January 18, 2021 at 12:54 am #373011
So I started facing some serious digestive trouble (bloating, severe heaviness in stomach, stomach upset, abdominal pain) after March 2019. I ate out and my tummy got real upset so I went to a GP, who gave me some meds for stomach infection. This happened 3-4 times. By then, I had started feeling pain above my navel, like in a band in my mid-belly, above my navel, usually in the morning and late afternoons. I had also started losing weight, which I thought is because of these infections and because I wasn’t eating well thinking it would help my bloating. I went to another doctor, who gave me antacids for 10 days and said that if I did not feel better, he’d like to ultrasound my liver. I did not feel better, but I did not go to my doctor again because I was caught up in some personal problems in my life (a painful breakup, my grandma’s death, best friend moving to another city, it was all too much).
A couple months later, the pain and heaviness had continued and I decided to see my gastroenterologist. I was diagnosed with IBS-C, and he gave me some meds (mebeverine, mebeverine with an antidepressant, peppermint capsules, antacids) and said I won’t get better till I deal with my stress and anxiety. I have GAD and used to suffer from panic attacks. So I just went on believing it was all my anxiety and stress.
The meds did help but very little, and I was a given a diet, but my doc still insisted on treating my anxiety and not following the diet to a T. I stopped the diet as it didn’t help that very much, though I still have cut out few foods from my diet. This is difficult as I am a vegetarian, so there is limited stuff I can eat. Also, the pain had now shifted to a point below my sternum, at the solar plexus. It had changed from a dull ache to stabbing pain at that point in my belly.
I became very conscious of my body due to the constant bloat and discomfort and feared I’d make a fool of myself in public. Because my doctor insisted it was my stress, I’d always think, “OMG I’m so stressed” because I was constantly in pain and discomfort, even though I could not point out what was making me stressed. I was dealing with my personal problems the best I could, and I was okay. But I constantly felt “stressed” because I felt that’s what my body was telling me. I became afraid of eating at all.
In November 2019, I was put on probiotics to help with bloating. But it did not help; it just made me really flatulent. Also, the pain was now at the sides of my belly, below my ribs. So in February 2020, I stopped the probiotics and felt better immediately. All the clinics in my country were closed thanks to COVID, so I haven’t been able to see the doctor again.
I am unable to concentrate on my work because I am constantly bloated and feel heavy, even though I am underweight. My tummy sometimes makes me look pregnant, sometimes I just feel really heavy as if I’m carrying weights in my belly but my belly isn’t distended. I am a little flatulent and constipated, which worsens 10 days before my periods. My bloat is extremely distressing and I now realize that my IBS is what is stressing me out. The thought of living such a life, with a constant bloat and discomfort is very disturbing, and I wonder if such a life is worth living at all. I used to be a very active person; I used to teach dance, and I worked out (power yoga and zumba) 6 days a week. Because of my heavy belly, I find it difficult to do my daily chores and have become sluggish, which is depressing for me considering how active I used to be.
I have cut out fruits and most of dairy from my diet completely, I practise power yoga and yoga atleast 4 times a week (and I love working out). But I am still constantly bloated and heavy, and I prefer to wear high-waisted pants because when something presses onto my belly, I feel better. Sometimes I even press my belly with my arms to feel better. I feel nauseated a lot of times throughout the day, and I sometimes actually throw up to get some relief from the nausea. Many times, the back of my mouth has a very sour taste, especially after I eat something sweet, which is alleviated when I clean my tongue. Sometimes my discomfort wakes me up in the middle of the night.
I want to get a second opinion as the first doctor just kept telling me I was stressed out and anxious. No tests of any sort were done whatsoever. It also annoys me that the doctor would not even consider anything else; can’t anxious people have something else wrong with their body that may not have anything to do with anxiety? I am afraid of getting a second opinion as I am afraid they will tell me the same thing: you are stressed out and there is no cure.
I do not know how to deal with this. I keep reading stuff online and it scares me.
What should I do? Does anyone else face similar things?January 18, 2021 at 10:44 am #373024
Welcome back. I re-read much of our previous communication so to be better prepared to answer your new thread, a new thread on an old topic, and an unfortunate one: your IBS-C, which stands for constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome, a subtype of irritable bowel syndrome, a condition characterized by chronic constipation with associated abdominal pain.
