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bowel difficulty affecting mood & cognition?


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I know there's already the poop thread elsewhere but I think my question would either be a distracting threadjack or just get lost in such a big thread.  Sorry, the backstory is a bit long here.

 

No matter how much fiber I eat, how much water I drink, sleep, do/don't get, exercise, several times tried eliminating most carbs/meat/dairy, tried fiber supplements, stool softeners, etc., etc., etc, I am chronically constipated.  I have always been like that.  I thought the psych meds might have been making it worse but I'm off all those for now (long story + insurance interruption = separate conversation from this.)

 

So every few days when it cycles around to getting bad again, I feel physically lethargic and my lower belly feels bloated and "stiff".  It affects how I do my job partly because teaching in my acadeimic field is physically demanding (in front of an "audience", no less) so having a "stiff" feeling abdomen makes me move stiffly and just feel like a clumsy, disgusting, incompetently self-conscious piece of shit.  Pun intended.

 

The bigger problem is that the constipation also makes me feel extremely foggy-headed and irritable.  I just can't think.  And my reactions to things/people are far less likely to auto-respond as nicely.  I don't have time to do the typical "walk away, take a deep breath, and wait 10 seconds" things to conjure up nicer or smarter alternative answers.  Fast-paced classrooms full of 15-30 people with individuals constantly asking face-to-face questions don't allow for constant "let me get back to you on that one..." responses.  I can't "reschedule" performing demonstrations.

 

I almost always feel immediately better after pooping out the offending rocky boulders.  My head fog clears up, I feel lighter and much more energetic, and I feel so much nicer and charitable to everyone.  I also feel like an ass for the preceding period of misery.  And I feel anxiously pressed to make up for the lost time of that period of inefficiency.  I feel compelled to and obsessed with workaholic tendencies partly from guilt over inefficient working practices during crappy-feeling times.  

 

I also can't predict when I'll have "good energy" that spurs getting good work done so I work on crazy irregular schedules.  If I poop at midnight and I magically feel great again at that point, I am so desperate to take advantage of that fleeting mental/physical clarity that I pull all-nighters to milk it.  Which gets important things done but of course fucks up the rest of my week in other ways

 

Things have been happening in my life lately that are highlighting the increasingly negative effects of this problem.  

 

It has also been a complicating underlying factor in Dx/Rx-ing MI issues.  I really can't tell what's causing emotional/mood problems and I can't see very clearly what the meds do/don't help.

 

One of my questions simply is: Does this happen to anyone else here?

 

Question #2:  What other kinds of constipation relief strategies have people here tried?

 

I can't afford to see any doctors right now.  Even if I did, I couldn't really expect much meaningful help from a one-off public clinic visit or such a temporary doctor-patient relationship.  I'm totally uninsured until September.  (thanks to the brilliant minds that put adjuncts everywhere in these kinds of healthcare situations.)

 

Question #3:  Do you have suggestions for particular user-freindly yet flexible mood/food/menstrual tracker iPhone apps?  Or suggestions for setting up an effective written system in a small notebook or dayplanner?

 

I've never been able to keep a regular diary or even diligently maintain my calendar despite dozens of tries over years.  Its a weird lapse in my otherwise demonstrated abilities to build and stick to all kinds of organizational systems.  I don't understand why its so elusive.  There were so many tracker apps in the iTunes store that I got overwhelmed and have to ask here if anyone has tried any of them.  I don't sit at a computer all day so it has to be mobile and discrete.

 

OK, sorry that this had to be so long.  I'm just really frustrated and trying to put all this stuff in writing for the first time.  Thanks in advance to anyone who can offer some commiseration or advice.

Edited by CirclesOfConfusion
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I can answer questions 1 and 2 ...

 

1.  What you described sounds like when I was in hell before I was diagnosed with IBS (irritable bowl syndrome).  Once I was diagnosed with that, eventually I was put on medication that solved the problem. 

 

2.  Before the medication, I tried a lot also, but found that LOWER fiber helped.  Also miralax helped, and the DR said to take it every 2-3 days (I wouldn't recommend this though unless DR supervised because it is more than the recommend amount).

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Metamucil

 

Metamucil

 

Metamucil

 

NOT the biscuits but the orange powder which takes vaguely like orange juice.  It is very drinkable and it is not expensive.  Try it!

 

It is totally distracting and uncomfortable to be constipated.  I feel like I can hardly function which is probably an over reaction, but really I hate it.

 

There are also these suppositories for when you are desperate.

Edited by bpladybug
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Thanks for the replies, interesting that you have totally opposite personal experiences with fiber quantities.

 

My difficulties definitely seem to go from "bad" (when eating more than average fiber) to "worse" (the same amount of fiber that people around me seem to be consuming) to "ridiculously worse" when I am either depressed or super busy since both result in poor diet choices.

 

I'm leaning toward trying out the fiber supplement route again and keeping track of its effects (or lack thereof) so I have something to show a doc when I can finally see one again.  I've never been to see a gastro doc.  I'll have to ask a GP for a referral.  

