Fear of accidents

Hi all,

I've posted about my anxiety and IBS before and how the two tend to work in a vicious cycle. In fact, while I accept that I do have some dietary triggers, I think the majority of my IBS-D is down to stress/anxiety. This is having a really bad effect on my life because whenever it comes to going out to new places, travelling, being somewhere where a toilet might not be immediately accessible I get flare ups. Whether it's a school assembly, a work meeting, or just going to a new town/city where there clearly are toilets I just don't know where they are! It's really getting me down and a lot of the time I opt to stay at home where I feel safe and never seem to get anxiety flare ups.

In a few weeks my son is going away for a week with my parents and my partner and I would really like to get away for a few days but obviously my IBS is playing on my mind. I really am determined this time but I just wondered how others cope with the fear of an accident happening? Has it ever happened to you? If so, was it as bad as you had imagined? It's never happened to me but I kind of feel like the fear is probably worse than if the actual event happened, if that makes any sense?! Ultimately I know it wouldn't be the end of the world...although not pleasant either.

I should add that I do take immodium sometimes but in severe flare ups it doesn't stop me needing to go. I also tried CBT but it didn't help at all.

Any advice from people who suffer in a similar way would be appreciated. xx

16 Replies

  • I can say - I've been there.

    When I first went on a long haul holiday to New York it was on my mind and felt horrible.

    But, I hate this phrase, it sounds like a case of mind over matter.

    That, of-course doesn't mean symptoms are all in the head, they are very real.

    I take Buscopan (on prescription) which sorts me out - other good things are Peppermint Tea and a good sit down always helps.

    Sorry I can't give any news, other than stronger medication perhaps (tricyclic antidepressants could be used - as says on the NHS website).

    All the best :-)


  • Thank you :) I bought peppermint capsules to try but I took one during a flare up and it seemed to make my D symptoms worse! I appreciate your comment :) x

  • What you can do is be prepared for 'what if's' and you may find that actually helps your mind calm down, I know a lot of people on this site mention taking a pack of wet wipes with you, a change of clothes, (I take just underwear, tights or jeans, smaller items), a plastic bag to keep stuff in as well.

    It is about getting yourself in a positive place before the event of leaving the house, going to work, seeing friends etc happens.

    Know if there are toilets where you are going as well.

    I can control mine with low fodmaps at the moment, but all of the above helped loads with me, to stay calm and know you are prepared :)

    Also if you are going away, eating out etc have smaller plain meals so your body can cope, stay closer to the house, when you have had a good time out and things have gone well, make sure you remember the feeling and the routeen so you can do it again the next time, but perhaps go a bit further, leave the spare clothes, have a bit more to eat etc :)

    good luck

  • Yes I've heard about people having an emergency kit of sorts. It does make sense. I always carry wipes with me but maybe i'd feel more in control if I had extra clothes too. I think its the fear of the embarrassment as well. Imagine being in a car and the worse happening, honestly it would just be horrible :( x

  • Yes that is a worry, if I were to go on a long journey in a car with others, I would eat only what I knew to be safe a day before hand, and also take safe snacks too, that would give me peace of mind. 😀

  • Hi there LMB,

    First of all.... hopefully you have discussed this with your partner... this would be the last person you would want to keep that information away from.... If he knows all about it, he should understand and realize there could be a few emergency stops! That is common, I believe, to all of us...

    And 'being prepared' is very necessary. I wear a product called shields as a 'just in case' and always take along an extra with me, together with a washcloth, or wipes, and sometimes even an extra (partial) set of clothes that you can get to immediately. IF you do these things, I think it will help relax your mind and you will have LESS trouble...honest! :)

    So here is wishing you and your partner a really good time... I know we would like all things to go 'perfectly'...but we have to remember that sometimes even the worst of incidents...its not the end of the world... So go have fun!! :)

  • Fully agree. I've been incontinent a few times, and now when traveling and worried I'll wear an adult diaper. They're not as bad as they sound, and they provide peace of mind, reducing the chances you'll actually need it.

    Also I keep as others are mentioning emergency change kits - it's good to have one at work as well. I have a few trusted friends at work that if the worst happens I can ask them to grab my change of clothes.

  • Hi RWD, that sounds like an excellent plan! Good for you!!

    I agree,,,Depends sort of gets a bad rap because of a lot of 'jokes' that go around connecting 'old people and depends'.... This is NOT fair or kind and it gives the Depends a bad rap that it doesn't deserve... The reason I wear the Shields when I go out...(they are shaped like BIG 'kotexs').... is because if need be, they are easier to change without having to get undressed...

    Wearing them gives me ease of mind which GREATLY reduces the chances that I will even need them.... with them its no more than maybe once every two months of so...

  • I always keep one diaper in the seat pocket of the car and I have them at work as well. I always bring one on flights in my carry on. You're right that there have been a lot of old-people jokes about Depends. People don't think about young people and incontinence. To be honest, it doesn't even bother me anymore to have folks see a diaper flop out of my carry-on when traveling. And I'm 35.