The following is information you can find in Wikipedia on the topic of IBS, I will include quotes and paraphrase some of the information: IBS is one of the Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (FGID), also known as disorders of gut-brain interaction, or axis. There are two major kinds of FGID: (1) dyspepsia, also known as indigestion, and (2) IBS.
These are idiopathic disorders, that is, they are of unknown cause or mechanism, but what is known is that there are nerve cells (neurons) that are located in the walls of the stomach and the intestines, neurons called nociceptors, that are pain receptors. I will now focus on what happens specifically in the walls of the large intestines: the nociceptors “are highly sensitive to distension (stretch)”. They sense the stretching of the intestinal walls due to feces (solid/ semisolid waste matter) and gas stretching those walls. The nociceptors perceive this stretching as “damaging or potentially damaging stimuli”. Next, they send “‘possible threat’ signals to the spinal cord and the brain”. Next, “if the brain perceives the threat as credible, it creates the sensation of pain to direct attention to the body part, so the threat can hopefully be mitigated”. Sometimes the pain is “accompanied by symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, changes in vital signs as well as emotional manifestations”.
Wikipedia reads in its entry on IBS under Cause: “childhood physical and psychological abuse is often associated with the development of IBS. It is believed that psychological stress may trigger IBS in predisposed individuals”.
Last you shared, April 2020, you were living with your mother who inflicted on you severe stress since the time you were a very young child, all your life, practically. It so happens that there are a lot of parallels between your mother and mine, and it so happens that the two of us significantly suffer from, and have been diagnosed with IBS-C.
This is my understanding of how it happened, these are my words, simplifying the matter much, I am sure. I will be referring to myself but suggesting that some of the same is true to you too:
The intense and repeated distress that I experienced as a child living with my mother overwhelmed my nerve cells (neurons), repeatedly overly exciting, for so long, that they ended up being overly-sensitive/ overly reactive to stimuli. The light from the sun bothered me too much, noise from neighbors troubled me, the feel of sweat on my skin and the feel of tight clothing made me feel very, very uncomfortable, and the sensations in my intestines, from one point on, also made me feel very, very uncomfortable.
Other people with calmer neurons are way less bothered by external (light, noise, sweat, etc.) and internal (sensations inside internal organs) stimuli. For them, it would take a whole lot of sunlight and noise and intestinal distress to get their attention, but for me, it took way lesser amounts of sunlight and noise and intestinal distress to get my attention and to cause me much distress.
The discomfort and distress that I feel in regard to my large intestines is due to the stretching of the intestinal walls caused by waste material and gas being there. The nociceptors in the walls of my large intestines sense the stretching and proceed to send alarm signals to my brain, the alarm signals are interpreted in my brain as danger, and the result: anxiety and great discomfort, my attention is on my intestines, my muscles almost everywhere contract, including the muscles responsible for my breathing and I take in less oxygen. In other words, my IBS was caused by distress/ anxiety and it continues to generate distress/ anxiety: it’s a loop.
I don’t remember suffering from IBS at an early age. What I read today indicates that a stressor later in life, such as an intestinal infection, can start the IBS. This makes sense to me because I know that anxiety is like wildfire, it starts someplace and then it spreads. So, let’s say my anxiety was not focused on my intestines, but following a painful intestinal infection, my anxiety spread into my intestines, a new location.
Like you, I saw a doctor for my IBS-C, a reputable clinic where I was diagnosed. I was given probiotics as well and it helped a lot, for a while, but not for long. Later on I changed my diet to include less vegetables of the gas causing type, and that helped, but it didn’t cure my IBS. The reason probiotics and other measures partly work for a while is (this is again, my understanding) is that those intestinal neurons are overly sensitive/ overly reactive, so the lesser stimuli to overly-react to, the less the discomfort. It is similar to a person being bothered by sunlight, the person wears sunglasses and feels a great relief. Over time, as his eyes get adjusted to the sunglasses, he then gets distressed again and needs darker sun glasses.
