In this new stage of health, a change is of course something new to adapt to.
My IBS symptoms have stayed pretty consistent with what I expected and fall in line with the typical signs. While it’s nice to know there’s a reason why this is happening, it doesn’t make the effects any less annoying.
Because truly, my life has definitely changed since having digestive issues. You don’t realize how much your digestion affects every other part of your body, especially your mental health. On both ends, I’ve been honestly struggling. Off-balance in one aspect of health ends up throwing off the conditions you’ve already been trying to balance.
But on another note, besides the depression and anxiety, I now am reminded of the thoughts that I usually suppress and can manage but again, IBS isn’t helping.
Here’s the deal: especially when constipated or eating, after 3-4pm, I start seeing some major bloating. Sometimes so much it’s uncomfortable to move.
With disordered eating tendencies and body dysmorphia, being bloated COMPLETELY throws off the perception of myself. It shouldn’t be a big deal of how it looks, rationally I know that, but that doesn’t mean I still don’t have doubts and concerns from seeing my stomach and body swell up, even if I know it (usually) is better in the morning.
We all bloat. Our stomaches expand after we eat. That’s basic biology. But knowing that doesn’t still make me uneasy over it and have harmful thoughts creep back, or magnify what is probably not even noticeable into something huge and obvious.
When IBS really affects how and what you eat, and you already have a relationship with food that is…unusual, it complicates how I approach everything. Now when I look at food, I luckily stress less about the numbers and nitty-gritty details, but now I worry about how my body will react to it. And knowing that my eating disorder most likely contributed to having IBS in the first place doesn’t help either.
I know I am privileged, to have the body and life and health I do. I just feel very overwhelmed by it all. It’s like an extra unexpected hurdle to learn how to jump over when I already feel tired. Not like any challenge is one that’s planned. What would the point of that be?
Not only do I speak to remind myself, but to anybody else who might feel uninspired or at a low point with their relationship to their body. It’s not a straight progression to self-acceptance. At times, it feels like the world is just asking you to revert back to default negativity. But you’re so much stronger than you believe.
Even if it seems like your body is working against you, that it’s angry at you for its current state and past pitfalls, this is when it so desperately needs positivity the most. For me, that’s looked like what is basic hygiene and activities, but when you’re depressed, they can be the greatest forms of self-care. Yes, brushing your teeth and taking a shower are big deals. Accomplishing just one assignment of the entire list you had planned out is a victory.
Make peace with your body. The simplest phrase yet the absolute hardest to believe and implement. I’m by no means at that point, but I’m much farther than I used to be. That’s all I can ask for is looking forward. Not beating myself up for eating a food that my body reacts negatively to. Not shaming myself for what can feel like a crippling disability at its worst. Not letting my thoughts control me and enslave me back into nasty habits.
It’s about taking little intentional steps each day to be my best. I avoid being hung up by my reflection because there’s no point in worrying and guessing what my body looks like when I honestly cannot accurately see it for what it is (still a work in progress…). I dress in whatever I feel comfortable on that day. I do my best in that moment and don’t beat myself up if I’m not up to my full capacity. I take each day at a time, trying not to look too ahead and stress about what has not come yet.
Again, this isn’t an easy process for me. I hope to have more answers as to better managing my IBS symptoms soon and potentially strengthening my antidepressants, but until then, all I have is right now. Whatever progress I envision making isn’t going to happen overnight as per usual for any illness, physical or mental. Even if I feel defeated in my self-image, I can still move forward in other aspects of my life, and that’s okay. Is it ideal to have your body and mind feeling like they’re playing off each other to sabotage you? Certainly not. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make the best of right now. It’s all we have, and an optimism for the future, a potential only possible by taking care of ourselves in this moment.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie