IBS and the Dreaded Public Commute

For those of us that use public transportation, we all know the struggle! Oh, the anxiety of it all! Having IBS really does make simple things like using public transportation feel like a nightmare sometimes.

I used to live in New York City, so using public transportation was the way of life. To get anywhere, you either used the subway, bus, or hailed a taxi. And of course, if it was manageable you walked to your destination.

Oh, but I can’t even begin to tell you about the close calls I’ve had. The clenching, praying, deep breathing, sweating, and bouts of intense anxiety are something I do not miss. And yes, I did have an accident once but thankfully it was on the platform of the subway before I entered the train. I had to walk back to my apartment in shame and utterly horrified, but I will share that story for another time.

I eventually moved from NYC and was so thankful that at least if I had an accident, I was in my own personal car. I didn’t have to deal with dozens of people looking at me in horror. The personal shame is enough to deal with on its own!

So what can you do to help when the urgency hits while using public transportation? I have a couple of tips I’d like to share that have helped me over the years:

Deep breathing

This is crucial! Anxiety and panic are what intensifies the urgency. You have to get into calm ninja mode, in order to make it through and get yourself to a bathroom without an accident. You MUST calm your mind to calm your bowels.

Whenever I would have about of urgency while on the subway, I would start to breathe and tell myself: "You’re going to get through this, everything will be okay." I would keep repeating that and breathing deeply, in through my nose and out through my mouth until I made it to a restroom. It isn’t easy to accomplish at first, but once you get into that mindset, you will find that you will be able to prolong the urgency until you make it to the safe haven of a washroom.

Know where the restrooms are

While living in New York, I knew where every single restroom was off of every stop in my commute. At the drop of a hat, I could exit and make a B-line to the nearest washroom. So make sure you have a map of your go-to bathroom stops so that you don’t panic when the urgency hits.

I would suggest exploring on a weekend when you are feeling well so that you can organize and figure out what bathrooms will be your places to stop.

Have an emergency bag with you

Always have an emergency bag with you while commuting. In my purse, I would have a make-up bag filled with the following: underwear, wipes, pads, peppermint essential oil, and a thin pair of leggings. All of these things would fix an accident if it were to occur. And knowing that you have a backup plan helps to ease the anxiety while out commuting.

What do you do to help with IBS urgency while using public transportation? Comment below and share. We love to hear from you!

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