Sunday, 3 April 2016

Living With IBS: IBS Awareness Month


IBS Awareness Month Blog

Today I'm taking the day off from talking about the latest beauty launch or what I've been buying recently, to talk about a topic that's close to my heart or might I say, my stomach; IBS. IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, is a condition that affects one in five of us here in the UK but it's still one of those topics that remains a taboo subject even now in 2016. So to mark IBS Awareness Month I wanted to do a post on how IBS affects me.

If you've been reading Ellis Tuesday for some time now you might have seen me mention my health and the erratic nature of it, throughout the years and a lot of that has been as a result of attempting to get a proper diagnosis. In the past few years I've been seen by several specialists, had every test under the sun (an endoscopy, a colonoscopy, MRI's, stool samples, ultrasounds and an alarming amount of blood tests), only for each and every one of them to come back normal. As a result you're left with one condition; IBS. And as my body rejected medication after medication I went from having mild IBS symptoms to full blown chronic IBS. When it's bad it's bad, I'm doubled over in pain, making countless trips to the toilet, bloated to the point where I look six months pregnant and a permanent fixture at my GP practice. But there are some weeks, even months, where I don't do anything different (diet or exercise wise) and I have absolutely no issues at all. But it's mostly short lived and I'm then met with yet another flare up. That's probably what bothers me the most about IBS, other than the symptons of course; the unpredictability of it all. I'd be lying if I didn't say that it's had a massive impact on me when it comes to my social life. Having IBS symptoms in your late teens/early twenties meant, for me anyway, that I missed out on quite a few things and when it was particularly chronic and debilitating I was even forced to give up work at the time.

I end up having to cancel plans with friends, I often miss out on some pretty incredible blog events, I've not been out and about often enough to bump into my dream man and there are some days when all of this leaves me feeling extremely frustrated and incredibly upset. I've had to bid a fond farewell to many of my favourite foods and it's been years since I last enjoyed a McDonald's, Burger King or KFC but my attitude towards food, my health and the way I look has completely transformed. Before I began experiencing IBS-like symptoms I was two and a half stone heavier, ate without even thinking about what I was putting into my body and would obsess about how 'fat' or 'big' I looked or felt. Now I've learnt to love my body, even if it doesn't always return the favour and this has been the one definite positive of what is essentially a debilitating and often embarrassing condition.

IBS can be triggered by many different things. For some it might be stress or trauma, for others it's alcohol. Straight away I knew that it had something to do with what I was eating. Basically everything I enjoyed and held dear to me, food-wise, was a no-go. Even foods that are deemed 'safe' for IBS sufferers can cause problems for me so I'm pretty sure that my body just does what it wants when it wants to. I still look at certain fast food emporiums when I pass by, almost like someone would when their face is pressed up against a window and I'll almost always like a picture of burgers and french fries as I scroll through Instagram but it goes no further than that. I've got quite a limited diet now, especially when you compare it to what I used to eat but through trial and error that's slowly growing as each week passes.

This week has been a good one IBS wise. I'm still on several tablets a day, one before I eat each meal and I drink a laxative solution before I go to bed each night but thankfully I've not been up or down for a good number of days so that's something.

I know that for many of you this post won't be one that speaks to you like it does for some others but even if just one person reads this today and feels like they're not alone then this blog post will have done it's job. Hopefully I've been able to shed some light on the condition and raise awareness of what it's really like to live with IBS. I try my best to be as open as I can be when it comes to how my health affects me on a daily basis, whether that be with friends, family, co-workers or even complete strangers in the various waiting rooms that I frequent and now here on my blog.

I'd really hate for anyone to suffer in silence when it comes to their health, whether it's IBS related or not. They always say that a problem shared is a problem halved and I certainly stand by that. If you'd like to get in touch, anonymously, publicly or via email, then as always, please feel free to do so. If you have any questions you'd like to ask, send them my way and if you'd like to see more on the topic of IBS or how I radically overhauled my diet and the way in which I looked at food, then just let me know. All I can say is; you're not alone, really, you're not.

