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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