Join Date: Dec 2002
I posted this on another board...but it applies here.
I'm a 29-year-old male. This is a long story combining IBS-C, social anxiety, and panic attacks, and how I've come to deal with all of it.
I've had trouble going to the bathroom even before I can remember--chronically constipated, always in pain, always bloated, always feel like I have to go. It's affected my life immensely in many ways, but this post is too long to go into them--so I'll stick to the theme of the original message.
I only attended classes that were mandatory in college, and sat in the back row so I could slip out if I had a terrible panic attack. I also have the disorder that causes severe blushing, which all but made me a hermit for many years. I started drinking heavily in high school, as it was a way to get over my shyness--really didn't get panic attacks in HS, I was actually a popular athlete. Severe anxiety started when I got to college, I drank harder & harder. Eventually, it got to the point where alcohol didn't take the edge off until I couldn't stand and couldn't remember anything from the night. I've spent countless nights of my life thinking of how much better it would be to end it all, and my lack of any religious belief doesn't help. I've never actually tried suicide, but thought about it often. To top it off, the heavy drinking made my IBS awful. I was absolutely self-destructing.
Though I was a top student (despite only attending classes for exams), I couldn't get a job until a few months after I graduated, as I floundered in every interview, completely brain-locked with panic attacks, blushing to the point of being purple, suffering unbearable stomach cramps, and sweating profusely--all during the interview. I was interviewing when "behavioral" interviewing was very popular, and I couldn't think of answers to the situational questions. Finally, I had an interview with someone who was interested in my knowledge, high GPA, and skills, and not about what kind of tree I would like to be or evidence of leadership abilities.
I did try Paxil for about a week, it made me sick. I tried going to a psychiatrist a few times, it really did nothing for me. I thought it was rather funny when he recommended group therapy for social anxiety/panic attacks...just picturing a room full of people struggling with social anxiety disorder was amusing. So, I ended up working through my psychosis on my own.
My present condition...I still have bouts of chronic constipation. No diet change made a bit of difference, other than stopping the heavy drinking. But, I found that cardiovascular exercise makes a very noticeable difference. I still have terrible pains, but have somewhat normal bowel movements. I've learned when the feelings of "having to go" are false...I ignore the pains and pressure and only go to the bathroom when I feel like I might not make it to the toilet, and actually feel completely relieved for a few minutes, which is probably the best feeling I'll ever know.
Things did turn around for me, there is hope. I've led a successful professional career. I still blush severely often, but the severe panic has subsided, because I've come to grips with the fact that I have no control over my blushing/sweating. The panic subsided after I got a few successes under my belt in my professional career and my self-confidence grew.
As far as social interaction, I've turned my alcohol problems into something constructive. I bartend some nights and weekends--mixing drinks is fun, and it puts me in a position where I don't have to initiate conversation.
In summary, what's made my life better: learning to interpret small differences my body's signals, developing the ability to ignore pain, engaging in cardio exercise, building self-confidence through my career successes, accepting the fact that there's nothing I can do about my blushing problem, realizing that many people have far worse problems than me, and finally, realizing how unimportant my life and problems are to the big picture of the world, and consequently, lowering my level of caring about other's opinions, which I determined to be the cause of 99.9% of my anxiety probs.