I’ll hold my hands up. I am terrible at confirming and then sticking to plans. In particular with my friends. I know it and they know it but they’re too polite to say anything about it. And it’s all down to how my IBS makes me feel.
You see, sometimes my anxious mind sends pre-emptive thoughts to my gut.
“What if I have a flare and can’t go?”
“What about if I eat something I shouldn’t by mistake?”
“What if I have a flare while out?”
“How will I get home if it all goes wrong?”
Those pre-emptive thoughts make me worry that something will happen to trigger my IBS symptoms, and that thought alone is sometimes enough to kickstart a flare.
My IBS has me turning down invitations before I even have a whiff of a symptom and I don’t know how to get out of that cycle.
I never know how I’ll feel. Whether the IBS gremlin would have reared his ugly head, squeezing my intestines and screwing with my digestion.
And sometimes I let that thought process take over. Not only my mind but my body. And it can and has become a never-ending cycle that I can’t always break.
It’s bloody tough. Again, on my body and my mind.
I’ve been out before and it’s all gone horribly wrong. A friend’s bbq where I had to escape pronto, leaving drinks at a local pub that I had to run home from, a night out in town that ended in tears. All things I’d said yes to, enjoyed and then had to dash home from to be reunited with my loo.
It’s embarrassing, horrible, makes me worry and panic and go into meltdown.
I hate the feeling of not being in control. Which makes me wonder if it’s why I have to feel like I’m in control of everything else.
I know this is a problem for me. I know it’s a cycle and that once I’m in it, it’s hard to break free from.
Sometimes I straight up say no. It’s easier than the worry that goes with it.
Sometimes I say maybe. See how I feel on the day. Drive myself insane worrying about every single little element. Letting said friend down. Again. Getting there. Eating. Drinking. Being able to relax.
Sometimes I say yes.
And that feels good. But don’t for one minute think that I haven’t had to prepare myself for it. Oh no. For me, it becomes an entire process. We had an afternoon booked in with friends a few weekends ago. We were going to London on a Saturday for drinks, an escape room experience and then dinner. It was something I 100% wanted to go to so made sure that I prioritised that over the weekend. I didn’t do my usual housework chores on the Friday night, which can tire me out. I did nothing on the Saturday morning except taking it easy and having a bath (the only space I can really relax currently, more on that in another post). By mentally and physically preparing myself, I was able to go and enjoy it and leave the worry behind. That’s a big deal.
I’ve finally addressed the problem I have with the cycle I mentioned above and I’m working on it. I’ve accepted that yes, I have anxiety and yes, that’s predominantly tied in with IBS, and that no, I’m not dealing with it brilliantly at the moment and need help. Which I’m about to start receiving and will share more of soon.
So if you invite me out and I cancel, know that I wanted to come but that my mind or my gut wouldn’t let me.