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Christmas Pain Flares

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Huckleberry, Dec 25, 2016.

  1. Huckleberry

    Huckleberry Well known member

    FFS, I promised myself that I would never post on an internet help forum on Christmas Day.

    Anyway, what the hell is it that causes such awful f***ing pain flares over the Christmas period? I remember the same thing happening to me over Christmas 2014 when I had a flare on Christmas Day and Boxing Day that was probably the worse my pain ever was. As soon as Christmas past it seemed to settle down and I had a good few months of just low back burner niggling.

    Last Christmas I didn't have any issues with pain at all but this Christmas and wham the bugger has landed with with avengence. I think the background to this started about 3 weeks ago. I haven't worked for a number of reasons for a couple of years now and I decided to do a temporary Christmas job just in the run up to Christmas. My back pain (and IBS, chest discomfort and dizzy feeling) all started to ramp up slightly in the days preceding the start of the job. I started the job and was actually enjoying it (that was my belief on a conscious level anyway) but the job was far more physical than I had thought and this was just too painful for my back. I had to wrap the job after a couple of days and this affected me quite badly as I felt I had let my family down and also concerned me as to what sort of jobs I would be able to carry out in the future.

    The pain flare subsided somewhat but the back burner level was slightly higher than normal but in the few days in the run up to today I could feel it intensified...lo and behold Christmas Eve and even more so today I have experienced another large pain flare, I'm not hopeful I'm going to be waking up,with it any the better tomorrow. It is all so bizzarre....as people on here may be aware I do have a neuroma which may be causing me pain or may be purely incidental (it's not grown in 3 years) but how the hell does a structural issue know that it's Christmas Day and decides to kick up the pain levels, surely if you have a structural issue the pain levels should be relatively stable given that the causation wouldn't be changing. It just doesn't make sense that certain periods of the years should effect anything in that way.

    It is strange as on a conscious level I can't see why Christmas should be a problem for me but for this to happen 2 times in the last 3 years seems incredibly coincidental. I do tend to think about the loss of my mother of Christmas and I've also noticed I've been having very lucid and quite strange dreams over the last few weeks...I've actually noticed a pattern that these lucid dreams do seem to happen around the times of these ramped up pain flares.

    Anyway, thanks for taking the time and read and any thoughts or comments will be great fully accepted.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2016
    Saoirse likes this.
  2. pigeonnn444

    pigeonnn444 Newcomer

    Hi Huckleberry. i'm sorry you're having a rough day, I am too :(. for the past 4 years, since my pain started, I have also noticed it always gets worse around this time of year. I suspect it may have to do with the fact that it's made out to be a cheerful and happy time but it's harder to enjoy things if you're in any degree of pain, and that sadness/frustration in turn triggers even more pain. Since you lost your mother around this time it certainly makes sense that your mind would express that sadness with physical pain to distract you from a very painful emotion.
    You asked how a structural abnormality could "know" it's Christmas and, I think you kind of hit the nail on the head there-- it can't. The increased pain isn't due to anything structurally wrong, it's TMS and repressed emotions rearing their unfortunate heads. The fact you're having these dreams also supports that there is an emotional component. I know it's hard but the most important thing is to remember and truly believe the pain is not physical but is TMS. I'm sorry you're suffering today and I can empathize as the holidays used to make me so happy and full of life as a kid/teenager and it's so hard to not be able to enjoy them like I used to. wishing you a better tomorrow :cat:
    Saoirse likes this.
  3. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Found this quote from JK Rowling about Christmas and thought I'd share:

    J.K. Rowling tweeted a heartfelt, 12-part Christmas message Saturday. The Harry Potter author and Twitter legend addressed “people who are going through very tough times” which “always seem worse” during the holiday season.

    “At this time of year, we’re bombarded with images of perfect lives, which bear as little relation to reality as tinsel does to gold,” Rowling wrote. “If you’re lucky enough to be with the people you love, warm and safe, with enough to eat, I’m sure you feel as blessed as I do.

    “But if your life is currently full of difficulties; if you aren’t where you want to be, either literally or figuratively, remember that extraordinary transformations are possible,” she continued. “Everything changes. Nothing is forever.”

