The All New 'Yes Man'
IBS has a nasty little habit of occupying a corner of your mind. It is from that corner that IBS can lead you down the road of abstinence. It does so by eroding your own confidence in your ability to control your condition so much so that you start to reject opportunities.
This may sound like a bizarre opening salvo, however please allow me to explain. Long term sufferers of severe IBS will generally build up a reserve of unpleasant memories. Racing across town to find a bathroom, sometimes successfully, at other times not so. Feelings of being in constant pain, from cramping and pressure. Each of these emotions grow over the course of time, the net effect being that you may begin to avoid scenarios which have the potential to cause you distress.
New places are a great example of places that cause distress, places that you have no idea where to find a bathroom. Being with new people may cause anxiety, it is an embarrassing condition, you may not wish to let them know why you keep needing the bathroom. These are just some examples, however the bottom line is that it leads to avoidance.
The easiest way to lead life, if you are a severe sufferer is through avoiding the situations which cause you the most stress. This is known as Avoidant Personality Disorder (APD) http://www.ibs-health.com/ibsapdpage.html. You may or may not suffer with this condition, you will most likely avoid certain situations.
We must first start by saying that this is entirely understandable, why would you put yourself through a great deal of anxiety ? Well, we are here to tell you why..........
Not a rehearsal
Life is so short and so precious, that we can not afford to waste a day. As a severe IBS sufferer, I must confess to wasting a huge chunk of my life. I will never get that time back, much of that time was during the prime of my life, if I could lead my life again I would not have let IBS dictate my life.
My main order of avoidance centered around social engagements and travel. I had a tendency to reject both for fear of IBS issues. During this period my IBS was at its peak, and I constantly received dreadful advice on the condition. To this day I cringe at some of the advice dished out and would like to re-iterate the point our site makes, which is that IBS is a condition which covers far too many symptoms, as a result you will read advice given with the best of intentions, which is utterly useless to you.
The goal should be to get your condition under control and to then start to live your life. We do not recommend that you do it the other way round though, if you positively reinforce your negative feelings and fears then they will get worse. We simply urge you to put everything into controlling your condition. To do this we have a great deal of advice on our website, which should help you to find the right course of action.
Yes, Yes, Yes
In the last few years, I have managed to get the IBS under control. One of the first things I have done is to start saying yes. It is quite hard to get out of the no habit, it becomes an instant reaction. Reminding yourself that you need to say yes and to get out and live life may take a little time, but it is so worth it.
Prior to a worsening of my IBS I had been a keen sportsman and traveler. IBS put paid to many things, but it was these two passions that I missed the most. I have always been a very social being too, that was also an area which suffered.
Since undertaking this philosophy I have done so many great things, in fact in the last two years some of the greatest days of my life have occurred. From visiting amazing countries, to going to some quite unbelievable concerts and most importantly I have reconnected with friends. It has been the joy of these wonderful occasions that made me so evangelical about creating a website, as I realized that there are many others out there like me, all receiving the same duff advice, who may also be crawling into a safety shell.
The world is not perfect, but there are some wonderful people and places to see. You may not realize how much IBS has effected you. It may just be that gradually you seem to do less and less, and have not really considered why.
If I can offer an IBS sufferer any advice it would be to learn how to control your symptoms. It would seem that we are no closer to a miracle cure, so please do not hold out for one, I made that mistake. If you can accept that there is no instant pill, then you can get on with enjoying this beautiful world, and making the best of every precious day.
Just a few of the incredible things I have seen since getting my IBS under control. Sri Lanka in particular would have been inconceivable when under the grip of IBS.