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Living with chronic pain and anxiety

Laura Marie Kerr from Ballymena
Laura has struggled with anxiety and IBS for years, but since the beginning of the pandemic she has channelled her frustration with both into an Instagram page that is helping her and others like her.

A self-confessed 'chronic and iconic' 20-something, she posts about everything from the negative impact of toxic relationships to how to soothe a bloated tummy during an IBS flare up.

She wears BE HAPPY on her wrist as a reminder to herself that she can feel better, even when things are at their worst.

Ivy & Gold bracelets saying Be Happy 

Trigger warning - this blog post discusses mental ill health. 

"I bought my BE HAPPY bracelet at around the same time that I started my Instagram account.

Both were things I hoped would help me feel a wee bit better at what was really not a very good time for me.

Something that's always helped me is just to get it all out, share, journal, write it down, whatever. So that's why I turned to Instagram.

I wanted to show people that you shouldn't be ashamed of suffering with your mental or physical health.

Obviously IBS isn't really something that a lot of people are open about, especially younger people on Instagram, because, well poo, but I thought it was important that it was talked about and not just on faceless accounts or by doctors.

I don't think a lot of people know what it's like living with a condition like this and people who do sometimes try to hide and get on with it, but that can cause even more stress for the person who is suffering.

I know, because I've been there.

Laura Marie Kerr

I don't have millions of followers, but it has been so nice because I now get messages from people who are going through similar things saying, ‘Thank you for sharing’ and that it has helped them.

I'm really passionate about self care, access to mental health resources and encouraging people to talk to someone when they feel low.

It has given me a real sense of purpose through the pandemic too.

Because of my IBS I suffer from chronic pain.

A stomach with a heat patch on and Panda teddy

What I mean by that is that there is ALWAYS a pain there. When I'm in a good place mentally it seems easier to deal with, but the dull ache remains.

A good day is when it's JUST that pain and there are no extra symptoms.

You do kind of get used to the pain but it affects other areas of your life.

Because of lockdown these situations don't come up as much but, in normal life, I struggle to keep plans with friends.

I'm normally hopeful that I'll be well enough to go, right up until the last minute and then just feel totally defeated by my body.

Being seen as flakey or someone who cancels plans is obviously not very good for relationships.

Even if I do manage to make it out I am in a constant panic worrying about what I'll do if I suddenly need to run to the toilet.

If I was out shopping with my mum I would need to know where the nearest bathroom was in case I needed to be sick.

At work my productivity is massively affected during a flare up. I can be in so much pain sometimes that I can't even sit on a chair.

It does really get to you. Even though you know you have to deal with it and try to work around it that struggle affects your mental health.

I suffer from anxiety too and have been in some really dark places with it during my 20s. In the past few years there have been times when my anxiety and my IBS have flared up and I very nearly didn't want to live anymore.

Luckily I have the most amazing family who are so supportive and always do their best to make me feel better if I'm down.

Laura Marie Kerr and her dad

Something my dad does is to send me wee messages saying 'be happy' every now and then.

He'll say: "It''ll be alright, be happy, it will be OK". Or when we're talking in real life he'll say, 'Bappy'.

He knows obviously it isn't as simple as that, but it does always make me smile.

I wanted to get the bracelet with that on it because it was something I could wear and see those words all the time.


£100 was donated to Pips suicide prevention charity as a thank you to Laura for sharing her story.

If you would like to share yours click here to get in touch.


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