Monday, August 30, 2010

School + stress = NO worsening of symptoms?!

Obviously school has started up again, but this semester has surprised me as far as my IBS symptoms go. Usually as I start to get stressed, my worst symptoms get even worse and make me absolutely miserable.

While I have had a bit of a problem getting out of the house for my early classes, this is nothing new for me. I've never been a morning person, and school just makes this obvious. Luckily, I hardly ever had to get up early during the summer, so I just didn't have to deal with my symptoms. But I've made it to every class and so far haven't spent any "sick" days/nights in bed.

This next part may sound a bit crazy to some of you. I honestly think the reason I'm feeling better is because I said to hell with it! To hell with restricting myself to where I'm basically only eating cereal, to hell with worrying about the consequences of eating, etc. Don't get me wrong- I did NOT go crazy and consume large amounts of pizza, hamburgers, or fried chicken. I'm still making conscious decisions about food, but I'm no longer worrying myself crazy about the specifics of everything. I really think this has decreased my stress and that's what has held off my usual back-to-school symptom spike.

You know how that mosquito bite can drive you bat shit crazy while you're studying? But when a friend calls with some juicy gossip and you lose yourself in conversation- what happens? You completely forget about the incessant itch. That's my reasoning here. I'm forcing my problems to the back of my mind. As I said before, this does not mean I think I've wished away my IBS or anything like that. I still have loose stools when I eat certain foods. My intestines still feel like they'll never relax. But I've forced myself to accept this as my new "normal."

As we all know, stress is a huge factor when it comes to our disease. What sense does it make to stress over IBS symptoms? I decided that answer is none at all, and it's paying off! Let's hope this trend continues at least until midterms. :)


  1. Good to read. I think you're absolutely right with what you say about worrying vs. acceptance and I'm glad it's helping you so far. Now, if I can just learn that lesson myself. ;-)

  2. Hi Rachel,
    I think you're right that stressing over IBS symptoms doesn't really help. At the same time, I'm not sure that ignoring them or just accepting them as your new normal is that great either.

    There's some interesting research from neurologist, Dr. Robert Scaer, who says that the brain stores undischarged traumatic experiences which later provoke the autonomic nervous system into triggering symptoms of IBS, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and several other chronic conditions.

    After many years of treating chronic pain patients medically, Dr. Scaer noticed that the ones who really did well were those he sent for mind-body treatment of their trauma. And his is not the only medical research I've read that shows that IBS starts in the brain (limbic system), not in the gut. The exciting part is, once you "re-program" your brain to release the physical or emotional trauma that's underneath the IBS symptoms, he says you can actually get rid of your symptoms.

    So, probably when you said "the hell with it," you were calming down your brain's limbic system, which kept you from re-triggering symptoms (at least for a while!...)

    (P.S. my website has a little more info about this if you're interested.