Do you have pain or discomfort in the abdomen? Does it get worse when you are stressed? Do your bowel movements alternate between constipation and diarrhea? Is there an urgency to get to the toilet which, afterwards, leaves you unsatisfied? Are you also experiencing excess wind, nausea, indigestion, back ache, fullness, or bladder problems?
If you answered yes to many or all of the questions above a doctor may diagnose you with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), also known as irritable colon.
Coping with IBS
Coping strategies are the sets of behaviors people develop to enable them to live with their IBS.
Medication for IBS
Many people self-medicate their symptoms using laxatives and anti-diarrhoea medicines. Antispasmodic medicines such as peppermint oil can be taken to help with wind and stomach cramps. Painkillers such as paracetamol may also be used.
Many of the above remedies are available over the counter. This is convenient but all medicines can have side effects that can cause other problems. If you are taking the above remedies then you will, of course, read the labels; and if you use them on a regular basis then it is probably a good idea to talk to a doctor.
The prospect of getting caught short or being farty in public is, for many people, excruciatingly painful. A good way to avoid this is not to go out! Or if you do go out, to do a military scale planning operation to ensure that you know exactly where each and every toilet is along the way.
While good planning is, in many ways, good sense there is a risk here. The risk is that the anxiety moves from the issue of getting caught short to the issue of planning such that if you don’t plan well enough that, in itself, becomes a trigger for the issue.
Another thing is if you are constantly making and changing plans in order to ensure that you are near a toilet then this will probably also start affecting the other people in your life. Even the most considerate partner may find it frustrating to constantly need to be looking out for toilets, or being at the end of rows or at the edge of crowds. And then it becomes easy to blame your partner for their insensitivity rather than taking responsibility for the problem.
Causes of IBS
At the most basic level, IBS seems to be about you and your shit. One way or another your shit is in control of you. The way I look at it, your physical shit is an analogy for your psychological shit, your ‘issues’. While I don’t have a definitive ‘cause’ for IBS here are a few areas I’m curious about:
The fight or flight response is the popular name given to your body’s response to real or imagined danger. Part of the response is the involuntary empying of the bladder and / or bowels. This is why being afraid is sometimes known as ‘shitting yourself’. This makes sense as it would mean that there was less weight to carry on your impending run, and valuable energy would be diverted from digestion to your muscles.
How would it be for you if you lost control of your bowels in public? Embarrassing? Humiliating? That’s some scary shit. Scary enough, in fact, to trigger your flight or fight response and move you into a vicious circle of being scared of being scared.
Many people describe the experience of IBS cramping as like having a knot, a stone, a whirlpool, or some other kind of object in the stomach. Your stomach is not meant to contain this stuff! If you had real objects in your guts how would your body handle it? I figure that your body will do its level best to shit it out … but perhaps physical shitting isn’t enough to dislodge this imaginary stuff.
It sounds a bit Freudian but shitting may have something to do with the your experience of toilet training(!) If, when you were a kid, your parents made a big deal about going for a poo poo then the whole experience could have been a stressful one for you. If that stress is still in your body then your experience of shitting could actually be some kind of reflection of your relationship with your parents – particularly around them controlling you and your ability to express yourself.
The key to resolving IBS is to take responsibility for making whatever changes in your life are required in order to sort your shit out.
What you can do right now
What goes in has to come out. If you are having trouble at one end then it makes sense to look at the other. There is a lot of different advice about what constitutes a healthy diet for IBS. Some of the stuff that makes sense to me is:
- To eat regular meals – let your body know when it needs to go to work
- Drink plenty of water but cut back on the caffeine – it tends to make people uptight
- If your stools are loose then eat less fibre and fruit and check that any sugar-free or diet foods are not containing the artificial sweetener sorbitol
- If you are constipated then eat more fresh rather than processed foods as they can be difficult to digest. You could supplement your fibre with ispaghula husk granules
- If you are bloated and gassy then eat slowly without gulping so you avoid swallowing too much air. Skew your diet away from gas forming foods such as cabbage, sprouts, and beans. Every schoolboy knows that beanz meanz fartz!
How I can help you resolve your IBS
I will do whatever it takes to enable you to take responsibility for healing your IBS from a psychological / energetic perspective.
If fear of embarrassment, fear of humiliation, or fear of conflict is an issue for you then I will support you while you face those fears. NLP techniques such as time line therapy can be useful for identifying and healing traumatic memories of times from your past when you can remember being embarrassed or humiliated. Once these have been fully cleared there may be nothing for the vicious cycle of fear to revolve around and a virtuous cycle of confidence can be nurtured.
If you are experiencing stomach cramps associated with knots, stones, or other manifestations of anxiety I can work directly on this with you. By coaching you to actively confront and separate from the parasitic energy in your belly you can be rid of this stuff once and for all … if you are prepared to face the consequences.
If the IBS seems to have a family component then this must be resolved to ensure that the symptoms do not return. There is no need to bring your family in for therapy as the roots of your family tree can be reconnected, unblocked, and straightened out using hypnotic reconciliation.
Take action now
Interested in learning more about NLP psychotherapy and hypnotherapy treatment for IBS? I work face-to-face in Bethnal Green, East London and online via Skype and Google talk. Call me now for a free chat and to arrange an appointment.