Grief & IBS... featuring guest blogger Hannah Dixon

Depression and anxiety, even in the form of grief can worsen IBS symptoms. We know there’s a connection between the gut and the brain, so when we face stress, especially psychological stress from anxiety, fear, grief, and depression can affect the mobility of the gut, ie make IBS symptoms worse. There are also studies that connect childhood psychological trauma to the onset of IBS.

This is something I understand first hand. When I was first diagnosed with IBS, my father was diagnosed with a chronic illness and was in and out of the hospital. I don’t remember much about processing what was going on during that time, but as I look back now I truly believe the stress my family was going through may have triggered my IBS. If not caused it, it definitely made things worse.

Fast forward to college when my IBS flared up from the stress of school, my dad passed away from lung cancer. My symptoms worsened, but I knew I had to deal with my grief or it would ruin my body. Through my faith, my community, and priorities in my life like fitness and nutrition, I have learned how to work through grief so it doesn’t wreck havoc on my digestive system. At least not for too long.

I am thrilled to share a post by my childhood friend, Hannah Dixon, on how she has learned to deal with grief from her personal experience, as well as through her education to become a counselor. Read below and continue reading on her site The Southern Chic for more…

Hope for the Holidays

Christmas has always been my very favorite holiday. Time with family, celebrating Jesus’ birth, church, traditions, memories, food, and gifts. There really is so much that makes this a season of joy!

On Christmas Eve, we would go to the annual candlelight service at our church, followed by dinner with family. Then on Christmas morning we would wake up, wait for my mom to get her video camera ready (anyone else’s parent do this? It seemed to take her forever!), then my brother and I would open our gifts. Once we finished, my Daddy would start cooking the most delicious breakfast. My grandma and grandpa would come, and we sat around the table talking and laughing.

Growing up, Christmas to me was always mostly about the gifts, as I think it is for most children. However, the holidays are not always easy for everyone. I never understood that until I experienced it first hand.

It was December 2011 when my life changed forever. My Daddy had struggled with health problems for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until April 2011 that he was diagnosed with bladder cancer. That following October, he had surgery to remove his bladder. We knew that this was a very serious surgery, but we were believing that he would come out just fine. He had surgery on Halloween and everything went fine, but the healing process after was anything but fine. For 50 days, he was touch and go. Then on December 12th the doctors told us what we feared most; “there is nothing more we can do.” As a family we decided to put my Daddy in Hospice. We were told he would probably have about 4 days left. However, at 11:59 PM on Monday December 12th, 2011, my Daddy took his last breath this side of Heaven.

Our family, though strong in our faith in the Lord, was shattered. We knew this day would come, but we were no where near ready to let him go. That was the hardest, saddest Christmas I have ever experienced. Though it has been almost 7 years, the pain by no means has gone away.

Every holiday since then, we are reminded that he is in Heaven by the very real absence we feel. We miss him every second of every day, but Christmas is no longer a time of sadness. After the year of firsts, we realized that my Daddy wouldn’t want us to live our lives being sad. The holidays are now filled with laughter, joy, and memories that make my heart swell with love.

People deal with grief in many different ways. I have seen many individuals stop living their lives after the death of a loved one; they are so deeply affected by this loss that they find it nearly impossible to go on. Others, from the outside looking in, may seem as though they have forgotten about their loved one that passed. They live their lives like nothing ever happened and are often judged very harshly because of it. No one knows the real level of a person’s grief except for that person.

So the question seems to be, how do people face the holidays while still grieving the loss of a loved one? I have learned a few things over the last 6 holidays since losing my Daddy.

Read more here!