IBS Is No Joke…

It all started back in 1983 when I got married. I’m not kidding; that was really the beginning of my digestive issues. Back then not much was known about solving these things other than to ‘drink more water, eat more fiber and get more exercise’. It is now commonly accepted that there is a gut-brain connection; that what is going on in your psyche and emotions will affect your digestion.

Back then we just didn’t make the connection.

I was in a stressful marriage (and that’s an understatement). It was a patriarchal union, meaning the husband would be the head of the home and by consequence, the head of the woman. That would be me. At the time I was kind of grateful to have husbie take charge of just about everything; I married at 30 years old and was tired of doing it all for myself. I didn’t realize it, but I became the proverbial ‘frog in the water’ and as time passed, I became a different person, one that my old friends would not have recognized. I slowly gave up my rights, the ability to express an opinion and I became fearful of just about everything. Even though I didn’t see my life from the outside, my family did, and my guts knew back then that I was in a difficult situation. We were ‘born again’ Christians. Not that there was anything wrong with that, but we kept going to Bill Gothard’s Basic Seminar, Advanced Seminar and finally we homeschooled our children with Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute. Our lives were governed by rules and regulations. For example, I was not allowed to wear pants; I had to defer to my husband in everything; modesty ruled; men couldn’t have a beard; we were to accept as many children as God brought, so there was no birth control. From age 31 to age 40 I had five pregnancies which included two miscarriages, all the while homeschooling my children with no real curriculum except for the Bible and 40 ‘wisdom booklets’.

I cried every four weeks.

Throughout all this I started to have IBS symptoms, although I didn’t know then what it was. I thought I just didn’t eat enough fiber, drink enough water and exercise enough. Well, who would have had the time with all the pregnancies, homeschooling and a demanding husband? But the stress took its toll and I alternated between bloating, constipation, tummy ache, diarrhea, more bloating, and general misery. I had a hard time to eat out and when I did, I came home with an 8-month pregnant looking stomach. And it hurt. On the 30 minute drive to church every Sunday, we would have to stop a couple of times for ‘Mommy to do her business’. It was a standing family joke, but I wasn’t laughing.

A doctor never attended to these problems of mine and they persisted for the 21-year duration of my marriage, and beyond.

More to come…

Divorce, AA and IBS

Many years ago I gave a testimony to the women in my church about divorce. During my talk I told them, “I am divorced. I am divorced and I never thought it would happen to me.” It was sort of like in AA when each person stands up and says, “I am _____ and I am an alcoholic.”
It is only in the acknowledgement of our state that we can begin to heal. Stating it like that in front of all those women with whom I shared mutual respect was truly an act of bravery.

story

And once I publicly acknowledged my divorce, people literally came out of the woodwork to talk to me about it: divorced people, single moms, hurting people and lonely people who just wanted to be heard. Some people asked for the transcript of my talk so that they could refer back to it or share it with someone who was going through the same thing. Back then my talk was called Being Chrissie. It told the story of who I was before my marriage, who I became during my marriage and how I was slowly returning to my old self, along with some steps I took to recovery.
It’s funny, but it’s only when people talk about things that they can begin to move forward and heal. I don’t think that very many people heal on their own, in a vacuum.
There is something in my life that I have been in denial about and didn’t tell anyone but those very close to me. That is, until last year. I struggled on my own for 32 years, and I am still struggling. However it is only when you put a name to something that you can climb out of the pit in which it puts you.
So I will say it here.
“I have IBS – C. I have IBS – C and I never thought it would happen to me. My digestion sucketh.”
In 1983 I quit smoking.
In 1983 I got married.
And that’s when my problem / distress / shame started. It is no coincidence that the IBS – C started shortly after those other two major events in my life. There is a correlation and I will get into that later on.
I know that I am not alone in my constipated world because Google tells me that IBS is one of the most prevalent reasons why people visit their doctors.
I know that I am not alone because I see that the laxative section of my drug store has expanded incredibly in the past few years. Every year there is a glut of new products to make you ‘go’.
I know that I am not alone because every time I mention IBS – C, or food sensitivities to anyone, they have a story or one of their friends or family members has a story.
But no one is talking about it.
So in the next several blog entries I will attempt to tell you my story and maybe we can get a conversation going.
My hope in sharing my journey is not so that you can have an intimate look into my life. My wish is that in talking about my journey someone (maybe you?) can have hope, be helped and learn from my mistakes and rabbit trails.

beach