Having a gut condition doesn’t just affect your physical health, but more than often it can have a pretty big impact on your mental health too. Not being able to eat what you want without rubbish consequences can be really frustrating, upsetting and often even embarrassing.
Last year I suffered pretty badly with the mental side of things. I don’t think it was just due to my stomach problems at all, but it definitely didn’t help. However with the help of some amazing people in my life, a bit of hypnotherapy from Kent Therapy Clinic (will do a whole post on this shortly) and learning my own personal ways of dealing with things, I’m now a million percent happier. In fact, I don’t even recognise myself when I think about six-months-ago me.
So here’s a few things that have helped me get back to being the happy little weirdo that I am…
1. Break it down
One of the first things you’re told to do when you have issues with your stomach is to keep a diary. Log every single thing you eat and drink, and write down how it makes you feel. This will then help pinpoint the triggers so you can learn which are your “problem foods” and avoid it happening again. Well why can’t you do the same for your mind? It might sound silly, but it really does work. This was something that I was taught by Emma at the Kent Therapy Clinic and it had such a positive impact on me.
Go out and buy yourself a pretty little diary and keep it in your handbag. Throughout the day write down a couple of words or sentences about how your feeling. If you wake up feeling fantastic, write it down. If you get to lunch time and feel like you want to cry, write it down. Then, at the end of the day, allocate some “worry time”. You only need to spend about 10 minutes on this, but find yourself a bit of quiet time and use it to go over and points in the day where you didn’t feel too happy and break them down in your mind. What were you doing? Who were you with? Was there something that triggered it that you didn’t even realise was the cause at the time?
2. Open up
This might be easier said than done, but it works. I’m super lucky to have the most amazingly supportive boyfriend (major shout out to Ross who I don’t know what I would do without) who knows exactly how to deal with me and get me through one of my “episodes”. I also have some lovely friends and a brilliant family. However it still wasn’t easy to first take about how I was feeling, and I get for some people it is just near on impossible.
But, there’s always someone to talk to, even if they’re not the obvious ones. Since starting thetummydiaries Instagram account I have been absolutely amazed at how gorgeous and supportive absolute strangers are. I remember about six months ago when I posted my first blog on the mental side of gut disorders (mind vs tummy), I was so overwhelmed at the messages I was receiving from others in the exact same boat as me. People offering their support and also just messaging to say how nice it was to know they weren’t the only ones.
The internet is filled with some amazing people and content, and there’s always someone in a similar situation as you. So if you don’t feel like you can talk to your friends and family, and aren’t ready to speak to a professional, have a little Google search or pop someone a message on instagram, and most of the time they will be pretty bloody amazing!
3. Take some time out
I guess this one is very different for everyone. For me, I literally cannot relax, so despite trying yoga and the mindfulness app, it just wasn’t for me. Clearing your mind and distressing is important, and for me I find that running is my saviour. Just going out for a short run really helps me chill out, think things through, process the day, or sometimes, just think about nothing! I’ve often been in the most awful mood and Ross has to basically force me out the door with trainers in hand, and I come back a new woman.
If you don’t like running, try something else. Maybe a little walk, yoga, or even just sitting on the sofa with the TV and music on so you have no distractions except what’s going on in that weird buzzy little brain of yours.
4. Eat the good stuff
I’m definitely a lover of a good old Bridget Jones moment; feeling sad so taking it out on a tub of (dairy and gluten free) Ben & Jerries. However, the last thing you want when you’re not feeling your best mentally, is to feel crappy physically. Although it’s easy to reach for the junk food, or perhaps even not much food at all depending how it affects you, you need to make sure you look after yourself. If you’re feeling down, the chances are you’ll be suffering a little already with your tummy, so don’t make it worse by not giving it what it needs otherwise it will be a great big fat viscous cycle of bloating, nausea and tears.
That doesn’t mean don’t have the ice cream – definitely have the ice cream!! But just understand what your body needs and look after it.
5. Deal with it
Lastly, deal with it. And when I say “deal with it” I don’t mean brush it off, get over it and move on. I mean actually take some time to acknowledge what’s going on. For months and months I tried to hide how I was feeling, not just from others but also from myself. It worked for quite a while and I thought that I could just ride it out, but one day it hit me like a lovely big sack of shit.
You know what “you” feels like, and if you don’t feel like you then don’t just ignore it, take some time to understand why. Take some time to try the above, or whatever works for you and do what you have to do to feel better,
I hope this helps and would love to hear your own tips or stories!