The ups and downs of life with IBS

A life with IBS will contain many lows, and some very dark places.  This is part and parcel of dealing with a condition which has no singular guaranteed cure.  Many sufferers will experience periods of extreme unhappiness, particularly during flare ups, when day to day living becomes a very difficult experience.

The Ups and Downs of IBS

Staying positive with IBS

The question is how do we get through these spells and how to remain positive?  When you are in a dark place, it is very hard to find that spark which helps you to pick yourself up.  To this day IBS remains a subject cloaked in ignorance. It is hard to find understanding from others as the symptoms may sound trivial to others, sufferers know that is not the case.  As we often state few conditions are as difficult to talk about, particularly to partners, many of us wish to keep some vestiges of our life a mystery, and restroom behaviour is clearly one of those things.

We have written several times of some of the specifics of IBS, such as the importance of our beliefs however, this week we look at some general tips for staying positive, along with a few tips of our own.  While not all the tips will seem relevant, and many of you will feel beyond this already it is still a useful reminder, as it is very easy to feel trapped and helpless with IBS:

Examine your situation. What's causing the pain you are feeling? This is going to be key to working your way back to positive territory.

External factors can be dealt with by taking positive steps to repair or at least address the root problem as best as you can. Whatever the primary cause of the problem, that cause must be addressed first. You may or may not be able to solve the problem, per se, but at least knowing you're taking positive steps forward is one less weight to have to carry, and it will help you improve your outlook.

You must balance any attempt at "being positive" with an understanding that the reality is, it's going to be an ongoing battle. Because depression will undermine even the strongest of wills, you will need help to maintain—or at least be reminded of—a positive outlook.

Counseling, psychotherapy, and the possibly the right combination of medication will play a crucial role in helping to keep you from sinking into that very dark place that is the essence of depression. Be patient, but don't look for miracles. It may be that you will need the help of professionals throughout your life to maintain a generally even keel.

Don't give in. When you're in the middle of a flare up, those words will have little meaning, because everything you know in your bones to be true is telling you that giving in would be so easy to do.

People will tell you "just get over it," or "get a grip." They know—and you know—that if you were to look objectively at the sum of your life, that it's not as bad as it feels; there are many people whose lives are measurably worse than yours. This does not help. Their lives, no matter how terrible, are not your life, and your situation is unique to you.

Don't try to "get over it." If one could "will away" depression, there would be no need of doctors or drugs. What you can do is understand why you feel like you do, and explain to your would-be counselors that you wish it were that easy, and that you appreciate their concern. Don't push them away—at the very least, you can be positive that they are there for you, however clumsy and unaware their platitudes may be. Who knows, their bumbling efforts may even provide some amusement or distraction.

Take care of your body and soul. Given that you are dealing with a lot pain and discomfort, this is not the time to become a world champion hotdog eater, consumer of tubs of ice cream, or finding the bottom of the bottle of Jack. Treat yourself well, even though you feel truly awful. How, you ask? Here are some ideas:

Give your pet some love. They know you're not their normal human, but the beauty of pets is unconditional, unquestioning love. Be playful with them, find a simple game that amuses both of you (the fake ball-throw is always a canine favorite), and let yourself forget your troubles for 5 or 10 minutes. It won't solve your problem, but it will lighten the load.

Eat as well as you possibly can. Even if you have very little money, make it a point to eat a more balanced, more healthy diet than you do when all is well. Lots of greens and colored vegetables, and a variety of fruit and nuts, are all super healthy for you, and they're much less expensive than meats, cheeses, and processed foods! Their nutritional value will elevate your body, and knowing you are treating yourself will elevate your mind.

Also, look for foods rich in vitamin B12 and Omega-3. These include dark green vegetables, nuts, soybeans, and fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel.

Cut back on the caffeine drinks. You don't need to quit, but cutting back will help reduce chemically induced anxiety and stress, and smooth any recovery time.

Exercise your body. It may be a sport you enjoy, yoga, cross training, or even a simple walk in the park. But keeping your body active will help your outlook.

Throw yourself into a hobby you enjoy. Whether it's art, photography, music appreciation, or building a ship in a bottle, focusing on something other than the suck factor will give your mind some time off for good behavior.

Join a community that you're not already part of. It could be a support group for IBS. You may find solace and purpose in ways you never imagined.

Do not crawl into a hole and disappear. Your friends and loved ones probably know your life sucks. They may or may not be able to help you directly, but they can give you emotional and moral support.

Sleep. You don't need to be told this. Your body is probably begging you for it when you are in the middle of hard times. You may actually be drawn to sleep all day. While that might feel good at the moment, it only puts off the inevitable, so try to maintain good sleeping habits. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule, but allow yourself some leeway. If you sleep fitfully for half the night, then finally fall asleep at 4am, don't get up at 6:30 unless you absolutely must. Let your body get about 8 hours for the best results.

Seek help immediately.  Sometimes, it can become overwhelming to the point where you feel as though you are becoming depressed. If those thoughts start to invade your senses, deal with them urgently, do not ignore.

If you're just starting to have those thoughts, speak to your physician or your therapist. They may prescribe something to help steer you back to the center, emotionally. It may be the act of talking about it is therapeutic enough, but don't assume that. Leave that call to the professionals.

We believe that by staying strong and positive most people find a way to manage their IBS, and to live a happy full life.  The trouble is that along the way many sufferers face a real battle, as time and again you may think you are getting somewhere only for hopes to be dashed.  It is at these times quotes such as Lincolns need to be remembered.

“Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you and in the need you are sure to succeed”  Lincoln IBS Shop Everything you need  to tackle IBS in one place Mobile
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Please note:  All blogs and IBS Health articles have been written by IBS sufferers for fellow IBS sufferers.

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