Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving- IBS style

This year I decided I was going to try a little bit of everything- except the sweet potatoes, blech. I put a little bit of everything on my plate, a lot of mashed potatoes & gravy, and started eating.

I've had a few rough days. It's the time of the month right now and, like always, it's messing with my IBS, so I knew I had to take it a little slow. I'm not sure if I was just really nervous about eating normal food that I don't usually have or what, but about 5 bites in I started feeling pretty bad. Burning in my lower intestines, urgency, bloating & a little nausea. Luckily A was there to keep me calm, and I was able to just sit there for about half an hour while everyone else finished eating. After that, my stomach just continued to be really uneasy for the rest of the day.

I ended up having to skip the last of 4 houses we were supposed to aunt Lisa's where my dad's family was having Thanksgiving. This absolutely sucked because my uncle's family was in town- I hardly ever get to see them & hadn't seen them since my grandma's funeral earlier this year.

Needless to say, I spent the evening on the couch with my heating pad going. This morning I woke up better, but my stomach has still been pretty iffy all day long.

Somehow, even with only eating what little I did, I still gained a pound! Now if only I could keep it on :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Who are you?

Are you the person you thought you'd be? Are you the person you want to be? Do you even recognize yourself? When you make decisions about what you eat, what you do, etc do you feel like it's you who's making the decisions?

Or do you feel like you don't know the person who lives inside your skin? Are you ashamed of how you act? Of how you let food control your life? Do you hate that you let so many things that are out of your control make your decisions for you?

I've been asking myself these questions a lot lately. I recently started seeing a therapist (and abruptly stopped going as soon as I realized how much of my budget was dedicated to her). Regardless of that, she helped me realize something. I'm so unhappy with my life now because I'm living it trying to get back my life from 5 years ago. The one when my friends would stop by unannounced, I'd jump in the car not asking where we were going or when we'd be back. The one when I didn't stop to check my purse before I left to make sure I had my miniature pharmacy inside. The one where I ate way too much pizza & fried food. The one when I didn't EVER have diarrhea. When fear didn't control my life. When traveling was fun & not absolutely terrifying. When I didn't have to map out escapes to the bathroom everywhere I went. When I was not afraid of being around people. When I wasn't afraid of being around sick people because I might catch what they had & begin the cycle of intense IBS symptoms all over again. When I stopped & got fast food on my way home because I didn't have time to make dinner. When I ate things other than rice, cereal & pasta. When I wasn't a hermit because I felt like I fit in with everyone else & didn't have to plan my escape the moment I made plans anywhere with anyone. When I could stress without it affecting my bowels. When I made it to work every single day & never called out sick. When I felt good. When I was happy.

I miss my past SO much it's unbearable sometimes. I occasionally think about it while curled up in fetal position in bed with a box of Kleenex. It hurts to think about it...about how good I had it. Part of the reason I think I hold on to my long-lost friends from that time so much is because they remind me of the time when I knew myself. When I felt like I was the one controlling my life.

Sure, I make my own decisions, so technically I am the one in control. My response to people that say this? Easy for you to say. A mother can make her own decisions, but can she ever really make the decisions she'd like to make & go back to living her life like she did before she had kids? Can she lay on the couch all day in her PJs watching Lifetime, only getting up to get some cereal for herself? Can she have wild sex on the kitchen table any time she wants? No. Just like me, something has changed her life. The difference here is that she obviously chose to have children & I did not choose to have IBS, but we're very similar. I can't live my life like I want to because something is holding me back. I could choose to eat 3 slices of pizza just because I can, but it's definitely not in the best interest of my IBS.

There's what I think of as a little green monster living inside of me, manipulating my every move. Almost everything I do revolves around my IBS. Ok...studying, not so much. But I skip class because of IBS, I choose my meals based on IBS, I sleep with my heating pad every single night because of it, I don't make plans with anyone because of it, I take my own car everywhere instead of catching rides with others because of it, I'm not intimate very often with my boyfriend because of it, etc etc etc.

I'm trying to take back control of my life little by little. My first step was eating chicken. I have feared chicken since the day it gave me food poisoning & triggered the last 4 or so years of this IBS cycle. I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to regain control, but it will happen. I refuse to live the rest of my life not feeling like my own self when I make decisions. I don't want to resent myself. I don't want to hate myself.

Do you feel like you know who you are? Or does your little green monster rule your life too?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gaining weight & ending the fear

Obligatory "I'm such a bad blogger" paragraph! School has been keeping me ridiculously busy, I've taken on almost double the hours I've been working, and well, I guess I just didn't really know what else to say on here.

You know how when you go out somewhere & get really bad service? What do you want to do when you get home? Give the restaurant a really bad rating & a critical review, of course! No? Well, maybe that's just me. What I'm saying is that when things are good, there's not much to say. But when they're bad, there just isn't even enough room to get everything out! Since I've been feeling better, I just didn't really know what to post about on this blog.