Like you, I feel a relief “when something presses onto my belly”, the relief happens because the pressure applied to the intestines from the outside of the body distracts from the pressure in the insides of the intestines (that stretching from the inside).
“You asked, “What should I do?”. My suggestions at this point:
1) Consider sleeping on your belly or side having a baseball or such item under your belly, to create that external pressure on your intestines while in bed, so to distract you from the internal pressure/ stretching.
2) Repeatedly throughout the day, pause and relax your muscles, including your diaphragm, so to allow natural, easier breathing. Lessen your daily anxiety in other ways, such as having a daily aerobic exercise routine.
3) No longer living with your mother will help long-term, if you leave her and then embark on the long, difficult healing process, healing from what she did to you.
anitaJanuary 19, 2021 at 1:28 am #373126
It is great to hear from you. I’m really grateful for all the effort you put into replying to my post. It is very touching that you should do that for a person you don’t even know. Restores my faith in humanity. I hope you are safe and well.
I forgot to mention this but at the end of December 2017 was the first time I faced issues with my tummy. I ate some pasta my friend made (which had a lot of milk, mayo, cheese, and different ready-made sauces), and my tummy got all rumbly and painful and bloated. This was the start. I would get bloated and was in pain time and again, and I suspected I had become lactose intolerant. I started working out (power yoga and zumba) in January 2018. I’d go to the GP whenever I’d have an attack, who’d give me some meds that would settle my belly down and I would feel better for a couple of weeks. Then, it would happen again. I had to stop wearing jeans because of the discomfort. I was then referred to the gastroenterologist, who then gave me mebeverine for a month and said I should continue with my workouts. He didn’t say what was wrong with me then. I stopped dairy completely along with it, and was absolutely fine in a month.
The doc said I have little amounts of milk, which I do when I drink chai. I avoid vegetarian mayo and raw milk, which I know give me issues.
Then when the trouble started in 2019, the doc said I have functional dyspepsia, visceral hypersensitivity, and then IBS-C. What you said about the sensitivity of the neurons going up a few notches makes sense. I get startled easily and am very uncomfortable with loud sounds, especially those of vessels banging, doors slamming shut, and loud voices. While this makes sense, the thing is, if my belly gave me trouble say a couple days a month or say a once every while, I would be able to deal with it much better. But it is there “ALL THE TIME”. I haven’t had relief in a year and half. Because I’m not sure what will or will not give me trouble, I am terrified of eating at all. I have cut out certain foods, but it is affecting my health. I’m vegetarian. I have lost a lot of weight and am rather skinny now and my hair has become thin and sparse too. I eat smaller portions or food because I get full real fast and my belly already is so heavy.
My IBS is what makes me the most anxious, just like you said. It is a loop. It is affecting me psychologically. My self-esteem and confidence is on an all time low, with me constantly thinking “No, I can’t do this. My belly is too heavy.” for even simple chores like doing the laundry. This gets me very depressed, as I mentioned earlier, I used to be a very active person, getting things done. I love cooking and baking, but I don’t do it much now because of the discomfort. I keep thinking I can’t do anything. It has made me sluggish and lazy, and even simple tasks seem mean feats for me. I wonder how I will ever survive, let alone thrive, in my life if I can’t even take care of myself and just want to lie down. I am unable to concentrate and it is affecting my work; even though I manage my work, I don’t do it as well as I used to and am afraid I’ll be fired. I wanna change jobs now, but this whole thought loop starts again. I am afraid of wearing whatever I want for the fear of getting bloated. I already have poor body image issues, especially when it comes to my belly, and looking pregnant and feeling heavy does not help that.
When it comes to my mother, yes we have a toxic relationship. One of us is yelling at the other one some or the other time, and I may just be as guilty of psychologically abusing her. I hate yelling at her. I just hate it. But I can’t help it; she makes me so mad. She does things she knows infuriate me, even when I tell her not to do it. I know I should manage my anger better, but I simply can’t help it. In the lockdown, I managed to convey to her how she affects me in a negative way. It has helped a bit and she now realizes that some of her behaviours towards me are not healthy. That’s a start I guess.
