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My Bladder is ruling my life

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Anxiousone, Jun 4, 2016.

  1. Anxiousone

    Anxiousone New Member

    Hello all,

    I have just joined this site, having read a little about TMS and the work of Dr Sarno. I fear I'm going slightly mad with symptoms of overactive bladder, pelvic pain and discomfort and general feelings of utter despair.
    I am a 38 year old male and my bladder hasn't really been 'right' since 2012 after I went through an 'emotionally traumatic event.' Over time things improved, to the point where it didn't affect my daily routines but it has come back again since March.

    My symptoms:
    Frequent urination (sometimes 20 times in a day)
    A feeling like my bladder is never truly empty, even though it is.
    Occasional burning/pressure/discomfort and spasms in the pelvic floor or perineum and rectum.
    Hesitant flow of urination but not what I would describe as an obstruction.

    I am not convinced that I have 'prostatitis' or 'cystitis.'
    Over the years I have been tested for infections - negative.
    I have had a pelvic ultrasound and all looks normal.
    What is also interesting is that I can generally sleep for seven hours at night without having to go to the bathroom (could this prove that this is driven by my own fears and anxiety?)

    I am what I would describe as a classic TMS candidate! Anxious, always worrying about the future, health obsessed, shy, self-critical, self-doubting, analytical, dependent on others, non-confrontational, craving to be liked and find it difficult to say 'no' to people.

    There is a lot going on in my life that is stressing me right now - emotional stress and conflicts and pressures.
    I am feeling very overwhelmed and it is taking over my life.

    Does any of this sound familiar? I hope this forum and the books will help me out of this dark place...
  2. MrRage

    MrRage Peer Supporter

    I began to have bladder problems when I was 16 years old, This was roughly eight years ago. My problems began during Christmas break. The semester leading up to the break had been particularly stressful and my grades that semester were poor. I felt like an idiot and feared that I would not be able to continue to be an outstanding student. My problems began a few days after receiving my grades and continued for more than a year until I met a very competent doctor who diagnosed my problems as a psychosomatic bladder issue. It was difficult to accept at first but over the course of the next year my bladder problems and frequent urination went away. Then I began having back problems and headaches until March of this year, when I discovered the works of Dr. Sarno. I will still get some pain from headaches, feel pain in my anus, and some backpain but it no longer dominates my life nor does it put me on my back for days on end like it did up until March, 2016.

    So, at least in my case, my bladder problems were 100% psychological. Two years ago I read a book about trigger points, pelvic pain, and interstitial cystitis and tried to explain my recovery to overcoming certain sensitivities to muscle tension. This is a bad way of explanation although even trigger point therapy does point to an underlying psychological cause.

    And in my case, worrying about the symptoms only exacerbated them and made them worse. I am incredibly thankful to that doctor for his diagnosis because I otherwise probably would've undergone several unnecessary surgeries. I just wish that I could've learned about Dr. Sarno at the same time because I would have accomplished much more in the past years if it wasn't for my back pain, headaches, and other pain.
  3. Anxiousone

    Anxiousone New Member

    Thanks, MrRage.

    I'm sorry to hear what you went through but it's encouraging to know that people have overcome their pain and symptoms. I can understand that bladder symptoms can be 100% psychological but when you have a feeling of irritation down there as well as the frequency, it's very hard to accept that. This is the challenge though, I suppose. When you do fully accept, you can start to heal. Fear is a huge component to all this, in my case. I fear having some organic disease, I fear not being able to empty my bladder, I fear going out in case I urgently need to find a toilet when it's not convenient, I fear all the tests and examinations that are usually performed when someone goes to their doctor with 'urinary issues' etc etc..
    If I delve into my past I can think of many situations and events that caused a lot of stress, some related to the whole bladder situation, even though my childhood was relatively happy, comfortable and secure.
  4. MrRage

    MrRage Peer Supporter

    In my case I very clearly did have feelings of irritation and felt like I constantly needed to use the restroom, sometimes going
    up to 10-15 times/hour. The pain and urgency are real. However, it was understanding the psychological cause of the pain that allowed me to overcome it.

