For me, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is like having a controlling, selfish ‘friend’ who always gets their way.
And what happens when IBS doesn’t get its way? I get instant pain, bloating and stomach cramps to say the least.
So naturally, you try to avoid that discomfort at all costs by giving your IBS exactly what it does (and doesn’t) want.
Congratulations, you’re now basically a hostage to your IBS.
They say your stomach is your second brain and I definitely agree. It makes more decisions for me than I do.
Here’s how IBS affects my mental health:
It started my negative relationship with food
Like most people with IBS, I have intolerances to things that most people wouldn’t believe.
I mean, who has an intolerance to onion? Or garlic? That’s not including gluten and avocado.
How do you deal with the pressures of healthy eating when you struggle to eat a banana without getting a crippling stomach ache?
I stick to the same old things that I know I can eat without discomfort. But guess what? On occasions when I can’t eat those things, I start getting stressed about it.
Stress is a big trigger for my IBS, yet my IBS has made food a very stressful, negative experience. Thanks IBS.
It alienated me from my professional and personal relationships
Speaking of stress, how fun does eating out with multiple food intolerances sound? Yep, it’s awful.
OK, so you might say ‘well, don’t eat out then’. But just by saying that, you’ve already unwittingly annihilated your own social life.
The easiest way to alienate yourself from work colleagues is to never go out for lunch with them. Or for a drink with them – because, obviously, I don’t tolerate alcohol well either.
The best way to make friends and acquaintances think you don’t like them? Decline all their invites without ever saying the real reason.
You’re now basically me.
It ruined my body confidence
IBS loves to shatter any body confidence that I ever managed to build up.
Even when I don’t eat something I shouldn’t, my stomach is constantly bloated for no reason.
Worse still, if I did happen to eat something on the ‘no-go’ list, I look about six months pregnant within a few hours.
It’s easy to keep telling myself that I’m not fat, but it’s hard to believe it sometimes when I’m having a bad day and I look in the mirror.