This post is going to be in a little different direction, where I want to talk about how our thoughts affect our body. And with feeling healthy. This isn’t going to be a post about “IBS is caused by stress,” which I commonly see. But instead how we react to the IBS or other digestive issues, and how that affects us.
I know I deal with my digestive issues poorly. I tend to have a negative attitude towards it. But what is that creating in my body? How is that affecting me?
I know some of the answer, but think about it for a minute.
How my Mentality Affects my IBS
Is there a definitive cure for IBS? Not that we know of. But are there things that can be tried? Definitely. I haven’t though. Because I got into a slump. Having a corn intolerance first, I was devastated when my stomach, that I had already fixed once, “broke” again. Once again I was at the doctors and eventually they gave up looking for answers, and I was just to live with it.
Well, I came to the realization a few days ago that I’ve been living with IBS for 7 years. 7 years. Connecting that seemed to pull me out of wherever I had been. Putting a time to it made it seem devastating because it feels like nothing ever gets better. Then I thought about how much I’ve actually tried to fix it. To heal my stomach.
And I haven’t done much. I’ve been living with the stomach problems. But it makes me sad. I don’t do many things for fear of my stomach. I’m worried about getting specific jobs because sometimes I have to suddenly run to the bathroom, and some jobs I can’t just get up and leave. It definitely affects my mental health. The fear of being on a hike and trying to figure something out. Or being out without food, and I just don’t eat because I can only eat foods I’ve prepared for myself. Wondering every day, what I’m going to eat. It’s terrifying.
Negativity affects us all. If we’re negative, we don’t see the chance of a positive. I can’t look for positive. If doctors don’t know what’s wrong with me, what are the chances that someone else will have a solution.
I’ve lived with this negativity of my stomach issues. I think subconsciously I’ve been doing this because round of problems came after I had finally figured out my corn intolerance and was having normal digestion again. So that feedback, of doing everything right, and something else happening, made me feel like my stomach couldn’t be normal. I just had to always have something wrong with me. Honestly, I felt that was how my life had to be.
So I’ve lived with this. For 7 years. Begrudgingly, I’ve tried a few things to make my stomach better. At the same time, I’ve given up on western medicine. So this came as the NAET treatment and acupuncture. But I didn’t go out looking for these. These were suggested to me and almost pushed. Partly because I didn’t think anything would make me feel better; I just decided to live with my fate of digestive problems.
Now, I did try an elimination diet. This only happened because I was fed up. But it was also a mourning process. Because when the IBS first started, this was suggested. It was suggested to me to try removing items from my diet, and see if that helped. Originally, I didn’t want to because I had already lost corn, and didn’t want to give up anything else. Eventually (6 years of IBS later), I decided to give it a try. And it seemed to help. I was slowly figuring out what was causing issues.
That started in November, now we’re into June. And I’m still writing about this. Why? Because I’m still having problems. My IBS-D It hasn’t gone away. I no longer consume wheat, dairy, caffeine, onions, garlic, and about 30 other things. I’m really strict about corn again, only eating specific brands. So, either I need to go down to fewer foods, and hope that it’s something I’m eating (which it might not be), or try something else.
I really don’t want to lose even more foods. I already am giving up more and more on a weekly basis, but I don’t want to go down to just 2 ingredients. It doesn’t seem like a good idea for me to watch my partner eat everything that I can’t. I already do enough of that. And it’s a bit of jealousy, because I want to eat without worry. To find any recipe and try it, rather than spending hours looking for one and then still have to modify it to my diet. Not be extremely strict with what I eat.
So what about positivity? What if my mentality is affecting my IBS? Not in the way doctors suggest, but in a different form. There are so many ideas on how to help Irritable Bowel Syndrome on the internet. Why am I so blatantly avoiding trying those ideas? I’m already miserable most days of the week, so why not try something that might help? It might do nothing, but why am I not even trying it?
I mean, I know why. The question is rhetorical. I know it’s because I’m afraid of being disappointed again. Of losing all options. If I don’t try, there are still things to try. I’m worried that if I try every single option that is on the internet to help my stomach, and none of it works, I’ll be devastated. Because then there seems to be no hope.
If I actually try though, maybe something will work? Because right now I’m disappointing myself. By giving up and living with it. There’s also the fear of, if it does get fixed, then what next? Because there’ll always be something wrong. So if I give up my IBS, what will next befall on my stomach?
I’ve been wallowing in my own self pity for so long, that I can’t see there might be a positive. Something bad doesn’t have to happen. The past doesn’t have to be repeated. So maybe my attitude does affect my IBS. Because mentally, I’m thinking it’s not worth it to try new things. But maybe it is. Maybe it’s worth it to try something new. Perhaps a leaf will cure my IBS symptoms. Maybe it is leaky gut, and by taking a certain probiotic, my stomach will heal, and I can reintroduce foods. Who knows. I’d given up on myself like all of my western doctors have. But I am not going to do that anymore. I am going to look for the positive, and try to find a way to heal. (These were suggestions given to me from people, and I will be trying them in the near future – updates to come.)
Positive and Negative
I know that I can’t stay positive all of the time. If something doesn’t work out, I’ll be sad. But the important part is to try again. I can’t move forward with my life unless I try. Because if I don’t try, there are no changes to be seen.
Taking care of our stomachs is like taking care of a plant. If a plant is droopy and sad, I try different things to fix it. Water it, and if that doesn’t help I add fertilizer. keep trying. I try for my plants, now I have to try for myself.
Maybe my IBS won’t ever go away. But I’ve already been living like that for 7 (sort of 9) years. If I can find something to even help alleviate a symptom, isn’t that worth trying? This is what I mean when I say our mindset affects IBS.
Reading and Resources
I was at the library and stumbled upon this book, Managing Chronic Illness by Veronica Latham. Only skimming it, I saw a lot of good ideas for coping and how to live your life. One topic it brought up was that you go through the grieving process with any chronic illness. I’ve been stuck in the depression stage for too long, and am finally figuring out how to move into acceptance. This is how mentality can affect IBS. Our mental health is so important with life, and how choose to survive or thrive.
Reach out to other people. There are so many Facebook groups with people willing to help, for almost anything. I’m part of a Corn Allergy group, where we support each other.