I've been pain-free from my lower back for almost 5 years now and always promised myself that I'd give back to the community that helped heal me, so here it is. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out. Hopefully, someone else who is suffering can see themselves in my journey. I was 22-years old and very active at the gym and playing sports. I pulled a muscle in my back whilst squatting which led me on a dark path of almost 2 years of chronic lower back pain. Even though the initial pain of the injury wasn't that bad, I was still terrified that I may have done something 'bad' - after all, we're told all our lives how fragile our back is and how we need to care for it. I tend to be obsessive over any ailments I have which I have since learnt, leaves me very vulnerable to mind-body conditions 6 weeks after the injury I was still in pain, so I went to see a physio. The physio gave me some stretching and strengthening exercises, told me to avoid sports, and sent me on my way. The physio’s advice didn’t help. After 10 weeks I was still in pain, the pain seemed to be getting worse. It was becoming a constant. As soon as I woke up, I felt the pain and my whole consciousness started to become engulfed in the pain. This is when I started to get really worried. I’d read that if the pain doesn’t subside after 10 weeks, then the pain is chronic and could be permanent. Over the next 12 months, my pain got worse, and my mental health plummeted. I saw countless specialists, had MRI scans, steroid injections, bought a new mattress and tried every stretching and strengthening regime under the sun. The only thing that made the pain manageable was codeine. I unknowingly became addicted and was taking far more than the recommended amount. I also developed a very strange condition where I couldn’t stand the feeling of wearing trousers. Jeans felt like they were constricting my thighs unbearably and I couldn’t wear anything but tracksuit bottoms or shorts. I now couldn’t wear clothes that made me feel good and I couldn’t do any of the sports or exercise which made me happy, I was also in constant pain. I was at rock bottom. The first time I came across Sarno’s book (Healing Back Pain) I was very dubious but given the incredible reviews from so many people, I decided to give the book a chance. The first read did not resonate with me at all, and I put the book aside for many months. After about 18 months of constant pain, I stopped taking codeine after realising I was addicted. The withdrawal was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But as I came out of the other side, I decided that I was going to beat this pain. I decided to re-read Healing Back Pain and I also started researching TMS online. I came across ‘The Great Pain Deception’ by Steven Ozanich – this book changed my life. The Great Pain Deception explained the psychological side of pain incredibly well. It all made perfect sense. Steven explained that the unconscious mind influences us far more than we realise and that if we don’t deal with our stressors in life, this stress has to manifest somewhere, whether it’s anxiety, IBS, depression, or back pain. The only way to heal these conditions caused by our unconscious mind is to process the stress that we have been through. If there’s one thing you take away from this post, then please read The Great Pain Deception, it might change your life too. After accepting that the cause of my pain originated from my mind, around 50% of the pain vanished within a week. The remaining 50% of pain took another 12 months to subside. The reason it took me so long was because I struggled to fully accept that there was nothing physically wrong with my back. The surgeon who reviewed my MRI scan said I had a degenerative disc condition. What I’ve since learnt is that the bones and joints naturally change as we grow old. Our degenerated joints are effectively like grey hairs – they may not be as pretty as they once were, but the functionality, and their ability to be pain-free, does not drastically change. Studies have shown there is no correlation between structural deformation in the joints and pain. To fully accept my condition, I stopped doing everything that I had been doing to physically ‘fix’ my back. After all, there was nothing physically wrong with my back, so I should be able to exercise normally, and I shouldn’t need any more physical treatment. I asked all my friends and family not to talk to me about my back. I stopped sitting on special chairs, I stopped stretching and I slowly started running and going to the gym again. All these things were incredibly hard. I also journaled extensively for the first time in my life. I wrote about anything and everything that might have ever caused me stress or anxiety. I found this incredibly cathartic and helpful. Enduring and beating chronic pain is undoubtably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I know the hopelessness that comes along with chronic pain, I want to tell you that you CAN overcome this. It’s almost 5 years after I overcame my chronic pain, and I am 100% pain-free and active in every way. Occasionally I feel the same tightness and pain in my back just like I used to, but now when this happens, I ask myself – “what’s going on in my life to make me stressed? What events or feelings have I not properly processed?” – and then the pain quickly subsides. The Psychologist Carl Jung said: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”. I can’t think of a more simple and profound way to summarise the mind-body connection. We all have the ability to influence and even control how we feel, never accept that this is just the way it is.