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I am a recent college graduate and will be moving on to a doctoral program in Oregon this coming Fall. I was a healthy, happy, active college student until about 2 and a half years ago when I came down with a horrible case of gastroenteritis. Immediately following, I started noticing the symptoms of what my doctor and I have finally declared to be post-infectious IBS. I have struggled to accept this diagnosis since receiving it, and have grappled with the overwhelming sadness, anger, denial, and hopelessness that, as you all know, come neatly packaged with this horrible condition.

Sometimes it is tough to find the will to live when you feel stuck in a cycle of feeling sick. You start to forget what it's like to feel "normal". A few weeks ago I decided to start writing my thoughts in a journaling app I downloaded onto my phone, and I wanted to share one of my entries with you all today, in hopes that it can help you deal with the pain, sadness, or simply let you know that you are not alone in this. I have love for all of you who have the courage to be a part of this site to share your stories, find comfort in others' postings, and keep a leg up on IBS. Thanks for letting me share:

IBS is a big bully. At 22 years old I find myself being controlled and manipulated like a GI-cursed-puppet and I won't stand for it anymore. It's time to stop feeling sad for myself and the things that I've lost and start getting angry at IBS--the mean kid living inside of me and turning me into a victim. It's caused me to lose sight of myself and the person I've shaped myself into. I finally started to love who I was becoming. I can't let it rip that away from me.

I know that my anxiety is triggering this to get worse. I keep questioning with my fists raised up to the sky about why this could possibly be getting worse over time and why does it have to be me. Haven't I been through enough? What awful symptom should I expect next? I need to stop fooling myself. I can't expect to stress out about my condition getting worse, and still get it to better itself in the meantime. I have developed this obsessive cycle of thought where I fill my head with worries about getting sick. When's the next time it'll happen? Am I gonna be able to make it to work tomorrow? Will I waste my money buying dinner because I can't eat it without having another attack? Are my friends going to think I'm "flaky" because I suddenly can't hang out? How will I handle optometry school if my year-off has been the most difficult thing of my entire life?

Thinking that way only feeds the monster that is IBS. It thrives on that kind of negativity and worry. And it doesn't deserve one bit of ammunition; God knows it has consumed enough of that.

Worrying about Oregon and how I'll get through school with this bully by my side is unfair to myself. I earned this and I worked so hard to get to where I am today. I am smarter than IBS. I am tougher than IBS. I am going to beat IBS to make up for all the times it's beat me.

Natalia, read this every time you start feeling sorry for yourself. It's okay to be stressed out and it is okay to be scared. You're terrified. But your fear isn't going to let this bully terrorize you any longer. Use your sadness to fuel your anger towards the disease, not yourself. You're going to be okay.
 
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