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Day 1 First steps on the road to beating rsi

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by Alcatorda, Apr 14, 2020.

  1. Alcatorda

    Alcatorda New Member

    I've had rsi (repetitive stress injury) for over a year. I've always thought there was a psychological component to it because of how it started. I went to see a physical therapist for unrelated wrist pain. She told me to pay attention to when and where I felt pain, and I suddenly realised(!) that my underarms really hurt most of the time. I knew I had had mild rsi for years, but it hadn't really affected my life up until that point. I was baffled that the rsi pain had suddenly become such a big problem for me, literally overnight. But the fact was that it had, and it wasn't going away. At one point, even applying mascara, stirring food, or eating crisps made my arms burn.

    I made a lot of changes in my life. As many people on this forum, I was forced to give up many of my hobbies. I limited my computer time to 2 hours a day (with many breaks) which is just barely getting me through my university program. I minimized the time I spent using my phone. I bought expensive equipment for an 'ergonomical workplace', such as a trackball mouse (helped a lot), keyboard (made it worse), chair and monitor (minimal effect). I saw 4 different physical therapists who all gave me different advice (do / do not stretch, do / do not do strengthening exercises, do / do not work out as normal) and different treatments (massages and shockwave in my arm / dry needling in my neck / posture correction). Some things worked a little, most did not work at all. Frankly, I am desparate. I'm on course to finish my Master's program in a few months, and after that I'll have to start applying for jobs. If I can't work a full-time desk job, odds of finding work in my field are very small, so time is running out.

    To be honest, that desperation is the reason I decided to buy and read 'The Mindbody Prescription'. Initially, I had thought Sarno's theories were a scam - on all rsi-related forums and blog posts I'd see some comment saying "read Sarno's work, I was cured within weeks!". It sounded like a marketing ploy, it was too good to be true. But after finding this forum and reading infinitely many success stories, I thought "what have I got to lose?" and started my journey.

    That was a month ago. By now, I've read the book twice. I recognize myself in Sarno's description of a perfectionist, goodist person. The book reinforced my initial idea that there must have been something psychological about this pain. I've accepted the diagnosis, I have started journaling (which is very interesting) and I'm taking time to think about my pain and its causes each day. I've made some progress. I'm using my phone a lot more than I used to; with the coronavirus it's much more important to me to use social media to connect with my friends, and to keep up with the news. I'm less diligent about taking breaks when I'm using the computer. I can exceed my two-hour limit without beating myself up about it. Last week, I even spent some extra computer time on editing photos, one of those hobbies I had given up! And all of this without the pain getting worse.

    So there are definitely moments of empowerment, but at times I get discouraged. I've heard so many stories of people healing completely within days or weeks, but after a month it feels like I'm nowhere near pain-free. I still have pain every day. The pain is not getting worse despite increasing my activity (encouraging), but it's not really getting better either (discouraging). And there are two things that make me doubt the TMS diagnosis sometimes. First, I've never really experienced the pain getting worse with stress. Second, I don't think I have any reason for oppressed anger aside from my perfectionism (i.e. the pressure I put on myself). My life has always been really good, with loving parents, great friendships, a healthy relationship, good education, no money trouble, no mental health issues or traumas. This pain is the biggest worry I've ever faced, and I count my lucky stars for that on a regular basis, but it also makes me wonder why such bad pain would result from so few negative experiences; do I even 'qualify' for TMS? I've identified some possible sources of oppressed/suppressed anger with journaling, but they don't seem severe.

    Still, my last physical therapist literally told me, "there is no reason for your body to be sending pain signals to your brain". So I need to keep the faith, and I think it'll be good for me to do this six-week program because it will give me something to hold onto for a while. I know that even if I don't heal physically, learning to control my feelings and (fear) thoughts - like Alan's program has taught me - will make me a healthier person mentally.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Great post, @Alcatorda, and welcome!

    That's because "outside" stresses (job, relationships, deadlines, etc) are good substitute distractions that our brain will use INSTEAD of pain. Many people experienced INCREASED symptoms when the stress is relieved. The "weekend headache" syndrome is very very common.

    Honestly, given the COVID crisis, this sounds like good news. We are living with an extreme level of uncertainty, which is hugely stress-inducing for human beings. I think you're probably doing really well!

    You're describing me. Feel free to read my profile. And have faith that the SEP will give you tools to uncover the repressed emotions that we all carry around from childhood, even though, once they are out in the light, they might look pretty lame from our adult standpoint. That's the goal!

    Hint: Do the writing exercises in the SEP with complete 100% honesty, and do NOT let your brain convince you that something isn't important, or that it's too shameful to write down. You have to force yourself. That's where I found my breakthroughs. They weren't earth-shattering, but they were revealing, and freeing to discover.

    You and I are lucky enough to have not experienced neglect, abuse, or serious trauma. It seems strange that we would have TMS, but in my case, I was raised to be anxious by an older, first-time mom who had experienced a miscarriage. Discovering that (through the writing exercises!) explained so much!

    Good luck, and keep posting!

    Alcatorda likes this.
  3. Alcatorda

    Alcatorda New Member

    Thank you so much @JanAtheCPA for reading and replying, to be honest I wasn't really expecting any responses! It felt good just typing everything out. Thank you for the words of encouragement and advice. I've been trying to be honest in my journaling, exploring feelings I have and feelings I think I might have, trying to dig deep and reassuring myself that it's OK to feel whatever I feel. I've also pinpointed some things from childhood that I think may have instilled the thought "you're not good enough" in my mind. It was a new, eye-opening way of looking at those memories.

    Your profile has a great list of links to books, websites and forum posts, I appreciate you sharing those! I'm glad you found success with your TMS treatment, thank you for sticking around and helping others on their journey.

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