    I had all of your symptoms. And they have all gone away. Sometimes they will come back but being calm and confident that they will go away makes the problem go away from my experience. I use the bathroom about as frequently as the average person does.
    Angel8, she333 and Anxiousone like this.
  5. Steve Ozanich

    Steve Ozanich TMS Consultant

    It sounds like a common TMS event, but you always need to get worked up for safety.

    But after that, the cure comes from never trying to heal, but rather getting to your thinking process. Not only the thinking process of TMS, but deeper into the life thinking process. We are our beliefs, nothing more. Everything we are is everything we have become to believe about ourselves. The imagery, heavily influenced by the unconscious is an extremely powerful force. Things like calling yourself "Anxious one" set the stage for what follows. You become what you see yourself as. If you believe your body is broken, then it is. If you believe you are healthy then you are. See yourself as healed and calm and it will come.
  6. Anxiousone

    Anxiousone New Member

    Thanks Steve!

    You're right, calling myself 'anxiousone' was probably not one of my best ideas if I want to have positive beliefs!
    What I am currently going through; the pelvic pain, bladder symptoms etc happened back in 2012 and even though it was a long road, I slowly healed - but not by taking medication or having surgery or physical therapy, it happened gradually as I took my focus away from my physical problems and stopped fearing it. I see this now. I am going through it again because a lot of stress has cropped up in my life. I have the tools to deal with it but it can be hard to be positive when I think back to the months of suffering I went through the first time round. I am seeing my doctor tomorrow and will see what he has to say about it. It will be interesting to see if he has any sympathy as far as mind-body illnesses are concerned...
  7. she333

    she333 Peer Supporter

    I 100 percent have your symptoms and personality and we're nearly the same age. I understand how dark this place can be. It's overwhelming and isolating. But being with others helps. So long as you don't let yourself get self conscious about the potty trips. Do you get insomnia too? I have a tendency to wake up terrified often. Just starting Schubiners unlearn your anxiety and depression.
  8. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I have the symptom of frequent urination when I'm anxious, too. But I changed my thinking about it and no longer see it as a problem. When a restroom is convenient, like at home, I just go when I feel like it. When I'm going to be in a situation where it isn't convenient to go to the restroom, I empty my bladder before I go, and then when I feel the urge to go sooner than is necessary, I tell myself that it is just anxiety and that I don't really need to go. Then I focus on something else. I can go an amazing amount of time without using the restroom using this strategy. The more success I had, the more confidant I became. I can remind myself, "Hey, remember that time you went 5 hours when you were shopping without ever needing the restroom. There's nothing wrong with your bladder." I even re-framed the symptom at work as something positive, since it got me away from desk and up and walking to the restroom frequently. Since getting up from sitting and walking around is recommended every 30 minutes, then I told myself the symptom was just reminding to do this. As Steve O states above, it is all in our thinking and belief.

    Oh, if you want to change your Forum name to something more positive/neutral, you can send Forest a message and he can change it for you.
    westb and Tennis Tom like this.
  9. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    A doctor friend of mine told me to take Flomax for it. One or two of those works like a charm. Now just knowing they are in the glovebox of the car is usually all I need to not fear the symptom. When I get a rare case of the going and going and going, I make a TMS game of it and see if I can set a record for pit-stops, I've gotten good at tree-spotting.
  10. MrRage

    MrRage Peer Supporter

    Last night I slept like a baby and awoke in the afternoon today. I immediately started feeling some back pain and immediately started thinking to myself "I am pain free, there is nothing structural that is responsible for my pain. This pain is a consequence of unconscious feelings of rage" and it almost immediately went away. I had an incredibly pain free day today. There's going to be more days like today in the future!!!