    Rowling then alluded to her “worst Christmas” when she “found it hard to believe that [her] unhappiness would pass” and “was truly afraid of the future.” But, she noted, “astonishing reversals of fortune happen every minute.” Rowling concluded with a message of positivity: “Remember, Christmas day is, in the end, just a day. It isn’t a test or a scorecard of you or your life, so be kind to yourself.”

    I often have a flare up of TMS around Christmas, too. For me, I'm aware that the holiday triggers internal conflict, which is a recipe for my TMS. I feel that I should be happy because most other people appear to be, so what is wrong with me? And like many people from dysfunctional families, Christmas was not a happy time, so the season triggers old unpleasant memories and emotions. I'm always glad when it's over. Celebrating the start of a new year is something I can feel positive about. So Happy New Year everybody!
    Mermaid likes this.
  4. riverrat

    riverrat Well known member

    I too am in a increased level of pain right now- I've have seen that happen at Christmas Before. For me, It's bringing up a lot of hurt from those that have hurt me and the simple tension of Christmas. All I can say is, next week things should be back to usual schedule and the thoughts of Christmas will start to go away and with that, hopefully so will our pain.
    Mermaid likes this.
  5. karinabrown

    karinabrown Well known member

    Hi all,

    I can totally relate to all written above. Was not doing too bad with my footpain in November but when Christmas came in sight
    things gotten worse. I also am not in the mood for this whole happy family stuff and almost wanted to get rid of the chrismas tree today.
    frankly : happy when the first week of januari starts..
    haven trouble sleeping lately and worry a lot more. I must admit at this time of year I am trapped in some sort of
    balance score card of the year : was it a good year etc?
    strangly this year for the first time , since my four years in pain , I was going towards mildy optimistic about the year
    had some improvement and was kinda happy about that : but this last weeks took that almost away and
    put me back in a negative fibe.
    I'm so good at that : a couple of better months can get lost in my feelings after two bad weeks.. And also
    as a true perfectionist tms-er I secretly look back at this year and also feel disappointment: I really was hoping for more result'
    and somehow it has to do with this whole happy chrismas stuff.

    when its comes to chrismas ;Well maybe it all is just overrated and is half the population glad its over :)
    are some of us having familydinners on facebook but are crying in our bedrooms en hoping things go back to 'normal" soon
    or just spend it alone and faking its all fine.. I was not alone, had a roof over my head, some presents, enough to eat
    but still happy that tomorrow is a new day! isn't it liberating to say how you really feel :)!

    riverrat likes this.
  6. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    To measure stress according to the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, the number of "Life Change Units" that apply to events in the past year of an individual's life are added and the final score will give a rough estimate of how stress affects health.

    Life event Life change units
    Death of a spouse 100
    Divorce 73
    Marital separation 65
    Imprisonment 63
    Death of a close family member 63
    Personal injury or illness 53
    Marriage 50
    Dismissal from work 47
    Marital reconciliation 45
    Retirement 45
    Change in health of family member 44
    Pregnancy 40
    Sexual difficulties 39
    Gain a new family member 39
    Business readjustment 39
    Change in financial state 38
    Death of a close friend 37
    Change to different line of work 36
    Change in frequency of arguments 35
    Major mortgage 32
    Foreclosure of mortgage or loan 30
    Change in responsibilities at work 29
    Child leaving home 29
    Trouble with in-laws 29
    Outstanding personal achievement 28
    Spouse starts or stops work 26
    Beginning or end school 26
    Change in living conditions 25
    Revision of personal habits 24
    Trouble with boss 23
    Change in working hours or conditions 20
    Change in residence 20
    Change in schools 20
    Change in recreation 19
    Change in church activities 19
    Change in social activities 18
    Minor mortgage or loan 17
    Change in sleeping habits 16
    Change in number of family reunions 15
    Change in eating habits 15
    Vacation 13
    santahat Major Holiday 12 santahat
    Minor violation of law 11
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2016
    Lavender likes this.
  7. riverrat

    riverrat Well known member

    Yes Karina,
    I too am very happy when it's all over every year. I only hope that will bring some relief again for all of us struggling with Christmas blahs...
  8. Huckleberry

    Huckleberry Well known member

    Some good replies here guys.

