Saturday, 8 June 2013

Life with IBS, Anxiety and Depression

To say that I've struggled with IBS, anxiety and depression is a huge understatement. In the past ten years, there have been many trips to the emergency rooms, well over 20 different medications, and there's been me, going from someone who had a little bit of confidence, to someone who had none. I've seen myself go from a healthy, intelligent teenage girl, to someone so unsure of herself that it physically makes her ill as an adult. I have hid pretty much my entire life and have missed out on a lot. I've lost a lot of great friends along the way (if only I knew how to be a friend....but that will be another post). It got to the point where I was actually afraid to leave my house. 'Slight Agoraphobia' my doctor wrote one time. It's really hard to cope with that situation when you know deep down that that's not you. That extremely fearful, overly conscientious, ridiculously polite girl that doesn't speak her mind....that's just not me! I had lost all sense of adventure, all sense of what truly makes me happy as a human being, and all sense of hope for getting better.

Over the past half a year or so, things have started to turn around. It's really hard to put my finger on exactly what has been helping me, but so far I feel like I've identified a few things:

  • Emily. Our daughter has this way of putting things into perspective for us. She helps us decide what truly matters in this life of ours, every day. Watching her learn how to walk was eye opening for me, in particular. To see a living thing,  grow from needing support all of the time, to needing support standing, and then to being able to take one step at a time until out of the blue one day they can walk on their own, was just amazing to me. It reaffirmed what I already knew: that it just takes a little bit of work each day to get to where you want to be. As long as you know whereabouts you want to go, all it takes is a little more determination today, than you had yesterday. :)
  • Exercise. Exercise was a scary word for me. I would hear it, and think ugh....sweaty hard work, going to wind up feeling light headed, sick and out of energy for the rest of the day. But now I realize that exercise doesn't mean going to the gym for an hour or two...I mean it can, but not always.  For me, I prefer to go on really long, exploratory walks. Instead of taking the bus to where we want to go, recently we've been walking. It's improving the way I feel everyday, and knowing that as long as I put in a little more effort today than I did the day before has made a big impact. It's also been a great way for my husband and I to have little (free) adventures of our own.
  • Changing my diet. Yes diet, another scary word. But for me it hasn't so much been about following any specific diet, just about making a few different choices. For example, for our dairy products, we always choose the light, or lower fat version. Yes, fat free sour cream doesn't taste as good as the one with 14% fat....but I'm definitely willing to sacrifice a little taste to know that I'm a lot healthier because of it. I have also been making sure to actually eat. It makes a difference, and a lot of the times I wasn't eating until dinner time. I'd usually wind up sick by that hour. In the morning, even though I still feel a little iffy some mornings, I try and make myself drink a smoothie for some energy through the day. So far with Diet and Exercise I'm down about 10 pounds. 
  • Finding what makes me happy. That has been the biggest challenge, but then I just figured I'd go back to the basics. I thought about it and figured what better place to start than when I was the happiest in my life.  I went all the way back to when I was around 8 and 9 years old. I had lots of friends, I did well in school, I always tried at everything I did. I wanted to be a teacher, a writer or an artist. I enjoyed reading, writing, creating art, and going on adventures, exploring the unknown, swimming, riding my bike, stuff like that....the simple stuff. I started reading again, and writing, and creating. The adventures and exploring part have been more recently reawakened. I am still really hesitant to get on a bike...but we'll get there :)  My advice to others out there trying to find their way....As long as you're not hurting anyone, do what makes you happy! Everything else will fall into place as it comes at you. 
It takes a lot to sit down and figure out who you actually want to be, who you see yourself as, where you want to be..all of those things. It's probably one of the hardest questions in life, Who am I? One I am assuming every human being has asked themselves at one point or another. Something I've been thinking about for a long time, since about 16 years old. I am a free spirited person. I truly love people (even though I am extremely fearful of them) and I believe in telling the truth, no matter how ugly it may be. Those are just a few things I've come to learn and accept about myself.

Years later, I am still trying to figure that answer out a hundred percent, but at least now I have a bit of an understanding and I'm being a little more proactive in making it so, instead of just saying that I want these things.

