My Biome Is My Home: Living With IBS

 In Anxiety and Stress, Compassion, Health, Promoting Tolerance, Random Thoughts

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on my blog, but I’ve been working on a long project (a book I’m trying to get published!) and dealing with tremendous pain over the past many months. Today is IBS awareness day, and for those of you who know me, I’ve certainly brought it up or you’ve seen me run to the bathroom and on the verge of just curling up in a ball on the floor.

A couple of years ago, the ghostly demon that is IBS entered my life. Over the past many months, this demon has taken control of me in unprecedented ways that I would have never imagined. Today is the day we recognize a syndrome that 1 in 5 people you meet fight every day; today, especially after what I have experienced/am experiencing, I feel a duty to raise awareness about the pain that IBS causes me both physically and emotionally. This piece, which I wrote a couple weeks ago, is a raw, yet non-graphic expression of my journey with IBS. Between false accusations, misdiagnoses, and dismissal, I am now learning to become not only my own doctor, but my own advocate and healer. Although this illness is truly invisible to those around us, we often have no choice but to reveal it at some point— at least I have, and it hurts. I am learning that we should never hide behind our pain: we must embrace it and know that we aren’t fighting it alone. There’s nothing to hide, only something to gain— like me, by sharing your story, you can find an unconditionally supportive circle whose knowledge-base, resources, and care are a step toward balancing your inner-harmony. There is no treatment for IBS, everyone’s gut is different, and yes, trial and error is the only way to understand it. For those of you who are just as done as I am suffering, I hope you can relate to this piece and find light at the end of the tunnel. This rocky journey will lead you home— it is just a learning curve your mind and body must combat together. And only you, by becoming your own advocate and voicing your needs, will fight this demon with pride and emerge empowered in your own body, mind, and soul. 

 

MY BIOME IS MY HOME

An illness that nobody sees

But me— Or at least—

That’s how it feels

Malignant, indignant

Monstrous as can be

Where can beauty be found, let alone be felt

In my body, in the belly of a beast?

Bloating and belching

Constantly wrestling

Wondering if this nightmare will ever end,

Spare me a day with no bending over in pain

Please, it’s tearing me apart

I’m going insane

 

They say it’s in my head:

 “Nothing’s wrong with you. All the tests came out normal. 

Stop being dramatic. Just stop crying.”

Really? You think I want to be like this? 

You really think I’m lying? 

They step on me but don’t know my story

How light turned dark

In the weight that withered, the life that was lost

False accusations, no definitive diagnosis—

“Disorder—” 

That’s your denomination.

By mere appearance they conjure assumptions

And with each presumption my power plummets

But despite what anyone may think, 

I have learned to find a target through dismissal 

To shoot my missile

To tell you my story and how I sink

Desire is prohibited

Meals I enjoy can be enjoyed no longer

The spices one savors, the scent, the sensation, 

Pleasures I simply can’t ponder

Food is frustration

Want to try cooking for me? Don’t even bother.

What is your blessing feels like my curse

Wasted days of sulking, 

And worse— 

Worthless: 

Sometimes, that’s how I feel

Like wasted potential

It’s an endless cycle 

A sickening spiral

Falling through a drain,

In the shadows of shame 

On the bathroom floor, my closet of comfort

Shaking

Just close the door and leave me be

Bewildered, aching

Searching for answers—

Why me? 

What? How?

That won’t help now.

Embrace it. Stop throwing a fit. 

There’s nothing you can do. 

The dagger stabbing my insides 

Destroys the dreams I want to pursue

It consumes me, infuses me with spite

My heart bleeds

My stomach burns

I do everything right—eat healthy and exercise daily—

And this is what I get in return?

You will meet someone like me

A high achieving student-athlete,

Tailored to the tee

A young face, only eighteen

She wears a face of makeup that glows, 

The only part of her body the girl can control

And the clothes behind which pain hides

After changing a hundred times

Mind and body split into two 

Bound by the bondage

Entire being halted. On hold.

Blockage.

People ask what’s wrong

You wipe your tears, and try your hardest to contain

Simply say, “Oh, my tummy hurts”

But I’m in flames

Most can revert to their usual tasks

A stomach ache can’t be THAT bad

Just put on a big t-shirt and go to work

But me—I can’t. My world goes black.

Vulnerable as broken glass

I tell myself to wait, the pain shall pass 

Please, give me any strength I can amass

They tell me to be confident, 

They tell me that I’m talented, 

And that I can be someone prominent

If I could only lift myself off the ground and replenish

Then in all my aspirations, 

In all of my delights 

I would relish 

Nobody understands 

How my dreams and desires disperse 

Like grains of sand 

Through the wind and into a cavity

No, Sabrina, you cannot stand 

Oh, how I dread these moments of agony

That’s what it’s like living with this pain

It’s not a disease, but a “syndrome”

Symptoms seem manageable, an easy fix—

I feel tricked—

Take this, take that, eat this, not that—just drink things! 

I’m on the brink 

Believe me 

I’ve tried it all: No remedy is magical

The root cause remains a mystery

With findings inconclusive

The prospect of healing seems elusive

Healing takes mastery of oneself 

Depth. Hold in one breath.

Common…breeeaatthheee…

Reflect on how far you’ve come,

The sum of your journey has not yet been reached

It has actually just begun

Every day you start afresh, you’re alive—

You can breathe

You can move

You can speak

You can improve 

Never surrender.

You will emerge from this battle no longer tender 

But stronger

Scars staining strength

Strong, that is what you are

On yourself, never surrender

You are not “psychologically impaired”

You are not “disordered”

Advocate for yourself, don’t be scared

Yes, I’ve yelled at someone before

People must hear your voice 

They must remember that

Even if they can’t see it, 

They can’t see how hard you strain

The pain is still there

 Although invisible

It’s despicable, it’s contriving,

Tell people so they know what you’re fighting 

And that the spark of mastery in mind,

Beauty in body

Is what you’re igniting

Life is for living, 

No more disguising.

I need support, less sympathy

Not a symphony sung

Nor a resort to relax

I need help not hate

To abate this cycle, to end this mess

Give me answers so I can “destress”

Just like you asked

I need to be held up so I can heal myself 

So I can heal my health 

So I can hope—

Nope—

It’s not in my head. 

Never 

Never say that again.

To all who can relate 

Relay, redeem, reclaim

Reclaim your self-esteem

You need it to pursue your dreams 

Reframe your narrative, share it with pride

Present it ugly as it is, no fear

Fighting with you are millions

Millions are on your side

As you battle, know that your biome is brave, 

Your gut is not your grave

It is home. 

And to home, only you can pave the way. 

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