Living with IBS

18:00

emma copland
leeds blogger
heart autumn blog

I never really talk much about health-related things on here, I don't want to dramatise things or come across attention-seeking for something that is quite a common illness. But with it being so common (at least one in 10 of us suffer from IBS), April being IBS awareness month and me being sat at home today having called in sick because of said IBS, I thought it seemed the right time to talk about my situation; my limitations, how I deal with it and hopefully bring some awareness to this invisible illness. (Whenever I see people calling it a chronic illness I always think they're being dramatic; there are far worse things to suffer from, y'know? But it can cause quite chronic symptoms!)

I remember being 13/14 and a friend being diagnosed with IBS and I'd never heard of it nor had any idea what it was; oh how I wish I could go back to that obliviousness! But if you don't know, IBS stands for Irritable Bowl Syndrome and is a condition affecting the digestive system. It can cause stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation just to name a few, and varies from person to person. There's not an exact cause and there's no cure; it's a lifelong condition which can be managed with medication, along with diet and lifestyle changes.
perspectives
allsaints leather jacket
yorkshire blogger

IBS is a very stressful condition; it can be hard to get a diagnosis given there's no test for it, theres no cure, and as it varies for every individual, it can be hard to manage. Not to mention the pain you have to deal with and the SHAME; oh and the fact that stress aggravates IBS! It's a bloody minefield!
I've gone through many flare-ups and had all of the symptoms possible, but my most common is the horrific cramps (sometimes to the point of curling up in a ball, crying on the bathroom floor) and fluctuating between constipation and diarrhoea which always keeps you on edge (soz to be TMI). And sometimes it's just really shit when you get up in a morning thinking you look quite good but as soon as you have some breakfast (even if it's something that you don't normally react to, like homemade granola or toasted rye bread) and your stomach bloats ridiculously so, making you look at least 6 months pregnant. And then you have to reevaluate your outfit choice because skinny jeans just won't fasten, let alone be comfortable all day.

Those with IBS express stress through issues in their gut in the same way people get neck ache or migraines.

There are numerous changes that I've had to make to my lifestyle since being diagnosed, including cutting out both alcohol and dairy. I have to be careful when ordering takeaways given that greasy, carb-loaded meals are my worst enemy and I can't eat apples or pears without getting cramps. Nor can I have onions, which ruins a lot of cooking! But focusing on the positives, I've got much more experimental in the kitchen. It might be making my transition to veganism extraordinarily hard, but I've discovered so many new foods and my diet is much more fresh and healthy than it ever has been.

zebra print playsuit
animal print clash
biker boots

I've also kind of been pushed into a strict routine. I've always been someone who likes planning and routines, but now it's too important not to. I need to eat 3 meals a day, not intermittent snacking; I can't exercise after food and I've worked out that regular stretching is essential for helping with cramps. So I get up and do 20 minutes of yoga in a morning and not only does it ease pain but it also helps with my headspace; allowing me to destress and lose some anxieties.
street style


Wearing:


Pinafore, ASOS


Top, Stradivarius


Jacket, All Saints


Boots, River Island (old)











Other things that help me, in case you suffer too and are looking for tips:

  • A regular exercise routine. Along with the yoga, I try and go to the gym 3 times a week for both cardio and weights. Sometimes I can't do too much without near collapsing, but the regular movement helps with everything.
  • Keeping a food diary. I'm not too good with this anymore, now that I've worked out most of my triggers, but it still helps to keep track and when symptoms are flaring up.
  • Probiotics! I take a probiotic every morning after my breakfast and definitely think it's helped with keeping things healthy down in the gut!
  • Hot water bottles are an absolute god send. I have one that lives on my bed, one in my drawer at work and a spare one in a drawer somewhere. 
  • Journalling. It might sound odd, but bear with me! I keep a bullet journal now, writing down my intentions for the day and what I've been grateful for the previous day. It's helped me to keep more focused and positive about things, alleviating some stress and worries which in turn helps minimise cramps.
  • Outfits like this! With no waistbands and nothing tight on the tummy.
And really, I just think this is a condition that's not talked about enough. It might not be life-threatening or the worst illness out there, but it's real and it's not easy. So lets all share a little more and help each other out!
black beret
summer style

Anyone else suffer with IBS?

Loves. Emma.

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