Since my last post I received an overwhelming amount of support and advice regarding the new symptom I’ve been having. Well last night, I had to put it to the test – and here’s how it went.
I’ll set the scene: around 12:30pm on Friday I met my mum for dinner in the local Morrisons. I had a very questionable ‘skinny chicken burger’ which was meant to be healthy but the chicken breast had been roasted within an inch of its life, and had really horrible crusty dry bits around the edge. I picked off the inedible parts and complained my way through the rest of the burger. To be fair, what did I expect for £3.95.
After the worst burger of my life, I headed back to work and that was that. Yet later in the evening, around 5pm, I began getting stomach ache. Now as I’ve mentioned, I have IBS, so sometimes a ‘I need the toilet’ notion can be followed by cramps and a nausea feeling until I’ve been. Well this happened, only the difference in my brain was the fact I’d had a really dodgy burger at lunch. ‘Oh god, I’ve caught something from the burger!’. I managed to wait until I got home before going to the toilet but the nausea only got worse.
This is when the anxiety kicks in. Due to leave in half an hour, stomach aching and bloated, sickness feeling which only begins to get worse. Can I go out? What if I get ill? I can’t go I’ll have to cancel. These are all the thoughts running through my head.
Then I thought back to some of the advice. The distractions, the methods and the one piece of advice a friend gave me: ‘so what if you throw up? It doesn’t matter’. These things were all I needed for me to stand up to this symptom and take it on. I popped an immodium (I apologise for the TMI but we all poo so let’s move on together) and got myself together and off we went. I’d mentioned to my girlfriend I felt unwell, and she reassured me that she was happy to fetch me whenever I didn’t feel good which offered me some comfort.
The closer we got, the more sick I felt. I felt bloated, stomach felt fragile and head was beginning to spin but I stayed focused on the end result. This was just anxiety, I was going to be fine, I just had to get through it.
The crazy thing is, when we hit the street I was going to be dropped at, the sickness and anxiety felt quite intense, then all of a sudden – gone.
I got out of the car and nothing, I felt OK, anxiety was minimal. It was like the build up was the worst part that my brain didn’t want me to enjoy but once there it had all but gone. Now don’t get me wrong, anxiety is never that easy, and as the night rolled on I had on and off sickness but overall not bad.
Around 2 hours in my girlfriend text to ask how I was and my reply was simple: ‘once I was here, I relaxed and now I’m fine’.
Anxiety had created this whole story of food poisoning, potentially throwing up, shitting myself while eating a Thai curry, being stranded in the city covered in sick waiting for my girlfriend to fetch me. This whole fictional nonsense that could have completely ruined my night, the difference is I wasn’t prepared to let it.
The reality – I was fine. I’d had a small bout of IBS that would have passed as normal, but anxiety latched on and made me feel like I was coming down with an actual illness. It was anxiety. It was just anxiety. I was fine. I didn’t have a stomach bug, I didn’t throw up, I didn’t poo my pants. I was absolutely fine.
I’m so proud that I faced this symptom. It’s what I needed to do to know the difference between illness and anxiety. It’s what I needed to do so I could believe in my ability to keep fighting this rubbish mental illness I have.
Always challenge, always fight and always push yourself. The possibilities are endless.