Diagnosed with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos, IBS, obsessive compulsive behaviors, anxiety, major depression, allergies, and much more, bizarre symptoms have been part of my life since I can remember. If I were to post my story in its entirety, we'd all be here for days. Many of you may remember me as the individual who was convinced they had alcoholic neuropathy after a weekend of binge drinking just before my 26th birthday (sounds laughable to me now, but I was absolutely convinced back then). My symptoms drove me to consider assisted suicide, which I openly posted about at one point. I'm certainly glad I didn't go that route. I went from wondering when I was going to lose my job as I could barely type from excruciating pain to now living a normal existence where pain has been left in the past. To sum it up, I've experienced the following over the course of many, many years: - Burning skin - Nerve pain (allodynia) - so severe that I could barely hold my phone, type on a keyboard, grip a doorknob, pet my cat, etc. - Altered sense of touch in my fingers and toes - not true numbness, but similar in the sense that the senstation touching an object feels different than before - Tingling (hands, arms, feet, legs, head, lips, etc.) - Extremely heavy and stiff limbs due to blood pooling and tension - Excessive sweating, especially - but definitely not limited to - my hands, feet, and armpits - Increased skin impressions/dents whenever any object (even light wrapping paper) gently touched my skin - skin impressions/dents are absolutely normal to a certain extent, but it was occurring much deeper and faster than ever before. Additionally, the skin impressions were sometimes very painful, such as when I'd sit on hard benches, rest my chin on my hand, grip pencils, cross my legs, etc. - Fingertips that wrinkled almost immediately in the shower, as well as upon gripping objects (even when they were not even slightly wet or cold) - Headaches - Dizziness - Nausea and vomiting - Dry eyes and mouth - Blurry vision - Red feet with bulging veins when walking - Occasional blood pooling and overly dilated blood vessels in hands when walking - Chronic fatigue/exhaustion - Increased need to use the bathroom - Significantly increased heart rate, especially upon standing (which was documented on a tilt table test as orthostatic intolerance) - Increased Raynaud's-like symptoms and vasospasms where standing for even a few seconds would result in deeply yellow and purple feet from vasoconstriction, and my digits would become numb and red in the cold - Cold hands and feet - Chemical sensitivity - I had to completely stop drinking alcohol, vaping, drinking sugary coffee with high amounts of caffeine, etc. for quite some time - Muscle spasms/twitching - Facial flushing - Dermatographia - Colorful genital discharge and terrible itching (this started when I was a teenager and years before I became sexually active. Still, I was tested for everything under the sun - nada!) - Sore throats - Tender muscles - Brain zaps and twitches, as well as electrical surges in my head - Severe anxiety, depression, and mood swings - Intense depersonalization and derealization - Emotional numbness - Bloating and stomach pain - Chronic fatigue - "Growing pains" - Inability to more quickly and appropriately recover from colds and flus, mononucleosis, medication withdrawal, etc. - Sensitivity to noise and light - Obsessive behaviors and rituals that began as a very young child, only to get worse (non-stop hand washing, blinking, circling the block a dozen times while driving to make sure I didn't hit anything, skin picking, etc.) - Major phobias (fear of leaving the house or going on field trips as a child due to fear of suffocating somewhere in public, swallowing solid food due to fear of choking, etc.) - Binge eating and drinking - And so many more I can't even remember at this point. Ultimately, I've experienced a great deal of the following symptoms: http://www.anxietycentre.com/anxiety-symptoms.shtml (Anxiety Symptoms and Signs - Over 100 listed.) All of the above symptoms were indeed caused by emotions, and were able to be overcome by: - Understanding that "TMS" = powerful emotions (fear, anxiety, anger, etc.) - it is NOT an actual health condition, and should NOT be treated as though the body has a true problem (example = focusing way too much on "bad neural pathways that need fixing") - Recognizing that every single individual on the planet experiences "TMS"/emotionally-driven health symptoms at some point, whether it's a simple eye twitch or a headache when they're angry, or severe sympathetic nervous system dysfunction, fibromyalgia, CRPS, carpal tunnel, adrenal fatigue, etc. - Accepting that this is all a normal bodily process, and it does not mean anything is wrong with me; in fact, it's a natural response to powerful emotions and a sign the body is working perfectly and with my emotions - Understanding the concept of neuroplasticity and the fact that the brain is capable of rewiring and changing anytime - this was especially helpful for obsessive behaviors/rituals, anxiety, depression, mood swings, etc. That said, I really want to emphasize that one CANNOT get hung up on the concept of "bad neural pathways" - this type of thinking can lead one to believe there's something much worse and more permanent going on when there isn't - Accepting that eliminating symptoms may take time, and not setting a