On my other blog, I've been participating in Nablopomo which has taught me to pull topics out of my ass when I have absolutely nothing to talk about. Who benefits here, you guys, of course! ;)

Ok, to the actual post. If you're like me you have a bad relationship with food. You might even fear it like I do. I just cross posted a post (see below this one) I wrote for my other blog about worry. As I eat, I'm constantly worrying about what's going to happen once the food starts getting digested. Will my body be able to handle it? Am I going to have to rush to find a bathroom soon? The thoughts are endless. Wait, check that- they WERE endless. But, honestly, after reading only half of this book, I worry so much less about how the food's going to affect me & I know, like a normal person. The thoughts are still in the back of my mind, but I don't let them control how I eat.

This fear of food has had some pretty bad effects on my health. Since this bout with IBS started, I've lost 15-20 pounds that I haven't been able to put back on. At the end of last semester, I was feeling so weak & kind of losing hope of ever feeling normal again. That's when I decided to go see a nutritionist. Obviously, after fearing food for almost 4 years, I'd forgotten how to eat like a normal person. As hard as I was trying to put the weight I had lost back on, I just couldn't do it. I mean- what is there to eat other than cereal, rice & pasta? I sure as hell couldn't remember.

Seeing the nutritionist might have been my best decision in the past 4 years. She gave me two measly pieces of paper that have changed my life. I'm now only 5 pounds away from where I want to be & I feel great! She gave me a simple list of foods (you can find it here- it's a link to a PDF file that you can download) grouped by type that are calorie dense. I found that I'd been eating the same types of food, but I'd been choosing the ones with hardly any calories. I started picking foods that I knew weren't trigger foods from this list & tracking my progress on Calorie Counter.

Even if you're not trying to gain weight, there are some great options on here to remind you about healthy foods to try out. Try to eat as big of a variety from this list as you can to help train yourself to eat normally again & develop a healthy relationship with food. I've been really working hard at trying to put an end to my fear of food & gaining weight since May, and it's been tough. After eating like I did for so long, it took a while to get to the point where I could open the pantry & pull out something I'd never tried before instead of just reaching for the cereal.

You might be at the point I was just a year or two ago. You might feel like there's absolutely no hope. That you're going to be stuck at home, next to your bathroom, just in case. Or that you're going to die eating only cereal & rice. One good thing about IBS is that it usually cycles. As bad as it might be now, it will probably get better. Oh great, now I sound like those movies- "It gets better," but it really does. Maybe in a few years I'll feel like absolute shit again & basically be chained to my bed, but I'm not going down without a fight again.

I really hope you guys can take something away from that food list like I did. And seriously, if you feel any type of stress when you eat, buy that book & do the exercises inside. If you don't have the money right now, at least just start a worry journal. Simply writing down every single thing I worried about (you can bet my hand cramped up quite often) made me realize how pointless it all is- completely unproductive worry- & that it's only making things worse.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I tweeted last week about a book I bought that is all about controlling your worry. It might be the best damn purchase I've ever made.

I'm about halfway through it right now, and I've already cut my worrying in half. If you're a chronic worrier, you know how bothersome it can get. It seemed like I was always amped up and so tense. I'd constantly have thoughts going through my head that would make me anxious. Don't get turned off by that word- anxious.

When I first went to see this therapist, she called what I was feeling "anxiety." Everyone knows that there's a stigma attached to anxiety, so I kind of pushed it away and ignored her. I kept calling it stressed instead of anxious. She must have noticed this and pulled out her DSM IV. Welp- it's definitely anxiety. Whatever it's called doesn't matter. I feel how I feel and that's that.

Anyway, since she suggested these books (there's a stress one too), I decided to order them. I started the one about worry the first day I got it. It has a lot of exercises to help you implement what you're learning. One of the first things it has you do is start a worry journal. I started keeping mine on Google Calendar so I could track it more easily and not have to dig out a notebook every time I worried.

I was SHOCKED after the first day. I worry so much more than I had realized! The first step to decreasing my worry and eventually my stress level was just being aware of how much it happens. The next step was actively thinking about what I was worrying about- was it productive or unproductive? Almost all of my worry was unproductive and completely worthless.

I'm now getting to the part where it starts telling me how to control my worry, and I'm really excited. I can't believe how calm I feel compared to this time last week. The best thing about it is that you don't even need to see a therapist to stop worrying. This book, as long as you really do the exercises, can help you decrease your worrying.

If you ever wish you could just shut your brain off for a second or that you could worry less, this book is definitely something to think about. It's cheap- about $11 and about 140 pages long. Here's a link, or just ask me if you can borrow it when I'm done.