Pain in one form or the other has been in my life consistently. About 30 years ago I struggled with hip pain the docters could not explain and that made me scream with pain as a child. I've been having neck- and back pain on and off for about 25 years orso. Sometimes the pain was crippling, other times I had no complaint at all. No cause or cure was found for these either. I've been struggling with debilitating headaches for 22 years now. I've seen all kinds of doctors, tried all kinds of therapies and medications, but nothing has really helped. More recently, about 5 years ago, I learned that I clench my jaw at night. No physical cause for that one either. I am quite sure that if I keep going like this I'll be able to add to this list in the years to come. My body is screaming that something is wrong and so far I've not been able to really figure out what that is. I remember a conversation with my family doctor about 15 years ago quite vividly. I asked him for a referral to a neurologist for my headaches (you need a referral to be able to see one in the Netherlands where I live). He was reluctant and said I would have to keep a headache journal first to see whether my headache was really that bad. I was furious that he dared question the amount of pain I was in. I had brought a headache journal with me and I remember smacking it on the table for him to see. He reluctantly agreed to refer me, but added that I should not expect the neurologist to be able to do anything for me at all. I took the referral and left, meanwhile seething with anger. I wrote him a really angry letter in which I basically asked him who the hell he thought he was that he dared to try to take my hope for a cure or relief away. I do think I would have phrased this message (a lot) differently now. But there is an underlying principle that has kept me going all these years. When you surrender to the thought that nothing can be done, you are truly lost. I've never been afraid of my pain. I've never feared another episode. But I have experienced despair when the pain becomes too much to bear. I've been truly lost in these moments. In the years since that conversation docters have not been able to find anything really wrong physically. The medications and therapies they prescribed have not cured me and have at most lessened the pain a bit. But it always comes back. So I don't expect doctors to be able to help any longer. I've taken matters into my own hands and over the years have figured out some ways to lessen the pain. I've been reluctant to visit a doctor at all in the last decade or so, not willing to let myself experience another disappointment. So when my dentist mentioned the possibility of a referral to a gnathologist I was apprehensive, but I went. It changed everything. The gnathologist introduced me to the concept of neuroplasticity (www.neuroplastix.com) and the cause of chronic pain. Further research has brought me here. I am convinced there is a relation between mind and body. The relation between emotion and pain is no great surprise to me either. I've been diagnosed with depression in the past. I've seen many psychologists and learned a lot about myself, but the desparation now and again keeps popping up. To me this is nothing other than pain of the soul. So I might as well add that to the pain list as well. I know I have not been tending to myself as I should. I've been diagnosed with burnout not once but twice. Still I seem to not really know how to really care for myself. Make no mistake, I'm quite able to project to the outside world that I know how to fend for myself quite well. People perceive me as strong, ambitious, driven, smart, quick and so on. Pain (physical or mental) do not show on the outside. I did wel in school, I've had success in the workplace, own my own home, travelled the world, but underneath I've not been happy a lot of the time. So in spite of all the success I guess I still do not truly know how to care for myself. That may well be the root cause of it all. Now I'm filled with a sense of hope. Hope that there is something I can do after all to care for myself and stop my pain. I know that when I set my mind to something that I will succeed. So lets use that mental conviction to change my mind itself.