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Worried I'll never be the same again(17 Posts)
I've posted here many times about my battle with anxiety - specifically ibs related anxiety. At any sign of a panic one of my key symptoms is an urgent need to go to the toilet. While the urge is very real, I definitely think it is brought on my my feeling of anxiety and panic. It got so bad that I was struggling to do anything outside of my normal routine. Days out, motorway journeys, going to watch my dc play football. If I was in a new place or somewhere where I couldn't immediately access a toilet I would start to panic and need the loo, the two things worked in a vicious cycle that really was beginning to take over my life. I was actually going to visit the GP and ask about medication but then coronavirus happened and it's hard to see a doctor now.
In one sense being home is good for me because it's my safe place. But I'm so worried that when this is over my anxiety will be even worse. It's like my anxiety has now manifested itself to our new lifestyle so going to the park sets me off, waiting in line for Asda sets me off (actually had to leave the queue after I'd been waiting 20 minutes the other day as I desperately needed the loo), even knowing dc or dp are in the bathroom and I can't go sets me off. It's insane and I really think when normality resumes I am going to seriously struggle to adjust to everyday life.
Add to that my general health anxiety and logical fears about me or my dc or family getting ill and I just feel like a bloody nervous wreck at the minute!
I have tried cbt in the past and it didn't help. I'm trying to factor mindfulness and yoga into my days too. Does anyone have any experience or suggestions because I really feel like I'm losing my mind.
Oh this sounds like torture. I have no idea what to suggest, but clearly you just needed to get it off your chest. I hope being at home is bringing atleast some brief relief.
Have you tried a low FODMAP diet - and stuck to it religiously for a month or more?
I feel the same. My anxiety is sky high at the thought of returning to “normal”. I’m sorry I can’t offer you any more help OP but your feelings are certainly not unusual
I really feel for you. I had this for a long time. It was ages ago now and I am fully recovered. It really improved when I built up the courage to tell people. I would strongly recommend some form of counselling. Even something very light might help. So sorry for you.
Is it the thought of possibly embarrassing yourself in public that causes the anxiety? What if you got some incontinence pads, just until you could get the anxiety under control? I'm sure you wouldn't actually need them, but if you wore them when you went out, at least you would know that if the worst happened no one would know, and that might help to calm your anxiety? (I'm really sorry if this is a stupid suggestion.)
What you describe is part of the body's fight/flight/freeze response as it prepares to respond to a threat. so reducing your arousal/anxiety levels would be likely to make a big difference and be important to managing this (so yoga and mindfulness could be useful tools). If you're calmer and feel safer your brain won't activate the threat response and you won't have to go running for the nearest toilet.
I was thinking CBT because of the vicious cycle you've noted yourself, although I see you say you tried that. Did you do exposure therapy? Or any relaxation work? Are you able to notice what's going on mentally when this cycle is triggered?
If you can reduce your general level of anxiety/panic and alongside that teach your body and mind that asda, the park, anywhere without immediate toilet access is safe then it should help.
That might involve you actively talking to yourself to assert you're safe, e.g. When you realise someone is in the bathroom at home you need to start diverting your normal chain of thought that leads you into a threat state and gets your brain to key your body up, as well as soothing yourself.
How are you with slowing your breathing down when you start to panic? The Breathe app might help you start to learn.
Thank you for replying. I have posted about this before and had wonderful helpful replies. In the current situation life has massively changed for everyone and being home does give me some relief in the short term but it's going forward I'm worrying about when going out, being in new routines and so on will feel like even more of a struggle after being home for so long.
I tried counselling and cbt (with two separate counsellors) and while it helped me to understand why this happens - fight or flight as pp said - I never really was given any successful methods of overcoming it. Breathing techniques help a bit but seriously, if I need to go I need to go and the only way to avoid the inevitable is to make sure I'm near a toilet. When that isn't possible it becomes a big trauma. I've had to rush off a football field once because there was no toilets and had to get my dp to drive me to the nearest supermarket and only just made it. It was terrifying. Never actually had an accident but the fear of it controls me.