 

FWIW, I tried both Metamucil and Citrucel drink powders before but maybe I didn't get the specific right variety for me.  There were several varieties of both brands and I only tried a couple.  Maybe I just didn't stick with it regularly enough?

 

I've tried other laxative brands but not specifically Miralax.  It seems logical to give the OTC version a try sometime. 

 

I've also never tried the suppository delivery format.  I really do feel desperate enough to go that route sometimes.  Lately its not a matter of if but when.  It sounds like a logical idea to have some on hand for the next time it gets to that point.

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i don't know what to recommend for meds (they gave me fizzy liquid stuff in the hospital but i forget what, now i just eat a ridiculous amount of fiber).  but i wanted to say that i get the same mood reactions.  i'm really glad you posted this because i've always been too embarassed to mention it.  sometimes i feel like i'm really losing it, then after going to the bathroom my mood completely changes.  it's not just a sense of relief.  it's like someone just gave me a fast-acting antidepressant.  all my serotonin production must happen in my lower intestines or something...

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I am there with you, sister/brother. Constipation is my middle name. 

 

I literally feel the exact same as you when constipated. Down to the foggy headed-ness and irritability. 

 

I also get a burst of energy after pooping, like I magically feel lighter and more free! Pooping is a beautiful thing, not to be taken for granted!

 

I remember when I took trazodone. It bunged me up so much I shat three times in three months. THREE TIMES. Not healthy. 

 

Anyway, some things to try:

 

  • Miralax!!!! This has SAVED MY LIFE when I thought I was going to keel over and die from constipation. 

 

  • Metamucil!!! But BE CAREFUL. Too much fibre can actually make you more constipated. 

 

  • Stimulant laxitives like Ducolax or suppositories: Work pretty well, but if you're impacted, it can cause stool to just move around the mass and diarrhea just comes out. That is a sign of trouble. 

If you are ever constipated but having diarrhea, that's a sign you're impacted and you need to go to the doctor/ER. 

 

Here is a beautiful link: http://jezebel.com/5485871/the-readers-treasury-of-constipation-cures

 

The link is full of constipation cures to ease your woes. :)

 

Luckily, I now have a regular bowel schedule, I don't know how, but I do. And I'm thanking God everyday for it. 

 

Oh, one more thing: Try to go poop at least once every day at the same time every day. This will get your body (and mind) in the habit of trying to poop on a schedule, which is healthy. You may not poop every time, that's normal. Not everyone poops daily. As well, NEVER ignore the urge to go. This just makes problems worse. I also find massaging my belly makes gas come out, which can make pooping easier. 

 

Good luck, my friend. 

Edited by Parapluie
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Why did it take me so effing long to ask these kinds of questions?  I'm so glad we can all actually have a conversation about this shared problem.  It sucks sooooo bad to feel like I can't accomplish something as basic as pooping properly.  It can be pretty hard to pull my self esteem out of depressive/anxious hellholes when I can't even do basic things like this very successfully.

 

i don't know what to recommend for meds (they gave me fizzy liquid stuff in the hospital but i forget what, now i just eat a ridiculous amount of fiber).  but i wanted to say that i get the same mood reactions.  i'm really glad you posted this because i've always been too embarassed to mention it.  sometimes i feel like i'm really losing it, then after going to the bathroom my mood completely changes.  it's not just a sense of relief.  it's like someone just gave me a fast-acting antidepressant.  all my serotonin production must happen in my lower intestines or something...

Yes!  Pooping is like some ass-backward magical PRN mood stabilizer for me too!  And recently I actually did stumble on some studies saying that there is serotonin production in the gut and that that production site is finally getting some serious research attention.  

 

Oh, one more thing: Try to go poop at least once every day at the same time every day. This will get your body (and mind) in the habit of trying to poop on a schedule, which is healthy. You may not poop every time, that's normal. Not everyone poops daily. As well, NEVER ignore the urge to go. This just makes problems worse. I also find massaging my belly makes gas come out, which can make pooping easier. 

Thanks for the link!  And your Trazodone experience sounds absolutely horrible.  Glad you're doing much better now :)

 

Thanks for the above ^^^ suggestion too.  That sounds like a really sensible thing to try.  Duh, why didn't I think of that myself?  Oddly, I actually have pretty strong early childhood memories of my mom trying exactly that strategy with me waaaay back then.  She says that she'd leave me to sit in the bathroom with a glass of water and a little footstool to prop up my feet for so long (without me actually managing to poop) that I'd start singing every preschool song I knew, repeatedly.  :blink:  It just occurred to me that maybe that's why my childhood afternoon snacks were rarely along the milk'n'cookies route, but usually stuff like granola bars and V8 juice and little baggies of dried apricots and prunes... rather unusual choices to give a preschooler back in 1980.

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they gave me fizzy liquid stuff in the hospital

 

 

 

the fizzy stuff was probably magnesium citrate.  I have taken this before and even though it tastes terrible it works.  It cleans you out.  Sometimes gastro DRs have patients use it before procudures.

