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Having trouble with "feeling" my feelings and physicophopia

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by PainNoMore, Feb 6, 2017.

  1. PainNoMore

    PainNoMore Peer Supporter


    I've been following this forum for a little while and have run into some difficulties so I decided to sign up and see if you guys can guide me.
    Just a brief history - About a year and a half ago I "hurt" my back lifting a heavy couch. I was very distraught over this because I had hurt my back and subsequently had back surgery 20 years ago and all those terrible fears came rushing back. So I went to a PT and he gave me the Mackenzie exercies to do. The pain started receding and I was good 3 months later. Shortly after that, I started having gassy bloated problems in my gut. Doc ordered a colonscopy. My symptoms actually went away before the colonoscopy was done. Then I started having some pretty severe panic attacks which coincided with fears of high blood pressure. Very distressing. I then discovered a book on Amazon called DARE which helped a lot with my anxiety. It actually worked pretty well but doesn't deal with any core issues that are causing the anxiety. After mostly relieving the anxiety all of a sudden one day I started getting carpal tunnel/ cubital tunnel/ Thoracic Outlet symptoms. I've seen the video Forest made and my symptoms were almost identical to his. This freaked me out as I couldn't do my job or play golf or hardly anything very physical. Went through the gauntlet of doctors, PT, Airrosti, Orthopedic (had ulnar decompression surgery on my elbow), massage therapy too. The cubital tunnel stuff started about 6 months ago.
    Fast forward to today. I started reading The Divided Mind about 3 weeks and started journaling about 2 weeks ago. I had some nice improvement even before I started journaling which helped convince me that I do indeed have TMS. Since then progress has been in fits and starts. There's so much information to take in that it can be overwhelming but there are a couple things that I think are really holding me back.

    I'm much more of a "thinker" than a "feel your emotions" guy. I've been able to feel my feelings a couple times and it really helped. But I'm having trouble repeating the process at will. Any tips with this?

    Another hurdle for me is the physicophobia thing. My brain connects the cause of my pain with physical activity. In my case - too much typing and mouse clicking is what caused it. So now whenever I do something physical such as typing, riding my bike (which i really enjoy), swinging a golf club, anything vigorous really, I start feeling the pain increasing and then the fear comes on which stresses me out and makes it worse. Any help there?
    Lunarlass66 likes this.
  2. Lunarlass66

    Lunarlass66 Well known member

    Hi Painnomore.. I'm a "newbie" here too and probably have little to offer in terms of advice, however, I felt compelled to just send some empathy your way.. When you described having physicophobia it really resonates with my situation. I too had back surgery in 1995 and have been experiencing severe back spasm episodes for the past 4 months after being pain free and mostly limitless (within reason) in my activity level for 18 years. Terrifies me to think I may need a second procedure... And really trying to gasp the concept of the TMS theory. From an intellectual standpoint, it makes perfect sense, but I obsess SO much over structural possibilites (and my last MRI) that it's a constant battle with my brain!!! Agh!! Hope it helps to know you're definitely not alone... Better days are coming. :)
  3. MWsunin12

    MWsunin12 Beloved Grand Eagle

    The brain is really good at creating distractions from your feelings.
    I always remind myself of the generations of people who did much more physical activity than we do and didn't suffer such particular disorders.
    For example, the people had to plow the land by horse pulled plows and force the blade into the soil. They didn't get carpal tunnel.
    Even the secretaries who typed BOOKS on manual typewriters 8 hours a day, or punched data cards didn't get carpal.
    It's from tension and emotions. Keyboards are easy to use compared to what our predecessors used.
    I get similar nerve pains, too, but LOGICALLY, fear - aside, it doesn't make sense that riding a bike or using a mouse could cause such severe pain.

    One thing many of us seem to share is a proclivity for anxiety…so our bodies are pumping adrenaline and various hormones in fear.
    Keep asking yourself: "What am I feeling emotionally?" It helps the most.
    plum and Lunarlass66 like this.
  4. Lunarlass66

    Lunarlass66 Well known member

    I remember reading in Dr. Sarno's books that the symptoms are caused by repressed emotion, rage in particular. I'm no medical professional, but it does have me wondering if our brains would try to "protect" us from other negative or unpleasant emotion as well... Like guilt, fear, sorrow, hopelessness. Why wouldn't that be possible? I've found that even if I acknowledge whatever I'm feeling and really pay attention to it, I still do struggle with pain, though I fully believe in Mindbody Syndrome. Sarno says you don't have to eliminate the emotion, just be aware of it. I find myself almost hypervigilant about my emotional state, and it actually perpetuates more stress.. I know many people on this site struggle with anxiety, panic attacks and ocd. I have them all! It's very hard to remain hopeful sometimes.
    I think I got a bit off track here... Tough morning. :(
  5. MWsunin12

    MWsunin12 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Lunarlass, I'm sorry for your tough day. Be compassionate with yourself. Don't go against your intuition.
    I found that asking myself these questions help: "Am I doing something or taking something out of fear?" "Am I doing something because someone else thinks I should?" Or am I really listening to my intuition, my inner guidance, that will tell me what is right for me.
    Doing something in fear is going to bring the worst results. Been there. Done that.

