IBS-Making Sense of the Mind Body Connection

The Body

Much to my dismay, a couple of years ago, I began experiencing bouts of indigestion, constipation, gas and an array of other uncomfortable issues in my abdomen. I began to think that I had something seriously wrong with me, maybe even cancer.


Seeking a Diagnosis

My doctor retired a year ago. There is a shortage of doctors taking new patients in my area. When I need to see a doctor I go to a walk in clinic. It is challenging to get any sort of quality care when you have five or ten minutes with a distracted and overworked doc. As I sat and waited for my appointment I observed a stream of people leaving the office with frustration etched on their faces probably due to the less than satisfactory interaction they had with whichever doctor was 'on call' that day. When it was my turn I experienced the same frustration. I was not given anything for immediate relief. I was however, ushered out of the office and sent for a slew of blood, urine and feces analysis tests.

Knots!

How my stomach sometimes feels.
How my stomach sometimes feels. | Source

Connecting the Dots

None of the tests results indicated that I had anything bad going on in my body. I felt very confused trying to reconcile how I felt with what the lack of corroborating evidence from the test results.

I hadn't yet connected the dots that my symptoms might be indicative of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.


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Safe Food Choice

A yummy safe choice to avoid IBS symtoms
A yummy safe choice to avoid IBS symtoms | Source

Another Doctor

I went to see yet another anonymous doctor in a local walk in clinic to discuss ways to find some relief form the daily symptoms I was experiencing. He suggested my symptoms were indicative of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and prescribed a combination of Align probiotic and Metamucil brand fiber.

Clear Information & Advice - Dr. Dani

Managing Symtoms

Although the Align and Metamucil therapy was making a big difference physically, I was still getting bouts of IBS symptoms on a regular basis. I began researching more ways to relieve the symptoms. I watched lots of youtube videos and read tons of articles while seeking relief from the IBS symptoms.

The more I researched the more I realized that my often passionate and emotional approach to life's daily challenges was not doing my poor physical body any favors. It became clear to me I needed to spend more time learning to chill in order for my gut to settle down.

Sample of Foods to Eat/Avoid

Avoid
Iffy
Safe
dairy
Lactose free dairy
white bread
garlic&onion
cabbage
bananas
sorbitol
sweet potato
plain pasta
info Collected from http://blog.katescarlata.com/fodmaps-basics/fodmaps-checklist/

Pleasantly Surprised

I started taking the Align right away and to my surprise my symptoms quieted down by the next day. I finally felt some relief from the raw, lower abdomen pressure and twisted guts. When I noticed the symptoms coming back a bit I incorporated Metamucil fiber into my plan of action and the symptoms again settled down.

But Alas

But alas, the die was already cast. I had unwittingly cemented a dysfunctional mind body connection. My stomach was often in a state of flux, fight or flight mode, regardless if I was happy, sad, mad etcetera.

I am learning to undo my body's accustomed responses to life's stimuli. I am training my body to recognize not all events are stressful and require a fight or flight mode of existence. I am learning to connect the dots and recognize how the state of my emotional and spiritual health has a direct effect on my physical health. Healthy mind equals healthy body. It is basically that simple. For years my body was required to protect itself from the ravages of my stress levels. Now that I understand the connection between body and mind with more clarity, it is my responsibility to walk my awareness, be the boss of my own brain and make the lifestyle changes necessary to live my best life.

Peaceful Moments

Learn to savor the peaceful moments
Learn to savor the peaceful moments | Source
Source

Personal History

I often jokingly say I hit the ground running when I was born. My life's experiences included one bombshell after another. I was required to navigate a minefield of childhood trauma, drama and dysfunction handed down and never properly addressed through our family tree. I am not complaining about it, simply referring to it as a point of reference to explain the worrying ways I developed as a child. As I grew into and then became a full fledged adult, I was able to reconcile my upbringing with my adult self and maintain a functional and productive life.

The trick is in telling the body it is okay to relax, the struggle is over, it can respond in a healthy way instead of reacting in the fight or flight protection mode it has been doing for years. It is no small task to detox the body and soul of negative imprinting. But not impossible.

Be Mindful Of

Substance intake:

  • alcohol
  • nicotine
  • recreational drugs
  • prescription drugs

Nurture the Connection

Once I became aware of how much our physical well being is influenced by our thoughts and subsequent approach to life, I understood the necessity of nurturing the healthy mind body connection through relaxation, positive thought, good nutrition, self appreciation and love.

No small task but when I keep myself occupied in the pursuit of a positive and healthy lifestyle I have way less time to fret and worry and consequently tie my own stomach in knots.

Make it a great day!

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