date on healing. That said, I also had to understand that the unexpected can happen, and one shouldn't set themselves up for a self-fulfilling prophecy. If healing isn't instantaneous, accept that and don't be afraid; if healing happens more quickly, be open to it. Either way, you WILL GET BETTER - Letting go of the past (as opposed to dwelling on it and trying to analyze every single thing that's ever happened to me in my life) and living in the moment with happiness by smiling, visualization and meditation, calm breathing, and focusing on events I was looking forward to - Refraining from spending copious amounts of time reading about "TMS" and not actually living my life - Not allowing myself to browse health forums or websites focused on structural health issues, or where the general membership did not have a positive outlook on the ability to fully recover from emotionally driven symptoms (including TMS threads that were not hopeful) - Reinforcing to my mind that I am healthy, unafraid of symptoms, and cannot be influenced anymore - Similar to the above, living each day of my life without fearing the symptoms and obsessing over them - Reminding myself that powerful emotions can prevent our bodies from healing after structural injuries, medication withdrawals, sickness, etc. We create healing neurotransmitters when we are balanced - Believing in my body's natural ability to heal and reminding myself that good health is definitely possible, even with Ehlers-Danlos - Creating a reality and a life where I felt good about myself and my future - Not focusing on healing 24/7 and instead loving life, regardless of whether I was experiencing symptoms that particular day or not - Starting a new routine that made me feel like I had a new life and a chance to separate myself from past ruts - Addressing all thoughts of doubt by reminding myself that my body will heal once its relaxed and balanced again - Interacting with positive members who have healed and believed in my ability to heal, too - Understanding that not everyone is going to have the same exact symptoms as me, and some of the symptoms nobody else appears to have experienced or at least discussed openly are still caused by emotions - despite a lack of available information - Reading stories about individuals with "structural" conditions who healed or went into remission and realizing that the vast majority of them cited a fighting attitude and positive way of living - Loving and appreciating myself, and expressing daily gratitude for everything that makes me happy Healing is possible for everyone. Stay away from anyone who says otherwise, and don't take advice from naysayers. It's imperative that you do not take advice from members who are yet to heal themselves, and remember that someone else's struggle does not have to become your reality as well. Many of us have healed, and so can you. I want to make it very clear that I do not agree with many of my earlier posts, specifically the ones that focused far too much on my Ehlers-Danlos, whether certain chemicals can aggravate "TMS," etc. I receive many messages from members who appear to have gone through my entire post history, and it's disheartening when they take every single word I've ever said as the gospel truth because I'm now healed. Please don't - I was very lost when I started to become more engaged on these forums, and my post history is far from perfect. I'm now of the belief that the mind affects the overall state of the body in ways we don't even comprehend just yet. I strongly believe that the mind plays a role in the development of many health issues, including a wide number of diseases that are considered structural and/or difficult to cure. I went to some of the greatest doctors in the world - Chicago Peripheral Nerve Center, University of Chicago, Mayo Clinic, etc. I've had almost every test you can imagine performed: small fiber nerve biopsies, MRI, sweat tests, tilt table test, neurotransmitter level test (urine), cortisol level test (saliva), Ehlers-Danlos genetic test, blood tests for autoimmune disorders, Doppler ultrasound, EKG, EEG, etc. These are only a fraction of the tests. I've come to realize that it's 100% possible to have every single symptom of a disease, but to not actually have the disease. This includes the neuropathy I just don't have. It's also possible to have a congenital disorder like Ehlers-Danlos, but for emotions magnify the symptoms by a million. Emotions can affect all the nerves and tissues in our body, creating endless symptoms. But stress-related symptoms are reversible, no matter how long you've experienced them. TMS, conversion disorder, overactive sympathetic nervous system, overactive amygdala, central sensitization, functional neurological disorder, etc. These are all terms that ultimately point to the same thing - symptoms caused by emotions. Nothing more. To sum it up, the trick for my situation was to go back out and truly live life again, without fear or obsession. Focus on a happy future, believe you're already healed, stop trying to be perfect, don't get too caught up in the whole "I have to analyze my entire life" way of thinking, and remember that nothing is permanent. As Steve Ozanich wisely told me: To the multiple members who reached out to me when I was struggling, thank you for your love and support during my darkest days. To the members who are still struggling today, I hope my story has provided encouragement to you.