In March 2015, my anxiety sky-rocketed around the time I got a stomach bug. Losing control of my bowels (in an ambulance, no less) made me feel completely out of control of my body. I couldn’t go anywhere without worrying my body would empty itself in my seat. The first thing I did whenever I entered a room was scan the area for the nearest bathroom. My fear of suddenly being unable to control my bowels or vomiting in public was paralyzing.
I stopped going to my favorite Starbucks because there was only one bathroom, and what if it was occupied when I needed it? I started to taking IMODIUM before every rugby game to avoid an on-pitch accident. I even started carrying a plastic shopping bag in my back pocket in case my stomach suddenly unleashed itself.
The stomach is a mirror of the mind, but I didn’t know which came first: the anxiety or the poop. Was I pooping myself because I was anxious, or was I anxious because I might poop myself? Either way, this combo was absolutely controlling.
I needed a solution. So I made a G.I. doctor appointment. I got blood work done, I gave a stool sample, and none of my tests revealed anything abnormal. So I did as the doctor advised; I vowed to eat more probiotics.
How was I going to do that? The last thing I wanted was the slippery, thick texture of probiotic foods and drinks sliding down my throat in the a.m. and while kefir, kombucha, and kimchi are also filled with probiotics, I try to avoid dairy and don’t load up on Korean food on the daily.
So, I turned to the next best thing: taking a probiotic supplement when I first wake up and when I go to bed.
Probiotics come with a laundry list of benefits: they boost the G.I tract, helping with both diarrhea and constipation, boost weight loss efforts, and even lower blood pressure. There is even a study that claims that probiotics can make our poop and lady-bits smell good.
My G.I. Doctor warned me that it could take anywhere from 4-6 weeks for the probiotic to take full effect, but within two weeks, my poop had shape for the first time in my life, my stomach grumbling had calmed down, and my stomach pain hadn’t sent me rushing to the toilet.
Within a month, the symptoms of my anxiety dramatically decreased. No more loose poops, embarrassing stomach grumbles, mid-day naps, constipation-cramps, or stress-acne. As the symptoms of my anxiety subsided, I had finally taken back control of my body, and that felt pretty freaking fantastic.