    When someone has a TMS equivalent for frequent urination, a good way to think about it would be something along the lines of "I have already used the bathroom recently. There is no reason why I should feel the urge to go. These feelings of urgency are a consequence of unconscious feelings of rage'

    When I overcame my own frequent urination problems, I wasn't aware of the works of Dr. Sarno but did believe that the cause was psychosomatic. I would tell myself that there is nothing wrong with my bladder. Rather, my brain was being overly sensitive in my pelvic region and I therefore would simply have to ignore the pain. It worked! Although instead of having problems with urinary frequency, I started having problems with back, shoulder, and neck pain instead.

    Once a person stops having problems with urinary frequency, they should be aware that TMS is still likely to manifest in other areas of the body. This is the nature of the syndrome.
    brendan537 and Tennis Tom like this.
  11. Anxiousone

    Anxiousone New Member

    Thanks for the replies folks! An update: I saw my doctor today and he actually agreed with me that my problems are anxiety related and not because of a physical problem. I didn't mention anything about TMS but I did tell him that I am under a lot of stress at the moment. It's really interesting about TMS shifting from one area of the body to another. Four months ago I had breathing issues and chest pain but there was nothing wrong with my lungs or my heart. During that time my bladder was functioning normally.
    I have tried flomax but it didn't really have much of an effect on me. Another reason why this is due to anxiety and tension rather than a prostate problem. She333, I don't have insomnia, I actually sleep really well and don't wake up to use the bathroom until around 7am. For that, I am very grateful!
  12. Scott.Cameron

    Scott.Cameron Peer Supporter

    yeah ive had this as one of my symptom imperatives, was tested by doctors all came back normal. for sure this is TMS
  13. Steampunk

    Steampunk New Member

    I had this problem, the first two symptoms at least that you mention, years ago in college. I was wound up about exams and upset about a girl. Went and got checked out by doctors, nothing unusual was found. At the time, nobody mentioned to me that it might have been psychologically based. The more I worried about it and sought treatments, the more of an issue it was in my life.

    Eventually, I stopped paying attention to it, got on with my life and it pretty much went away. Thinking about it now, there's no doubt that it was TMS.
  14. DontStopBelieving

    DontStopBelieving Peer Supporter

    Hi all, and thanks for posting this Anxiousone. I have been looking for other people's stories with this issues to figure out if I'm alone in the bladder world. My life revolves around it and even though you could say I go to the toilet as the next average person, the feelings of half empty bladder, fear of not being near a toilet or pain in the pelvic area is a nightmare. It has been going on for 10 years for me and I have never really treated it as TMS because I had other TMS symptoms to deal with, back pain, neck pain, chest pain, nausea, vertigo, dizziness... the list goes on and on. I'm seeing a TMS therapist and that has helped a lot and doing other things to help myself but it is very easy to fall into the trap of obsessive thinking, especially when it comes to my bladder. What are the strategies that helped you guys? I've been to the doctors twice to get a check and every time it was all normal. So I accepted it as being a psychological issue but that didn't help improving it. I do have good days when I completely forget about it and use that as a proof, I also noticed the times of my life when it was connected to a very stressful situation.
  15. NicoleB34

    NicoleB34 Well known member

    yes, i've had this on and off for 15 years. It has been diagnosed as interstitial cystitis. Most of the time it is in remission, and a 1-2 on the pain scale. When it's in active flare mode though, holy hell! It came about when i had a string of bad bladder infections that i either didnt totally treat, or i tried "natural" remedies. This led to a sensitization of the bladder nerves (if you believe in the Central Sensitization model, which many say is just the doctor's fancy term for TMS). Either way, my bladder has not been "right" since i was a teen. I was convinced that after a suffering upwards of 40 infections, that my bladder must be "damaged". however, there were things that didnt make sense. How could nerve damage come and go?

    My last and worst flare happened in 2015, and during that time, i was in a relationship with trust issues. I was usually happy, but always on edge (and bouts of sadness). I started having trouble with urination. I'd sit on the toilet and the pee wouldnt start. i'd get pangs of pain before the flow started. This went on for about 6 months. It was pelvic floor dysfunction affecting my bladder. however, PFD is simply tension. Then it turned into a full blown IC flare. This flare lasted a year. I was in hell. Extreme pain.

