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Day 8 More difficult than last time - looking for help with post-concussion symptoms

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by J.S., Jul 4, 2020.

  1. J.S.

    J.S. Newcomer

    Hello all,

    I am on Day 8 of the structured educational program and am finding this time working through TMS is more difficult than the last time. The last time I worked through TMS was for my chronic back pain - this time it is for tension headaches, migraines, face/eye pain/dizziness (diagnosed as post-concussion syndrome because I was hit in the face with a baseball 5 years ago). My last time working through TMS for my back pain feels easier than this time because I was able to not give in to the pain and get back to normal activities plus push myself with physical activities (walking/running, push-ups, sit-ups, and eventually my biggest hurdle starting to swing a baseball bat again without fear) and doing all these physical activities reinforced to my brain that I had nothing physically wrong with me and within 3 months my back pain was fully better. This time, it is much more difficult to push through my head/face pain and reinforce to my brain that there is no need to be in pain because so many different things trigger the pain. My biggest trigger is light sensitivity (especially on my phone/computer/TV as well as being outside in the sunlight) - I wear a pair of screen glasses to help eliminate some of the blue light when I'm on my phone and computer which does help a bit and I always wear sunglasses when I am outside - but I am finding it very difficult to push through the headaches brought on by the light and am wondering if I should stop wearing my screen glasses because this reinforces that I have something physically wrong with me. Also, I am having an extremely difficult time falling asleep at night. I try to go to sleep between 10pm-11pm but lay awake with dizziness and headaches until 4am or 5am every night which is super frustrating and uncomfortable. I am trying to remain as calm and positive as possible but am finding that this time around working through my TMS is much more difficult. Any recommendations on how to go about retraining my brain to get used to light without it bringing on headaches? Also any recommendations on being able to fall asleep quicker? I would love to hear from someone who has worked through these symptoms and can give advice on what worked for you. Thanks!
  2. Napstack

    Napstack Newcomer

    Hi J.S,

    I'm so sorry. I've got an extended history of both back pain and post-concussive symptoms, and you're definitely right that back pain provides easier benchmarks to work through. Unfortunately I don't think I have anything in particular that can help with your symptoms but maybe some helpful words. It does sound like both pairs of glasses are reinforcing your fear of the pain. If you full-heartedly believe that your face and headaches are TMS, then the glasses are really only giving you a psychological shield to your light sensitivity. You've got to look for incremental steps you can make towards getting your life back to normal, just like with back pain you try and incorporate more exercises that are good for your body as you feel stronger. It doesn't have to be a leap to not wearing the glasses at all but spending more and more of the day with them off. I like to think of it as in order to train for a marathon, you have to start from wherever your fitness is, even if that's a couple blocks.

    Insomnia is such a pain and lack of sleep made my headaches so much worse. It's really messed up that stressing over this only makes it harder to sleep at night. The best thing I've found to combat insomnia is creating a before-bed routine. Every night I listen to something and stretch, and then read a book until I'm tired. I know you might have tried something like this already, but maybe you can find a certain routine that really helps you wind down at night (meditation, listening to music, drawing, etc.) The other thing that really helped me was choosing a bedtime when I'm actually tired. If I were to try and go to bed at 10, I would get so frustrated at not being able to fall asleep I wouldn't actually pass out until 4. If I go to bed at 12 after I'm actually starting to feel tired, it goes a long way. Jobs and other commitments might make light nights this difficult, but I hope you can find a sleep structure that helps you out.

    I hope this helps, but more than that I hope that you get healthier everyday. It takes a very strong person to beat out back pain (I know because I'm still struggling with it), so I know you have the strength to get through this as well.
  3. J.S.

    J.S. Newcomer

    Hi Napstack,

    Thank you for your response. I've been spending more time on my screen without my screen glasses but have been experiencing increased headaches and dizziness. I will continue to keep pushing through and eliminating the fear around needing the glasses. I have been on a nightly routine but continue to have insomnia and increased symptoms at night and in the morning. How are you doing with your recovery with your post-concussive symptoms? What do you find is the best way to combat the headaches and dizziness?
    Also, I've done a lot of searching for success stories on concussions and post - concussive symptoms to find other people's stories and advice from TMS therapists but have not been able to find much at all. Any suggestions on material/information to look at that could help me reinforce and fully believe that these symptoms are TMS?
  4. Napstack

    Napstack Newcomer

    I give you massive props for taking steps to fight your fears! It's easy to discredit little steps (like spending less time with your glasses on) as unimportant, but each change you make, especially when you know it might cause pain, takes a TON of courage. That should always be recognized, so seriously, congratulations. I'm sorry to hear that things aren't improving yet, but I hope and think that your bravery will pay off.

    For me, the absolute biggest thing was an appointment I had with a concussion specialist a year ago. For some context, four years ago I had two concussions within a month for which I didn't see a doctor or really follow protocol. A couple months after the initial pain of the injuries went away, I randomly went into a continuous post-concussive state. The doctors I saw were really confused, and after they ran every test possible on me, they deemed that I hadn't ever fully healed from the two concussions, and that I might have done more damage to my brain earlier in my life. They didn't have an answer, so they just prescribed standard anti-migraine medication along with physical and occupational therapy. I did basically recover back to normal after a few months, but anytime I bumped my head I fell back into my post-concussive symptoms (headaches, clouded mental state, and dizziness were my main symptoms). That went on for three years until my appointment last Summer. I gave her my full story, and she listened quietly just like the other doctors had. After I finished I expected the same story I had heard so many times, "sorry for your pain, but it sounds like there's really nothing else to do", but instead, she just said that this is a migraine issue. Shown by my quick recoveries, the concussions I had weren't serious enough to do permanent damage, and the danger of quick-in-succession concussions is when they happen within days or a week of each other, not a month. She told me my brain was completely healthy, and that my mini-concussions after head bumps were anxiety induced migraines.

    This changed my entire outlook on my situation. I thought I was broken. With everything you see in the media about NFL players and how people treat you, concussions can seem like a lifelong-sentence of pain. In my experience, the brain physically heals just like any part of the body, but concussions often come with psychological baggage. I hated and feared having to go through the traumatic (to me) and lengthy treatment after my first concussions so much that whenever I hit my head, that fear gave me migraines that made me feel concussed all over again. I

    I hope this helps because there's a lot of misinformation when it comes to concussion recovery. I have zero qualifications as a medical professional but just wanted to share my personal experience and what worked for me. If you can find and see a doctor who can give you the same confidence in your health that mine gave me, it goes a long way. It makes every little step in the TMS journey easier because you know that by causing pain you aren't doing damage. In fact, you are becoming stronger and healthier.
  5. J.S.

    J.S. Newcomer

    Thank you for sharing your story! It definitely helps hearing your experience. I agree that concussions come with a lot of psychological baggage and working through the fears and anxieties are super important in fully recovering.
    It is a matter of retraining my brain to not be scared of the pain for this is actually causing my symptoms.
    I will continue on the TMS path and keep working to diminish the fear around my symptoms as well as increasing normal life activities.

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