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Doing relaxation seems to make me feel worse at least initially

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by dabatross, Mar 29, 2013.

  1. dabatross

    dabatross Well known member

    Hey everybody,

    So I dont know if its the strategy or what but when I was doing vision therapy for my eye pain I could stick to that every day for like 20-25 minutes no problem. Everything that I had to do physically to try and treat the pain wasn't really an issue for me. However treating this psychologically and doing relaxation methods seems to be a lot more difficult even though its a hell of a lot easier. There seems to be a mental block that provides resistance to me doing relaxation. What Im trying to do now is 30 minutes a day of deep breathing, around two 15 minute sessions and I get really relaxed doing this but right afterwards I feel back the way I was where Im tense and feel stressed out.

    In the past I've tried starting up doing relaxation but each time it feels like my symptoms got worse the day after and then I have a recovery bump. Im not sure why this is I know I need to push past this initial pain increase because this is the right path to be on but its so discouraging when you're doing the right thing and you feel worse.

    I've tried progressive relaxation, listening to guided imagery, some self hypnosis, but deep breathing is just the most straightforward and easiest to do which is why I like it. It can also be meditative if I can actually keep my thoughts on my breath for more than 5 seconds without my mind wandering.

    My main question is have you guys had this experience when you first started doing relaxation that symptoms got worse. Is this something to be discouraged by or do I need to just push past this and keep going? I can't understand why doing deep breathing for 30 minutes a day would make my eye pain worse. Some people on here have heard my story about my eye pain that started 4 years ago but a quick refresher is I tried everything in the book physically for this: like 6 pairs of glasses, 6 months of in office vision therapy, eye exercises, massage, heat packs, acupressure, staying off the computer more often, I could go on. The optometrist still thinks he sees a vision problem the last time I saw him which was a year and a half ago but I dont believe that anymore.

    In my opinion if you go to a doctor and say "my eyes hurt and strain every day, yes i work on the computer full time at a job" immediately they look for ANY possible reason that your eyes could be causing this pain and blame it on that. The reason I know its not my eyes is because I stayed away from the computer for a week straight during my last vacation around Christmas and my eyes hurt just as bad as if I had worked a full 40 hours on the computer. The pain increases when my anxiety increases. One time I was on vacation and my eyes hurt the entire 3 days and I wasn't on the computer. I come back to work the next day and my eyes hurt less at the end of the day. Makes no sense from a physical standpoint right?

    I'm curious to hear your thoughts and what you've experienced when you initially got into treatment for TMS and anxiety/stress caused pain. TMS/anxiety/stress are pretty much the same in my book and the treatments for them reflect that. Meditation, exercise, journaling, deep relaxation are common between all of them.a


  2. charcol

    charcol Peer Supporter

    Maybe it depends on how fast/slow you breath. I believe Sarno mentions that because exercise increases the flow of blood that symptoms can get temporarily better. If you are slowing your breathing, perhaps the decrease in the level of oxygen is causing more pain. Just a thought.

    I tried to get back into meditation when my 2nd known episode of TMS (left side from neck to hand) came on. I thought it would play a key role, but it seemed like the pain came on more. I think it was because I wasn't distracting myself enough. It was too easy to think about the pain, and too hard to focus enough on the meditation.

    The pain is there to distract, so I say "distract yourself on your terms" and live the life you feel you deserve.
  3. dabatross

    dabatross Well known member

    deep breathing is supposed to relax the body and that I do feel. after deep breathing for 15 minutes or so my whole body is relaxed but soon after I stop I feel edgy again and anxious. every time in the past that I've tried to start relaxation every day I've had this problem where symptoms increased soon after that. this week has been pretty bad and has been hard to cope with. i've gotten scared because i'm doing the right things but my symptoms are getting worse instead of better. maybe this is a good sign i dont know.