    So as I expected the pain continues unabated today...still I've made the effort to have a good day. I've not be crawling on the floor in agony like Christmas 2014 but just feeling pretty miserable with it.

    Reading the replies and yep I do totally understand whilst Christmas can be a stressor for many people I don't really see anything obvious in it that should cause me to have a pain flare. I enjoy the family time and don't set the period up with any high unachievable expectations etc. Yep, I do have worries about my life my future etc etc and do feel I'm dealing with an element of depression and anxiety BUT this is an all year round thing and not something that should cause me to have a pain flare over the Christmas period.

    What I was thinking earlier is that maybe this is becoming part of a conditioned response or like a self fulfilling prophecy. Like on some level Christmas is one of the things I've equated with pain (become fearful) after the 2014 experience and therefore I'm generating internal tension over the Christmas period that inevitability produces the very thing I'm trying to avoid. I was actually looking into the idea that TMS type pain is the result of unconscious guarding and an internal mental bracing that turns physical only quite recently and I'm wondering if that is what a going on.

    Thanks again all. :)
  9. Huckleberry

    Huckleberry Well known member

    Was hoping I may have been through the other side by now but alas pain is still blasting away. Fallen into the trap which I supposed we all do during flares of thinking that it isn't going to settle and pass and this is now going to be my default level 24/7....it is very hard not to be generating fear and anxiety whilst feeling this way.

    As an observation to this and I suppose the reason for posting again was just to say how I've noticed yet again that whenever I am on a flare I get all Zen like and TMS on my arse in the hope I can put the fire out. The thing is whenever my pain is settled and at its default setting (a minor niggle) then I tend to forget about what I should be doing and just carry on with the same action and behaviours that I always have and that probably do serve to generate pain. When I'm feeling good I do walk and exercise but I don't journal, meditate or think psychological as such it tends to be only when the pain flares and ramps up that I start to panic and think "oh shit, I better do some TMS protocols to try and get this under control/make it go away but the reality is that by then the damage is probably done...hence the phrase putting out fires.

    I don't know if other people can relate to this and do the same thing? Because of my situation I've never been able to 100% believe my pain is non-structural but I do believe on the balance of probability it is likely to be and I know this non acceptance doesn't help matters. Having said that I do think that I'm falling into the trap of thinking I'm dealing with my pain from a TMS angle when in truth I'm only doing this in a panic on a pain flare....what I'm saying is that it's obvious tackling TMS needs to be a 24/7 job regardless of how we are feeling at that moment in time. I'm wondering how people remember to do this and keep on track during the good/better times to hopefully stop the flares arising in the first place.

    Thanks for reading...all thoughts and opinions welcomed. :)
  10. Abbo

    Abbo Well known member

    Hi Huck,

    Yes I too have had a really tough Christmas and I am sorry to say I cannot offer any nuggets of wisdom.
    I know my reason is that my husband and I always went walking in the Peak District on Christmas Day calling out Merry Christmas to all fellow walkers, feeling exhilarated with the up and down terrain and clear fresh invigorating air. Oh how I love nature! Then home to our turkey dinner and trimmings. Boxing Day was hectic but wonderful with my two beautiful sons and partners, lots of humour, fun and banter. For the past two years I cannot travel to be with them and unfortunately cannot even cope with them visiting us. We just spent it quietly with me longing to get it over with, though I did manage a walk by the sea. (With about 5,000 other people!)
    This morning anxiety and FEAR hit me like a forklift truck and I know what caused this. Thought: 'am I ever going to recover or will I eventually die in this condition'.
    VERY VERY SCAREY! This resulted in burning, burning thighs.
    I am trying to practice LET GO 'Don't try to figure anything out, don't try to make anything happen. Just rest and relax'. I do practice meditation, breathing techniques, progressive relaxation and have enrolled for gentle yoga in New Year. However, I feel I have made no progress whatsoever in the past year so now I am just letting go and trusting in the process of life. There is nothing else I can do.