Over the next few months I'll be making over my outside to match the inside. I want to look like I feel. It starts with the hair :) For the longest time, I've wanted to experiment with fun colours, so I'll be going blonde for the first time in my life. I have no idea how I'll look, and I've always been afraid of it. So I figured here goes nothing, and I don't want to wonder about it for the rest of my life. Next will be a tattoo, to symbolize my mantra for life: Let it Be. It's something I tell myself over and over, reminding myself that there is only so much in this life for me to control. Everything else, I just need to take it stride.

I will be sharing this journey step by step and hope that maybe it will help someone else out there struggling through something similar.  You may feel stuck now, but it does get better :)

Have you had any experiences with IBS, anxiety or depression? What helped you through?

87 comments:

  1. Wow! It sounds like you've been through some really difficult things, but that you're starting to turn your life around. I think a blog like this can really help others who are struggling with similar issues - it always helps to know we're not alone!

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    1. It truly does help to know that we're not alone! :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts

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  2. Great Story! I relate to you more than you know! keep your head up and keep pushing forward

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    1. Thank you, hope things are on their way up for you as well!

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  3. Thank you for sharing your story. Believe me I know exactly what you are going through because I am going through it too. So thank you for having the courage to share this with your readers

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    1. Thanks for stopping through and reading my story :) it's encouraging to have such nice comments, and I hope to encourage others who are struggling to open up too. I wish only good things for you!

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  4. I've had a little anxiety from time to time over the years, especially when we were struggling financially. Exercise always made me feel better. Thank you for sharing your story.

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    1. Financial stress is the worst sometimes. Exercise has definitely been an amazing help. Thanks for sharing a bit of your story as well :)

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  5. exercise is the best way to cope up with anxiety, i believe. thank you for sharing your story with us. :)

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    1. Thanks! It has been a big help, and I only intend to increase the amount over time. Hopefully that will bring even better things.

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  6. I am very sorry to hear that you needed all those trips to the hospital. Hope you get better and never need to go again. Thank you, Jerri Davis

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    1. Thank you Jerri, I appreciate that a lot! So far it's been about a year since my last hospital trip...yay! :) Definitely something to celebrate.

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  7. To avoid stress i usually do something that i enjoy every day like sweat out tension with a good workout.

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    1. This is a good tip for everyone! :) It's been a big relief to just do something that I enjoy at least once a day. Thanks for sharing Clare

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  8. Exercise always helps me because I get out of the house and I feel free.

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    1. Feeling free...ahh yes, such a forgotten feeling. :) Glad you find relief in exercise! Thanks for stopping through

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  9. This is great info, thanks so much for sharing! My son, now almost 20, started having extreme anxiety problems when he turned 16. He was always the most outgoing, confident person I ever knew. Now, like you, he also has problems with agoraphobia, lack of confidence, etc. It's really hard to watch. His doctor said he's got an extreme anxiety disorder. I wish you well!

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    1. I can imagine how hard that is to watch, but i assure you, just being there as a supportive mom you are doing what means the most to him :) I wish you and your son only the very best!

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  10. i can relate I live through all those too :(

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    1. I hope things get better for you Amanda! Every day's a new start :)

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  11. I am sorry you have have experienced this! I hope you improve soon. On a sidenote, have you tried reducing wheat and adding vit b-12 and omegas threes? (Or flax or hemp or chia seeds)

    I have had similar experiences. I was bullied in high school, developed Celiac Disease, watched my brother go through a serious accident and developed depression. Things that worked for me were: walking (in nature), journaling and yoga. Everyone needs to find an outlet!

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    1. I've got to be honest and say if anything I've stayed the same in the wheat department. When I go through my digestive issues more of it is an overly acidic feeling with the severe heartburn and sometimes my mouth fills with bile...I find the wheat a good way to balance that.

      I will have to try adding in some b12 and some flax, hemp or chia seeds. Maybe some seeds in my morning smoothie would be great! :)

      Thanks for such great suggestions and for sharing your story.

      I'm sorry you had to go through that, but I am so glad that you found some outlets that worked for you! I have found comfort in keeping a journal as well, and will definitely be trying yoga in the time to come. Best to you and yours!

