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How much to push through pain, when it results in days of suffering?

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by thecomputer, Jan 19, 2017.

  1. thecomputer

    thecomputer Well known member

    I've been through a very difficult time recently with my voice and throat problem. I feel I'm back where I started almost a year ago, barely able to speak without a lot of pain and muscle tightness. I've had a few nights or complete despair, seeing no light, no idea how to live like this without my voice and in pain.

    My question is about pushing through pain . I have just been reading Steve O s book, and he talks to really pushing through it on his own journey.

    Recently I have been trapped in a cycle. I feel slight relief then speak a lot and end up in intense pain, despair etc. Rest for a few days without using my voice, start to feel better...Repeat over and over.

    When I speak I feel pain and tightness, and then until I get a good night's rest I have all manner of burning sensations, spasms of throat muscles, the feeling of someone strangling me, throat closing etc. It can be scary.

    It's not as simple as stopping the pain full activity (talking) and getting pain relief. Everything is already told tight and reactive. Is this the same for back and knee pain sufferers who get pain when running or walking or sitting? Does the pain relent when you stop?

    So a part of me wants to talk through the pain, but at some point it becomes too intense, and my voice starts going gruff and raspy too, failing me. Which then adds to the feeling that there is something wrong with my throat/vocal cords.

    But I can feel 90% relief from being silent. I feel empty and depressed because I cannot sing or talk to my partner, or doing anything I used to love. But sometimes even that is better than the pain and tension.

    I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. I cannot get the balance right, and am still doubtful in many ways that tms is the only problem on my throat, as I have chronic granular pharyngitis and my vocal cords are out of sync. I have been told these are both nothing to worry about.

    I feel lost at the moment, not sure where to turn. Without the sense that you are making some progress it is easy to slip into despair.

    If anyone has any advice regarding how much to push yourself or anything I've mentioned I'd be grateful

    eskimoeskimo likes this.
  2. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi robodelfy,

    Dr. Sarno was not necessarily a "push through" kind of practitioner. While he suggested "resuming all normal activity" he also prescribed pain medication until the TMS work reduced the pain. This is my understanding.

    So I would say that some people push through, and others add activity when there is less pain. Both systems seem to work, based on my observing stories here for a long time.

    All pain is conditioned to certain events. You are observing some of this conditioning: "if I get rest" then the pain won't be there.

    One of the most powerful ways to deal with this is to observe your mind's certainty about the patterns, and question this belief, even if you aren't testing it with voice activity. And as suggested in the TMS Recovery Program, start an evidence sheet to magnify and review for yourself any exceptions to the conditioning.

    Many of us here have felt this despair. If you can observe it, and the fear of not getting better, and even the doubts about the efficacy of the approach ------all can be viewed as part of the "distraction complex" of which pain is only a part. Everything you are going through around the pain, and trying to get better are part of the effective distraction. You might start by simply recognizing: "I am caught in TMS thinking right now." Without trying to fight it. Just recognition is helpful and relaxing, when we aren't trying to fix or change.

    As is stated in the TMS Recovery Program, if you can develop "outcome independence," which takes practice (!), then the whole distraction complex will lose its power. I have said to myself when in pain "So what? You're subject to TMS like all humans. So be it!" This takes away the power of the "complex" and it loses its power, either instantly or just as effectively, over time. Not worrying about, or fearing the symptoms is key. Pushing through with activity is one of the ways which we demonstrate to the body-mind that we are not concerned.

    Andy B
    zclesa, BloodMoon, plum and 1 other person like this.
  3. thecomputer

    thecomputer Well known member

    Hi Andy, thanks again for your replies

    It all makes sense what you say. I am struggling to feel this outcome independence! But I understand its importance.

    The problem I feel is that even a conversation or two can lead to a day or two of contracting and burning throat muscles and a gruff raspy voice. It's hard get past that to the point where I feel I can use my voice at all.

    But yes you are right, it a creates a huge distraction and takes most of my Ealing hours thinking about it. Because every time I go to a shop or see a friend, I am confronted with the inability to speak without pain.
  4. RichieRich

    RichieRich Well known member


    If I may ask, when exactly did all of this start, and are there any times during the day or any activities where the problem is largely non-existent?
  5. thecomputer

    thecomputer Well known member

    Hi rich

    This started about 10 or 11 months ago. I just began feeling a sore throat when speaking and my voice would go quite gruff. This seemed to get worse and worse. I was sure it was acid reflux as everything pointed to that. It wasn't.

