Hey there, guys.
So, for years now, I've been struggling with GAD, and one of my main symptoms is diarrhea. It freaks me out, and makes me extremely nervous, so since I'm going to study abroad for three months this year, I'm really desperate to make it better. I have IBS, and every time I'm dealing with strong emotions, I have this terrible urge to go to the washroom. I'm looking everywhere for help, so yeah... Do you guys happen to know what I can do to deal with this problem? I'm willing to do anything, including changing my eating habits entirely. What do you guys recommend? I'm going to spend over 10 hours in an airplane, I simply cannot risk having bowel issue while I'm there. Please, help me!
Hi, I was reading through the forums and spotted your post, and honestly it looks exactly like something I could have wrote. Im in my mid twenties, have suffered from panic attacks for 3 years and IBS for about 18 months. My job requires a LOT of flights and travel, often in different countries. I would say that I average about 12-15 flights a year, mostly short, but also a few long hauls.
I dont know how helpful this will be, but il give you some things that help me. The panic attacks started during quite a stressful time. They manifested themself in chest pains, racing heart, feeling that I was somehow outside my body, the feeling that I wasnt breathing properly and the general feeling that I was going to die. This resulted in numerous trips to the hospital, doctors etc... before a nurse said it could be panic attacks (up until that point I was sure that I had some sort of heart problem that the doctors just werent able to see). After this they got a little bit better as I got used to them and was able to tell myself that it was just another panic attack. But every so often they would manifest themself in a different way, a new way that I hadnt experienced before, and it would be especially difficult to keep calm during this.
A year or two after they started I somehow realised that drinking coffee had a direct impact on them, and this pretty much turned my life around. I immediately stopped drinking coffee and they reduce both in frequency and intensity! Im at the stage now where I can drink a few cups of coffee a day without any panic attacks, although sometimes I will drink too much, or have one of those energy drinks (due to the caffeine), and it will give me the old feelings again, but I think I am at the stage now where they arent even scary anymore because I know exactly what they are.
As for the IBS, well thats a different matter. That began very suddenly about christmas of last year. I had a bit too much to drink the night before going on a non-stop 3 hour bus journey with no toilets. Il spare the details, but it was not at all pleasant. I have realised that alcohol has a massive effect on it. I literally cant drink the night before if I have something planned the next day as I will definitely be suffering from IBS.
Although not drinking does help, there is also the psychological issue. I can feel that I absolutely do not need to go to the toilet, yet the second I am put in a situation where getting to the toilet would be awkward or impossible, it begins. The stomach pains, the adrenaline, the feeling that my bowels have turned to water.... Its awful.
However, as I said I have to make quite a few flights every year, and I do have a few tips. Number one, do not drink the night before! The second is that I get up as early as I can and just make sure I go to the toilet before leaving the house. Easier said than done a lot of the time. Many internet sources say that this is a mistake, and that you should focus on not having to worry about the IBS rather than worrying about making yourself "empty", but honestly, this is a massive help to me. If I start getting the feeling that I need to go to the toilet it really helps to think that I went earlier, and that it is all in my head.
Another tip, which may make you laugh as it is a bit embarrassing, but it really works is to think of something that arouses you as soon as you are put in a position where you feel getting to the toilet will be difficult (this is assuming you are a guy!). I dont know the science behind it, and it sounds ridiculous, but just give it a go next time and thank me later!
My final tip is that it is, for me at least, about 80% psychological. Much like the panic attacks, the more you are put in that situation, the more you feel like you can deal with it. On a long haul flight the only times you have to worry about it is during take off and landing. If you make sure you are one of the last people to board, then thats about 20/30 mins at the most that you have to deal with it, then you are free to do as you please.
I realise I have rambled on quite a bit, but hopefully this was somewhat helpful!