In this Sharepost I am going to do a bit of a follow-up to one I wrote in September, 2010 titled, Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) for IBD and IBS - http://www.healthcentral.com/ibd/c/2623/120938/cognitive-behavior-cbt -
I worked with my therapist for about five weeks and learned the basics of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) which helped me to successfully go on a three week trip overseas without any anxiety or gut problems. When I returned home, I decided I was good to go it on my own with the use of a book, The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook, by Edmund J. Bourne, Ph.D., and the CD, Relieve Anxiety with Medical Hypnosis by Steven Gurgevich, Ph.D. (http://www.tranceformation.com/mainh.html).
I also have to admit that my doctor gave me a prescription for an anti-anxiety medication that I take only at night and while I was very hesitant to go the prescription route I have come around to being a believer that these medications have their place and can be very helpful.
When I was seeing Anne, my therapist, she listened to my history from being a child through to now and made a very astute observation that I probably knew but hadn't really applied to how it might affect my anxiety, and therefore, my gut. If anxiety runs on a scale of 1-100 she explained, then just through my genetic make-up I was probably born vibrating at a 10 on that scale. Add to that my personality type - type A - and how I was brought up - strict German/Polish/Catholic, and my daily anxiety meter probably vibrates at a 20 on any given day. Throw in a chronic disease like Inflammatory Bowel Disease, as well as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and we might be up to 30 on the anxiety meter. Then a serious car crash in 2003, a brain tumor diagnosis in 2004, and the therapist figured I was vibrating anywhere between 30-50 just on a daily basis. Add in a little stress about work, travel, family issues, etc. and boom! the anxiety meter could hit 70, 80, or 90!
As I heard her say this it was jarring at first, but when I went home and really thought about it I realized that she was probably right. We talked about the anti-anxiety medications that my general doctor had prescribed and suddenly I realized that it couldn't hurt to give them a chance. What I've found in the past months is that the mixture of the work I'm doing in the Anxiety workbook, plus the meditations from Dr. Gurgevich's CD, plus some daily aerobic exercise, and the prescription is helping my mind to calm down, and I am sleeping the most soundly that I have slept in years, plus my bowel movements are at their most regular in years as well.
The most important thing I have learned in the past months is that anxiety builds on anxiety and we may not even realize how much stress or anxiety we feel in our life on a day-to-day basis. Until I sat down and verbally talked about what I was feeling both emotionally and physically and had someone validate what I was saying I simply didn't realize that 1. I had a personal anxiety monitor, and 2. that it was probably vibrating between 20-50 on a daily basis. That's a lot of stress for a body to deal with! And the most important part is that I wasn't really dealing with it effectively.
Now that I am aware that I am a person who is prone to run a pretty high daily anxiety level I can, and am, taking daily steps to decrease it. When we first met some twenty years ago, my husband said to me one evening when he was rubbing my shoulders, "Relax, you're so tense."
"I am relaxed," I responded.
"No, you're not," he said, "Your shoulders are full of knots and they are hunched up to your ears."
"Really?" I said, incredulously, "I feel relaxed, especially with you massaging my shoulders."
This should have been a huge red flag for me. But back then I was in my 20's, my gut issues were minimal, and I was far too busy to pay attention to what my body and my future husband was trying to tell me. I was physically tense.
But today, I am not only listening to what my body has to say, but I am hearing what it is telling me each day and making adjustments to bring down my anxiety levels and really am learning how to relax and not take it all so seriously.
If you listen to your body for a week, what is it trying to tell you? And what can you do to help it feel better and heal.
Elizabeth Roberts is the author of, Living with IBD & IBS: A Personal Journey of Success, you can read more at www.ibdandibs.com
Published On: March 10, 2011