Please tell me it gets better

So I'm (relatively- diagnosed 6 months ago but been like this since I was 11) new to all this but IBS seems to be ruining my life. I'm set off at random points almost every day. I try to go out, do errends, see friends etc. and almost every time I have to leave early because of it. I'm still in school full time (GCSE's) and this has made everything so much worse. Lots of the time I can't be in school. I'm missing too many lessons vital to my education and my exams (which I'm terrified I won't be able to do because of the pain or the constant diarrhoea) . I can't exercise without having to stop after 10 mins to go find a toilet. I can't eat without thinking if it's safe, if I can eat it or if I just have to be prepared for a day of extreme pain. Forget about braving through a period like a normal woman, it makes the IBS worse and then the IBS makes the period worse like a frickin game of table tennis. Apparently now i have anxiety which just makes it a hell of a lot worse. I can't talk to people about it because they just don't know how to respond. The title says it all. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

12 Replies

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  • It does get better. Everybody is different, and everyone will take a different path to helping them manage things, but the more you understand about your mind, body and condition, the easier things will become. For instance, three years ago I was almost suicidal because of my IBS and how it was affecting my life. Today, I am preparing for tests so that I can leave a well paid job to go back to university and study medicine.

    There are plenty of things people on here might suggest but first of all, it would be helpful to know how your IBS has evolved. Was there anything significant going on in your life when it started and how and when have the symptoms fluctuated since then? Has it always been pain and diarrhoea, or have you had other symptoms, too?

    Secondly, did your doctor run any blood tests to rule our other conditions? And finally, how is he or she currently managing your IBS?

  • I have had blood tests every 3 weeks for the past 6 months to monitor my decreasing b12 count (something which only goes down if you have no intake of meat or meat substitutes which I do). He finally referred me to my local hospital but you probably know how these things are, nothing will actually happen for months maybe even a year or so. He recommended drinking peppermint tea which I hate but tried to stick with until I realised that if anything it made it worse. Good luck with the tests, I think its really great what you're doing. Thank you for taking the time to reply it really means a lot.

  • Interesting about the B12 blood tests. I didn't know that. Has he taken any blood tests to check for coeliac disease or inflammatory markers?

    I had the same issue with peppermint tea - it actually made my symptoms worse, too. However, I found camomile was more soothing.

    Is there a reason he hasn't prescribed you any medication? There are several types of medication that can be used to treat IBS plus a whole load of dietary interventions. See nice.org.uk/guidance/cg61/c... for details.

    For instance, a common first line therapy for IBS-D is mebeverine. This is an antispasmodic. It's usually taken before meals. When we eat, our body kicks the gut into action, but with IBS it can go into overdrive. Consequently, we can experience pain and diarrhoea because the gut hasn't had the time to fully digest all the food and absorb all the water.

    You mentioned that it appears to be happening all the time. Therefore, I wonder if there's something more psychological going on. I found IBS can actually be a vicious cycle: as our symptoms get worse, we worry about how this will affect us, and then the worrying triggers the symptoms and makes them worse... You're clearly anxious about how well you'll do in your exams as well as how your IBS affects your social life so I wonder if seeing a counsellor or therapist might help.

    I found that anxiety was the biggest/main trigger for my IBS but it's something that has taken me almost a year to discover after working with a therapist. I'd spent a lot of the last few years confusing the symptoms of anxiety with the buzz of the job, but this week I noticed a real relationship. I'd had a very busy few days at work, doing long hours while carrying a lot of responsibility, but I wasn't anxious and I had no IBS symptoms for five days straight. Then the other day I felt myself get anxious (a knotted feeling in my chest) because I thought I'd made a mistake a let someone down, and almost instantaneously I felt pain in my bowels again.

    If you can't see a counsellor (and they are available on the NHS) you might like to have a go at reading a couple of books. Some people swear by mindfulness and this is the most popular book - amazon.co.uk/Mindfulness-pr... That didn't solve my problems but it did help me learn to identify when I was anxious. I've had more help from a book called Mind Over Mood - amazon.co.uk/Mind-Over-Mood... - and my GP friend also recommends this to her patients.

