Basically a ‘million dollar question’ at the moment, right? I’m sure plenty of pharmaceutical companies are hoping they’ll be the first to come up with an actual cure. Anywayyyyy…
Irritable Bowel Syndrome. While many people know a bit about it, not everyone knows what it is like to live with it.
Turns out there are a lot of fellow sufferers out there. Around a third of the adult population will have experience symptoms of IBS at some point in their lives. For some lucky souls, it is a one-off moment whereas the rest of us have to battle this beast for our whole lives.
IBS first truly entered my life when I was about 16 years old but I didn’t actually realise what was going on until I hit 22. The bloating, the cramps, constant trips to the loo, the fatigue… I just thought it was a by-product of living a student lifestyle.
But then I started working as a showbiz journalist in London and things got worse. MUCH WORSE.
I was always desperately rushing to the loo, constantly anxious my stomach would play up during important career moments, crying in pain because I just couldn’t get the cramps and bloating to go away… all of it.
When I finally started to find out what was wrong, IBS was the answer that came up in over my google search. Like with everything else that scares me in life, I decided to just ignore it.
I tried to avoid trigger foods on important days and pretended I was enjoying life like a normal person. But then when I get my most intense job – doing long hours, a mixture of day and night shifts as well as working weekends – things got to a point I couldn’t ignore it anymore.
I hopped on Google again and tried to figure things out. I cut out milk, I cut down on bread and pasta when I could but that wasn’t enough stop the daily discomfort. Visits to the GP didn’t provide an answer, either.
Fast forward a year and I somehow ended up in Australia for six months, thanks to my job. Thanks to regular exercise, daily salads and eating lots of lovely fresh food , my IBS symptoms cut down significantly. While it was still pretty stressful hours, I realised how much better my life could be.
I was still gassy AF (I honestly don’t know how my ex managed to survive it, tbh) but I was so much better than I had been in years.
But when I got back to London it was back to the dark days of crippling pain and hours of my life lost dying on the loo. I was eating better than before I headed to Oz but it just wasn’t working as well back in Blighty.
I’ve even moved to a slightly less stressful job but things are still nowhere near the glory days of Oz. After lots of pointless GP appointments over the years, I’ve accepted the fact I’m going to have to find my ‘cure’ by myself.
I know stress and anxiety are big trigger factors for me, on top of food and having a messed up eating pattern because I work night shift, but I recently figured out another thing that doesn’t help.
Despite the fact my mum constantly warned me not to, I often took ibuprofen on an empty stomach during the monthly visit from Lady Flow. It seemed harmless at the time but I can only imagine what that has done to my stomach over the years.
In the past few months since I stopped that bad habit I’ve already noticed a slight improvement. So make sure you aren’t playing yourself like I did!
What’s next then?
I’ve just downloaded a free IBS app called Bowelle and will be using that to track and chart my progress over the next few months.
I want to be able to have some sort of chart to see what works and actually helps me to find a happy balance.
My mother has always joked that I’m a stubborn goat – I am a Capricorn after all – so please believe I will be trying to keep all my favourite things in my diet for as long as possible.
I am so tired of seeing people have to switch to a sugar free, this free, that free, crazy strict diet in order to be okay. While it is necessary for some, maybe it’s not the only option.
If it is… well, at least I’ll know I tried my hardest.
There is such a lack of information for those of us who aren’t ready to just jump into some wheat free/ gluten free/ diary free/ no nice things ever diet and I volunteer as tribute to be the guinea pig to find some solutions that can work for all my fellow stubborn meat and dairy-loving sufferers.
My first trial is going to be focused on diary and finding the best alternatives as decided by my annoying little stomach.
If you have any advice and suggestions, then please let a girl know.
See you on the other side x