Hi all, I sit here in tears as I write this. My story is likely not as bad as many people on here. I'm sure I don't suffer as much as some, but I've become frantic nonetheless. I've had a pretty tumultuous life. Lots of physical abuse as an adult, some as a teenager. This year, however, has been by far the most difficult of my life. It's been hell non-stop for all of 2020. I use 2020 as a swear word now, it's that bad. It actually started back in November 2019. I was hurt physically by someone I love, they forced me on the bed out of anger and ripped my head to the side and held me there while they yelled at me. I'm used to physical abuse, but this time really hurt something in the back of my neck. I didn't even think it was that bad at first, I was more upset by it being caused by a physical altercation than by the pain itself, but something hurt in the middle of the back of my neck with any little movement. I saw a doctor after that when the pain didn't go away after a couple weeks, usually I heal pretty quickly, and she had asked me if I heard a "pop" and gave me a brief check up and referred me for xrays. I didn't want unnecessary radiation if I could avoid it and she didn't seem that concerned, so I didn't initially follow up and get the xrays done. I honestly, for the life of me, cannot remember if my pain went away and that's why I didn't end up going or if it just didn't bother me enough to, but I've definitely had this pain in my neck since April, because that's when I began journaling about it lol. Anyways, after that, 2020 hit. Boom. My husband and I started fighting a lot, his family screwed us over and stopped talking to us, his aunt died, his cousin died, my grandma died, my grandpa died, my whole family got really sick for an entire month with some terrible mysterious illness (that I believe was COVID since we were all vomiting, coughing our faces off, high fevers, sore throats, etc. etc. but they refused to test any of us... like 5 times), my husband kicked me out of my house for a couple days and we were close to a divorce, he had me forcefully committed for three days, and then right when I got out, my 6 year old son got really skinny and stopped eating and nearly died because a doctor kept telling me stupid shit like, "Avoid milk, give him vitamin C" every time I asked him what I should do. I took him to the ER and he was hospitalized with diabetic ketoacidosis and diagnosed with type 1 diabetes; they told me he was a day away from death. All of this on top of the pandemic and wildfires ravaging my state of California, making the air quality so bad, we can't even leave our house. My husband lost his job, and we've been financially hurting for the past 7 months because of it, and I've been homeschooling my two boys while my husband helps with our young daughter. I can't, for the life of me, remember being bothered by my neck pain while I was committed, nor do I think it bothered me while I was staying in the hospital with my son. Maybe there was just too much going on, and I wasn't focused on myself, but I guess that's neither here nor there since I've suffered with it for at least the past five months consistently. Back in May or so, I was convinced I had a herniation, so I did get the xray done, they found nothing but my pain was still there and I was still convinced it was herniated, so they had me do a CT scan. They told me I had a slight herniation in C5-C6 with spinal stenosis or whatever and some arthritis or something. Obviously, I was terrified. My mom was a nurse and had massive neck problems from lifting heavy patients, so I watched her struggle my entire life with a herniated disc in her neck, surgery, etc. I was destined to be just like her, I thought. Back in May, it hurt my neck to move it around and although it didn't hurt if I didn't move, the sensation or knowledge of it being there was always with me. And the fact that someone I cared about injured me just added to my anxiety, bitterness and deep resentment that I'm really trying to let go of, but I get angry about it still nearly every day. Any time I feel the pain, I'm reminded of the "injury" that lead to this pain. They referred me to physical therapy to start. I had one 5-minute video call with a physical therapist who assigned me two exercises to do once a day. After a week, she emailed me to ask if I was all better. I said no and she threw up her hands and referred me back to my doctor, who then started telling me the other things she could do: prozac (apparently helps nerve pain? why that would be only leads me to further feel confident in the mind-body thing, but I didn't want to be on an anti-depressant), a steroid shot (again, I didn't understand how this would help a herniation), or an anti-inflammatory. And she referred me to a rehab doctor. The rehab doctor gave me the most hope out of anyone. He did a half-hour video consultation and was the first person who actually seemed to care that I was hurting and not just throw their hands up when I didn't spontaneously feel better after a quick email. He went over my CT scan with me, bit by bit, showing me each and every disc and explaining that he didn't see anything wrong and how everything looked normal. He concluded I had simply strained a muscle in my neck (even though my pain had lasted at least several months by this time and I've never had a strain last that long before) and referred me to acupuncture, telling me there was no reason he could see on the CT that would cause me lasting pain. I did email him back to ask him to please double check the CT scan again, because the first results had a lot more listed and clearly said small herniation, so I was confused when he didn't see anything. He emailed back to say he only saw a VERY small bulge, but it was common and a normal part of aging, and there was no big bulge or herniation or anything. After going to 5 acupuncture sessions so far and continuing to do my physical therapy exercises every day up until a week ago when I started reading Healing Back Pain, the pain in my neck is fairly tame now, only hurting on the right side of the middle of my neck in the spine area if I look down and to the side or up and crunch the back of my neck, or if I lay down and watch TV for too long (couple of hours). There's always this like.. dull sensation that makes me realize the "injury" is there and then I get angry all over again about how I got it, but it doesn't usually actually hurt unless I look up or down and to the left. But it's all-consuming, even so, but I think mostly just because it's a constant reminder of how I got the pain. However, this wasn't the first time or even the worst time, probably doesn't even make the list on ways I've been abused, so I don't know why this particular time is so stuck in my mind besides being the only time I've sustained lasting physical pain from it. I'm definitely a people-pleaser, do-gooder, mess-myself-up-at-the-expense-of-anyone-else type of person. I have a huge temper and frustrate myself frequently with how easily I get angry. I had a panic disorder for 14 years, but haven't had an anxiety attack in 7 years. I've always suffered from depression. But it feels like this year, my body has begun to fall apart. Besides my neck, I now have lasting shoulder pain, too, which I figured came from a daily yoga practice that I'm probably doing wrong, and I have frequent lung infections. I've been trying meditation, positive thinking, law of attraction, "sending it out to the universe," hypnosis, prayer, guided imagery, music, journaling, etc, for a while now, and nothing seems to work to relieve the rest of the pain. I don't even know what emotions I could be repressing, since I've always been an over-sharer, here's-what-I've-been-through kind of girl, who is quick to anger and suffered from panic for years, but I know this year has been a lot and I'm tense all the time. My shoulders are always sore from sitting in tension 24/7. I always notice my shoulders are clenched as just a resting pose for me. I have to actively focus on relaxing them and as soon as my attention wanders, they're back to clenching again. Anyways, if you read all of this, I appreciate you. I had a lot to get off my chest, it seems. I feel like TMS is correct, but I'm still scared of this pain being permanent. It gives me anxiety just thinking that thought. At least simple Tylenol takes the pain almost completely away, but I hate relying on medication for that. My neck actually does feel a little better after writing this and my shoulders aren't as tense. It still hurts, by I have a lot of pain that I'm sure is bubbling down there that's accumulated that my subconscious would rather I not deal with.