    You could also look at dietary interventions. Given your age and that you follow a meat-free diet, I would definitely recommend speaking to a dietician before embarking on any of these. The most successful intervention is the low FODMAP diet. It works by removing foods from your diet that our bodies can't digest but bacteria can. The bacterial digestion causes the pain and diarrhoea associated with IBS. With a few exceptions, I don't think the low FODMAP diet identifies true, irreversible food intolerances. In my opinion, a lot of the time, IBS just causes our guts to be highly sensitised so we are more prone to experience the pain associated with the bacterial digestion. Or, alternatively, the IBS moves food through our bodies too quickly, so limiting what only the bacteria can eat is beneficial.

    That's a lot of information and I'm happy to answer any questions. Not all of the above may work for you - every one of us is different - but as you can see, there are plenty of things you can try, with your GP's help.

  • Whenever my gut is really hypersensitive I take aloe juice and cut out tea coffee etc and drink this and lots of water

  • I will be talking to a nutritionist about the fodmap diet as well as taking really good quality supplements from a company whose main focus is research and nutrition, This after somany years of suffering. It does get better and also I find goes in circles.

  • Sorry to hear it's got to you. My advice would be to watch what you eat and see if there is a pattern. Diet is an important part of how you are affected. Take care and ask away as there are hundreds of us that have been there.

  • You will feel better once you find your own triggers - IBS isn't easy but if it helps I use Buscopan when I feel sick and I take a liquid iron supplement (Feroglobin B12) when I get tired, these two things seems to help me. Along with plenty of exercise.

    Drink plenty of water and keep hydrated - milk, caffeine, spicy foods and the dreaded stress are my triggers - do a food diary logging good days and bad days - this will highlight your area's

    Good Luck and stay positive

  • So sorry to hear what you are going thru, fj, it's too much for someone so young with a lot going on, u have my sympathy. In my experience with this condition, u have to be proactive & assertive with health professionals - I would start by informing your school so that they understand and could make arrangements for home tutoring. Keep a food diary - record what u've eaten, how u feel personally & how ur gut reacts, but don't start excluding anything from your diet as this will skew any tests you have. Insist on tests from your GP for coeliac disease, lactose intolerance and bile issues (see IBS network page) and request a referral to a dietician. All these things will give u enough information to determine any cause for ur IBS and help u devise a plan to manage it. There is an IBS specialist based in Manchester called Peter Whorwell, he only sees patients on the NHS but I would push for an appointment with him. I wish u all the very best x

  • That's a good point about informing the school. Not only can they make sure you have work you can be doing from home, but it's something they can record on file to explain absences and as mitigating circumstances at exams and if you apply for college.

  • Really schools should care but it's all about the grades now. Whatever makes the school look good. Thanks for the advice- I had my first hospital appointment today and it seemed like because I'm "still a kid" they either don't really think its actually that or that because I'm only 15 I'm completely ignorant. They tried to get me out of there as quickly as possible but I made sure I pushed for a referral to a dietician (there have been very extensive cuts in the NHS funding in my area recently so they are just trying to get through it in the best way possible for them)

    I really appreciate you taking the time to reply xx

  • I b s brings on anxiety even more i found!!

  • I have alot of the same symptoms and I'm sorry it's getting to you. I was diagnosed when I was 16 after my gcse's. I can remember being so fed up that thoughts of will I ever get better cropped in my mind. For me it's all aniexty triggered. The gut doesn't have its nickname your "2nd brain" for nothing. Aniexty has many symptoms and yours look to me bowel movements which is exactly like mine. And one your aniexty kicks in you starting thinking where is the nearest toilet etc and it's just a viscous cycle. I've tried a lot of therapies and hypnotherapy worked great for me. Although it didn't completely cure me it helped a great deal. A few months back when I was in a really bad space I couldn't even travel 20mins down the road without have debilitating aniexty. After hypnotherapy I've now started University part time (I'm 23) and I'm constantly challenging myself to beat this. Here are my tips for school and going out.

    - Take immodiums, find out how many work for you. I take 3 a day in the morning on a normal day and I take 8 on the morning when I am going to University or if I know I'm traveling.

    - Mindfulness meditation or bodyscan relaxation. Aniexty is your flight or fight mode kicked in and adrenaline & cortisol have been pumped into your system. Giving yourself time to relax and allow your body to return to normal will help alot.

    - Never forget, your not alone! So many people have this but don't speak about it. This forum/site is a gold mine of knowledge and support.

    Other advice such as exercise, hydration and diet should be applied to. The more tools you have in your arsenal, the better.

    If you would like more specifics on apps for meditation and things please don't be afraid to message me. I wish you well on your recovery!

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