 

  • Metamucil!!! But BE CAREFUL. Too much fibre can actually make you more constipated.

 

 

^THIS.  This is what I have to be careful about.

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I bought both the metamucil and miralax.  I portioned out a smaller jarful of metamucil and a couple packets of miralax (I bought the single-dose kind) to keep at work since I spend more time there than at home.  

 

I already eat way more than the FDA "recommended daily allowance" of fiber so hopefully I don't need tons of metamucil.  Since my schedule is so chaotic, its hard enough to remember stuff like that even once a day.  If I have to take it multiple times then the chances of me being able to faithfully stick with it drop dramatically.

 

Its been a couple years since I last tried going the metamucil route.  And I think that was before I drastically reduced my dairy intake by about 1/2.  Cutting out milk, subbed with almond milk now, almost totally eliminated my gas problem and slightly helped the constipation (but that's obviously still a major problem).  Maybe now that the dairy issue is under control I'll have a better result from trying metamucil again?

 

I just really really really want to do what I can to get rid of this extra layer of mental symptom clutter caused by the constipation so that when I get my insurance reestablished in September I can deal more directly with the REAL mental issues.  Depending on which way the academic winds blow, a.k.a. its a crapshoot, I might only have the insurance til January 15 before having my ass hanging out in the wind again.  

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A couple of thoughts came to mind:

 

I get very constipated from wheat.  Have you tried cutting out wheat?

 

My hubby, who wins the constipation award in my town, eats prunes constantly.  And I mean constantly.  He used to use flax seed.  My doctor said to buy the whole seeds, grind them in a coffee grinder and eat immediately.  Maybe not quick relief, but adds more fiber.

 

And maybe I missed this, but what are your meds?  I have had IBS for years and years and years.  I gave up wheat, then I gave up dairy. It got better but still lingered until, accidentally, I discovered that AMBIEN was causing the IBS. I know this is not in the books and could not find much information on this anywhere which is why it took me years to figure out.  As soon as I quit Ambien my time on the potty decreased at least 85%. And gas?  Totally and completely left.

 

Last but certainly not least, water.  Are you drinking water constantly?

 

oh yes, an Excellent link:

An Integrative Approach for Treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome

 

 

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The last few months I've been much more consistent about drinking plenty of clear fluids, mostly water or mugicha http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mugicha.  I've gotten in the habit of taking a mason jar of mugicha to drink during my commute and a larger quart jar to take to class.  Then I have 1/2 gallon pitchers of both cold water and mugicha in the fridges at work and home.  In colder weather (well, it doesn't get very cold relatively speaking) I drink a teapot's worth of decaf herbal tea in the evening instead of continuing cold drinks.  Mostly peppermint, chamomile, and decaf chai.

 

A few days of 2x/day metamucil, extra veggies, etc. have produced enough "goods" to avoid having to take anything more aggressive like the miralax for now.  But this has been a much less busy few days than usual.  

 

Have any of you found any significant functional difference between generic and name brand metamucil, miralax, or any other products?  There certainly seems to be a big price difference.

 

@Water:

Thanks for the link!  I bookmarked it to re-read again since it was a lot to digest (oh, the puns :dunce:).  I think I mentioned it earlier, but I'm off all meds for the moment.  Long complicated story.  

 

I used to eat a lot of prunes (luckily I really like them) but got out of the habit at some point.  They're also super easy to tote around and eat on the go so I should add that back to my default food list.  I have to eat on the run a lot, either driving or on my feet, when work is in full swing.  

 

About the wheat, I haven't yet tried totally eliminating it but I have been slowly phasing it out by substituting in a more diverse range of other carbs, especially beans, legumes, nuts, quinoa, and lots of sweet potatoes.  I've also been experimenting with cutting my baking flour 50/50 with rice flour since about a year ago.  And I've been subbing polenta and gnocchi for pasta most of the time for the past year or so too.  At least it kinda helps that I have a relatively low-ish ingrained bread & pasta habit because I was raised with rice, raw tofu, and sweet potatoes as my primary starches at home.  

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I personally have found no difference between brand name or generic fiber.  When you think about it, it's fiber, it's literally designed to be filler.  I don't have a drop of sweat's worth of anxiety getting the generic.

 

Make sure you're not increasing your fiber intake too quickly.

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Ugh.  :cussing:  I've been stopped up again for 5 days despite beginning to phase in some of the suggestions everyone gave me here.  Hopefully it gets better once my body is more fully adjusted to some of the newer things I'm trying to condition myself into.  The bloating is super uncomfortable and I've been getting increasingly lethargic, foggy, and grouchy again.  

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I don't have medical insurance again until September so I can't really see docs of any sort until then.  Gastro is on my list of new specialists to ask gdoc about a referral when I get re-enrolled.  So I've started perusing the online list of in-network docs to get an idea of who/where this might involve. 

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