through Your IBS
Last updated: July 2017
The hardest part of a chronic condition is that it never goes away. You certainly can manage IBS, but you can never fully control it or cure it. It’s here for the long haul and it needs constant attention. When you’re faced with that, there’s really only one thing you can do… push through it.
The advantages of pushing through
Pushing through isn’t the easiest thing to do, but the rewards can be high. The most important thing that pushing through lets you do is live your life. Whether that’s spending time with friends and family, doing something you enjoy, or going to work to earn a living, being able to keep going and live your life is essential. Because if you’re not actually living your life, then what’s the point?
But while I’m not a big fan of doing things just for the sake of it, the fact is that pushing through stops you from missing out on things. There are two real advantage of this. Firstly, it keeps you connected to the people that matter the most to you, which provides positive mental health benefits that give you even more strength to keep going. Secondly, it makes life more fun, which provides a different type of positive mental health benefits and can also distract you from focussing on the pain.
The disadvantages of pushing through
Pushing through takes considerable mental effort, much more than anyone who doesn’t have IBS can truly comprehend. There are so many things to think about… Will there be toilets nearby? Will there be something I can eat? Do I need to take any medication with me? What will I do if things go haywire? What if my dodgy bowels embarrass me? All of these thoughts are downright exhausting. And that’s before you even leave the house.
Even if you get your head around all of that, pushing through when you’re in a flare up can be even harder. Sometimes with IBS, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, the pain is the same. But other times, moving your body can be much more painful than staying still. That’s when powering through can actually make things worse. Sure it won’t damage you physically, but it will wear you down and stop you from enjoying what you’re doing.
Deciding whether to push through or not
I’ll be honest here, this is hard to do. There will be times when you simply want to stop and not push through, and that will be the right call. But there will be other times when you feel too worn out to push through, yet you’d actually be better off doing it.
For years, I held myself back out of fear. I wouldn’t want to go out with friends or family. I wouldn’t want to try something new. And as I gave into the fear, I would tell myself it was okay to say no. But it meant I wasn’t really living.
So I started saying yes to things and finding ways to push through. Not all at once though. I did it carefully and slowly, one step at a time. I began with things that were close to home, that had a short duration, that mattered to me on a social level, and that involved someone that I trusted. That way I could escape quickly if I needed to, without fear of ruining a friendship, but where if I made it through I would gain a lot. Knowing that made it easier. Gradually I learned what I could push through and what I couldn’t, making it easier for me to now make the right choices on when to push through my IBS.
Which of the following symptoms of IBS do you experience most frequently?