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Interstitial Cystitis and Shame: 4 Ways Manage These Negative Feelings

Updated: Dec 7, 2022

Written by Beverly Leveque, RD and edited by Callie Krajcir, RD.

I grew up in a household where every ache or pain was blamed on my actions. I can still hear my mother’s response in my head. “It is because you shouldn’t have eaten that OR it is because you shouldn’t have been doing that?”

Hurt your toe? “Well you shouldn’t have been outside without shoes.”

Stomach ache? “Well you shouldn’t have eaten all those cookies!”

True as these statements may be, they are damaging to the psyche and to your relationship with food. The truth doesn’t always have to be judgemental.

Does this scenario sound familiar? Do you play a version of this in your head every time an interstitial cystitis (IC) flare comes on? What about when you eat something that is not on the IC diet list?

So many of us get caught in a bad cycle of shaming and blaming ourselves for actions that are pleasurable and totally part of being human. In my older and wiser years, I have given this bad habit a funny nickname - The Shame and Blame Game. Now, when that negative voice comes on in my head - I can just say, "Not that game again!"

But it is not always that easy. How do we break the cycle of shame and blame? We know deep down inside that we cannot achieve perfection. We make mistakes, we seek pleasure, we have cravings and ultimately, we are only human beings with flaws.

So, as the saying goes, GIVE YOURSELF SOME GRACE. Here are some ideas to try.

1. Speak kindly to yourself

When you speak kindly to yourself, you can change your thought patterns and self-belief.

Instead of “I know I shouldn’t have eaten that!”

Try “I will make a note to be cautious with that food next time.”

Instead of “I hate that I can’t have X or Y to drink.”

Try “I am thankful that I have over 25 delicious and healthy mocktails to drink!” (Shameless plug for the IC Party Apps & Mocktails cookbook.)

Instead of “My IC symptoms are ruining my life!”

Try “Thank you IC symptoms for showing me how tough or strong I can be!.”

2. Show yourself compassion

Take action to relieve your suffering. You wouldn’t shame your pet dog or cat when they are sick, so why shame yourself? Show yourself the same care and compassion that you would to a young child or animal. Take a break, enjoy a warm bath, put on soothing music, treat yourself to a massage, or ask your partner or friend for a hug.

3. Forgive yourself

I have never met someone who was perfect. Being human means that we learn from our mistakes. Being human means that we are motivated by what feels and tastes good. And, yes, that can lead us to make choices that we sometimes regret. It is okay to feel sad and remorseful for our actions BUT only if we can also learn that it is okay to forgive and forget.

4. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

In the era of social media, we are surrounded by everyone's seemingly awesome lives. Hardly anyone shares their day-to-day struggles, their ugly pictures, albeit, their REAL life! It is an unfair game to compare others “outsides” to your “insides”. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Try to focus on your own strengths and blessings in life. The real truth is that everyone struggles with something at some point in their life: fear, grief, loss, illness, poverty - no one is spared.

We hope this post helps you take a step back and re-frame your mindset about your IC journey. Inside the Road to Remission program, the R2R community of over 60 women bond in a safe virtual environment to support and lift each other up on support calls and in our private Facebook group. It is a powerful atmosphere that focuses on compassion, forgiveness and empowerment. You don’t have to suffer alone.

To find out more about joining the Road to Remission program, click here. If you are interested in joining our community, click "Apply Now".

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