Behcet's Syndrome Society
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Stress, stomach issues, brain fog

Hi everyone,

Since I was a child, I have always been more sensitive than most people around my age when I face with stressful or difficult situations. These overwhelming situations seems to affect my stomach and clarity of my mind simultaneously. As a result I loose my appetite, suffer with a stomach pain, loose bowels, foggy brain, forgetfulness, fatigue and so on.

I have seen number of specialists over the years about my stomach but nothing major was found. These symptoms normally present themselves when I go through stressful times. Even when I overcome the difficulties of these situations, these symptoms take sometime to disappear and I finally go back to normal until I have another stressful situation to deal with. Since, I have been diagnosed with Behcets 4 years ago, I have changed my lifestyle and reduced stress from my life as much as I could but we are human beings and can't really get away from stressful situations all together.

I am a 40 years old strong and independent woman, have lived alone most of my life and looked after myself even when I go through painful flare ups due to behcets but I can't seem to break this cycle of stress affecting mebadly as described earlier and I have not been offered any solution for this issue from the specialists I have seen over the years. I meditate everyday past two years and try to do yoga and breathing exercises as much as I can but I still find my self dealing with the same symptoms when I go through difficult times.

I am just wondering if this would be due to having an overactive immune system and behcets related... may be when I go through difficult times my inflammation levels go up and end up giving me all these symptoms mentioned above... if so it would be good to find out what I can do to help me to relieve these symptoms ...

I am looking forward to hear if you have had similar experiences over the years and what have you found to help you...

Best wishes, April

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Hi April

I too have the same issues but mine have been associated more with Elhers Danlos which I have too, to be honest I don't think my specialist can separate the two issues. Like you I've tried the relaxation and exercise techniques suggested but still I find myself going through the same and having lots of tests and assessments nothing appears to help. Last year I went for some therapy to try and see if this would help me and what was identified was my need to take on other people's issues creating more stress, not work related, even though I'm not asked to do so, I readily offer help and advice, a shoulder to cry on and appear to happily take on other people's woes, my family and friends liken me to an angel... the therapist likened me to being an Oracle... it was good to talk things through over a series of sessions I found it helpful. One of the things I was advised to try was to get myself into not offering advice or taking on other people's issues unless asked and then when asked say, for example, I'm sorry I am not able to do this at this moment in time I can have a look in a week or so... and usually the people might be a little put out but go off and either find someone else or go do whatever it was themselves, well I was amazed this has worked even though I feel my family and friends think I have become distant now... being much more aware of me taking other people's problems on has been very interesting and I am much happier saying sorry no and now only doing what I want.

The brain fog, forgetfulness and fatigue are still here but I do feel the stress levels are lower and I'm happier with myself as a person. I just wished the Behcet's was under control as I'm still trying to find the right drug after the last 2 are simply not working anymore and fear once I come off the steriods tomorrow I'm going to be left waiting for another rheumatologist to get back to the one I am currently seeing with a suggestion meanwhile I am left trying to manage myself as before I was diagnosed 2016/17...

Take care, Gillian

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Thanks Gillian. Yeah I have become isolated and distant in order to reduce my stress levels.. I sometimes feel like a delicate flower trying to survive amidst difficult conditions. Somehow I need to create the perfect environment to sustain but there is no escape from elements like weather which is out of my control... then here comes flare ups... I hope I will find a solution to this one day.. best wishes x

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Sorry to hear about your medical stress Gillian.

I posted an answer to Roses below, quite similar in advice to yours and the advice your received from your therapist.

I was like you always there to help and many people didn't like it when I faced up and said I couldn't take on as much as before. I still listen to others problems and give sympathy but never allow myself to be drawn into the problem , or give an opinion between friends except for hoping they will be able to work it out. You discover your real friends with the philosophy I talk of below because they are happy to see you doing things that make you more able to be your happier self again.

I am glad the system of training yourself to say no, and taking guilt free choices is working for you.

Hope that it gives you the energy that you need to deal with the changes ahead.

Stay strong and always feel free to find us all on this site for some morale support

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Yes to everything you have posted - as a child I remember always feeling anxious - stress is my trigger too and I have had more than my fair share in the last couple of years, mainly caused by other people and their selfish behaviour - and nothing directly to do with me, just I seem to get dragged into it. But no more. I have been having counselling and it has been the best thing I have done for myself. Loads of stuff - including Behcets diagnosis and how isolated I have felt with it. You can be in a room full of people and be alone. I have had to go through a period of mourning - for the old me - too trusting and forgiving and I have peeled back the layers to the beginning. I am starting to renew long left friendships - just life went in different ways but I take things slowly. My marriage has survived - the one thing I did get right, but all the others, who for no apparent reason make me feel stressed - I have inwardly said goodbye. No drama, they are not aware. Just making that decision has left me feeling free. Instead of trying to be sympathetic with all and their own problems - I just focus on myself. It isn't being selfish, just self preservation. If you can master it - and you must not feel guilty about it - it is such a relief. I too am a strong, independent woman - not how I would have described myself two years ago but I too suffered with stress and anxiety - I had to give up a business I loved - I cared too much. This would always trigger flares. I wish you luck in finding inner peace as I have. Please keep posting as I would love to hear how you get along. x