    It was very consistent the feeling of construction and tension and burning, leaving me unable to sing and barely able to talk.

    The only times I felt more able to talk seemed to be a couple of occasions when there was a party, I stayed up late, had a few drinks. But it wasn't that evening, it was the next day I got some relief. Which was interesting. Other than that it's been silence bad fear!

    After reading sarnos book about 2 months ago I had a few days of feeling able to talk more, but still my voice sounded terrible, but the tension was much less.

    Sometimes the burning and pain and tension feels almost completely in my throat, sometime my tongue. It's often more concentrated on the left where I had a very inflamed tonsil for many years. It does seem to move around but in the smallest area.

    Ita quite confusing! When it's bad I really can't talk, because I know that afterwards all the muscles stay contracted and my throat starts closing up for hours or days even

    Thanks for your input
    karinabrown likes this.
  6. Jamo

    Jamo New Member


    I saw your post and although it is an old one I wanted to reply. I'm not sure I can give you much advice but wanted to let you know you are not alone. I also have intermittent problems with throat tightness and struggling to speak. For me it started about two years ago during a very stressful time at work (which eventually led me to resigning because I felt I was having a nervous breakdown). I began finding it harder and harder to speak throughout the day and my throat would get tighter until it ended up aching. I would often end up hoarse despite hardly speaking and would need a whole night's rest to temporarily recovery.

    Like you it affects me greatly. Some days I don't even want to talk to my partner as it is so much effort to get the sound out and just seems to make my throat tighter. On bad days that depresses me. I long to be able to chat and babble away freely and not constantly be thinking of things I want to say but decide not to because even the thought of speaking is exhausting.

    It has recently got worse again which led me to the TMS forum and subsequently your post. I also get panic attacks sometimes and strangely today my mobile rang and I had to run to get it. For some reason I started to have a panic attack (I'm still trying to work out why) and ended up hardly able to speak to the other person and my throat became tight.

    One of my theories is that when things were really bad at work I wanted to scream out 'no more!', 'stop bullying me!' 'I can't cope with any more work!', that sort of thing. I have a fear of rejection and abandonment from my childhood though and I wonder if my unconscious created this throat tightness and difficulty speaking in order to stop me saying those things which could have led to people at work not liking me or thinking less of me or just 'getting into trouble like a naughty boy'. Hence my unconscious was trying to protect me.

    None of this hypothesising really helps and I am starting a new temporary job on Monday and the thought of all the speaking, introducing myself, chatting to everyone, fills me with dread and makes me feel exhausted.

    All I can do is try as hard as I can not to get down about it, not to get angry about it (it makes me want to scream and shout sometimes) and not to care. I try to say to myself, 'so what? One day you will be dead and none of this will matter'. I try to accept it as much as possible and acknowledge that it hasn't actually killed me. Of course, it does take away a lot of enjoyment of life and like you I used to enjoy singing along to pop songs and the like but now it is too much effort and my voice is strained and off key so I don't do it.

    I really do believe though that one day it will go because one day it will lose its power over me and I will forget about it.


    Just proof reading my reply and I see that I say, 'I try hard to...'. Perhaps I should stop trying so hard. I should lean into the feeling. Observe it. Relax. That sort of thing. The new Recovery Programme is definitely worth trying too.

  7. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hmmm.... I have had a lot of TMS conversion symptoms. I never thought about my throat issues as one of them, But I am and have been a vocalist since I was 20 and now after reading your post I can remember a LOT of anxiety about 'blowing' my voice....particularly if I had shows on consecutive days. I have known for a number of years of doing this that TMS tends to go after stuff that will distract you. When I played baseball it was my shoulder or legs, when I worked it was my back and for the last couple of years I have been studying Classical music and my hand goes numb about 5 minutes into playing. I always just play right through and it goes away.

    It tends to go where it thinks it will get our attention, like an annoying younger sibling.

    Now that I think about it, every time my voice was questionable, it always got 'OK' after the first song on stage. I never missed a show though I spent hours and hours agonizing over it.... ..

    I never put anything past TMS. But I think you are definitely on to something and I would use all of the TMS tool arsenal against it.
    Jamo likes this.
  8. thecomputer

    thecomputer Well known member

    Hi Jamo

    Thanks for posting. I havent been on the forums for a while, as Ive been busy and trying to ignore my pain as much as possible. Which works at times but not all the time!

