This post featured in the June issue of my newsletter, Tales from the Toilet. Which you should definitely subscribe to here.
For years my life revolved around my gut. I’d accept invites to events and friend’s houses knowing full well I’d inevitably have to cancel on the day. I’d worry so much about things, it’d set a flare off. These days, after a course of CBT last year, my mindset has changed.
Sure, I have IBS but I’m the boss, ok, not my gut. Nuh huh. Not having it. Not anymore.
So, when it comes to planning holidays, while my IBS may always be in the back of my mind, I don’t let it take over or affect my plans. It’s also a well-known fact among the family that my IBS is much better behaved when on holiday. Our recent trip to Cornwall was proof of that.
4-hour car journey, no problem.
Tucking into the best Bakewell Tart I’ve ever eaten, yes please.
A coastal hike with no loos along the way, go on then.
No routine whatsoever, I’ll take it.
Woodland walks with off-path treks, sign me up immediately.
The continual stuffing of my face with whatever snacks I can get my greedy little hands on, sure.
But how do you manage? Honestly, I think it all comes down to how relaxed I feel when I’m away.
I forget about the daily life stresses, my mind isn’t whirring over a to-do list and berating myself if I’ve forgotten to do something or am working to a deadline. I’m not in a stressful environment. I’m with the most handsome, hairy partner in crime. I feel calm and content. And that’s the feeling I work hard to achieve. It doesn’t always come easy, I have tools I put in action to help me get there. But on holiday, I can physically feel my shoulders relax, I breathe a little deeper and I don’t check for toilets.
If I get a flare, I get a flare. I’ll deal with it when it happens if it happens.
And it did happen. Sunday morning, my period had just started and that has a lovely habit of kicking off my stomach. Just what you want a couple of hours ahead of a wedding. I didn’t panic. I let it run its course. I drank lots of water and peppermint tea. I got dressed at the last minute due to some impressive bloating. I took a deep breath and off we went. Would my body have rather stayed in bed, sure. No doubt about that. I felt awful and in my eyes, looked awful. Did I forget about it when we arrived and caught up with friends? Not straight away but it helped take my mind off my symptoms. That always helps. Not to linger in those thoughts and feelings.
It’s not easy to get into this headspace but man, once you do, you realise that anything is possible. You may have IBS but it won’t always rule your every decision.
Here are a few things I’ve done with my IBS:
Flown 12 hours plus on a plane, multiple times and survived.
Taken it on holiday and fed it all the things it usually rejects.
One day I hope you’ll feel able to do these things too.