Do you know anyone who suffers from IBS? Or do you yourself? And would you be interested in more personal posts, such as this one, popping up from time to time on Ellis Tuesday?

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32 comments

  1. I have IBS and my mum and sister! So can totally relate to it! I always worry when eating out when is it going to flare up again! �� Totally feel for you!

    www.sophiekate.co.uk

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    1. I hope you're keeping well Sophie!
      It's the worst when you're out and you're basically just waiting to see if you're going to be okay or not!

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  2. I'm so glad you posted this Ellis - I wanted to know if IBS makes you feel sick a lot, is that a symptom you get? Over a year ago my health took a big down turn, and I was feeling sick almost every day and I couldn't eat certain foods, including pasta. I've been diagnosed with anxiety however I feel as though IBS has come along with this as my stomach goes through a lot of 'changes' shall we say. I don't know if this is a thing or if you know anything about it but I can end up being in pain and having to miss out on things in fear of feeling sick or my stomach taking a turn for the worse. Great you addressed IBS!

    Lucy | Forever September

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    1. It is definitely a sympton that I get Lucy! I can feel nauseous most nights and there are nights when what feels like acid even starts to make it's way up my throat! :( Not a pleasant feeling at all!
      Pasta was one that I struggled a lot with in the beginning with it setting me off really often! I would definitely go to your GP's and list all the symptoms you're having, even take a list with you as that's what I usually do and hopefully they will investigate further! Hope you start to feel a bit better soon!
      Thanks Lucy! :)

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  3. I have undiagnosed bowel problems that are either IBS or just generally related to my genetic condition so it means a lot that you have opened up about IBS on your blog, not to mention very brave of you! It's a topic that people would often rather sweep under the carpet but it effects so many people and often on a daily basis. Thank you for speaking up! <3 xxx
    www.shonalouise.com

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    1. Thank you very much Shona! :) It really is and it's so disheartening because as soon as I started getting symptoms and then an official diagnosis, I wanted to let people know what was wrong with me without feeling embarrassed or weird about it! Hopefully raising the awareness will make it a more commonplace topic of discussion!

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  4. I have IBS and I didn't realize it was awareness month, oops! I always worry about eating out because I get paranoid about being bloated and needing the toilet a lot!
    Sarah | MOSHINGZOMBIES

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    1. I only noticed after seeing it on Twitter so don't worry Sarah!
      I know exactly how you feel! Bloating and big variances in my bowel movements are two of the symptoms that affect me the most and it's difficult knowing that sometimes regardless of what you eat/do it's only going to end up in another flare up!

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  5. Ellis, I am so proud of you for sharing your story and for crediting me for helping on Twitter. The more we speak up about the poo taboo hopefully the more people will realise it's not "just IBS" and how it is in fact a debilitating, unseen illness. Well done for sharing your story and inspiring and helping others.

    Happy IBS Awareness Month!

    Love Jo xxx

    Josclothes.co.uk

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    1. Thanks a lot Jo! :) That really means a lot to me!
      Exactly! I couldn't have said it better myself!
      Happy IBS Awareness Month to you too!

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  6. Great post, I definitely don't think people are aware of IBS and it's symptoms and what it can be like! My dad suffers from it and it took me a while to understand him again. Thanks for leaving your link during the #bbloggers chat :)

    Kate xo // www.beautybabbles.com

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    1. Thank you very much Kate! :)
      It really is difficult to highlight the symptoms to those who don't suffer from it unfortunately! Sometimes I have to say to people, 'well it's basically like having a stomach bug or food poisoning like symptoms but all the time/without any notice'. They kind of get it then but it is hard to convey this to others!

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  7. I know a few people who suffer with IBS, I don't personally so I can't even comprehend what you have to go through. Brave of you to post this!

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    1. Thank you very much Taylor! :) Hopefully in sharing this I've made it a topic that we don't necessarily see discussed on blogs like this all too often!