    God Bless you.
    Mermaid and Huckleberry like this.
  11. RichieRich

    RichieRich Well known member

    Hey Huckleberry......at the risk of being met with some derision, I've found relief by removing the TMS element from my thinking, and approached my own issues simply for what they are: emotional and psychological.

    I view the TMS diagnosis as just a hurdle in the way of the problem. If I'm trying to address the emotional and psychological aspects, why then would I want an encumbrance? I have GAD induced somataform. While the approach varies for everyone, I've found this to work best for me. It's allowed my nerves to simmer down and helped me not to become so obsessed with the ailment. I've read volumes on anxiety and PPD management.

    Having largely overcome my anxiety and the nuisances that come with it, a [painful] PPD was a completely new experience. I've fought and fought and fought trying to figure out how to overcome my physical pain, but in the process feel like the answer was there all along. You kind of just have to accept that it's there and move on. My toughest battle was convincing myself I can resume exercise without the risk of injury. Once I did that, everything else kind of fell into place.
    Abbo likes this.
  12. Abbo

    Abbo Well known member

    Hi Richierich,
    I am also suffering with anxiety, in fact it is this that is causing me tension and pain. I am listening to Claire Weeks over and over but I hate to say my anxiety levels have increased over the past six weeks.

    Please could you outline what you did to overcome your anxiety.

    Many thanks.
  13. Huckleberry

    Huckleberry Well known member


    My main issue has always been anxiety as well...some free floating GAD but also health anxiety which was crippling at times. My anxiety was never really mental as such but manifested itself as physical symptoms which were mainly neurological in nature..I went down the usual route of resolving one issue only for another to pop...I know Sarno would consider the symptom imperative but I tend to think this is just the nature of physical anxiety. I was also told I probably had undifferentiated somotoform disorder.

    Whilst my physical anxiety symptoms wax and wane the back/leg issue has been a constant now for about 6 years. I had an MRI which showed a benign neuroma which 'could' be causing me pain but equally I have been told it could well be totally incidental as I've probably had it there all my life. The fact that my pain flares and doesn't follow any traditional presentation really and also that I have zero motobility issues etc, just the pain, makes me think it is all probability TMS. I have seen a TMS therapist who also thinks it is TMS.

    I agree about getting caught up in the TMS diagnosis. I do try to move away from getting caught up in it but as mentioned what happens is that when I'm not on a flare I'm ok but then just panic when the pain strikes. Like you mentioned I don't struggle to equate my anxiety to my GERD, IBS, chest pain, tension headaches etc etc (lol) symptoms but struggle to see the pain issue as anxiety...thats something I hadn't really thought about before.

    I have noticed that recently my anxiety has become a touch more mental in that I'm worrying about things I've never worried about before....irrational stuff like when my wife and lad are out and I worry about accidents and the stuff, I'm also constantly worried about my future etc...all the usual stuff really.

    I know I'm in the same boat as everyone else really. The longer this goes on and the longer the and more intense the flares seem just tends to draw me into the structural mindset. Like I said I do still exercise me am not scared to do that but it doesn't seem to help me. Sometimes I may flare after exercise other times I can go hard for a month with zero issues it just makes no sense and I just don't seem to be able to highlight a course of action to move forward. Anyway thanks for the replies guys.
  14. RichieRich

    RichieRich Well known member

    Believe it or not, it was a book by Paul David - At Last a Life. The book is nothing particularly fancy. It's written by an anxiety sufferer for anxiety sufferers, and chronicles the writers own long term struggle with anxiety as well as contains extracts from a blog that he maintains or did; I don't actually participate in that aspect. This book was literally my Bible for a year.

    I just liked the fact that it's not a scientific read. The author doesn't use triggers like, "not everyone will benefit from this" or "a percentage of blah blah blah blah blah won't be healed using this." There is no journaling or anything involved other than changing the way you view your anxiety.

    You can get it in ebook format for instant gratification. For what it's worth, I found this book when I had a colossal panic attack a few years ago. I spent 3 weeks in a panic trying to cure myself. It was the ONE that worked for me.

    All the best.
    Huckleberry likes this.
  15. Abbo

    Abbo Well known member

    Thanks RichiRich,
    I have the book so will dust it off and read it again.