For now, it helps when I sleep on my back or belly. I do certain yoga poses that help. I drink a fair amount of peppermint tea, which helps a bit. About your advice as to relaxing myself, I can’t seem to. I really don’t know how except for exercising. My psychiatrist had told me years ago to incorporate things I like to do in my schedule. Maybe I could try that. It’s just… overwhelming, and like I said earlier, I do not look forward to life and wonder if life only means every day to be full of discomfort and pain and self-doubt. I’m not going to hurt myself, so don’t worry. But it’s just… I did not sign up for so much pain. It is difficult for me to manage my anxiety and manage all the pain and discomfort. It takes super-human strength to deal with everything together and I am simply too tired.
I reckon I should speak with another doctor, get a second opinion. Maybe they could provide some different treatment that could help me. About moving out, it doesn’t seem like a doable thing right now. What would I tell mom? How would I manage? Like I mentioned earlier, I am barely managing my chores. Biggest thing, I can’t afford it till I can change jobs and earn better…
I look forward to hearing from you again. Your words always bring me peace.
Stay safe…January 19, 2021 at 8:12 am #373129
You are welcome and thank you for your kind words and good wishes!
In the following I will focus on the intestines and not on the stomach because your IBS history includes the intestines and my experience is strictly about the intestines. I have no doubt that there is a physical dysfunction in the operation of my intestines and in yours, after all, constipation is a dysfunction. As we age, our bodied function less and less effectively, and that is one reason why, as far as I know, almost every elderly person is constipated.
IBS-C is about over-sensitivity to the physical sensations that accompany constipation= the bloating, which constitutes the stretching and expansion of the walls of the intestines, and the felt-movement of the waste material and gas within the walls of the intestines. A doctor in 2019 diagnosed you with “visceral hypersensitivity”- which is an over-sensitivity to sensations of the viscera= internal organs, intestines included.
The pregnant look makes it worse, and so does the feel of tight clothing against the distended belly, but even when not distended (pregnant looking), the physical sensations I mentioned above are still very distressing to a person suffering from IBS-C.
In other words, a person suffering from constipation suffers, a person suffering from constipation and IBS-C suffers a whole lot more.
Here is what I suggest:
1) Improve your nutrition so that your body receives the nutrients it needs, including oil such as in olive oil and avocado, and keep a food diary and avoid foods that disagree with you. Regarding certain healthful foods that disagreed with you in the past (“I have cut out certain foods, but it is affecting my health”), you may want to re-introduce those healthful foods in small amounts because they may not disagree with you in smaller amounts or when eaten not in combination with certain other foods, or it may be that you incorrectly assumed in the past that this or that healthful food was the cause of your discomfort. Regarding portions: eat adequate portions even though you feel full and bloated- the sensations of fullness in the intestines do not indicate that you ate enough or too much (“I eat smaller portions.. because I get full really fast and my belly already is s heavy”).
2) In your mind, separate these two items: item # 1, constipation, item # 2, IBS, and focus on treating the constipation. There is a lot of online literature on the topic and when you visit a doctor next, you may want to bring up constipation as a separate issue that needs to be seriously addressed.
IBS-C in essence is an anxiety disorder that is attached to the constipation experience: the sensations in the intestines are sent to the brain and the brain interprets those sensations as DANGER. The result: anxiety every time we feel bloated, or every time we are think of becoming bloated again.
You wrote that the discomfort is there all the time, that you “haven’t had a relief in a year and half”- I am sure it feels like it, but I doubt that you didn’t have a moment or an hour here or there where you felt relief. I will share with you my personal experience of relief with some caution: red wine never failed to give me relief from IBS.
I read about your suffering, which I am familiar with personally. Here is my suggestion regarding how to deal with item #2 (in addition to doing all you can to resolve item # 1): accept IBS as it is now in your life: don’t wish it to be gone, don’t wait for it to be gone. Don’t put living on hold until that time you hope to not suffer IBS anymore.
“About your advice as to relaxing myself, I can’t seem to. I really don’t know how except for exercising”- focus then on other things- on your work, on whatever it is that will get your interest and curiosity going. IBS is about your focus being on your intestines. Once your focus is elsewhere– you will feel a relief from IBS.