    You know what stopped it? I developed something else. Something worse. I was so beside myself with the new condition that i kind of stopped caring about my bladder. That was the key. Stopped caring. As much as the bladder hurt, it didnt stop me from doing things (maybe my sex life was affected, that's it) but i could still go out and mountain bike, and all that. But this new condition straight up DISABLED me. It became my new obsession and the bladder no longer had a stranglehold on my mind. So, it just sort of....went away. A year of torture with no signs of stopping, just stopped! That was 2.5 years ago. Since then, it woke up for about two weeks and i was so scared, but i tried really hard not to freak out because i knew that would feed it. Funny thing is, when i was freaking and focusing on the bladder, the other condition abated quite a bit.

    The mind has a way of focusing on what you obsess over. It was then when i realize i wasnt suffering simple nerve damage or inflammation. Something else was going on. It's what led me to finding out about TMS and it all starting making sense.
    I will be honest though, even though i KNOW i have central sensitization/TMS, and i know there are certain activities that cause abatment in my symptoms (walking around, distracted busy work) i still havent mastered how to will the pain away. I know it doesnt work like that. However, i'm recognizing the signs that TMS is the real deal. I was told by a pelvic doctor that the pelvic floor is controlled by the autonomic nervous system. THat means when you're stressed, the fight or flight mode kicks in and your pelvis reacts. that's why pelvic pain is so connected to your emotions and stress.
    westb likes this.
  16. NicoleB34

    NicoleB34 Well known member

    oh, btw, what do i do? the "other" terrible condition i developed is pudendal neuralgia. it's a pelvic pain disorder that i found more disabling than IC. One of the things i did was to say to hell with doctors telling me "dont do that, you'll damage the nerve" in response to sitting, biking, sex, bending over, hiking steep hills, basically anything that might "hurt" the nerve. Doctors treat PN as a nerve dysfunction or injury. I know now that PN is not nerve damage, but rather it's all coming from my central nervous system. Yes the nerve is sensitive, but that's because of the SIGNALS it's getting. The more i fear activity, the more it reacts. So, at first i lived my life in a depressed bubble. i stopped biking (biking is terrible for PN, right? you wouldnt dream of getting on a saddle. most people can barely sit), i did what the doctors told me. i GOT WORSE. So when learning of TMS, i did my best to pretend i didnt have a crippling illness, and i went out and tried to enjoy my life. I slowly got back into biking, which was the biggest thing. No i'm not as hardcore as i used to be, because admittedly i'm still a bit scared, because i DO still flare. However, my flares are diminishing because i'm changing my relationship with fear and bikes. i'm seeing the success with my own eyes and body. I still struggle with pain during my commutes and being at work. Right now as i type, my pain is awful, because i haven't taken meds. Yes, i do take pain meds and i have no shame in that. i will continue to take meds until i can beat this thing. my suffering is so great that i panic and cant work or sleep if i dont. My advice to you, is if there's ANYTHING you avoid because of your bladder, start doing it. Start slow, but pretend you dont have the issue. Get back into life, try to bring joy back. I also found that meditation and journaling (very scathing honest journaling) helps. I listened to Howard Shubiner's CD that came with his book, Unlearn your pain, reduced some of my pain (I tried it last night, it was like meditation.
    katecoco8 likes this.
  17. Time2be