    I gave up on my TMS therapist as I was literally getting nowhere though he did say I needed to 'get a hold on my anxiety'. I now see a NHS psychologist who agrees with Sarno and has also stated the anxiety can and does present with tension and pain as well as with panic attacks etc. (I don't have those thank goodness). I firmly believe this is my case as my anxiety gradually increased more and more following an incident with a chiropractor and my tension increased with it and it has now become a habit which is really bad on waking up in the morning.
    I have had all the usual investigations including MRI and full body scans and all are normal and NAD so I do not have a structural issue. I have decided to just listen daily to Claire Weekes and talks by Tara Brach as they really resonate with me and as I have said before 'trust in the process of life'

    Warmest wishes for 2017 and the future.
    Huckleberry likes this.
  16. Huckleberry

    Huckleberry Well known member

    Thanks for the reply Abbo.

    Yes, I think if my MRI had been totally clear then I would have found it far easier to accept the TMS diagnosis. I just feel sort of stuck in a grey area at the moment and find it hard to commit. I will look out for the work of Tara Brach.
  17. RichieRich

    RichieRich Well known member

    Welcome to our NORMAL: extreme thinking.

    One of the best times of my life and one of the worst times of my life was when I was living in the Netherlands (US Citizen here). I was going to school online in the States, had a new born son, biking 10 kilometres a day to and from work not to mention grocery shopping daily and to top it off the wife had post partum depression mostly brought on by the fact that there was literally no family support system available while overseas. I would come home to a wife barely keeping sane.

    Now couple that stress with GAD and a newly acquired PPD, it's a wonder I didn't scoop up an M80 from the locals on New Years that year, and just shove it in my mouth and dive into the Oude Vest canal........missed opportunity I suppose.

    I worry about the wife and boy all the time. I'm a compulsive saver, saving for whatever tragedy may befell me in the future, ensuring my family's financial security. I'm always assuming something bad will happen. When I'm out to a theme park with the family, you'd think I was secret service. Is the boy near a body of water, yep, there's a gator in it.....it's a pool you say? Yep, there's a gator in it......is flesh eating bacteria in vogue?

    My compulsions don't necessarily present a problem on the PPD side of things, but there's possibly room for self improvement.......possibly.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2016
  18. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    No derision from here, understanding that the cause of TMS/psychosomatic pain is "emotional and psychological" is the core principal of Dr. Sarno's TMS theory, and that of every other TMS.

    I don't see any separation between "TMS thinking psychological", and thinking "emotional" and "psychological". It is one of the credos of TMS, found in Dr. Sarno's "12 Daily Reminders" : when you feel the pain, it's a signal to the conscious mind to take pause--to consciously regain control, from the sub-c's conditioned pain response--to shift ones thoughts from the pain distraction--to think psychologically about what the emotional issues are at the root of the TMS pain.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2016
  19. Zerkon

    Zerkon New Member

    Can TMS cause inflammation? Swollen testicles? Painful to touch down there?

    I can understand that anxiety causes panic attacks, bad backs and such, but I don't know how it can cause physical pain to the touch? Then it is not just in your head...
  20. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes, TMS can cause inflammation,

    "There are so many things little and big that are tms, I wouldn't have time to write about all of them" Dr. Sarno

    "...in your head...", this statement is a misnomer, you should take it out of your TMS vocabulary if you want to get better. It is how TMS distractors mis-view Dr. Sarno's theory--they are WRONG! TMS emenates from the sub-conscious, which is in the brain--which is in the head--for most people--but can create very real pain in body structures--which is thankfully usually benign--but excruciatingly painful--amongst the most painful of pains as the Good Doctor has written. Structural pain, as well as affective/emotional pain states, are created for distraction from feeling emotions, that the sub-c has decided would be too painful to deal with head-on. Dr. Sarno characterizes TMS as a PROTECTOR, a psychological defense mechanism.

    As always get checked out by a competent physician to eliminate anything serious that needs treatment, preferably a TMS trained one if you are lucky enough to have one near you--see the list of them at this site.
    Zerkon likes this.

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