Taking control of my ‘uncontrollable’ digestive issues
I started working in PR straight after finishing university and got straight into the whole lifestyle of working hard followed by a few after work drinks a couple nights of the week with either friends, colleagues or clients.
Before I knew it I was moving up the career ladder, taking on more responsibility but increasingly feeling more and more disconnected from what I was doing and why I was doing it. To numb this feeling and make me feel ‘something’ my drinking gradually started to increase to every other night and often until closing time or even at home with flatmates after the pubs and bars had closed.
I was in my 20’s and everyone else was doing it. I could handle it, or so I thought, plus I was able to still get through the days at work. I began to also numb my feelings in the day with double portions of everything. I have always been health conscious of what I ate, but even so, now I was eating for at least two people (and not pregnant) at every meal and would go for the heavy, rich food options to feed my hangovers and fill a void.
Inevitably I started developing major digestive issues. They started small as most disease does, a few bouts of diarrhoea or vomiting and occasional pains. I ignored the symptoms, or masked them with anti-diarrhoea tablets, painkillers and other over the counter medications. I even took taxis if I thought I might need a bathroom suddenly, wasting a lot of money in the process.
But eventually they got so bad I couldn’t control when they would sneak up on me and once when out walking I had to take a toilet break suddenly and URGENTLY, with nowhere to go but in my clothes. I was mortified, embarrassed and humiliated. How could this have happened to me? How did I let myself diarrhoea in my clothes and now I had to get home like this. Fortunately I did and I showered off mortified and in disbelief at what had just happened.
I didn’t know how I had let it get to this point. I did really. But I was in denial that my lifestyle had had anything to do with it. I then started to see a number of doctors, going for blood tests, check ups, allergy tests, anything to see whether there might be something wrong with my digestive system. The results all came back negative and I knew I had to do something about it myself.
1. The first thing I did was to stop drinking for a month. Straight away my stomach started to ease up and I was able to go out without feeling a sudden rush of desperation that I would need the toilet. This also meant I wasn’t out for long hours depriving myself of sleep so I started to feel more rested and my mind began to clear.
2. I started to eat smaller portions and make my meals myself so I could include more vegetables, sea vegetables and whole grains, and less salt and sugar than take away food. I found my body metaphorically inhaled the nutrient rich foods and I my original healthy bowel movements started to return.
3. I started drinking miso soup a few times a week for breakfast. I found the soup really easy to digest first thing in the morning. Nowadays I drink a bone or vegetable broth, but it was the miso soup that I was drawn to initially.
4. I began to include more gentle exercise in my life, walking and yoga as well as a beginner’s meditation class. The exercise made me feel good, and I found that my stomach started to feel stronger, the aches and grumbles were slowly disappearing and I felt like if I did want a glass of wine or some takeout I might be able to handle it. I didn’t want to try it yet though!
5. I signed up for a distance learning nutrition course. Something I had been wanting to do for years! This was huge as it excited me mentally and made me feel like I was taking back control of my life.
It has been a few years now since I started to heal myself and I did have some setback months where I drank again and slipped into some of my old bad habits. Since then I have gone on to become a certified holistic health coach, I’ve experimented with different foods and ways of eating and now know where to find my personal balance for what works for my body. We’re not all the same and I now know I have a sensitive system which needs extra nourishment and care combined with meaning and purpose in what I do.