Regarding your mother, you wrote: “I may just be as guilty of psychologically abusing her”- no, you are not. You are not guilty of abusing her. In the context of you and your mother, she has been 100% your victimizer, and you have been 100% her victim.
I don’t know anything about your father, but any man would want to get away from a woman like your mother ASAP. He got away from her because he was able to, being an adult, and left you with her, knowing that you were not able to get away from her.
anitaJanuary 19, 2021 at 8:43 am #373136
Thank you for your response once again.
Though I have read your response completely, I will reply to it within a day.
However, right now, I’ll just clarify one thing: My daddy didn’t leave us. He passed away of a sudden heart attack when I was 14. It’s just been me and maa since then. She’s brought me up single handedly. He loved my mother very much. I know I make my mom sound like some monster. She’s not. But the truth is she is a highly anxious person herself and she doesn’t know how to deal with it. Life’s been rough for her. Even though she may have abused me, to be very honest, she tries her best.
Thanks…January 19, 2021 at 9:44 am #373138
You are welcome. I read your correction: your father passed away of a sudden heart attack when you were 14. I am sorry to read this.
Regarding your mother, I imagine that you are not interested in the following input (not anything I didn’t mention before), but I will give it to you anyway because it is very relevant to your state of anxiety which predates and accompanies your IBS. You are welcome to not respond to it, and if you don’t- I will abandon the topic of your mother and your relationship with her altogether (and will be fine with it):
If what you shared about her is factually true (“I always got the full force of her anger. I was terrified of her.. she screams a lot…I’d score a 95/100. but she’d say ‘I thought you’d get a 97’… She comments on my body, how I am too skinny… brings me down… I have different hobbies than she does. When I pursue one of them, it literally was hell… She’d also give me the cold shoulder treatment.. look at me with absolute hatred, if she would talk to me, it would be to yell at me. I didn’t even understand what I had done wrong… she treats me like her emotional punchbag” and much more, April 2020),
then for as long as your empathy is with her and not with you; for as long as you minimize her abuse of you and make believe that her abuse of you was her best efforts (“I know I make my mom sound like some monster. She’s not… Life’s been rough for her.. she tries her best”, Jan 19, 2021),
then you will continue to feel that you are the one who is bad and guilty of anything and everything (“I am always nervous and on edge and full of guilt… I’m such a horrible person… I felt extremely guilty… I think I am a horrible person… I must be a terrible person…. I feel guilty about almost everything… I multiple times have felt everything is my fault… I believe everything that goes wrong is my fault… I shouldn’t have done that… I never meant to… I had no right to”. and much more).
* You wrote in April last year: “I wasn’t really an easy kid to her… I always got yelled at”-
– it’s the other way around: you got yelled at not because you were not really an easy kid to her, but because she was not really an easy mother to you, to put it very mildly.
anitaJanuary 21, 2021 at 2:12 am #373236
Thank you once again for replying and helping out. I’m gonna divide this response in two parts: first, my maa, and second, my IBS.
About my mother…
What I said about my mother is factually true. Growing up, I did get scolded a lot, sometimes for doing things that weren’t even wrong, eg. going out and meeting my friends or having a crush as a teen. I was always terrified of my mother and was afraid of her scolds. As a child, I obviously thought I was a naughty/bad kid and caused her anxiety and trouble. For eg, I went out with my friends and got home late. If I hadn’t, she wouldn’t have gotten anxious and mad at me. But as I grew older, I realized that I am not doing anything wrong or unusual by meeting my friends. That her anxiety is hers and I am not doing anything I shouldn’t be doing. People my age have crushes and go out and have fun with friends. This is just one example. She seemed to be mad at me for something or the other. She gave me a hard time for even doing productive things such as becoming a professional state-level dancer and teaching dancing. After getting mad at me, she would give me the cold treatment, not talking to me for days on end and acting like I don’t exist or as if I have done her a terrible wrong. I also realized I was her emotional punchbag: She would return from work after having a bad day and immediately start scolding me for something as silly as my bag being on the couch; after she had vented, she would calm down and there would be a massive change in her behaviour, and I realized that after she vents out she feels better. She has read my diaries and breached my privacy and trust in other ways too. Being an only child, all these behaviors were directed only at me. I had also noticed that these behaviours seemed to be reserved for me. Her behaviour towards my cousins and others was always pretty pleasant. So I would always wonder what I did wrong for her to hate me so.
