Assuming that your anxiety has been generated by your IBS, how do you begin to recover ? Long term IBS sufferers will feel that they have good reason to suffer anxiety. A life of IBS can lead to many incidents and near misses which weigh heavily on the mind and create a sound foundation of anxiety.
Into this unpleasant mix, we can add the inability for most sufferers to communicate this misery. IBS sufferers take big psychological blows and then are rarely able to share these issues with others. This can add to the creeping sense of anxiety that can eventually become overwhelming.
The first and simplest step a sufferer can take is to speak to someone. If you are in a position to do so, it is often better to speak to someone professional, or at least someone outside your normal group. It is much easier to be searingly honest to such people, and it is vital to be as open and honest about what you are going through as possible.
The hardest step is to try to get your IBS managed. This may take a great deal of trial and error, and patience, however it is very hard to bring anxiety under control until you have your physical symptoms likewise. We have a plethora of suggestions throughout this site, from the low FODMAP diet, through to various supplements. Hopefully a change such as the low FODMAP diet will give you far quicker results than is often the case, but you have our deepest support and sympathy going through this stage, as it can be hard, but you must keep trying.
Once you reach the stage where you successfully managed your IBS, then you’d hope you were home and dry. Sadly this is not the case. Trust is a vast issue on any level, in this instance an IBS sufferer must learn to trust their bodies again, which is not as simple as it sounds.
If you have suffered IBS for many years, you may have an inbuilt set of anxiety triggers. They may involve going places where you are unfamiliar and do not know where the restrooms are, they may be going places with limited restrooms such as planes and large events, they may be any place that you had an incident. In an ideal world you would look to professional help to get you through to your recovery, however that may be expensive and you may have to work through it on your own.
We have put some links into some wonderful anxiety charities and organisations at the bottom of the page. If IBS is ruling your life then it may be worth you contacting them. Learning strategies to overcoming your anxiety will greatly speed up your recovery, and while many of the organisations are not directly IBS related they will understand your predicament.
None of this is easy and we ourselves know what a difficult battle this is, but it is one you can win. The old Neitzche expression ‘what does not kill me, will make me stronger’ is horrible overused, but certainly applicable here. The sense of strength and achievement in overcoming IBS is immeasurable.
Few people truly understand how bad the condition can be, few people even get close. It is a condition which is embarrassing and hard to talk about, and any victory is usually very personal. If you are currently in an IBS ridden, anxiety filled world, we offer you our very deepest and most heart felt sympathy, but we also offer you our support. It is possible to get through to the other side, not easy but possible.
Chicken and the egg
Does IBS begin with anxiety, or does anxiety develop as a result of IBS ? Few of us will ever know which way round this started. What many IBS sufferers will know is that they feel their anxiety in the pit of their stomachs.
The initial pang of anxiety can often be followed by, or the need to visit the restroom. For each of us the initial stimuli may vary, however the outcome is usually the same.
Much of this rests with how you may see the world. If you are now or have always been a sensitive type, the type that feels the atmosphere in the world around them it is likely that your anxiety has been present with you for many years.
The key to handling this anxiety is to become able to utilise this sensitivity rather than become a victim of it. No easy task, but it can be done.