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  12. I am so sorry for all you have been through and applaud your strength! Thank you for sharing this with the world and giving us all a place to come together.

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    1. Thanks so much Julia! Your words are very kind, and uplifting.

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  13. I almost cried when I read this post. I have all all kinds of digestive and bowel issues that have been on going for years. I've been to many doctors and have been on various medications and nothing seems to help. But I keep on going in hopes that the doctors will someday figure it out and 'fix' me. I also have become a virtual antisocial hermit. In addition, I also have Lupus which has disfigured my face and adds to my social anxiety-depression.

    Thank you Sarah for this extremely heart-warming and inspirational post! I wish you all the greatest success in you new life makeover and adventure!

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    1. It sounds like you're going through some extremely difficult times Kamla and I truly wish i could just give you a hug! :) One day maybe doctors will figure out what causes stuff like this to happen, but until then never forget to do what makes you happy! I hope every day you find something that puts a smile on your face.

      Thank you so much for stopping through to read my story and to share yours too. Your well wishes are taken to heart and I wish you better days ahead!

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  14. One step at a time! I was hit with depression, anxiety and huge self esteem issues when I was in college. I've been slowly coming to terms with it all, years later, but it takes time.

    We need to stay strong and realize there are so many wonderful things to keep us going!

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    1. Yes! Lindsay, very well said. It truly is one step at a time, one foot in front of the other. I hope things have been going better for you, and continue to get better as time goes on. Thank you!

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  15. Thanks for sharing your story on depression etc. I have so many friends that are way depressed and I try and help in any way I can. More people are depressed more now a days with all the things going on and the economy. Unless you been thru it it is hard to really know how these people feel inside . I know I been there too.

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    1. I'm glad your friends have someone understanding on their side, it's so important! I hope things get better for everyone who's been having hard times. Thanks for sharing, Ann

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  16. Thanks for sharing this. IBS and Depression run in our family and both are very trying things to deal with!

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    1. They certainly are! Thanks for taking the time to read my story.

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  17. I realized early that I needed to work with people because I preferred to be alone in my private life. That worked well until I was laid off 5 years ago and haven't been able to find work since. So I am alone all the time now and sinking lower and lower.

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    1. Keep your head up kitblu! Things will get better. As long as you keep reaching out like you did by leaving this comment, things will get better. :) I am sorry for your hard times, and am sending good thoughts your way.

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  18. I'm glad to hear that you're taking care of yourself. I think that's an important part of living well despite depression and other health problems. Thank you for sharing your story - there are lots of us struggling and it helps to know that we're not alone.

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    1. Thank you, it does help to find others to relate to!

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  19. Nice post!thank you for sharing your story...it s good to read and see that people have the same problems..take care of yourself!

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    1. Thanks Helena, it's encouraging to see people's comments! :)

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  20. Thanks for posting your story for us. Good luck and hope things stay well for you. There are more people having these issues than a lot of us want to believe. Being depressed does not mean your crazy. I just dont like how the doctors give you medication but do nothing else to help you.

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    1. It is really hard to get better when all the doctor's do is give you medications meant to cover up the problem. Especially if that medication makes you so drowsy you can't even function like a normal human being. Thanks for stopping through and sharing your thoughts.

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  21. Usually a lot of symptoms or problems happen thanks to one wrong aspect of our personality that starts a chain reaction of problems that if accumulated with time creates bigger and serious issues that is not easy to fix because it is not he source of the problem, just go back to your teenage memories and try to remember what was your biggest issue and work on that, I am sure you know it, I guess/hope the bigger problems will be solved on it's own.

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    1. It is true Hani. Very well said. For me it was the person I was hanging out with, and the way I looked physically. It took a long time to figure this out though, many many years of asking myself probably close to a million questions. Only when I was honest in the answers to those questions have I been able to start to move forward. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and reading through my story :) Hope all is well.

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  22. All your tips are good ones. Exercise sometimes helps you clear your mind . Depression isnt something anyone wants to have. It can come from lots of things current issues or
    past issues. You have to accept the fact that this is whats wrong so you can go forward and get help for yourself - dont be ashamed . Its nothing to feel ashamed about.

