If you really stress me out,my most likely reaction would be to take a shit.
No,really.This is no joke.I've been suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS) all my life.So has my mum.And this has cost her a broken bone and a hip operation she underwent a few days ago.ISB can give you intense cramps of your bowels accompanied by feelings of faintness and dizziness,so you may momentarily pass out because of the pain.This happened to my mum,who slipped and broke her hip during an IBS fit.
It started right after the onset of my puberty.Remember those times when you are nervous and stressed about something and you have butterflies in your stomach?Same with me,exept I get colon spasms instead of the butterflies.Now before you start wondering why the hell that should be of any interest to you and what is the purpose of this post,bear with me a little longer and I promise we'll soon get to the worthy stuff.
For me,it is almost invariably stress that triggers the symptoms.Here's the explanation for it,taken from the link above:
''Stress—feeling mentally or emotionally tense, troubled, angry, or overwhelmed—can stimulate colon spasms in people with IBS. The colon has many nerves that connect it to the brain. Like the heart and the lungs, the colon is partly controlled by the autonomic nervous system, which responds to stress. These nerves control the normal contractions of the colon and cause abdominal discomfort at stressful times.''...
Researchers have found that women with IBS may have more symptoms during their menstrual periods, suggesting that reproductive hormones can worsen IBS problems.''
I have learnt to live with IBS without any medication or any other treatment (there is no treatment anyway).This is no easy sail,as my problem has this pattern of choosing the most inappropriate of moments to rear its ugly head.Imagine entering your first classroom in your first teaching job ever and being seized by a fit of ISB.Or being in a church for confession as a teenager (that was before
I rebelled against my religious past) and realising that you have to 'go' right this instant or else.Or being interviewed by a local TV station about your school and having to excuse yourself in the middle of the interview to pay a visit to WC.And there are countless other occasions that I can't even remember when I had to run like mad to the ''little girls'room'' because of ISB.
The thing is,apart from the physical discomfort which is admittedly very annoying,I suffered much more because I was embarassed by the whole situation.Partly because I had no idea that my 'problem' actually was a disorder and not some kind of weird quirk of my own,a sort of bad-taste trick played on me by my oversensitive mind.Teachers at school wouldn't believe me when I had to excuse myself during a test and I once spent an entire afternoon locked up in a toilet on campus because I was too embarassed to ask for help and too faint to even walk or stand up normally.
When I finally found out that what I had to go through all those years actually had a name,I felt a huge sense of relief.And anger too,if truth be told,for all those people that either made fun at me or disregarded my problem as something minor or 'hysterical'.Like that doctor at the clinic where I was giving birth to my second child;when I informed him that my body reacted badly to enemas (which is standard medical practice for all medicalised births) and asked to be spared,he made fun of me and when I did have the enema and fainted on my way to the restroom (and already in active labour) he forbade the nurses to help me walk back to bed because he claimed ' I was acting up like a spoilt child'....
I was also angry at myself for not being more assertive towards people that disregarded my problem.And for being embarrassed about a physical condition in which there should be nothing to feel embarrassed about.Why did I need to keep it a secret anyway?I'll tell you why.Because I placed too much importance on what other people might think of me if they knew about it.Most of us-ruling out those individuals who feast on their own and other people's pity-want to appear strong and put together to other people.Anything that might threaten to mar this picture of strength and self reliance that we have painted for ouselves is kept in hiding or hushed about.It is only to very very few people we trust that we actually dare to put our defences down and tell them about it.
''And what's wrong with that?'',I can almost hear your objections.''Why should other people become privy to my personal challenges and issues?Isn't the saying true that half the people don't give a sh!t about your problems and the other half are glad you have them?''
Actually,you are not doing this for other people.You are doing it for you.
This is why.Whenever you are too embarrassed or too overwhelmed or just plain uncomfortable with getting something out in the open,I bet you anything you want that this something is putting a heavy energetic toll on you,limiting you or even crippling you in some way.Everything you cannot own in public,owns you in a BIG WAY! It dictates certain behaviors or attitudes in you,it keeps you from exploring certain others and generally hinders your growth and progress in life.On the other hand,whenever you honestly,simply and truthfully admit it,you are no longer a slave to your ''thing'' and you become its master instead.The freedom and liberating feeling you get from doing that is worth a hundred times feeling momentarily embarrassed when confessing it.
Maybe your thing is your learning disability,or total inability to spell,weird bathtime routines,music preferences,sucking your thumb or wetting your bed.Maybe it's somerthing far more serious,like battling with epilepsy or depression or a food disorder or an addiction.Or maybe it's your sexual orientation that you're totally OK with but you suspect that other people might not be too happy about .Whatever it is,I know it does a great deal of courage and honest to publicly and unashamedly admit it.But the freedom awaiting you after you do it is so liberating that you'll wonder why you didn't think of it before.
All the energy,mental,emotional and sometimes physical you've been using for hiding it,will suddenly be freed and ready to be used for more important stuff,like the fulfillment of your dreams and aspirations.The more honest and open you are about everything,including and especially about the issues most painful to confess,the more personal power you'll have,as you retrieve all of the life force you've invested in holding together your little or big secrets and false situations.A bonus:telling the truth will contribute to a healthier,sexier you!
As for me,whenever I am faced with a potentially stressful situation,I've simply learnt to say:
-''Guys,this is getting too much for me so I'm warning you that I'll have to use your bathroom sometime soon!''