My therapist had recommended that I should tell my mother all this, show her how her behaviours affect me, even record her scolding sessions and show her that this is not okay. But I was afraid of that backfiring. In the lockdown, both of us have been at home all day everyday, and I can’t help but lash out. I finally managed to tell her that her scolding me for the silliest reasons is not okay, that I have all the right to go out and do whatever I want as long as I am not doing anything dangerous or illegal, that I am not responsible for her anxiety and she should seek help if she cannot handle it, and that I have the right to live my life the way I want to and do not have to do what she wants me to do. I set some boundaries and told her I will not respond to her if she yells and that if she wants to talk to me, she will have to be respectful and calm. I told her my heart starts beating really fast when she yells and that I get anxious if she calls me time and again when I’m out with friends. Conveying all this to her has helped my relationship with her. She has atleast become aware and has been trying to change her behaviours. I do not in any way not realize that she has had a massive impact on my mental health, that I probably would not have been such an anxious person or would have had better coping mechanisms had she not been the way that she is. I realize that I was never a bad or even difficult kid (I have relatives who told me I was too stubborn). I even understand that she somehow lives her life through me: she has always wanted me to do what she wants to do; when this does not happen, she gets mad at me. I also realize that I am not responsible for her emotions. I do not know if this counts as me minimizing her abuse, but I just feel she herself must have gone through some real crap in her childhood for her to be so anxious all the time. And say she has always been like this, her siblings/parents should have pointed it out and told her it is not okay instead of just labelling it as “short temper”.
While I understand how she has affected me, being mad at her doesn’t help me or us at all. I’m all she has, and vice versa too. Even though I hate her, I love her, and I kind of not like it if someone spoke ill of her. I am protective that way, I guess. So yeah, things have been slightly better since I told her how she affects me. She has been trying to change. It is confusing, my emotions for her. Makes me laugh sometimes.
Coming to the slightly lighter topic of my IBS…
1. Yes, I agree. I need to improve my nutrition. Only, I am terrified of eating. What you said makes sense, that I should try smaller portions of problem-causing food and try. About my portion size, it is very difficult to have bigger portions because I already am so uncomfortable. But I guess I will speak to a doctor about this. Like I mentioned, I plan to get a second opinion.
2. This is some new insight for me. I was always thinking my IBS was causing constipation. Before my tummy troubles started in 2019, I used to have proper bowel movements. But this does make sense, if my constipation gets better, I may find relief from the pain and bloating as well. About red wine, I’m not a huge fan of alcohol, just having it occasionally, and it is really frowned upon in my culture, so we don’t really have any in the house, but I could sneak it in and give it a go. How much do you have and how frequently?
About putting living on hold, I try not to. I go out with friends and try to go about my business, but to be honest I find it physically exhausting even, going around with a heavy, uncomfortable belly, and it makes me anxious. Because it makes me lethargic, I sort of feel worthless. I could try and not pay attention to it though, like you said. Treat it like an attention-seeking child: he’ll stop crying when he realizes I’m not giving him any more attention.
I had a question. I was reading up on the Internet about connections between eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorders and IBS. I have always been very conscious of my belly. I have never had a completely flat and toned belly, always sucking it in. When I look at pictures of other girls/women, the first thing I notice is if their belly is flat. I’ve never been formally diagnosed with BDD, but do you think I could have it? Do you think this has something to do with my IBS?
Good Lord that was a long post… Thanks for putting time in reading it…
Stay safe and well…January 21, 2021 at 10:07 am #373239
First thing this morning I read your reply on the other thread and was very impressed by how well you expressed your intelligence, insight, honesty and compassion, and that’s before you mentioned me in the last paragraph, thank you for the support. I appreciate you.
