IBS in Stressful Situations

I’ve been through a certain number of stressful situations lately. Between emergency room visits with my son and my partner having a motorcycle accident, we’ve had our fair share of anxiety and stress. And these experiences have made me realize that stress really is my biggest IBS trigger.

Without stress, I can be symptom-free

Ever since I cut out gluten from my diet, I’ve been feeling a whole lot better. I’m not as bloated anymore, and even my flares have seemed less severe and not as frequent. But when a stressful event comes around, IBS comes back with a vengeance.

Feeling better overall does not set me up for success when it comes to stressful situations. Eating safe foods does not help, and neither does a usually calm lifestyle.

Anxiety is a powerful IBS trigger. It breaks through every barrier I might have created, only to wreak havoc in my digestive system.

IBS doesn’t respond to medication

Whenever something scary happens, my IBS gets set off. I could have been feeling fine, but the stress sends me right into a flare. And there’s nothing I can do.

Sometimes, my anxiety-related IBS can be cured with Imodium. However, this only works when the anxiety doesn’t have a real root cause. For example, when I’m worried about a trip or an event, medication, and breathing techniques can work wonders. But in emergency situations? Not so much.

How can I calm down when my baby is sick and I don’t know what’s wrong? How is anything going to help when I just got a call that my partner is in the hospital? (He was fine though!)

I try everything to stay on top of the situation, and yet, my IBS always gets the best of me.

IBS makes me unable to cope with the situation

When I get extreme anxiety which triggers my IBS, I become useless. I am so grateful that my partner stays calm and is able to drive my son to the emergency room in the middle of the night because I certainly couldn’t. All I can do is sit in the back seat of the car and try not to panic.

The first time we had to go to an emergency doctor’s appointment for our baby, I was so ill that I had to leave the room during the consultation. It was only when the doctor announced that it wasn’t anything dangerous that I could feel my digestive system slowly calm down.

During another nightly emergency room visit, I somehow managed to keep my IBS at bay, only to be hit by extreme nausea when we got home. My partner had to take over while I needed to lay down and wait for my stomach to recover from the stress.

Thankfully, I’m not a single parent, because I honestly don’t know what I would do if I was.

IBS-related guilt is real

Situations like the ones described above make me feel like a bad mom and a bad partner. What kind of mother isn’t able to ignore her own needs when the baby needs her? What kind of woman makes her partner take care of a sick baby because she’s too nauseous to do anything?

My IBS just renders me utterly useless in stressful situations, and I hate that so much. The IBS-related guilt is real. And as of now, I still don’t know what to make of it.

Do stressful situations trigger your IBS as well? Please let me know if you found any ways to deal with this!

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