The Mind Body Connection
Article by Brenda Cox ~ Published in the Summer 2013 issue of Perception ~ The Cognitive Hypnotherapy Review.
I remember when I was first diagnosed with IBS I felt a great sense of relief, at last after years of pain and rushing backwards and forwards to the toilet I had a diagnosis – the doctors were going to be able to help me and it was all going to get better!
Well, my sense of relief was very short lived: as my GP explained to me that IBS is a label given to abdominal pain and changes in bowel activity when they can’t find anything medically wrong. There isn’t anything they can “fix” to make it better. Our bodies just don’t behave the way they are supposed to. I was given medications to help with the symptoms, and they did a bit – but I really didn’t want to be taking medications for the rest of my life.
But in a funny way the diagnosis was a real turning point for me. It allowed me to believe that I wasn’t about to die and there isn’t something nasty lurking inside of me – I could begin to relax and find new ways to deal with the pain and discomfort.
When I work with my IBS clients using Cognitive Hypnotherapy one of the first things I ask is have you had an official diagnosis of IBS? This means have you had all the necessary tests to rule out other life threatening diseases. Obviously, this is primarily for your safety. I don’t want you believing it is IBS when you actually need to be treated for something else. But it is also for your frame of mind. If your unconscious mind is able to begin to believe that everything is OK – but your body just isn’t working in the best way possible – then you can begin to make changes and influence that behaviour.
For me this diagnosis happened before my training as a Cognitive Hypnotherapist so I didn’t have all the wonderful techniques and ideas that I’ll come onto in a moment. So I started small and began to talk to myself, or as I now understand it I began to talk to my unconscious mind. I began to reassure myself that there wasn’t actually anything wrong and that I wasn’t dying. I told my unconscious mind that I was listening to the pain and doing whatever I could to make things better, so it had permission to stop the pain because it wasn’t achieving anything extra by having me in agony.
This internal conversation worked, up to a point, but the big change came for me when I trained in Cognitive Hypnotherapy where I learnt about the mind body connection. It turned out that what I had been doing all along was correct and very valuable, but there were lots of other effective ways I could connect with my unconscious mind and make positive changes. Read more about how you can use your mind to heal your body here…
[We recognize that seeing a medical professional for issues concerning the bowel is difficult for many people, for some it’s fear and others embarrassment. We’ve included some information below regarding the examination procedure and why it is so beneficial to be seen by a doctor sooner rather than later – Tina Shaw.]
IBS is a common problem but if it happens to you it seems like more than an irritation and can cause some embarrassing moments. Sufferers often respond well to different things dietary changes, exercise, relaxation and stress reduction, and sometimes medication or any combination of these. It is however crucial that before looking for ways to manage the IBS, checks are made to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other potentially more serious causes of bowel disorder.
The “red flags” that everybody should watch out for are:-
- Family history of cancer at a premature age (under 50)
- Bleeding-this is commonly haemorrhoids (piles) but never assume.
- Weight loss
- Altered bowel habit.
Any of these require a medical check. If you or someone you know has such symptoms visit the GP. Ignore the Jonas; there is always somebody ready with horror stories about the checks. It is always better to be safe than sorry and at best you will be reassured that you’re OK.
If you do need investigations don’t worry, it’s not that bad. Unlike the television drama advert it is not a shoulder held video recorder, it’s a tiny camera on a flexible tube called a scope.
Apart from natural anxiety about an unknown procedure many people feel embarrassed about examinations of the more intimate parts of the body. It seems very personal and private to you but rest assured to the endoscopy unit staff it’s just a standard process and there is no need at all to feel embarrassed. Having said that the staff all know that if it was them they would probably feel exactly the same, so you’ll find them very understanding. There is always the patient’s friend “sedation” if you can’t handle things without help.
Of course the thing most people are scared of is “The Big C” cancer. Nobody wants to tell you that’s what you have; but if it is; we want to be able to say; “but it’s easily dealt with”.
Often cancers start from a polyp in the bowel which, if left for a period of 10-15 years, may become malignant and form a tumour (cancer). If found before this happens it can simply be lassoed; removed by a wire loop down the scope. If you are intrigued you can watch it all on our “TV screen” or you can choose to simply ignore it and chat to the nurse who will happily hold your hand if that helps.
After the pathologist looks at the polyp you will be advised:-
- It is not of any relevance
- You need to be screened on a regular basis
- You need surgery to remove a part of your bowel.
Don’t be the one who ignores the warning signs. We hate having to tell you and your family that your life is at risk because you left it too late. View it as a safety check: Your very own M.O.T.
Information provided by Janet Flanagan RGN Endoscopy Nurse.