Studies show that most people are diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), typically 6.6 years after their symptoms begin. For Sophie*, a married mom of two in her 50s, her journey to a pain-free life took a lot longer, with many setbacks along the way. After 40 years of trying to manage IBS pain, starting in childhood, Sophie says her quality of life has never been higher. And after overcoming many obstacles and completing the Nerva program three times over, Sophie is as surprised as anyone that she is free to lead life on her own terms.

Childhood IBS 

“When I was just nine, I had a really hard year at school. I was getting awful stomach aches, and it was difficult to pass stools. It got to the point where I didn’t want to go to class. It was just bad all around. 

“My mom ended up taking me to the children’s hospital for 10 days. I had to deal with pH probes and endoscopies and every kind of test you could think of.

“In the end, they said to my mom, ‘Your daughter has a nervous stomach.’ She was told this is just where I carry my emotions. Admittedly, our first reaction was that’s pretty stupid. Then we thought, OK, whatever.” 

The pain of IBS

As she grew up, Sophie’s gut continued to trouble her with pain and blockages. And her anxiety had such a hold on her that it stopped her from living life on her terms.

“It’s hard to even quantify the impact it had on me. The pain was so intense it would stop me from going out with friends. I’d just want to stay home. It also kept me from going to the symphony or the movies, basically anywhere that required me to sit quietly. 

“My fears and the pain were always present—that’s what I hated the most. It was easier if I went out for a walk or was doing something active where I was distracted.

“But if an activity involves sitting…

“Three times I went on a trip with my family, and after flying home, my stomach would be a mess. My system would get blocked, and I’d have to go to the hospital.”

An IBS diagnosis

Sophie turned to her GP for advice who diagnosed her with IBS.

Her doctor recommended Sophie switch to a low FODMAP diet, which research has shown to improve symptoms like bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

“The diet was somewhat helpful, but I was still taking a lot of laxatives. From there, my problems would just wax and wane, but it was always hard. I didn’t have a great relationship with my stomach, and I continued to have a lot of pain and reflux. 

“Then, about five years ago, I started getting more blockages. That’s when things slowed to an absolute halt.

“It was hard for me as I’m an active person; I don’t just sit in front of my computer. I exercise regularly, and I have a lot of body awareness.”

Sophie soon turned to alternative practitioners for further help and guidance. 

“I found someone who does what I’d call bodywork. They would help release the tension physically in my gut. They were working on all of the little sphincter muscles, and I became really focused on teaching myself how to do it. I’d rub my stomach a lot and apply pressure and massage like I was taught. It did help a little bit. But it never really fixed the problem.

“So, I thought, whatever. This is just going to be the story of my life. And it's getting worse and worse, and I can't do anything about it.

“During this period, I only really visited doctors for emergencies. Sometimes I’d get a blockage, and I’d go to the ER. They’d give me a lot of fluids, and, of course, it would feel better for a while.”

A painful fissure

Things took a turn for the worse when Sophie developed a painful anal fissure.

“It was a really deep, awful fissure. It was right at the beginning of the global pandemic, and I didn’t go to the doctor because no one was going to the doctor during this time. I know I probably left it too long. It was excruciating—it was worse than childbirth! Eventually, I had to have a fissurectomy to remove the scar tissue.”

Sophie said the fissure was her turning point.

“I thought, ‘I can't do this anymore. Something’s got to give.’

“I returned home after recovering in rehab, and I knew the fissure was healing. I was given a drug that got rid of the nerve pain that I could feel in my ascending colon, and it was great for my anxiety too. But it didn’t help with the motility side of things, and I was still in constant pain.

“When I went back to my doctor, she wanted to operate and cut into my internal sphincter, which is higher and a muscle you can’t control. She wanted to just nick it a little to give it more room.

“I thought that sounded like a really bad idea. And that's when I knew I had to find something else.”

Quiz: Could hypnosis help you quit smoking?
Take the Quiz
Quit smoking with hypnotherapy
Calm cravings
Manage withdrawal symptoms
Science-backed
Quit Now
Evia Fact Sheet
Evia Fact Sheet
Evia Fact Sheet

Calm your IBS in 6 weeks

Take our free assessment to discover if Nerva can work for you.

✅ 89% success rate
✅ 50,000+ people helped
✅ Created by Dr Simone Peters
❌ No appointments or waitlists
❌ No drugs or diet change

Start

Hot Flash Relief

Manage your hot flashes in just 5 weeks.

✅ Science-backed & effective
✅ Natural & safe option
✅ Created by Dr Elkins
❌ No appointments or waitlists
❌ No medications

Learn more

Hypnotherapy

Unlock the power of your mind and embrace better health.

Find out how

Refer, monitor and grow

A free and easy way to refer patients to digital hypnotherapy programs.