Sorry for ranting but sometimes it really helps to talk. Dp is supportive and patient but doesn't really 'get' why I'm like this. But then nor do I
I am in a very similar situation to you, really bad IBS and healthy anxiety meaning I’m hesitant to go anywhere unless I know where toilets are
Being at home in lockdown has helped massively as it’s taken away the worry, I’m not sure how I’m going to cope when it’s lifted but I’m determined to be ok. It’s proven that stress is a big factor and a vicious circle like you say
I know you can’t necessarily take them every day, but if I’m ever going somewhere important I always take an Imodium beforehand so I know I will be safe for the whole day, it really takes away the stress
@Ble0n I'm sorry to hear that you go through this too. It's absolutely crushing isn't it? I have done the Imodium trick for years and I'm not sure if it's over use but it doesn't work for me anymore. I can take two Imodium and still need to go if my anxiety rears up. I truly believe that the anxiety causes the ibs issues rather than me having a genuine, physical case of ibs.
Like you, I feel safe at home but because my world is closing in it's like my anxiety is closing in too. Sometimes I will start to panic and immediately need the loo the second I know dp has jumped in the shower! It's bizarre and I truly believe that once this is over it's going to be even more difficult for me to do things outside of my comfort zone like travel, work commitments such as site visits and meetings (which were becoming a problem before all this) and going any place new. I really need to find a way to conquer this.
When people say life's never going to be the same again in some ways I am pleased. I hope the tube is never going to be so crowded, because more people will work from home. I hope there won't be a plane a minute landing over my house. I feel like a lot of people are finding out how lamentably shit life was before this happened. So maybe that offers some hope.
@Crystaltree lol yeah I guess that's one way of looking at it. But I suppose what I meant was that I wasn't great mentally before and I'm worried after this I'll be a lot worse...
Sorry to hear about your anxiety. Although I haven't suffered with IBS, I became very anxious about having panic attacks and the need to escape, to the point I couldn't drive my car, go into any enclosed spaces and it felt like a prison. I tried CBT and counselling and they had limited success. After having my son, things spiralled and I couldn't face either CBT, drugs or counselling again. In desparation I tried hypnotherapy. Although I was skeptical, I had nothing to lose by trying. I was pleasantly surprised at how relaxed I felt after my first session. I think I had about 10 sessions in the end, and I noticed a very gradual change to my anxiety. This was two years ago now, and I've not had a panic attack since. Hypnotherapy wasn't always easy, and I thought I would never get better. But things just happened, sometimes without me noticing until afterwards, like taking my son to the shops and not checking for the exit. I still avoid certain situations because I lack confidence, but if I push myself then I know I can cope now.
Wow, that sounds tough.
It really sounds like your fear of it happening is worse than it actually happening.
I mean, if it did happen it'd be a bit embarrassing and uncomfortable for a short while, but the fear of it happening is ruling over your everyday life.
Pp's suggestion of temporarily wearing an incontinence pad sounds like a good idea. How long have you had this issue ? Can you identify anything as the trigger ?
What if you go out after having used the bathroom ? Surely if your bowels are empty, and nothing will come out for an hour or two ? Sorry if I'm wrong, don't know much about ibs.
@Marphise I'm not sure about the trigger. I don't recall when this started but it's been within the past ten years. In my youth I never had this problem at all. I'm not sure if it's a control issue and if the fear of not being able to control my own body because that's genuinely how it feels. It also seems to crop up at periods of my life when things are running smoothly. During times of actual stress (such as my divorce and other things) it doesn't affect me so much. So strange.
Yes trying to go before I leave the house and also limiting what I eat if I know I'm going somewhere does have some success but it's not guaranteed. On the day of the football match I mentioned earlier on I'd used the loo three times before I left the house and took two Imodium and I still had the same issue. Gah!
Just a random question, but do you currently eat gluten? I found that cutting all gluten out of my diet completely dropped my anxiety down, by around two thirds or more. If I have gluten, it comes back. Just putting that out there in case it might help you or others. It took a few days to feel some relief and a few weeks for a noticeable difference.
I feel your pain OP - many tines I have soiled myself from IBS
I always carry spare pants in my handbag (and spare trousers in the car). If I know I am going somewhere it might happen - queues, long period standing, slow walking (eg going round a museum, library) I will wear a large sanitary towel which acts a bit like a nappy until I can get to the loo to sort it out.
I have tried most treatments, none of which have helped, including Imodium, peppermint capsules, buscopan and amytripyline. Going wheat free has reduced it A LOT but it's still there. (Have tested negative for Coeliac BEFORE cutting out wheat. Also a low fibre diet helps a bit.
I wish it was possible to not be stressed but I have realised it isn't! Life is stressful, even just going out to work I have to allow an extra 15 minutes to run back into the house and go to the loo twice!
IBS is miserable but lots of people have it, I believe about 20% of the population. You just learn coping techniques. I have had it 30 years now since my early teens.
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