Staying Sane With An IBS Chain
Last updated: June 2018
Okay, so last time I told the tale of my battle with a burrito and 90 oz. of coffee. I’m pleased to say that I’ve successfully cut my coffee intake from about 60oz per day on average to about 20 oz. Hey, it’s a start. I’ve stopped putting sugar in my coffee and have been eating all kinds of good stuff. I feel better physically and my anxiety is not as bad. What continues to haunt me though, is the thought that I may have to maintain these changes; maybe forever. So it’s time for HOLISTIC talk my friends and today I would like to talk about mental health and the importance it plays in fighting something like IBS.
I have bi-polar disorder and acute, extreme anxiety. I have been living a sober life for the better part of 11 years but I’ve been struggling with the aforementioned issues for all of my adult life. I am extraordinarily vain. It’s not that I think that looks are especially important in a person, it’s mostly that I think self-image and feeling good about yourself is a positive thing. For lots of reasons, IBS messes with my self-image something awful and something tells me I’m not alone. I started to have extreme anxiety and a bit of panic when I first found out that I had IBS. As the flare-ups became more frequent, the anxiety grew to the point where I really wasn’t in a very good place. Paranoia, low self-esteem, depressed mood and for me personally; the need to rebel. What I mean, is that because of my nature, I became impulsive and did a lot of things that the doctor’s told me NOT to do. Pizza and coffee after a colonoscopy and endoscopy is not sane. For me...par for the course. Once I started taking IBS seriously and responsibly, I knew that as an individual with pre-existing mental health issues, that it was time to take some action on that front before I did anything else.
Mental health management
I began by visiting my doctor and discussing my medications. We made some small adjustments to help with my anxiety and moods during what I like to call the ADJUST PHASE of IBS. We agreed to meet more often than usual to monitor my ability to cope and maintain wellness. Another action I chose was to go back to a therapist that I had a long standing (four years) working relationship with. I trust her and she knows me. My intention was to have someone who would keep me accountable for my feelings and to keep me from turning IBS into cancer in my mind. It’s natural for a calm mind to ‘make a mountain out of a mole hill’, hence the cliché, but when you are anxious, overwhelmed and/or depressed, the molehill becomes Everest.
I absolutely believe in exercise. I also believe in probiotics and paying attention to the IBS and how it responds to each and everything you put in your belly. But you need to have the strength and fortitude to fight the good fight. Strong mind, strong body. Strong body, strong mind. Be flexible, be open and don’t give up. To quote the great and venerable Bruce Lee, ‘Be like water, my friends’.
Which of the following symptoms of IBS do you experience most frequently?