Let's Connect
Take the IBS Quiz
Experiencing bloating? Gut pain? Diarrhea? Constipation? Take the quiz to see if your symptoms are consistent with IBS.
Take the quiz
Download your free guide to managing IBS with hypnotherapy
Calm IBS related pain
Break the stress-IBS cycle
Manage IBS symptoms without diets or drugs
Download Now
Calm IBS in 6 weeks
Take our free assessment to discover if hypnotherapy can work for you.
Diet and drug free program
50,000+ people helped
Created by Dr Simone Peters
Start assessment
Fix the miscommunication between your gut and brain
Manage IBS with gut-directed hypnotherapy
50,000+ people helped
A calmer gut and mind
Start free trial
Manage hot flashes in just five weeks
Hormone free
Low risk
Evidence based
Start Now
Manage hot flashes without hormones
App based
Low risk
Evidence based
Start Now
Sleep better, without hormones
App based
Low risk
Evidence based
Start Now
Receive your Clinician Pack
Full access to our apps, white papers, and more
Referral scripts with a 15% discount
Free discovery call with our health specialists
Get your pack now
Interested in hypnotherapy?
Learn how hypnotherapy works on the brain and how it is changing healthcare.
Find out how

Discovering hypnotherapy for IBS

Sophie was at a desperate point when she found Nerva and began gut-directed hypnotherapy for the first time.

“At this stage, I was willing to do anything. 

“I first came across Nerva on Instagram. I read that it was connected to Monash University and included information and guidance on FODMAPs. I could see it was the real thing.

“I completed the hypnotherapy program right the way through, and it started working for me towards the end. 

“Every time I do the Nerva program it gets better and better for me. I also do the breathing techniques I learned all the time.

“Now, I’m fine. And this has been an issue for me for 40 years. That’s a long time!”

Taming flare-ups

Sophie said she has the occasional IBS-related flare-up if she’s away from home or out of her usual routine.

“I think your anxiety rises a bit when you go out of town, and you’re eating different foods. Or maybe you’re sitting down or standing up more than you usually do. Even if it’s excitement, my body might not know the difference.

“I’ll try to stop and think about what I’ve learned from Nerva. It takes me a few days to get over a flare-up and feel better, but I can usually breathe my way out of it.”

Sophie said she knew early on in her journey the role her mental health played with her gut and understood the importance of putting strategies like these in place.

“I figured out when I was younger that how I felt at certain points in time was connected to how my stomach was feeling. I noticed that when I was tightly wound or anxious, it was hard to step back, see the bigger picture, and address what was happening.”

A pain-free life

Sophie happily reports that her pain has now diminished so drastically she barely feels it. 

“If I had to rate my pain out of 10, I’d say it’s maybe 0.5? I wouldn’t even call it pain. I rarely get flare-ups now, which is when my pain would go up to about a six out of 10.

“Since I completed the Nerva program, I can't overemphasize enough that I feel like I have a new lease on life. I'm just so happy. I had come to realize how pain had become part of my psyche.” 

Sophie is also happy to share that her diet is now free from limitations—and anxiety.

“I can eat whatever I want. Though every time I eat some cheese, I still think to myself, ‘This isn’t going to end well.’ But then I don’t end up having a problem with it. I can’t believe that. Cheese is great! Cherries are also abundant where I live, and I can eat as many as I want. Before I could handle maybe two, and it would inevitably lead to a lot of pain.” 

IBS? What IBS?

Sophie said one of the most important things Nerva taught her was where to direct her focus.

“The program teaches you not to focus on your autonomic nervous system; it just needs to do its job.

“But honestly, there are so many women my age where all we talk about is our stomachs! It’s so common. 

“And when the pandemic started, it just made everyone anxious, and then I’d hear about that all the time too. It made me think, no wonder so many people are now gluten intolerant or can’t drink milk anymore. It feels like we all carry so much stress in our stomachs, and we tend to go all-in focusing on that.

“However, I never talk about my gut anymore—my brain doesn’t go there. It isn’t so deeply attached to the thoughts I used to have about it all the time. I’d wake up thinking about it. I’d think about my stomach every time I ate, mostly worrying about how it was going to end horribly for me. I can’t say enough how great it has been not to have that as my focus anymore.”

Taking control of IBS

“Now, being able to do whatever I want, I would rate the quality of my life as 10 out of 10, which is just amazing. Not to brag or anything, but my life really is the best it’s ever been. Maybe I should score it nine out of 10? Actually, no. I’m giving myself a solid 10—I deserve it!” 

Sophie said taking control of her health is what changed the game.

“For anyone else going through something similar, know that solving this issue is so empowering.”

*Name changed


Contents

Calm IBS in 6 weeks

Take our free assessment to discover if Nerva can work for you.

✅ 89% success rate
✅ 50,000+ people helped
✅ Created by Dr Peters

Hot Flash Relief

Manage your hot flashes in just 5 weeks.

✅  Scientifically proven
✅  Natural & safe option
✅  Created by Dr Elkins

Learn more

Hypnotherapy

Unlock the power of your mind and embrace better health.

Find out more

Refer, monitor and grow

A free and easy way to refer patients to digital hypnotherapy programs.

Let's Connect
Could it be IBS?
Take the quiz to find out.
Free guide to managing IBS with hypnotherapy
Calm IBS in 6 weeks
Diet and drug free program
50,000+ people helped
Created by Dr Simone Peters
Manage IBS with gut-directed hypnotherapy
Start free trial
Sleep better, without hormones
App based
Low risk
Evidence based
Manage hot flashes in just five weeks
Start Now
Manage hot flashes without hormones
App based
Low risk
Evidence based
Refer, monitor and grow
A free and easy way to refer patients to digital hypnotherapy programs.
Get your pack now
Interested in hypnotherapy?
Learn how hypnotherapy works on the brain and how it is changing healthcare.
Find out how
Quiz: Could hypnosis help you quit smoking?
Take the Quiz
Quit smoking with hypnotherapy
Find out how hypnotherapy can help manage your cravings and quit smoking for good.
Quit Now