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Day 22 Days 21-23: Morning Anxiety & Deconditioning the Mind

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by MusicMan11, Jul 15, 2018.

  1. MusicMan11

    MusicMan11 Peer Supporter

    Good Morning!

    I've noticed in the morning I've been waking up with this anxiety/churning feeling in my stomach at 6-630am every morning. Since I've been having post-nasal drip that might be coming from my stomach, I start gagging as well sometimes. I understand that my brain has been conditioned to feel this way, but how do I start to decondition it when it's something that wakes me up?

    When the anxiety subsides, then my daily headache/pressure comes back and it's exhausting because it has been every day for 3 weeks now. I really have been digging deep past symptoms into what has been making me angry, sad, embarrassed/shame from my whole life, reading Sarno's "Healing Back Pain" after I already read "The Mindbody Prescription," just started using the Curable app yesterday and also have the Headspace app.

    In writing that list, I am realizing maybe I am putting too much pressure on myself to heal and need to keep practicing positive thinking.

    Does anyone have any other thoughts or suggestions?
  2. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi. I also have been having some trouble with early morning anxiety recently. In my minds more perfect world, the morning should be a time of relaxed peace when you wake up calm and do not really want to get out of bed. I walk my dogs in the morning and so for now I am just getting up and starting my day. Fortunately it is summer and not dark early. The anxiety is much better when I get back from my walk. We have an eleven year old, much loved, shepherd and he has been peeing inside the house the last few years. It all started when we got a small Mi-ki puppy(now a four 4 pound dog). We have tried many things to get him to stop and nothing has worked. There is my corner of the bed that he especially likes and this week I found a solution to lessen the stain and I have been extremely diligent about keeping him out of the bedroom all week(sneaky dog). Well, this morning I woke up and found a new stain. I could not believe how angry I was about it. I decided to use it as an opportunity to observe how I process the anger. I am an action oriented person so I wanted to find an immediate solution. What, put my beloved dog down? My husband does not suffer from anxiety and he would have preferred to enjoy a lazy Sunday in bed. But here I was, anxiety ridden, angry lunatic, desperately wanting to get out on a morning walk at 7am. So now my husband is irritated, which is making me feel all the more hopeless and agitated. Of course the pain in my neck and head is starting to ache and it all feels very familiar. My husband wanted me to understand that things are not nearly as bad as I seemed to feel and although I know he meant to be reassuring, it just ignited my internal bully. Why can't I get anything right? So as I was walking, I began reflecting on what I really needed. I needed to be angry, I needed to be heard, and I needed to believe that somewhere in the universe there was a solution to my new bed not being a pissing post without having to kill my dog. I told my husband that I wanted him to let me say how I felt without reacting or trying to fix it. I then explained to him why I was so infuriated. As I was telling him, it suddenly occurred to me that this is also about my parents having 6-10 dogs and moving me and my three brothers all over the place while I was growing up. I could go on about that story but the point is that I was beating myself up over seemingly overreacting and it really did all make sense. And then as I finished my walk, I soaked in how good my neck and head felt.

    In reading your post it does appear that you are working really hard. That can create a lot of pressure and being aware of that is good. I was doing really well for the last 3-4 years and have recently had a set back. I have fallen back into some old patterns and its not that I am starting over, but I am having to remind myself how this works. So, here is my advice to you:

    Do everything you can to reinforce your confidence and belief that your symptoms are caused by psychological, not physical, structural. Keep an evidence list, anytime you observe something in yourself that supports that it is TMS. Refer to your list often, especially as the list grows.

    Become aware of your particular personality traits that contribute to the TMS. If you have a strong inner bully, start noticing when you are beating your self up. If you are a perfectionist, when you expecting yourself to be perfect. If you are a people pleaser... If you are working too hard at something.... When you are trying too hard to be good.... These are very common traits that those of us with TMS have and it is important to recognize them and do what you can to take the pressure off trying too hard to do all of these things. I can see from your post you are already doing this.

    And finally, perhaps most importantly, finding ways to inject moments of enjoyment into your life. This can be a real challenge when we are in pain and consumed with the overwhelming task of figuring out how to fix the pain. This is the distraction. It may seem impossible, but find a way! I recommend fake it until you make it. If you do not have things you enjoy right now, make a list of things you know you used to enjoy. Do them. Pretend that you are enjoying them. Perhaps in that make believe, a few moments of joy will sneak in. Build on that. At some point you may realize that you are enjoying a good part of your life even with the pain. This is when the outcome independence is working and you are well on your way.

    And with everything I have just said, it is also possible that at some point you just believe and suddenly that pain is gone and you can go about living a wonderful, painfree life. That does and can happen. Its just that a lot of people like myself end up beating themselves up when it doesn't work that way for them. So I prefer to just look at it as the best case scenario.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2018
    Ellen and westb like this.
  3. MusicMan11

    MusicMan11 Peer Supporter

    Thank you @Anne Walker! This was some great advice about “fake it until you make” and then it will slowly start to be pain free. I think for me there are all these things I want to do, but then the “what if I get a headache and am miserable at x” set in and makes it worse. There are also some times when I’m with friends and completely forget about symptoms and when it’s time for me to go be alone the symptoms come back (I’m a single guy that lives alone).

    Also, I agree about the perfect morning being relaxing and calm. That’s how it used to be for me! I have a dog also and the mornings I get anxiety I take him for a walk and it helps a little bit.
  4. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes, I well understand the fear that the pain will get worse while you are doing something or doing something will make it worse. This is fear and unfortunately it can really aggravate symptoms. Some people have success meeting it head on, yelling at it, and not letting the fear stop them. This has occasionally worked for me and but unfortunately, often it has not. I will not let the fear get in the way of my morning walks and so I walk thru the pain no matter what. And most of the time the pain does not get worse on my walks and usually improves. On the 4th of July I was experiencing a lot of anxiety and was feeling tentative about going to an annual 4th of July party with some friends. When I first arrived I almost had a full blown panic attack which I have not had in many years. But I stuck it out. By the end of the party I was having such a good time I did not want to leave. But when I talk about finding things that you enjoy, I am really talking about small, simple things. Guilty pleasures. Things that help you to relax and take the edge off. I used to love drinking my morning cup of coffee or tea. Then when I was locked in chronic pain I discovered I really did not look forward to it anymore. It was just a habit. So I focused on what I used to really enjoy about my morning cup of coffee and mentally recreated the enjoyment of it. And then at some point I really did start to enjoy it again, in spite of the pain. And now I still love my morning cup of Joe!

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