What to do about uncontrollable diarrhea

ktarr asks: I’m not sure if I have diarrhea. I go to poop quite a lot, and when I do my poop is runny, and watery. When I look at it I feel sick. Also sometimes this happens at school and I go in my pants by accident. Please help. I’m not going to tell my mum, because I’m scared as she’s upset about dad leaving her. She doesn’t care. And my tummy hurts a lot.

Hi ktarr –

Diarrhea has a number of different definitions, but the most common one is exactly what you have – runny, watery poops.  Especially if they’re frequent, and hard to control.  People and dogs get it pretty frequently, often from eating food that’s too spicy for their system, having more fruit than usual, or, of course, from some sort of digestive illness, like a flu.

So the literal answer to your question, ktarr, is yes, you have diarrhea.  But from what you say, I think there’s more concern than just that.

It sounds to me like you have a condition that’s probably brought on by stress.  You have two gigantic stressors in your life right now – your dad just left, and your mom is acting like she doesn’t care about you.  I imagine this is creating a lot more acid in your stomach, which makes it hurt a lot – and then all that acid goes down in your system and creates the diarrhea.  And then, as if all that weren’t bad enough, you’re getting even more stressed by the diarrhea itself, especially if you’re having trouble controlling your bowels and even having some accidents.

I’m just so sorry, ktarr, this sounds absolutely awful!  But there are definitely things we can do to change this.

First of all, you need to see a medical doctor.  If you have a regular physician, that’s great.  If you don’t, though, you need to see another, just to check and make sure you don’t have a true physiological problem with your bowels right now.  Who knows, you might just have a stomach flu that’s going to go away once the doc gives you a couple of pills!

But if that doctor finds that you don’t have a physical problem, then you absolutely need to see a therapist.  What you’re dealing with then is something called Encopresis, where the stress you’re experiencing in your life is making you have problems controlling your pooping.

Now if you’re right about your mom, she might not be in the mood to hear that you need help right now.  But your doctor should be able to explain this to her.

The truth is, I’m sure both of you could use some time in therapy, just to deal with the loss of your dad.  If right now you’re afraid to talk with her, that’s a really great sign that she needs to do some work with (I would imagine) all her anger, her hurt, her fears… tons and tons of emotions.

And that’s the amazing thing about bodies.  Sometimes they’re just smarter than we are.  You see, you couldn’t tell your mom about your feelings, but here your body is doing it for you!

The important thing, ktarr, is to get to that doctor right away.  And that’s for two reasons.  First, of course, I want you to get the help you need as soon as possible, whatever it is.  But second, I know that it would be far more stressful for you to have your mom find out about this problem by discovering an embarrassing spill, than for you to just say you’re having severe digestive problems and need to see the doctor right away.

Please let me know how it goes.  And thanks for your very open and honest question.  It’s questions like this that make me really proud of this website.

Good Luck my friend,



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