    I feel your pain, literally! It's so hard to not only be in pain, but also to have your main emotional outlet of speaking be so stifled. I didnt speak for months apart from the occasional words, yet I needed to scream and vent and rant. It was so painful. It ended up leaving me very angry with everything and everyone and even my partner who was very supportive of me. Just her presence was enough to make me stressed and in pain as I felt and still feel activated in some way when someone is with me. I can only truly relax when I am alone and rest my voice for some time.

    I have to say that Ive improved a lot though. Its coming up to two years since this all started and I feel like my life was paused in many ways. Ive been through self pity, despair, anger, frustration etc. I feel I am arriving more and more at acceptance and patience. I still get very frustrated at times, but I am prepared to just let time takes its cause and I believe I will get better. This is easier now because I can see improvements. Sometimes the pain is jus as bad as it was at the start, but my reaction is much less extreme, and I am able to talk much more just because IM not adding so much suffering on top.

    If i talk too much now, I get incredible jaw pain, just deep aching and TMJ stuff, which is weird because it used to be all my throat, and now the jaw seems to be the worst part. Then also my tongue feels like its on fire, and it feels like I have ulcers all over it, but when I check they arent there. Its very weird. So all this moving about that happens, and the fact that it only happens when I speak and if Im quiet for days i feel no pain at all, it proves that its not physical. Its just very strange!

    I do believe that aside from TMS there is some element of mechanical/habitual problems. Ive seen singing teachers and they all say that my voice is down in my throat and I need to learn to bring it forward so it resonates in the mask of my face, my nasal cavities etc. I think they are right and I found others who had muscle tension dysphonia who recovered the same way with no knowledge of TMS.

    Then finally I really believe that the on a physical level its breathing or the lack of proper breathing that causes it. Of course at the absolute root is stress and emotional stuff that causes this wrong breathing. But I notice the release when I am very still and I breathe in certain ways, I can feel my throat muscles relax a little. They are only compensating because the correct muscles are not being used properly. I actually found that all the belly breathing Ive done over the years has totally bypassed my midsection, so my bellow expands, but my ribs stay still. I realise now that a full breath should have the ribs fan out freely and I should feel it in my back and all the way up to my armpits. I experiment a lot with breathing very deeply into my chest and I can often feel a release in my throat. So this is something I practice.

    I plan to get some intensive singing and voice training in the new year to try and instill some good habits. I have hope now whereas I didnt for a year and a half.

    i really hope you find your way, and I know we can get better
    Kira likes this.
  9. Kira

    Kira New Member

    How are you doing today with throat issues?
  10. thecomputer

    thecomputer Well known member

    Hi, I wish I had better news! I'm still struggling in many ways but I've also made some progress. It's been 3 years now, it's crazy to think that. A year ago I spent a few months in itIta with some amazing and unorthodox classical singing teachers, who helped me make huge progress with using my voice. So now my voice functions and sounds much better and I have felt some moments of real freedom with their help. But the pain and burning that results from voice use is still a bit of mystery, or should I say it's tms!

    I have just spent three weeks in the jungle in Peru doing Ayahuasca, and whilst it's been intense and benficiben in many ways there's been a lot of pain being around people. So the work continues

    If you'd like to see the voice teachers, I made a short film about their work, if you good New Voice Studio Italy, go to their website and the video is on there

    Are you also struggling with voice issues?
  11. Kira

    Kira New Member

    Hi there— glad to see improvement with you! Yes I struggle with this too because of LPR which is also just TMS. But lately I’ve been saying F it and using my voice no matter how much it hurts and feels clogged and swollen. Who cares! I know nothing worse is going to happen and it’s been more freeing. Outcome independence has been helping me. I’ve spoke to many who have struggled with this and overcome with TMS principals so keep going,
    thecomputer likes this.
  12. thecomputer

    thecomputer Well known member

    Thanks yeah I went down the lpr reflux route for a while too. Have you been tested for it? Because I think it's hugely overdiagnosed. But in your case it doesn't matter as you know it's TMS regardless

    I've tried using my voice regardless of pain for weeks at a time but it gets worse and worse and I often end up sleeping ten hours to recover from the pain, so I think I need a more balanced approach

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