Lara's story
8th January 2018

Lara's story

I've had digestive problems since birth but my IBS symptoms started when I was at university and was only diagnosed with IBS a few years after that.

My IBS symptoms are quite varied with stomach gurgles, burping, nausea, alternating bowel habits, fatigue, muscle weakness, insomnia, headaches, flatulence and acid reflux. I’ve found that the best way for me to manage my symptoms is to completely change my lifestyle.

I'm currently on the low FODMAP (Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols) diet and tend to eat little and often to prevent my stomach from overproducing acid. I have a box of tablets for different symptoms that I take when I need them, including Mebeverine for cramps, Ranatidine for acid reflux, and peppermint oil capsules for bloating. I don't like taking tablets but sometimes you just have to! I can no longer handle high impact or high intensity exercises so I am limited to mostly pilates and swimming. I practice mindfulness and meditate when I can to help manage my stress levels. 

A normal day would consist of me waking up and heading straight to the bathroom for my first toilet trip. Then I get washed and dressed, head downstairs for breakfast, then back to the bathroom for another toilet trip before I leave for work. It takes me an hour to get to work via driving and train. I usually find I need another visit to the toilet by the time I reach the station. When I get to work, I push myself through a full eight hour day. My job is all computer based so it's a lot of sitting and staring at a screen. I try to get up and move around at least once an hour (get a peppermint tea, have a snack, go to the toilet, stretch my legs). After eating my lunch, I tend to go for a walk outside to get some fresh air and help my food digest, then head back inside until home time. After a full day, I have an hour-long commute home and arrive back exhausted. Most nights consist of me slobbing on the sofa and recovering from my day, as I am always tired and achy.

Some nights I go to a pilates class, one night a week I see my counsellor, some nights my partner manages to get me off the sofa and out the house to the cinema (but this is a rarity). I head to bed around 10pm where it can take me between five minutes and five hours to fall asleep. Then I get up and do it all again! Weekends consist mostly of recovering from the week. My partner and I try to get out of the house for at least a few hours to get some fresh air and relaxation. Unfortunately, I don’t get to see my friends as much as I'd like to because I'm just too tired to go outside. Thankfully, they are really understanding and we keep in contact via text and phonecalls, seeing each other as and when we can!

IBS affects every part of my life and is a constant battle. Some days are easier than others but you have to be so aware of yourself and those around you. The smallest trigger can set you off, my IBS is heavily linked to my anxiety and stress levels so I have to make sure I remain as calm and relaxed as possible. For me, the key to coping is having good support and listening to my body, trying not to push myself too hard and taking time to rest and recover when I need to. 

Lara is a member of The IBS Network and runs the monthly support groups in Durham. You can find out more here:




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