Hi KH! Glad you stopped in to give an update! First, let me say that I believe you are "stuck" in the typical IBS anxiety cycle. It goes like this: a. You have a normal life b. You start having "belly" problems c. You have a few "incidents" that are unnerving, embarrassing, and surprising d. You start to get anxious about more incidents occurring if you leave the house. e. Your anxiety about leaving the house provokes belly troubles f. You become fearful of leaving the house and every time you try, the gut acts up.
We've all been through this. This is the point in the IBS syndrome where the docs tell us it's all "stress" related. While anxiety and stress does not cause the IBS, the subsequent nervousness can and will bring on attacks, unfortunately.
When I am not exhausted and worn down from days and days of pain, I will FORCE myself to go out of the house. Yes, there have been "incidents". Yes, I've had to tell people about my gut issues. Yes, I've had to locate bathrooms all over the city so that I can be sure I always have a place to stop in an emergency. However, if you cave in to your fears, you will NEVER leave your house and that will, eventually, cause depression and even more belly troubles.
Look at it this way: What is the worst thing that might happen? If you take your dog for a walk to the corner, you might have to race home to the toilet. You might have a slight accident in your pants (I know, it sounds like a horror!). But you will survive and trust me, you'll get better at knowing if that urgency you describe is actually an impending poop or just a gassy teaser.
As for the remedies you mentioned, I can share my experience. Peppermint tea did nothing for my spasms but really irritated my acid reflux problem. If you have any indigestion or heartburn issues, you will probably not be able to tolerate this tea. Some have found fennel tea beneficial. I've tried it. Sometimes it helps a bit. Usually not.
Anti-depressants did nothing for me. But there are quite a few members who have found them helpful. As you said, the side effects and the overall psychological impact of these drugs are, for me, too formidable to justify taking them for any reason.
Anti-anxiety drugs were very, very helpful for me. But I took benzodiazapines, which are extremely addictive. Unfortunately, they are just a short term remedy. If you don't have a predisposition to addiction, you might want to consider taking them for a brief time and only as needed. They might help you get over the initial hump of getting out the door.
Carbonated drinks are a no-no.
Chicken broth is just good food. I drink it when I'm having bad spasms because it goes down easy. I also think the fat in homemade broth is really good for someone like me who tends toward C.
I would suggest some complex carbs like brown rice, barley, steel cut oats for you. If you are leaning in the direction of D, they might help bulk up the stool. You might also consider a fiber supplement like Benefiber.