    its been a rollercoaster ride for the past couple of months where i can go for a few days to maybe even a week with less symptoms and then all of a sudden its back to regular pain or possibly worse than usual. its hard to keep the confidence when im doing the relaxation and feel worse after it. i dont see how deep breathing could make my eye pain worse. today i've been hardly any time on the computer at all and it feels like i've been working on the computer for 12 hours intensely thats how much my eyes are aching. obviously makes no physical sense. i know this however the fear creeps back in again like maybe im not doing something right.
  4. dabatross

    dabatross Well known member

    well the first stint of doing deep relaxation each day I started around 2 weeks ago. I did it for a few days and then after that I noticed my symptoms getting worse and my eyes hurt more. The monday right after Easter I stopped doing relaxation and for 4-5 days that week my pain levels were down more than normal which was great. However they went back up again and I started doing relaxation and Im experiencing the same thing.. my symptoms rising with this. When the symptoms rise the fear creeps back in.

    I know that doing deep breathing can't make my eyes hurt worse but I think this is proving that stress is causing my pain. If doing deep breathing initially is making the pain in my eyes worse, there is a reason for this. I've read a couple of different thoughts on it:

    1. Initially when you begin doing deep relaxation, like deep breathing, your body's adrenaline decreases. Adrenaline is what is keeping you in a stressed state but it also has a pain masking effect as well. So when you reduce your adrenaline by relaxing that masking effect wears off and you begin to experience the full effects and pain symptoms of how stressed your body really is.

    2. The extinction burst where the pain is getting worse before it gets better. Doesn't really make sense that if you're doing the right things to bring your stress level down that your pain would get worse initially and this is what is really disconcerting. Can be pretty scary when you're doing the right thing and your pain is getting worse.

    So i know this.. if anything my pain should get better with deep relaxation and not worse and the fact that it does get worse proves that stress is the cause. By reducing the stress levels in my body I get an increase in pain which is scary and then I end up reverting back to not doing deep relaxation again. Yesterday I did deep breathing for 20-30 minutes and from my perception I feel worse today than on other days when I didn't do deep breathing.

    So the main question is do I keep doing deep breathing anyway (to move past this initial period of symptoms increasing so the benefits of deep relaxation start taking hold) or not do the deep relaxation. How many of you are doing deep relaxation as part of treatment for TMS?
  5. Shar

    Shar New Member

    Hi Alex, I am also having similar body response after meditating and deep breathing daily, I find all of the chest pain and stomach knots will disappear during the process and will return with a vengeance after, I had none of these symptoms when I had the physical pain, which has now almost completely disappeared. I am journalling (finding it very difficult) and doing the structured education programme and hoping anxiety symptoms will decrease as I continue. Are you journalling at all?
  6. dabatross

    dabatross Well known member

    Theres great to hear your physical symptoms are pretty much gone Shar can't wait to be in the same boat. Yeah Im not sure why this is... when I relax too I feel better and i can feel the pain going down the longer I lay there and relax. But afterwards, not always right after but maybe the day after I start feeling worse. This might be conditioning at this point because I became afraid of the symptoms increasing after I was doing the relaxation. It might be the mindbody rebelling against something you're really not used to. For me relaxation is extremely foreign. Before working on TMS I never took time out in my day to relax it was always go go go.

    From talking to Steve Ozanich and I few others I think its just a matter of persistence in dealing with the initial symptoms increasing and after a while the relaxation begins to work. It can take months before the relaxation really kicks in and your sympathetic nervous system starts really calming down. I never understood that in life though where things get worse before they get better, it's darkest before the dawn, whatever that means. Why things get worse before they get better I have no idea but it seems to be the same thing in this case.

    I've journaled in the past and I want to start again. I'm not really sure what to journal about at this point. I went through that whole phase of looking into the past and trying to find that emotion, that deep ingrained emotion that was causing my pain like the last episode of MASH where hawkeye went balls out crying. That didn't work though and if you listen to Monte Hueftle's Master practice or many other TMS mindbody people they'll tell you TMS is in the present not the past. What I do believe is the way I behave now is greatly influenced by the past though.

    As far as journaling goes I think im going to reread parts of Pain Free for Life to get a better idea on what I should be journaling about.

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