Dealing With Despair


We have all been in situations where we have felt desperate, where everything is hopeless and nobody can help. When your self-confidence has been undermined, even minor setbacks can make you ill; a misunderstanding at work, a minor accident in the car, receiving a parking ticket, failure of your son to call.

If you have IBS, these may well be associated with a worsening of your symptoms.  Research has shown that people with IBS are more likely to perceive life changes as negative and worry about what may seem to others to be relatively trivial problems.  Even changes that might be pleasurable, are seen to carry an element of risk.

Exercise: Is the glass of your life half full or half empty?

  • If you have a task to do, do you automatically tend to think you will never do it?

  • Do you think that people don’t like you?

  • Does your partner never seem to listen to you?

  • Have you not done as well as you might have done?

  • Do you feel embarrassed in a social setting?

If the answer to three of more of these is yes, then your glass is more than half empty.

Now, ask yourself:

  • Am I making things worse than they really are?

  • What evidence do I have that the worst will happen?

  • Does it matter if things don’t turn out perfectly?

  • Why should I want to be seen as a martyr or victim?

“If you can replace your negative thoughts with more realistic ones, it will put things in proportion and you will feel better.”

Peter's Story - click play

Peter's Story - click play

Why do you feel so desperate?

  • Often what has happened has rekindled something distressing that occurred a long time ago.

  • Are your feelings of guilt and shame realistic?  

  • Try not to catastrophise. It will just make you feel hopeless and your self esteem will plummet.

  • Recognise that you are not a bad or weak person, there are just certain situations that make it difficult for you to cope.


Acknowledge your mistakes.  Understand them.  Forgive yourself and resolve to do better next time.   

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