Hello everyone! Welcome to Day 1 of my journey. I feel grateful that I can begin sharing my story and hopefully my recovery. I've read the mindbody prescription and am halfway through the divided mind and beginning the SEP. I'm 23 and have had chronic knee pain for nearly 10 years. It apparently started during rowing when I begin to feel it during the activity I seem to believe - an activity which I did not enjoy and at times even hated. This, along with other activities such as choir which I used to attend for around 4 hours a week and now in hindsight realise that I did this to please my parents - I did not know how to say that I did not want to do these activities to them. I think that I would have enjoyed such activities if it wasn't for my addiction to the internet from a young age and later addiction to an online role playing game- so perhaps it was good that I was unable to say I didn't want to do such activities - because at least I did these activities and did not spend my entire childhood on the internet - at least I had breaks due to singing in the choir, guitar lessons and rowing. Growing up I lived on a farm – not a working farm but somewhere where we had a few animals etc – but not for profit. I hated the isolation this had from my peers and hated the upkeep effort which it had. My parents would spend most of their free time looking after the farm. I had to help which I hated. I saw it as silly because I thought why spend your time outside work doing work, especially if you did not get paid for it. It blew my mind when I visited a girlfriend at the time whose parents relaxed at the weekend and watched TV – my family never did this – it was always work work work. I remember my granny constantly criticising people who did not work all the time – especially those 9-5ers who have it so easily compared to farm folk. I hated this attitude. I almost feel like my knee pain may have been a reaction to this – if I couldn’t stop doing these things I deemed pointless then my body would “stop” being able to do such things and I would also receive sympathy. In total I clocked 280 days of playtime on the RPG (that's 280*24 or the equivalent or around 3.6 years of playing 5 hours per day). Somehow it feels good to share this fact and I have no idea why. I feel like my internet addiction and especially my gaming was a way to escape from the real world - something that I hated at this time. I didn't really have any real friends at school. I felt different, alienated and although I desperately tried to fit by conforming and not working hard (people who worked hard or were "naturally" clever were mocked!). However, I still did not feel like I fit in and didn't really enjoy spending time with the people I hung around with at school. I very rarely met up with them out of school for this reason. At many times during my teenage years I felt like my real life was secondary to my online life. In this game I was a top player, when i walked round I would get large amounts of compliments, respect and also jealous haters (which I liked because I knew it came from a place of jealousy). In real life I felt like a loser but online I felt like a god. I also had close friends on here who I frequently talked to. I got banned twice from this game - on purpose - in order to make me quit. Even now, I check back on my account in the hope that I was unbanned - the addiction is still within me and if I was to be unbanned I would begin playing instantly - albeit for only a few hours a day because I am far busier nowadays. I did not wish to continue my formal education and wished to become a joiner when I was able to leave school. However, my knee pain by this time prevented me from doing so. Instead, I stayed on at sixth form (the two years prior to university) in the hope that my knees would improve by which time they had not. During my time at sixth form I started to develop wrist pain. I’m not sure how it started but after talking to my physio she said it probably RSI I think. It kind of crept up on me. I waited and waited. I cut gluten and milk out of my diet and still do because I think that these make it worse – but this has not been confirmed by a doctors test – I feel no need to have this done. I visited a doctor and had MRI scans of my knees. I was told that I had patella baja, bipartite patella weak muscles and inflexible hamstrings and there was no surgical option and he referred me to physiotherapy which I mostly completed. I didn’t really feel like my pain decreased. I stopped going because the physio said there was nothing more they could do and my medical insurance ran out as my dad left his job. I applied to university but didn't want to go - one reason was because I didn't want to attend university as a disabled person - I wanted to be normal. I took a gap year and studied to be a personal trainer and volunteered to buy myself some time. I was still in pain but went to university to study Psychology. It was great at university. In general, I had a great 3 years completing my undergraduate degree. I felt that finally I could connect with people whom I wanted to and they seemed far ahead intellectually than all my friends from school who I did not want to contact after school finished. Despite this, I seemed to push these friends away without realising. I never took hints to live with them after my first year instead I took itas they were asking where I were living to take the mick (even though I weren’t). I planned on living at home with my mum because I was obsessed with saving money and thought it would save money on rent. I was also considering dropping out because I became sick of how theoretical and unpractical most of my degree was and became quite sick of academia despite wanting to work in it – but researching something with practical implications within psychology. I managed through university with the help of dictation software but often did not use it because I never really got the hang of it. The more I typed the more it hurt. I visited an Alexander Technique teacher which improved my posture but didn’t really decrease my pain. After my degree I chose to do a master’s degree to begin my academic career. Although I passed my degree I always found that I would always only just pass at the end of each education “stage” i.e I would be doing bad but do really well at the end of my degree to just get an acceptable mark. At each “stage of my education I always expected myself to get the best grades but never quite made it. I always blame myself for not working hard enough or not having good enough strategies but this is a drive to do great work which I believe is mostly positive? After completing my degree I decided to visit the doctors again initially asking for some kind of psychological treatment. I had kind of given up hope that anything could be done but my background in psychology and prompt from a seminar leader after discussing CBT encouraged me to try and get this. My GP agreed that it may be useful but seen as my previous scans and consultant examination was around 5years ago wanted me to see another consultant. This time I was diagnosed with patella alta and an unstable patella with little problems in tracking and was sent to physiotherapy. The physiotherapist gave me exercises and acupuncture. The last acupuncture session I experienced relief for the first time from some kind of treatment. About a month ago I came across John Sarno, read the mindbody prescription and began to notice how my knees can be far worse during certain emotions – particularly when I feel anxious, useless and like a failure. Also, when I become worried about the future – which I am – because what can I do? I can’t really do a physical job due to my knees and would struggle with a computer job due to my wrist pain. I feel like I should be doing a job/career I love and making a difference. I feel like this gives me hope due to the realisation that certain emotions exacerbate my pain and perhaps if I work on myself I can reduce or even eliminate my pain. I would love to research in this area. Perhaps my experiences have led me to this path and I am going to eliminate my pain and create a sizable contribution to the psychology in this area. Something which I crave – to live a life of meaning. To do something which makes a difference and leaves the world a better place – something which gives me fulfilment. It may sound like I’m not living in the real world but what is a life without dreams? I have not yet fully accepted the diagnosis but I accept that emotions etc are likely to play a part in my pain. My continued physiotherapy and acupuncture may reinforce the physical nature of my condition but I will continue them for as long as my physiotherapist deems it to be effective. I’m worried about wasting my time on this – I struggle with indecisiveness and with so many other things I could always try or do (I guess) how do I know that I have found the right approach? What would a life without TMS mean to me? It would mean the world to me. I would give everything I own to be pain free. It would mean that I could live my life and not be limited. I would love to be able to run and not be limited by my physical challenges and able to apply for any job. I would be able to feel like I have a normal, healthy body rather than something which is worryingly fragile. Thank you for taking the time to read this – I planned on making it far shorter but could not stop myself! -Actualisation.