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  23. Well said...I have dealt too with cronic pain and illness my whole life. It's easy to loose yourself or like you said even get to know oneself. I'm currently learning to deal with my anxiety by lessening how hard I am on me. I just figured out that was a coping skill that needs to go for it was becoming more harmful! I also am planning on getting a tattoo to symbolize my struggles and remind me of my strengths... Good luck wth your journey!
    via Rhonda W G.

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  24. Your story sounds a lot like mine. In fact, in part of it, I thought maybe I had wrote it. I've had depression and anxiety probably for the last 35 years. I hardly ever go out. I only go out if I absolutely, positively have to. Like grocery shopping-only because no one will do it for me. And doctor appointments-I've miss quite a few of those. Good luck with your journey!

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  25. Great post, I suffer from anxiety and PTSD so this helps me.

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  26. I don't suffer from IBS so I can't exactly follow that. I do recognize the fear and anxiety though. All my life I've also been caged inside my head. Right now I'm working on breaking through, but it's hard. Good luck, you're not alone :)

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  27. Thank you for sharing this beautiful, I love this tale and sometimes it is with the difficultes that a person succeeds in his life. I see that you are being passed to through things not easy.
    I hope that it s all over now.

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  28. Thank you for sharing this wonderful blog post :) I can really relate to this

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  29. Thanks for sharing this story! I suffer from depression as a symptom of my disease, I suffer from Fibromyalgia, and i know how difficult it can be... I can't say I'm cured but the pills the doctor prescribed let me live a day at a time thinking somehow I am happy and that I must live my life outside the cage my mind is.

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  30. I feel so sorry for you but am glad you are on the up side getting better. I know depression well after the murder of my daughter and great grand son. waiting for trail in aug it will be 1 yr she died and his court date keeps getting postpone now its sept. I hope after the trail is over I will be able to get off meds and be myself somewhat.

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  31. Great post and I can relate!!!! Diet, exercise, REST, and knowing your limits and balance in your life does wonders! Thank you for sharing
    Jen Whitten
    whittenwins@yahoo.com

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  32. Thanks so much for sharing your story. Keep your head up and stay strong.

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  33. Good tips. I'm glad more and more awareness is being brought to the tough subject. We all need to know that this is serious, but people care.

    Sherry Compton savewish@yahoo.com

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  34. This post I'm sure will help others know they are not alone. And hopefully it was therapeutic to you to get it all out. I'm glad things are turning around for you :)

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  35. I'm glad things are turning around for you

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  36. That was an interesting post. Your being happy made me think the most. Often being happy is just about being content. Easier said than done.
    Ps. Greek Yogurt is a great substitute for sour cream. :)

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  37. Thank you for sharing your journey. I was formally diagnosed with IBS in 2001. After trying a few SSRI's, I finally went off of them to get pregnant. Since giving birth more than 6 years ago, I have discovered acupuncture. It has helped SO much with my anxiety, which was the biggest contributor to my IBS. I go for regular maintenance visits, and I'm much happier and feel better equipped to experience life to its fullest without having to worry about where the next bathroom is.
    ashaldridge at gmail dot com

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  38. Wow.. I've suffered from all three and I can relate so well to your post. I feel like as though you were practically talking from my perspective. Things have been kind of looking up for me, but not a lot has changed with the slight agoraphobia/ losing friends thing. I've been relying on a lot of forcing myself to walk close to my house and working out/doing yoga inside my house, which has helped me get some of the anxiety out and i think it's helped a bit with the depression too, which is good. Still on the road but hopefully I'll reach there sometime! Thanks for the post, this was inspiring.

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  39. I've been messing around with my food allergies for the last few years. I was amazed to discover that when I eat wheat, I end up feeling depression...its not right away, more like a day or day and half later. I was so relieved to learn this about how my body responds to wheat. It was scary to feel such deep, dark, sadness without any real good reason that I could pinpoint. Now, if I accidentally come across some wheat and start to get those tell tale dark feelings, I just try to power through my day as best as I can, knowing that as long as I get that wheat out of my diet, I will start to feel normal emotionally again soon.
    Trying to change my diet and all the social/emotional things that came from my current allergy issues has been another story altogether. I definitely struggle with being scared to leave the house. My kids have tons of food allergies too and I know that it is always a few hours until we have to eat again and we are avoiding: wheat, dairy, eggs, rice, corn, most beans, most nuts, flax, banana, soy...these are in everything! I started to get an eating disorder.

