Introduction, Looking for Support
Posted 10 September 2020 - 06:09 PM
I am new to the site and this is my first time posting. I'm a man in my mid-twenties that is otherwise pretty healthy and have been suffering from persistent nausea, gnawing, and overall discomfort in my stomach for the past three months. It began shortly after I couldn't control a bowel movement and had an accident while walking in the woods with some family members. Scary? Yes Embarrassing? Yes. Humiliating? Yes. Traumatic? Also, yes. Ever since then, I have been hesitant to go out in public (especially anywhere without a nearby bathroom), ride in a car with someone else, eat or have drinks with other people, and have even found myself to get anxious when the bathroom in my apartment is occupied by one of my roommates. And it's even been difficult engaging in any sort of conversation or meeting as I get stuck between trying to half-halfheartedly engage with the conversation and managing to ignore or remedy any digestive discomfort that might be present. This reality is, naturally, throwing a gigantic wrench into my professional life, but more on that later...
Needless to say, it has been a fairly awful summer (in addition to Covid concerns) as I have found myself retreating from relationships, confining myself to my house, for the most part, in fear of having an accident or more generally just feeling overwhelmed by less familiar settings, and lacking the ability to find joy or relaxation in just about anything as I'm vigilantly focused on my discomfort 24/7. It hurts me to say this but I have been feeling as though my "normal self" that I was even back in June (before the symptoms really hit) is unattainable and gone forever. Although I know that this method of thinking is ultimately unhelpful and counter productive, thus far I have been unable to get out of this nausea-anxiety loop. Fortunately, I am privileged enough to have a therapist who has been very supportive - even to the point of making themself available outside of our scheduled biweekly meetings - and a support system of family and some close friends who are letting me know that they're thinking of me and that they're available if I need them. But, even these notions of support have been bruising me emotionally because I feel like the entire extent of those relationships has become nothing but me talking about my issues and being an overall bummer of a person while not being able to thoughtfully engage and inquire about their struggles or experiences.
These symptoms are not entirely new to me. About six years ago when I was studying in college, I experienced months of stomach discomfort and nausea as well that did not amount to anything concrete from any of the doctors I saw. At the time, I believed my symptoms were related to food sensitivities so I made some changes in my diet and soon enough I started to feel marginally better and eventually I was back to being that "normal self" albeit with an adjusted diet within a year or so of the initial onset of nausea. Then, for the five or so years after that (until June 2020) the biggest health concerns I had were seasonal allergies and the occasional hangover. I wish that I was more appreciative of a (mostly) normally functioning digestive system when I felt like I had one but I guess that's besides the point now. *Sigh*.
As of today, I have not received an official diagnosis but am working with several different doctors who are starting to believe that my symptoms might be a product of IBS or at least some similar functional issue. Needless to say, as I'm sure most of us on here have experienced, the process of working with the doctors (scheduling tests, obtaining results, rescheduling appointments) has been almost as taxing as they day-to-day symptoms and it's hard to value my own self-worth at times when I feel like I'm getting blown off or undervalued by professionals whose help I desperately and immediately need.
Anyways, I'm rambling and I truly don't want to be too negative especially in my first post. Compounding all of my physical, emotional, and mental distress is the reality that I am supposed to go back to work on Monday. I am a teacher who has been off since June (but out of the classroom since March) and have been holding out every last bit of hope that my symptoms would be gone or at least more manageable by the time I needed to go back to work this fall. And for a few weeks, that seemed to be the case. Towards the end of August, I was prescribed an anti-anxiety medication that seemed to be helping and I was able to begin my work meetings and enjoy bits of a social life without much distress or feeling overwhelmed. Fast forward to this past Tuesday night when I woke up at 2AM nauseous as all get out and unable to get back to sleep comfortably. The symptoms have been lingering since then and it's like all the hope and good momentum I had going was crushed and now I'm back to square one. I have spoken with two of my supervisors at work about the possibility of having to go on a temporary medical leave (although without a diagnosis or a treatment plan going forward, I would have no way of guaranteeing that it would be temporary) and they have been supportive but rightfully they don't want me to wait until the last possible minute and screw them over having to come up with a replacement plan. Never in my life have I been a quitter and that is why this decision is so hard for me to make. I keep telling myself and those around me that I want to at least try and go in on Monday and see how I can manage but it's that thought in my head "you're not at 100% you can't handle this" that's killing me. At the end of the day, I want to make the decision that's best for my own physical and mental health as well as for the kids so they're not stuck with a miserable teacher who can't really function even in a remote setting. I don't think I had mentioned this yet but I absolutely love my job and I love the kids I am working with. It simply breaks my heart and makes me feel so useless to think I won't be able to teach and the last thing in the world I want to do is disappoint my students and my co-workers especially when I don't even know that I'm going to feel any better if I take a leave of absence especially without a diagnosis. It's just hard.
Does anyone have any advice or support for someone who's feeling like they're getting close to wit's end?
p.s. I'm sorry that this post is quite lengthy and it's possible that I may come back and re-visit this thread as an outlet daily or a few times a week just to get my thoughts down but I deeply appreciate anyone taking the time to read this and/or reach out to me. I know everyone here is going through their own struggle and I seriously envy all of you because I have felt broken and utterly lost numerous times in the past few months and I'm sure many of you have as well. But we're all still here so that's one thing we should be proud of even if it's the only thing right now.
Posted 12 September 2020 - 04:32 AM
Writing your lenghty post must have been liberating in a way..so good for you!I have simillar posts in My story section just that I can revisit them when I need them. This is an exhausting and overall terrible condition that renders you uncapable of LIVING your life the way you want it. It is hard but also not impossible..there are people on this forum that lost so much due to IBS but also others that managed to get their life back mostly trough trial and error-since doctors can only do so much as you are staring to realize by now.
I wish you all the best and I wish with all my heart that you will be able to teach kids on Monday and every other day as well.
My greatest advice would be this: IF you think/agree this is truly ibs then give your best to find out what helps you function and try as manny remedies as you can to find that "fix". Since there is no cure yet and you are in your twenties you have a loooong way to go considering ibs last for life. If you think this is something else do not give up until you've made every test you can.
Check your vitamin levels first because people with bowel and digestion problems often lack vit.D,B12,B9 and others because of their "uncommon"diets, and in turn missing these nutrients leads to all sorts of problems that are anxiety and lethargy and depression related..
Good luck on Monday!