The Fear and Anxiety of Symptoms like Urgency and Cramping Came Out of Nowhere – Making Life Feel More Like an Inescapable Hell
Most college students will tell you that finals week feels like hell — but with all of my bowel symptoms, it really did feel like I was living it every single day.
And if you’ve dealt with IBS or SIBO symptoms, you know what it’s like when that trepidation starts settling in, and how it permeates every corner of your life…
- The constant “mental mapping” of where the bathrooms are, everywhere you go.
- The hopelessness of withdrawing from the people and things you used to love, because “what if I have a flare-up?”
- The embarrassment of trying to sit still in class or in a meeting with the feeling that someone’s running a jackhammer through your intestines and you’ve GOT to get to a bathroom before it’s too late!
And I was young. I had my whole life ahead of me… but I didn’t want any part of it if it was going to be like this, each and every day.
And it didn’t get any better after I graduated college, either. Despite going to doctor after doctor, I’d go through bouts where I’d feel halfway human again, only to get a flare-up and go through that all-too-familiar downward spiral of putting my life and activities on hold while my guts seize up and riot.
Conditions like IBS and SIBO consist of both a mental and a physical component. Anxiety, worry, depression, stress — all of these can compound the symptoms of digestive issues.
And if you’ve:
- Tried pharmaceutical treatments that helped but didn’t last
- Experience anxiety or stress that aggravates your symptoms
- Felt like negative thought patterns and frustration have taken control of your mind
- Become worried or anxious about day-to-day activities because of chronic IBS or SIBO issues
- Realized you need to work on the mental component of your digestive issues
Then you need to pay close attention to what I’m about to share with you:
It took three years (and a kind-hearted, open-minded doctor) before things finally took a turn for the better for me.
I shudder to think back on it now. But that’s exactly how long it took until I finally found a doctor who was willing to listen and not just write off my symptoms as a “case of a bad gas station burrito”.
She was an integrative doctor, which meant that she not only drew from modern medicine but also traditional and herbal remedies as well. She looked at the “big picture” of my life — what I was eating, what my lifestyle was like, and so on.
And she told me that there’s no “cure all” for IBS or SIBO symptoms. That everyone has a custom “combination lock” in their bodies. That you have to figure out, through testing, what works for you. What may be a miraculous treatment for one person may be a terrible idea for someone else.
We tried all sorts of things to hit that right combination — trying a low FODMAP diet, herbal teas and Epsom bath salts, to name a few.
Beyond her suggestions, I also tried other types of diets like vegan and paleo diets, as well as the elemental diet.
At this point, I was willing to try anything to see relief.
Some things, like the herbal teas and elemental diet, helped me a lot. Sticking to a FODMAP conscious diet and learning the right combination of soluble and insoluble fiber also helped. Other things made me feel absolutely wretched. As healthy as it is, the vegan diet made me feel awful.
Antibiotics worked, but they didn’t last. I didn’t want to always rely on them. When you do that, you can disturb the complex balance of good bacteria in your intestines — not to mention more lingering issues like antibiotic resistance.
Even though the antibiotics formulated for SIBO are only meant to target the bacteria in the intestines, you still don’t want to be shackled to the notion of taking antibiotics every day of your life!