    Time2be Well known member

    Dear Don’tstopbelievin! So sorry, this bladder stuff is nasty and I sympathize! Firstly, I need to ask whether you had check ups with an urologist. This is necessary to rule out any other disease. Secondly, if they tell you that they can’t find anything wrong with your bladder (no bleeding, tissue damage etc. ) and therefore (!) they she/he thinks you have interstitial cystitis/Bladder pain syndrome, well then you can be quite sure that it is TMS.
    Let’s suppose it is TMS. Then the first thing you need to do is to calm down. Fear is feeding TMS and even more bladder related TMS. You might rembember the moments before an exam, when you have to pee all the time. Well, this is how the autonomous nerve system influences the bladder. So, the more you relax, the better you will feel. If it is TMS, you will have to start finding out what the psychological reasons are that you developed this kind of nerve reaction (and it is nothing more than that!). There is the free program here on the website by Allan Gordon and there are other resources, for example Howard Schubiner book on “Unlearn your pain”.
    It’s possible to be pain free and not to be a slave of one’s bladder!
  18. DontStopBelieving

    DontStopBelieving Peer Supporter

    Hi both and thanks for your answers. I had the usual checks they send you to do when you have this kind of symptoms but everything was normal, and I did it twice. I was diagnosed with irritable bladder symptom. I also have a history of irritable bowel symptom that acts up when I'm under stress but I manage it very well just because I know what it is. I'm currently in between moving countries, jobs, houses etc and I have to find a new doctor so am not able to do any extra checks at the moments but I'm 100 % sure it is TMS just because of my history with it and because I had days when it didn't bother me at all and days when it was impossible to deal with. My problem is: it got to the point when it is difficult to understand if I actually do need the toilet or it is just a resemblance of it, if you know what I mean. I did the Gordon program and have used many books to deal with TMS and also I'm doing therapy as well with a TMS specialist because I just had enough of all the symptoms in general and I was stuck, I could heal to a certain level and the symptoms would linger in the background but I'm able to have a normal life. How do you stop feeling fear or anxiety when you have to go somewhere where it is difficult to find a toilet? I force myself to go on walks and activities because I don't want to be a slave of it but that brings a lot of anxiety and fear.
  19. NicoleB34

    NicoleB34 Well known member

    I have IC but i am a bit of an odd patient in the fact that i dont have "frequency/urgency" so much, it's mostly just pain. So i dont really worry about finding a toilet. however, i do think i'm developing IBS. I can eat whatever i want and it doesnt bother my gut, but i find that in the mornings, and JUST the mornings, i have this crampy pain (almost an urgency to use the toilet) but it always seems to fade by 10 am. Most people with digestive problems, and i mean REAL digestive problems wouldnt just have it in the morning. however, i think my brain has created an association with the morning. Sometimes i wake up with almost no pain, and then i simply think about it, and it appears. It seems to feel a bit like "anxiety belly".
    i was told that IBS and IC are linked. it's due to a sensitivity spreading in the pelvis (and we know this is coming from the nervous system).

    I think you're doing a good thing by forcing yourself to do activities, and if you're not sure it's "real" pee, then odds are, you wont have an accident, not to mention, the urgency/frequency that comes with IC isnt usually associate with a full bladder. It's generally just sensitivity and spasms. As long as you arent drinking a full glass of water before taking your walks, you're probably fine. Even if you feel the feeling, just try and relax. i know it's difficult. I dont have that symptom, so i cant sympathize. I just have pain, and i'm forcing myself to do stuff despite the fear that "pain will ruin it". For instance, next week i'm doing a short road trip. Sitting in the car upwards of 12 hours. Last year i would have been scared to do that. Now, i dont really fear it.
    Tennis Tom likes this.
  20. DontStopBelieving

    DontStopBelieving Peer Supporter

    Hi NicoleB34, thanks for your reply, I had IBS first and then the bladder sensitivity afterwards. I think every person has a different version of the TMS symptoms in general and some things can help some of us to live with it and heal and dont help others with the same symptoms. I had my share of the TMS symptom spectrum since very little and I know the pain can be very intense no matter where it is. Did you have any medical checks for the IBS? It seems right what you think to be a conditioning for the timing of when the symptoms happen. I had the same issue with many symptoms. I also normally wake up with no symptom and then within 10 minutes it all starts as my brain wakes up. I've been doing better actually regarding the IC, but now I have other symptoms as a replacement. It's a vicious circle. You seem to be doing a very good job as well. Well done and good luck with the trip.

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