Stressful Thoughts As An Ileostomate

Sam On Beach With Dog

The way stress affects our bodies undoubtedly varies from person to person. For me and my ileostomy, stress can truly affect how my body works. It’s a daily mountain to climb, and I must fight for balance.

My mind is often filled with anxious thoughts and feelings, some of which have a more negative impact than others. I’ve outlined a few of these thoughts below. Can you relate?

Stress around work:

  • Have I finished that on time?
  • Have I been available enough for colleagues? 
  • Is my attendance affecting my career?
  • Do my peers respect me and the work I do?
  • Did I let the business down when I was off that time?
  • Is my house clean enough? (thanks, Instagram)
  • Does my house look picture perfect? (thanks again, Instagram)
  • Are my cupboards tidy enough?
  • Should I redecorate that room?
  • Did I rush into that?
  • Have I thought about it properly?
  • Who would be upset by …?
  • Am I doing this for me or someone else?
  • Is it selfish to?
  • Am I well today?
  • Should I be doing this?
  • Should I say if I don’t feel right?
  • Am I the best person I can be?
  • And many a question around babies, fertility, adoption

Stress around the home:

Stress from my daily life:

The impact this stress has on my body comes in many forms…

Mainly fatigue - which I never thought was an actual ‘thing’ until it happened to me, and when I’m stressed my ileostomy finds itself running in one of two ways. Firstly, it can be slow, so I feel sluggish and food seems to take longer to process through my system – even causing a differing output texture more like a porridge. Alternatively, if I’m a combination of run down and stressed at the same time I get the opposite effect. In this case my ileostomy can be quite fluid-like and free flowing, almost to the point of diarrhea. So, I have to balance plenty of fluids and really take the time to sit down and get some actual rest. Having an overactive ileostomy takes its toll, tiredness and that feeling of being overwhelmingly dehydrated as a result is a hard act to balance, but care and caution must be taken. Our bodies are mysterious, and that balance is important.

I’m not afraid to admit I get a little jealous of those who believe stress is if the nail technician used the wrong colour, if the clothes they ordered were out of stock or if it wasn’t as hot on holiday as they would have liked… I sit here incredibly jealous in fact, that such small things can have such big impacts on their lives. I wish I had nothing more than my nails to worry about, and yes, I might come across as sounding unsympathetic, but I’d love to enable people with the power to see how incredibly lucky they are.

And then I remember the friends that I have lost in recent times, and perspective happens.

Our mental health is precious, no matter the type of stress we are going through, in fact, it’s all relative to the individual and I can’t possibly know what they might be going through behind closed doors. I feel grateful that I can empathise and understand this as a result of my own problems – it’s the silver lining of my dark cloud. Time out is key; sharing is the other… and if you feel alone you can always seek support from people online, they may be strangers but once you start talking you might just find you’re no longer strange to each other at all.

“Stress has a direct impact on my health as an ileostomate.” – Sam Melling

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by Sam Melling

Sam Melling

About the author

AKA TheModernBagLady, I enjoy Tapas Tuesdays, Fizz Thursdays and Fun time Fridays. When I'm not my sensible (using the term very loosely) office alter ego, I can be found seeking new adventures, wondering in woodlands, flirting with festivals and lightly laughing my way through the trials and tribulations that any “bag lady” faces.

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