IBS and Anxiety

From as far back as I can remember I’ve had stomach issues. Mostly bloating and diarrhea. If you don’t want to hear about poop then this isn’t the post for you. 💩

I remember one time as a child my family and I stayed in a hotel and across the street was a playground. We had pizza for dinner and I had such bad cramps and diarrhea afterward that I had to stay in the hotel room while my mom and sisters went to the park. I remember yelling and waving to them from the hotel window. It’s a memory I look back at and laugh about now, but it wasn’t atypical of my childhood and it still isn’t now.

It was my boyfriend who helped me realize I had digestive problems greater than just the occasional upset stomach. We often eat a lot of meals together, and foods that didn’t bother him at all would leave me rushing to a toilet. My whole life I thought my stomach issues were pretty normal because they were all I knew, but compared to his, my stomach was just not my friend. It was from him I learned that having diarrhea at least once a week wasn’t normal. I decided to talk to my doctor about it. She diagnosed me with what I’d already diagnosed myself with: IBS-D (irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea). It’s not a fun diagnosis but it’s not threatening to my health, although it does negatively impact my wellbeing. It can be really frustrating, embarrassing, and leaves me bloated a lot of the time to the point where I look at least 5 months pregnant.

It’s ironic because my IBS symptoms can be upsetting enough to bring on anxiety, and it’s also been associated with being caused by anxiety. There’s been a lot of hype lately about the brain-gut connection, showing that we have the same neurotransmitters in our stomach as we do in our brain. The causes of IBS haven’t been proven, but that brain-gut relationship certainly plays a role.

I’ve definitely noticed flare ups of IBS when I’m stressed or nervous. It’s part of that fight or flight reaction–where my body just wants to evacuate my bowels so I can make a run for it. But there’s more to IBS than just that– there’s also IBS-C (constipation)– something I haven’t personally dealt with, but is also linked issues in that brain-gut relationship. For me IBS also has a food component– fatty foods, dairy, and insoluble fibers don’t typically sit well with me.

I’m reading a book about IBS right now and it’s pretty fascinating. I’m learning new ways to control it and get a handle over it. I’ve managed it up to this point in my life to the best of my capabilities, but this book is giving me more tools in my toolkit. The techniques are mostly about relieving stress and changing your diet. I’ll share some of those on here after I’ve read more about it, but it just goes to show that mental health conditions can wreak havoc on your body too. :/

If you’re struggling with IBS you’re not alone! Like mental illness, bodily functions can be embarrassing to talk about. But like the children’s book says, everyone poops. 💩 Feel free to talk to me about your poop anytime!

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