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Sam0511 you have hit the nail on the head and I totally agree with your old life and your new one too. Great for a little boost, thank's GIllian

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Thanks Sam.. i too have become isolated by trying to keep myself away from people who causes me stress but I find that there is no escape from stress as I am over sensitive. I hope to develop emotional resistance some how. May be by changing my DNA :-) I will keep you posted x

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Please do - we are all in the same boat x

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Hi, love your post on this point about stress and how you need to change your way of thinking with illness.

It added to what I have posted myself to Rose if you fancy reading it.

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I have just come to this site to ask for help about Behcets and getting a diagnosis and have been overwhelmed by how helpful people's posts have been.

If you read my post , you will see I have been having a build up of symptoms for 11years and am still going through the treadmill of getting a diagnosis.

It is awful that often the effort it takes to try and get better actually makes you feel more I'll.

Stress is a trigger in aggravating symptoms in most illnesses. You find yourself in a vicious circle. The symptoms flare up which gives you stress and that makes the symptoms worse.

Stress from health or your environment can make you more run down emotionally and physically and trigger a flare up, I have worked over the years on cutting out the situations and the people that can cause this stress to help my health and it helps.

Someone else mentioned the feeling of being alone even in a room of people and it is true, when you are dealing with long term health issues you often feel more alone in company than at home by yourself because you don't feel like you talk about how you are feeling or others comments make you feel.

I have changed my philosophy for dealing with people and things now.

I often sit with the same serene expression while others stress or get catty about tiny situations around me now, knowing that getting stressed or involved in minor disagreements or issues will not be good for me. I keep away from negative people. I try to stay calm in a family argument, walk away and deal with it when everyone has had time to think. I don't take sides in others disagreements and just sympathise with the feeling someone has.

I have learnt to say no. Very important.

I get my priorities in order saving my energy for the things I have to do or do me good.

You find out who your real friends are when you take this philosophy. They are happy when you say that you are so sorry but you cannot do something or are honest and say you will try to make an event or get together but it will depend on how you are that day. They understand that you cannot take on as many responsibilities or help out with things as much as you did.

I say right out that I am sorry to my family but I am feeling bad and can't take part in something or need to rest , I have also explained to them how stress can make me feel worse and ask them politely to calm down or not put pressure on me for things that are out of my control.

People look at me now, with my ups and downs and the issues I have getting diagnosis or if something is going wrong and ask how I can be so calm or not get angry with it all.

I point out, I have realised that getting worked up won't solve the problem any quicker , it will just make me feel worse while I solve it. So I take a deep breath, wait , clear my mind and get the same results without the pain creating stress.

Doing a little exercise when I can helps too, I find yoga inflames my joints but short walks and swimming work wonders, and I do this on my own so that I can clear my mind as well as help my body, because sometimes being alone is less lonely than being part of a crowd.

Hope this is some help and please read my post, or follow my feed in the future or feel free to send me a private chat if you want someone to talk to that understands.

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AMEN! - Beautifully put - perfect and truthful in every way. :)

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Thank you blearyeyed. It really makes you feel better when you are not alone about how you are feeling...I shall show this post to people when they are having hard to understand where I am coming from... we are not lazy, it is not that we don’t care, we are actually traveling through a darkness and uncertainty everyday and that can be a really hard work and draining... Good luck with it all

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Good luck to you Roses,

And really do feel free to send me private message in chat if you ever feel the need to talk .

You are not alone and when you begin to train yourself to see the things that trigger your stress and abolish guilt from needing to rest and take space it is liberating and really improves the way you feel in body and mind .

Cherish yourself, and make the most of the healthy times , keep calm and muddle on!

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Hello. Yes, my tum is very sensitive to stress. It has been a lot better behaved since I made some dietary changes. Food intolerances and sensitivities are a stress in themselves. Being on the right meds has improved things too, probably by lowering the general baseline level of inflammation.

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Hi Jaxxi, thank you for your reply. Can I ask which medication you think it has improved your tummy related symptoms? Thanks, April

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Hi Roses, I am getting good results from hydroxychloroquine. It has generally reduced inflammation all over, making joint pains much better and reducing tummy problems as long as I stay away from the foods I am sensitive to (in my case, gluten and nightshade-family foods).

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I also say NO and MAYBE a lot more than I used to. It’s important to give myself time to take things at my own pace and come back to speed gradually after flares rather than jumping straight back in at the deep end. My favourite saying is ‘not my circus, not my monkeys’, which stops me getting swept into things that don’t directly involve me.

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