    Peace and hope.
    plum and Lunarlass66 like this.
  6. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thinkers often fare well with practices like mindfulness which use the energy of the mind to the good. Here on the forum @Ellen is a great advocate and healing example of these powerful techniques.

    I also recommend Rick Hanson for his excellent blend of neuropsychology and mindfulness.

    Here's a link to his site:

    http://www.rickhanson.net/ (Dr. Rick Hanson: The Neuroscience of Lasting Happiness)

    There are oodles of free resources there to help you.
  7. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Other emotions can lurk beneath. For me I believe it is sorrow. Rage is in the pot but when you peel the layers away sorrow runs deepest.

    The key to healing is relaxation. Bone deep calm and peace are the fruits of becoming comfortable with both the sensations of the body and the thoughts surrounding them. Give yourself time to let all this stuff sink in. Don't let healing be a source of stress.

    Plum x
    Lunarlass66 likes this.
  8. Lunarlass66

    Lunarlass66 Well known member

    My counselor recommends Jon Kabat Zinn mindfulness techniques.. And I've attempted a couple of times so far. It just seems like I or my brain (like they are separate entities..) resists it for reasons unbeknowst to me. I know I WANT to be able to practice mindfulness, but something is preventing me... Maybe when one is younger, their minds are more nueroplastic and receptive to change.. My 50 year old brain doth protest!!
  9. Lunarlass66

    Lunarlass66 Well known member

    Thank you for your kindness MWsunin12.. Very grateful!
  10. PainNoMore

    PainNoMore Peer Supporter

    Thanks Plum. I will check that out.

    Yesterday, I poked around the forum and found some interesting stuff on the Addressing your Childhood thread. In particular what Chickenbone had to say about how you look at your pain as your friend. When you feel it come on, you sit with it, listen to it, let it tell you what emotion is there. (I'm paraphrasing...not verbatim). What I took from it is not not look at your pain as pain. Look at your pain as an emotion. Dr. Sarno talks about thinking about your pain in psychological terms but it always seemed kind of vague to me. What chickenbone said about it helped me view it in a way that helps take the fear away...or at least reduce it.
    plum and Lunarlass66 like this.
  11. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Aye, I hear you. I'm much like that myself. Mindfulness is a skill nurtured over time and is particularly challenging for the restless. Also, anxious people seem to have more trouble with it. Anxiety is not one of my woes (though I have sipped from that terrible cup) so someone else may be better placed to comment on that observation. I need to move and exercise my body before approaching any of these techniques and actually this was the original purpose of yoga. It was created to work the body out so that one could rest back into meditation without the noise of restlessness. I swim and then become a jacuzzi-hog who practises a very natural form of mindfulness. Sometimes I meditate on the changing seasons, other times on the minutiae of my life, of late I have simply being letting go of tons of stress and tension, and on happier days I simply admire the young Adonis' who pop into the pool for a post gym chill out. Find ways your brain and body like and run with them.
    MWsunin12 likes this.
  12. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    @chickenbone had a great take on TMS. There is a lot of wisdom in her posts.
  13. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    There is also a form of mindfulness practice called "Active Mindfulness Meditation", which is my preferred method rather than a sitting meditation. Here is a brief explanation with examples:

    “For people just starting out, diving into formal seated meditation can be very overwhelming,” said Dr. Kathy Gruver, PhD, a health and wellness expert and author of The Alternative Medicine Cabinet. “For someone who is active, I recommend a walking meditation or a mindful exercise with an activity like doing the dishes or brushing your teeth.” Yes, even your least favorite chore can get the job done when it comes to bringing you into the present moment. “Mindfulness is simply going about an activity with curiosity, focus, all of your senses and remaining in the present moment,” said Gruver. “You can do the dishes mindfully: Really feel the temperature of the water on your hands, the smoothness or roughness of the plate. Smell the lemon coming off the soap, listen for the sound of the water rushing into the sink or the bubbles crackling in front of you. Observe the plate, your hands, the water, the bubbles. Does one float away, a little rainbow existing inside and then pop with a spray of water? Observing all of these things using all of your senses brings you into the present moment and it is a meditative practice. If you find yourself wandering from your task or letting other thoughts intrude just acknowledge that you were thinking and return to your activity. This helps train us to respond rather than react.”

    I try to practice this while showering, brushing my teeth, or any usually "mindless" activity. Or anytime I am feeling anxious, I do the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise: Look at 5 things, touch 4 things, listen to 3 sounds, smell 2 scents, and taste 1 food/drink. By switching our attention to our senses, it grounds us into the present moment. If we are truly present, we aren't thinking about the past or future, which is where most unpleasant emotions lurk.
    shmps and plum like this.

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