Regarding your post here: again I am amazed by how much we have in common, in terms of (1) our mothers, (2) our anxiety and guilty core belief, (3) IBS-C, (4) body dysmorphia, possibly.
When you described these behaviors on the part of your mother, you also described my mother’s behaviors to a T: “I did get scolded a lot, sometimes for doing things that weren’t even wrong… She seemed to be mad at me for something or the other… After getting mad at me, she would give me the cold treatment, not talking to me for days on end and acting like I don’t exist or as if I have done her a terrible wrong… I was her emotional punchbag: She would return from work after having a bad day and immediately start scolding me… after she vented, she would calm down.. feels better. She has read my diaries and breached my privacy and trust in other ways too… Her behaviour towards my cousins and others was always pretty pleasant”.
And as a result, I too was “terrified of my mother and was afraid of her scolds. As a child, I obviously thought I was a naughty/ bad kid and caused her anxiety and trouble… So I would always wonder what I did wrong for her to hate me so”.
Following are my 1-6 comments regarding the mother part of your recent post. Please take your time reading what follows, allowing different parts to settle in a bit before moving on. Following these comments, if you don’t bring up the topic of your mother-yourself, neither will I:
1. “In the lockdown, both of us have been at home all day everyday, and I can’t help but lash out”- I was too afraid to lash out at my mother, but I did twice: once when at 20 or 21, she ran toward me with her arms extended toward me, so to hit me- I caught her hands in mine and forcefully pushed her arms down. The result: she never tried to hit me again. Another time, I grabbed a kitchen knife (yes, I did) and pointed it at her from a distance. The result: I heard that she told someone that she is afraid of me.
My points in telling these stories are that a. It is almost impossible for a victim to be.. a perfect victim, to never lash out; it is almost not-human to accept abuse without resistance at all times, for years.
b. The mother is abusive to her child because she views the child as weak and dependent, and there is no one the child can turn to for help (there was no father/ no other adult but my mother when I was a child). She doesn’t abuse the cousins because they might tell their parents who are adults, adults who are not weak and dependent on her. Once the child is old enough and she/ he asserts herself convincingly and consistently, the mother will back down because her child.. is no longer weak and dependent.
The rules of parental abuse are the same rules that are practiced by predators in nature: they attack the Weak, not the Strong. When a mountain lion, for example, does not attack a Strong buck (male deer), it is not because the mountain lion has changed, or has compassion for the buck: it’s because the mountain lion is afraid to be hurt by the buck.
2. “I told her my heart starts beating really fast when she yells and that I get anxious… she herself must have gone through some real crap in her childhood for her to be so anxious all the time”- she did go through some real crap in her childhood, no doubt, and her heart beat very fast too. Therefore, she knew all along that your heart beat really fast and that you felt very badly when she yelled at you.
3. “I set some boundaries and told her I will not respond to her if she yells.. she.. has been trying to change her behaviours”- she will stop yelling at you for good only if and when she fully understands that she can lose you, or that her life will be very uncomfortable if she yells at you again. “I’m all she has”, you wrote, and she knows it. Please be consistent and show her that you are undeniably Strong. If she yells at you- make her life very uncomfortable, every time she yells or gives you crap otherwise.
4. “she has had a massive impact on my mental health.. I probably would not have been such an anxious person.. had she not been the way that she is. I realize that I was never a bad or even difficult child (I have relatives who told me I was too stubborn)”- notice this: as an adult, you rationally understand that you were not a bad or difficult child, but as a child- you believed that you were a bad and difficult child. A childhood strong belief, aka core belief, does not disappear when an adult forms a rational understanding. The parenthesis you used in the quote above is evident of this: you stated that you realize that you were never a bad or difficult child, but a thought arose from that core belief, saying: yes, you were a difficult child, relatives said so!- you placed that thought in parenthesis.
To change this core belief that you were and are a bad, difficult person who is at fault for anything and everything, it takes emotional healing that surpasses rational understanding. Such emotional healing takes persistent intent, work, perseverance and courage over a long period of time.