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  40. this was very realistic for me. i have suffered from depression and its good to hear other people with the same daily hurdles and struggles that i go through.

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  41. It's great that you have identified the reasons for the turnaround. Hopefully it will be useful for others.

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  42. while I don't have experience with IBS and anxiety, depression is an old friend and is something nobody can truly understand until it is experienced. Kudos to you for sharing your story and giving hope to others!

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  43. I could have written this myself, about myself, almost word for word, my dear. The difference between you & I: You've started to do something about it. I'm still wallowing in it. Afraid to move. I am 48 years old, & I am pretty sure I know the root of mine, I'm just now sure how to get back to ME. The outgoing, fun loving, risk taking, social butterfly that i used to know. Thanks for being open. Those of us in the same skin understand & are encouraged by your ability to move forward.

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  44. How good to find things that can help you turn everything around. It is certainly a life of baby steps. I appreciate you sharing your journey. I have battled depression and anxiety myself and it really does go so much deeper than to just stop. Thanks for sharing.

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  45. omg hi, i admire you, your blog s awesome, your writing is so deep, thanks for sharing this. keep going

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  46. I've had anxiety for seemingly all my life. Medicated for years now. A fight you don't win. You just deal with it.

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  47. Great tips! I agree 100% with the exercise and diet change..

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  48. I love all the things you've done to help yourself via your daughter, exercise, 'diet' aka healthier eating, and finding you. Great tips for everyone.

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  49. I have had depression its a dark side and I hated it

    lmurley2000@yahoo.com

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  50. Thanks so much for sharing your story, I have anxiety but I try not to let it affect my life. I find that eating well and exercising helps keep it in check.

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  51. I really have to appreciate your strength!! Hope everything goes well for you. :)

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  52. Congrats on taking control of your life. I've never had stomach issues but I've suffered my share of downturns in this life. Overall, it makes us more deeply human, I think.

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  53. Thanks for sharing your story. I never knew much about living wiht IBS.

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  54. Sounds like you are doing all the right things to get things under control. Anxiety is horrible.

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  55. Good for you!!! A journey is definitely made up of many, many small steps. You are taking them and it sounds like going in the right direction (for you especially)!

    sksweeps (at) earthlink (dot) net

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  56. I have anxiety and depression - was agoraphobic for a while, too! None of it is much fun! I've been having luck with a therapy called EMDR. I think it's definitely a combination of a lot of small "remedies", vs one great cure-all, though. Wish it was easier!

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  57. Swimming in a warm water pool has helped me a lot. I take it easy and just float sometimes.

    slehan at juno dot com

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  58. I am pretty sure I have anxiety. There are a lot of stressors in my life right now. It is good to know someone out there understands. I have begun an exercise program of my own lately. My rule is 30 minutes of exercise of some type per day with weekends off. I allow myself the weekends as a treat, but usually find myself at least going for a long walk. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  59. I have suffered many on and off bouts of anxiety and panic disorder since 1996 and have been on paxil since that year. I am much better than when it started way back when, but it sure has a way of gripping you and rearing its ugly head when you least expect it.

    Hang tough my friend, there are good and bad days.

    I wish you well in discovering yourself and who you are.

    Kevin :)

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  60. so much i want to say, but i will leave it as Good luck. Please keep updating as life goes on, im interested to know.

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  61. I suffer from depression because I have been so isolated by my husband for nearly six years. I have no car and I live in the sticks. I haven't been out since Christmas, nor have I seen anyone but my son and husband since then. I can totally empathize with you. I wish you luck and peace of mind.

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  62. I suffer from anxiety, depression and ibs also. I've found that a diet high in fiber and low in fat and sugar really helps me. The anxiety and depression are another story. I've been struggling with these since the day I was born, I'm sure. Thanks for sharing your journey, I really appreciate it!

    RAFFLECOPTER NAME is Anne Taylor

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