Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Stress. Physically sick. Digestive tract. Irritable bowel syndrome. Ulcerative colitis. Impairs memory. Fuels anxiety.


"Stress, when it's chronic or repeated, does more than unnerve us; it can make us physically sick. It dampens the immune system and dries out the digestive tract, setting the stage for disorders from irritable bowel syndrome to ulcerative colitis. It impairs memory and in extreme cases fuels anxiety. It can even gnaw away at the ends of chromosomes, thereby accelerating cellular aging." 
- Thea Singer

This is the second paragraph of the blog post entitled "The Perfect Amount of Stress" by Thea Singer, published on March 13, 2012 - last reviewed on August 14, 2012, in PsychologyToday.com.

I found myself with widened eyes and felt the four sentences sank in my mind. Stress. Physically sick. Digestive tract. Irritable bowel syndrome. Ulcerative colitis. Impairs memory. Fuels anxiety. Accelerating cellular aging.

Sure that I was always stressed everyday, but I have been "freaking stressed" for the past several days because of the feeling that everything just got even worse everytime I try to fix it. I tried to manage my problems. Trying - but failing - to resolve most of them, and difficulties just seemed overwhelming and that I couldn't control it anymore. I had become so irritable, like hell "I wanna be alone." I hate the two-hour-travel way back home after work - and vice versa - because it just gave me time to think about my frustrations in life. I wonder what other people do about theirs and how they conquer it and why other people don't have these insecurities in their lives which made me feel that I was so "unlucky," especially being the breadwinner and all. Sometimes, I wanted someone to listen to me, no matter how ridiculous my sentiments and complaints, but when I look on my circle of friends and my family, I just don't think any of them can be. They have their own problems, too, I sometimes told myself.


I assumed I have irritable bowel syndrome. Based of the articles and studies that I have read, this is a disorder, but this is not a life-threatening one. It's just a group of symptoms of "disorder" in the bowel.


Reading the term "ulcerative colitis" for the very first time, I hit the Google.com bookmark on my browser and found myself digging into pages about this disease. Suprisingly, I found out that most of its symptoms were actually the ones that I've been experiencing.


So what are these symptoms? First is abdominal pain and cramping. Every now and then, while sitting, standing, or lying, when I wake up or before I sleep, I experience these tummy cramps. Sometimes on the left part, sometimes on the right, sometimes on upper abdominal region. Most of the time, it just attacked me like a stab and the pain would last for around 2-5 seconds.


The next was abdominal sounds - a gurgling or splashing sound heard over the intestine. I thought the sounds were just because I was hungry or because of the gas the was trapped on my tummy. But there are moments where in the sounds would be heard just after I ate my meals. And the sounds are loud enough to be heard by any person just beside me.


Thankfully, I wasn't experiencing blood in my stools or having a fever. But oftentimes I would have a diarrhea(another symptom), or constipation,. It's really kind of irritating for sometimes I suffered from diarrhea, then the next day would be constipation.


Next symptom was tenesmus. Tenesmus is the feeling that you constantly need to pass stools, even though your bowels are already empty. 
I hate this the most.

Other symptoms, as stated, would be weight loss. But I have been underweight for many years, maybe, it really in my genes. Also, I encountered joint pains on my fingers and knees, which was yet another symptom. I also suffered from the symptom mouth sores (on lips and mouth) for a few times. There are instances that I felt like vomiting as well.


So after digging into other information about ulcerative colitis, I suddenly wanted to go to a gastroenterologist for a check up. I've found out that this disease can lead to colorectal cancer, which was something that I don't like to have now or in the future.


Pondering on this realization, I was amazed how "stress" could really trigger troublesome digestive disorders like these. But what else can I do? I still couldn't summon the courage to go and see a doctor, but when I do, I hope the results wouldn't be as bad as I thought.


References:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/collections/201207/the-right-amount-stress/too-much-stress-or-too-little
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001296/

Photo from Unsplash

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