5. “While I understand how she has affected me, being mad at her doesn’t help me or us at all. I’m all she has, and vice versa too”- if she does not completely stop yelling at you, you will have to at least convince her that if she yells again, she will lose you. If you don’t feel anger at her, then sound and look angry, so that she will be afraid to lose you and, and/ or to make her life very uncomfortable as a consequence of her yelling.
She has been venting and yelling all along because it made her feel better (“after she had vented, she would calm down and there would be a massive change in her behaviour, and I realized that after she vents out she feels better”). Feeling better is her emotional payoff which keeps fueling her abusive behavior. The only way to stop her from abusing you is to replace her emotional payoff with a different consequence: make her life very uncomfortable each and every time she abuses you.
6. “I kind of not like it if someone spoke ill of her. I am protective that way”- yes, a lot of society (=parents) conveniently encourages this strong message: you have to obey and worship your parents forever more, no matter what they say and do! This message is not about love, it is about maintaining power: the abusing parents maintain their power at the expense of the abused children.
Regarding the second topic of your recent post, IBS: the treatment for the physical aspect of IBS is the treatment of various real ailments and dysfunctions of the digestive tract, most common: bacterial overgrowth, and a motility disorders.
Wikipedia has an entry on a motility disorder called Intestinal pseudo- obstruction, which is “caused by severe impairment in the ability of the intestines to push food through.. In primary chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction (the majority of chronic cases), the condition may be caused by an injury to the smooth muscles (myopathic) or the nervous system (neuropathic) of the gastrointestinal tract… Clinical features of intestinal pseudo-obstruction can include abdominal pain, nausea, severe distension, vomiting.. constipation, depending upon the part of the gastrointestinal tract involved…
“There is no cure for primary chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction. It is important that nutrition and hydration is maintained… Nutritional deficiencies are treated by encouraging patients to avoid food high in fat and fibre, which are harder to digest and increase abdominal distention and discomfort, and have small, frequent meals (5-6 per day)”-
– in my case, I suffer from primary, chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction, which means that on X-rays, you will not see a growth or an object that is obstructing the movement of waste material in the large intestines, but the symptoms are the same: waste material gets stuck there, gas builds up and the belly gets bigger and bigger, resulting in that pregnant look (which has nothing to do with body weight. I used to be underweight and still look very pregnant). The reason for this obstruction is that at some point, repetitive, ongoing and irreversible damage was done to the smooth muscles that make up the walls of my large intestines, and/ or to the nerve cells in the walls of my large intestines. This damage could have been a result of my years-long habit of over-eating and years long use of laxatives.
I personally experienced significant improvement in the distension aspect after no longer eating raw or undercooked cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, etc.), and after no longer consuming wheat bran or psyllium husks (used to treat constipation). Also, eating a smaller portion at any one time is helpful.
This is a disorder and a condition that I have to live with best possible. As to the anxiety loop which is what IBS is about, as I see it: when I feel the sensations involved in the stretching/ expanding of the intestinal walls, I say to myself: this is not danger, this did not kill me before, and it will not kill me now, and I try to relax my muscles best I can.
In regard to red wine/ alcohol: I hate the taste of all kinds of alcohol, some more than others. The way I came to drinking red wine was in an afternoon party a few years ago where red wine was served with slices of orange. There I discovered this particular combination. I further experimented and discovered that the combination of red wine+ squeezed and added orange slices (or added orange juice) + stevia (a natural sweetener) tastes very good, to me. The diluting aspect of the orange juice makes a unit of alcohol volume less potent. I further discovered that for as long as I don’t drink too much (and feel badly as a result), the drinking of this combination makes me not notice at all any and all intestinal discomfort during and for hours following the drinking. It is as if.. the problem does not exist, and I cherish this temporary relief.
As far as alcohol being frowned upon in your culture and in your home, by your mother: if you decide to “sneak it in and give it a go”, and your mother complains, telling you that she frowns upon alcohol, tell her that you frown upon yelling. (Maybe a deal can be made with her: no yelling= no alcohol in the home).
Regarding you being conscious of your belly, and having noticed that other girls’/ women’s are flat and yours never has been- same here, I am at awe at the idea of having a truly flat belly. I wonder: in the past, before experiencing these intestinal problems, did you overeat and/ or use laxatives?