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  8. I suffer from IBS and so does my dad. It's awful but thankfully it sounds a lot milder than yours. I love this post, well done you!
    Pam xo/ Pam Scalfi♥

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    1. Thank you so much Pam! :) I hope that you and your Dad are keeping well!

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  9. I'm always up for more personal posts - they're why I read my favourite blogs! Thank you for sharing your story, lovely.

    Lis / last year's girl x

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    1. I'm really glad to hear that Lis! :) I always worry that by straying too far from what I originally started Ellis Tuesday for might put people off but it's definitely about me sharing what's really going on as well as my favourite new lipstick etc. Hehe.
      Thank you!

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  10. What a great post. There is not enough awareness and talk about IBS so it is good that you have shared your story xo

    Emily | emsalice.com

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    1. Thank you Emily! :) I'm really glad that it has been this well received!

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  11. Ive had IBS since I was a little girl and its awful. I have control over it right now-Thank God! Im so glad you've written about this because it doesnt get enought awareness. Having IBS can be serious and not many people understand and know that X

    www.beautylifebecca.blogspot.com

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    1. I'm really sorry to hear that Becca! Thankfully my symptoms didn't really start until I was about 17 so I can only imagine how hard it has been suffering that long! :(
      I'm glad to hear that you're keeping well though now! :)
      Thank you! I completely agree!

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  12. Brilliant article! I am an IBS sufferer too and mine is usually triggered by stress and anxiety, this week has so far been horrendous, I am hoping tomorrow is a better day. Xx

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    1. Thank you very much Emma! :)
      I'm really sorry to hear that! :( Hopefully you'll be feeling a bit better again soon!

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  13. What a great article!
    Thank you for bringing awareness and touching on a topic so many people see as taboo. While I do not suffer from this, I have an immediate family who feels so embarrassed by it. It breaks my heart.

    xo,
    Aïchatou Bella

    www.stilettosandstandards.com

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    1. Thank you very much Aïchatou! :)
      It's horrible to see other people suffer from something, especially when they often feel embarrassed or nervous about discussing it and sharing how they feel! Hopefully it will soon be something that we can discuss freely without feeling like it's a taboo!

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  14. Hey Ellis! Met you so so briefly with #lbloggers and wanted to check out your blog. I also have IBS and ulcers also run in my family. I relate to the symptoms and causes. If I get really stressed out it'll flare up, but I still haven't figured out which foods cause it. I just stay away from greasy food and take meds. It's great that you wrote about it and are bringing more awareness to the condition. So many people have it.

    Xo,
    Miki
    http://mikialamode.com

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    1. I would definitely recommend keeping a note of what you eat or a food diary if you can! It might show what's in common on flare-up days. I found that cutting out greasy or fast food was the best decision when it came to altering my diet!
      That's so true! And yet so few of us speak up!

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  15. Great post! Well done you on raising awareness of this horrible syndrome. I too suffer with IBS and after the reading the comments I'm so shocked to see that so many others do to. It's more common than you actually think. Mines caused by stress, anxiety and emetephobia. I hope you're well xx

    Lauren | itslaurenvictoria.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Thank you very much Lauren! :)
      It's unbelievable how many people also suffer from it when it gets brought up in a conversation or in a blog post!
      I hope you're keeping well too!

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  16. My doctor told my I have IBS when I was 15, but didn't recommend anything, just said that it is different for each person. Nobody of my friends ever told me they have the same problem, so I can't really talk about it to anyone. It would be nice if you would like to write about your diet. I used to always avoid junk food, maybe that is why in my case it is not intensive, but still sometimes I suffer from bloat and spasms for a couple of days.
    Thank you for this post. It is good to know that you I am not alone with my problem.

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    1. I will definitely get to work on writing about my diet and how I have changed it since being diagnosed!
      Thank you for reading Agniecha! :) I hope you are keeping well and it really does take a weight off your shoulders when you find out that you're not alone.

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