    I should look into these Shields though. They might do the trick for lower risk situations. And you're right. Having that backup in place greatly reduces the stress and chances of even feeling ill. Strange isn't it?

  • Thank you for the replies, much appreciated. Yes my partner does know but I don't think he quite gets how fearful and debilitating it is for me. I haven't heard of Shields but I have used incontinent pants when I went on holiday as I was terrified of something happening on the plane or connection bus journey. I was only 27 at the time, it was awful :( x

  • I've only had a close shave two or three times so I don't really get anxious about having accidents but I'd echo some of the points above, especially about being prepared. Even if this means making time just to do some planning rather than rushing things. If you rush this task you will feel out of control.

    I have really found tackling my anxiety has helped my IBS. I've been having counselling/therapy for the last few months, initially for something else but it turned out anxiety was endemic in my life. I have tried both CBT and mindfulness as part of this. I got benefits from both, but found CBT worked better for me; as I'm quite analytical I found I could talk myself out of it. Perhaps you feel things more than over analyse them in which case mindfulness could work better for you; it teaches you to sit with your feelings.

    One of my therapists actually recommended a book to me: Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. I've not got into the book myself but the first chapter reveals the main tenets: firstly you fear the "thing" (in your case the accident); secondly you fear how you will feel (maybe embarrassed, ashamed?); and finally you fear not being able to cope. If you knew you could handle anything that came your way you would cope as you have nothing to fear. This can be achieved by having more trust in your own ability to cope. I wonder if you can slowly get into this frame of mind.

    Do you remember when your IBS first started?

  • Thanks for this. I have tried CBT (I am a fairly analytical over-thinker too) but it just didn't work for me. My counsellor was nice but it was as if he just didn't get me. He gave me a lot of techniques that didn't work for my situation. I've also tried mindfulness meditation which does work to an extent but when I'm in the midst of an IBS panic I find it really hard to get in the zone and detract away from the urgency and panic.

    I have always suffered from what I'd call a nervous tummy. Needing the loo in high anxiety situations like before a job interview etc. But it never used to interfere with my daily life like it does now. When I was younger I went to uni and travelled the world - long haul flights, bus journeys with no toilets. It didn't phase me at all. Now I can't even get the bus to town without panicking. I don't know what changed. I think my IBS symptoms have worsened. I now have at least one or two bad flare ups a month (which is nothing compared to those who are suffering daily) but the uncertainty of when it will crop up bothers me. I've tried keeping a diary to try and work out when it's likely to happen but it seems sporadic.

    There was one incident where I got in a panic in the car one time and my OH had to pull over and find a toilet asap. I made it but it really scared me and I was having a full panic attack by the time I reached the loo. I think that was a pivotal moment for me. That's when the fear really began. x

  • I found the same thing with mindfulness - it could never calm me down when I was getting anxious.

    I actually had to change therapist because both me and him felt we weren't getting anywhere. I have been with this second therapist for almost three months now and made some real progress. You may find talking to someone different helps.

    Personally, I find my IBS flares up when I'm in a rush (e.g. a short term deadline at work and feeling I don't have enough time to do it in or when I'm trying to fit too many things into my day).

  • I plan a lot be before I travel such as when i was in NYC and London I downloaded and saved the lists of stations where toilets were available and plan my route accordingly. I would also use huge distractions such as loud music, doing my makeup, reading a magazine or even working on my blog.

    After many years of suffering it still gets me everytime, when in very bad situations where i can't get out of I tap my chest and use deep breaths and also i wear a mini tena pad everyday. It HELPs to know that its there trust me!.

    there are times where you cannot get out or the train stops but if i can walk anywhere i chose that option rather than public transport. I only work part-time now because the stress of work made my symptoms bad. I eat well and avoid lots of things especially if im traveling soon or the next day i won't eat any gluten, dairy, eggs, chocolate or even drink lots of water.

    Its a sad life but 13 years on this is what I've found to work. Also i take imodium, anti-spasm and anti-anxiety meds everyday.

    Let me know if you have other ways in coping. I live in Hong Kong so travel is all about bridges, tunnels highways, boats, traffic and very expensive healthy western food too!


  • I also really suffer with public transport these days. When I was younger I used to go on trains, trams and buses regularly for uni. It wasn't an issue. But because I don't have to do it anymore it's become a new and scary thing, especially as my IBS has gotten progressively worse over the years. I just get nervous about the most simple things - even going into town where I know exactly where the toilets are. Going to new places is a huge ordeal. Once I'm there I'm usually OK but it's actually getting there that's the problem. I do use Immodium but during particularly bad flare ups it doesn't stop the runs :( I'm sick of this taking over my life. I'm sure 80% of it is in my head. I just have to feel in control all the time and when I can't even be in full control of my body I get anxious. The only place I truly feel 'safe' is at home. x

  • A anti anxiety medication will help. I'm the same way. I don't go anywhere except the doctors offices. Don't wait t ask for help it will only continue to get worse.

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