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I've had pain for over a year and just learned about TMS

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by jirachi, Aug 20, 2022.

  1. jirachi

    jirachi Newcomer

    I'm a freelance artist, 25 years old and I've been dealing with wrist and hand pain for well over a year now. I've gotten blood work, an x-ray, an MRI, seen an orthopedic surgeon, even got a corticosteroid injection. Nothing found on the tests, confused ortho surgeon, injection did not help since they assumed I had tendinitis in one of the areas the pain was?

    The pain likes to migrate around my right hand and wrist, usually around my thumb and base of my palm. I started using my left hand for mousework and most other things to take the pressure off my other hand... and now I get pain there too.

    Art is my livelihood and passion, it's all I care about in life, so naturally this felt like the end of my world. It's left me depressed and miserable for months, anxious, angry, and frustrated. I'm at my wit's end and, though I initially heard about and wrote off TMS as pseudoscientific and untrustworthy, I've been thoroughly humbled and have come seeking help and advice from a community who may understand what I'm going through more than I do.

    I've done all sorts of research on ergonomics, healing, healthy practices for sedentary lifestyles, and I started to think my pain was psychosomatic. But even thinking that, and having no hard medical evidence that I'm hurt or damaged in any way, the pain has remained.

    I'm at a point where I'm willing to try anything, even if it causes more pain in the short term. I'm just hoping for some support and advice from others.

    How much should I be ignoring my pain? 100%?
    What about using heating pads for pain relief? They tend to make my wrists feel much better. Is it safe to continue using them or does it feed into the idea that I'm physically injured?
    How much should I return to normal working hours? Full time? (I asked a doctor who told me not to avoid my normal activities and I should listen to my body but... when my body is telling me my wrists are hurting, what advice do I follow?)

    I've started using a program called Workrave to remind me to take breaks while I use the computer: 30 seconds every 15 minutes, 10 minutes of standing and stretching every hour, no more computer after 6.5 hours of use.
    Is this something you guys would use or find helpful? Should I stop doing those microbreaks? They tend to be annoying more than I felt useful...

    I've noticed that since I've become more vigilant about ergonomics (not slouching, for instance), my body has felt overall... worse. I'm more sore in my whole body but I was just hoping it's because I'm not used to sitting up straight all the time lol -- I'm hoping this will become more second nature and normal eventually once I get used to it.

    Ok typing that much wasn't great for my wrists, and they're sure to remind me of it. Thanks for reading this far. I'm gonna go back to drawing.
  2. fridaynotes

    fridaynotes Well known member

    good news~ you’re on the road to recovery! i am an artist too, and had developed such a terrible
    shoulder pain that i thought was from
    repetitive painting. good news is, once i realized it was TMS and did the hard inner work, the shoulder pain almost completely disappeared.
    just keep digging deeper into your emotional life, tell your body that it can let go and relax and laugh at your pain a little. once you can feel “safe” with the pain and discomfort in your body, it will
    almost magically reduce and disappear as mysteriously as it arose.
    Joosje likes this.
  3. jirachi

    jirachi Newcomer

    You're the first artist I've had the chance to talk to who has been through this! :O
    thank you for the support and hope you've given me.

    Was there anything you struggled with particularly when returning to painting? I find the pain to be pretty distracting and breaks me out of that "artistic flow", which leads to a spiral of anxiety (that my life's passion is hurting me and I can't continue on with it) and depression (drawing is both my career and what I do for fun so it feels like I can't do anything enjoyable) until I put down my pen and stop drawing for a while.

    In particular, I've started working on a small comic illustrating my experiences with my pain as a form of self-therapy. I thought that talking about it in my own language (art) would help me move forward while also communicating these internal struggles with my friends and family better than I can verbalize.
    I'm not sure what sort of paintings you make, but have you done anything like this?
  4. Booble

    Booble Well known member

    Hi Jirachi -- just a shot in the dark but drawing your PAIN might be drawing attention to them. What do you think of a private project of drawing your emotions, things from your childhood, times when you felt hurt, et cetera?

    TMS likes to hit areas that are most important to you. Things that will force you to stop. It's up to you to use the higher level parts of your brain to let it know that you hear it but you're not going to let it stop you. Once it (lower parts of your brain) realizes you mean business and you are not going to stop then it will give up.
    Right now it's winning because you are thinking and worrying heavily on the pain and how you can't do your craft. You are putting down the pen. That's what it wants. But you can turn the tables on that. You are in charge of your hands and you can pick up the pen. It can't stop you. Sarno talks about it trying to protect you, but in a way it's also a beast. Like when someone is on a diet and the beast comes up with all kinds of creative reasons why it's OK to eat three pieces of cake. Right now your beast is giving you reasons not to do your artwork by giving you pain. Who knows why. Maybe it's afraid of failure, maybe it's afraid of not living up to some expectation, or maybe it's just like the beast who wants to eat cake. But remember, it doesn't matter because YOU are in charge. And when you unequivocally say, I'm going to keep doing my art...no matter what, then the beast realizes its done and goes away.
  5. Booble

    Booble Well known member

    PS. I love your profile pic illustration!
  6. jirachi

    jirachi Newcomer

    Thank you, this advice and encouragement is very much appreciated.
    I think this comic project I've begun has actually started to help a little. The first few panels were cathartic to vent with, but I'm moving into more a hopeful and healing-focused tone and narrative for it and it feels empowering. I've realized that just drawing myself miserable and in pain isn't the solution, it just perpetuates the problem and makes me focus on it. But if I draw myself happy and working toward healing... well, it's funny but it feels like I'm drawing myself out of the pain?

    I didn't really think I had any repressed emotions, but this all started while I was moving away from home and in with my partner, halfway across the country. And it felt like I'd be a failure and a disappointment if my art didn't succeed in making money. Not to mention I'm pretty sure I got ptsd from all the abuse my previous jobs put me through.... so the thought of getting another entry-level not art job just terrified me (and still does)
    It's no wonder I piled the pressure onto myself to be successful. Maybe the creature thought that being disabled was the safer, easier way out. I don't like that answer, and I won't accept it.

    Thank you!

    And thank you for the compliment! I drew it myself, it remains one of my favorite mood doodles haha -- right next to this one:
    It's very cathartic.
    Booble likes this.
  7. fridaynotes

    fridaynotes Well known member

    what helped me was having a post-it next to the painting I was working on with the messages "Shoulder Pain is TMS"
    I also have kept other post-its around that say "it's only TMS" for when I get panicked and need that reminder. I also would keep a print-out of Dr. Sarno's 12 reminders and look at that often.
    jirachi and Booble like this.

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