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New to mindfulness... could use advice!

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Alice, Jun 17, 2017.

  1. Alice

    Alice New Member

    I have been living with neck pain for the last four years. It started after I lifted my two-year-old, and my early symptoms included aching and pain in my right arm. I was told I probably had a herniated disc and it would get better. It didn't. It got worse.

    My symptoms have since evolved. I don't have much pain in my right arm anymore, but now I get pain in my upper traps, usually on the left side, sometimes on the right. I know I don't have the greatest posture, so I try to work on that, which helps minimally. I have tried the following with variable success:

    Massage/massage pillow
    Physical therapy (twice)
    Meditation (although I'm very, very bad at it)

    I had an MRI and went to a pain clinic, and they offered me an injection, but said it probably wouldn't work, partially because I was so terrified. I cried at the appointment. I gave up lifting my daughter and stopped being able to push her stroller... I feel like I missed so much. Now she's too old to be lifted, but the pain remains. It isn't constant and it moves around a lot, and there are periods where it isn't as bad, but it's never gone. I feel like I'm not even a person anymore sometimes because there are so many things I limit myself from doing. I still work full time and take care of my kids, and that's all I can manage. I want to volunteer at their school events but I never do because I'm scared it will hurt me. I don't ever miss work, I just suffer.

    I read Dr. Sarno's book two years ago. As I was reading it, I thought to myself, "Wow, that is me exactly!" The personality type fit me so well. I'm an anxious person, very much a pleaser, and have constant physical ailments. Before this neck issue hit, I had issues with constantly feeling like I had to pee even though I had no UTI. Sleep issues.... definitely. IBS... that's been a lifelong problem, but it got so much worse a couple of years ago. The neck pain started when things were really bad with my husband. He was unhappy, threatening to leave me, saying that having children was a mistake and he didn't want to take care of them. I've always been a really anxious person. So it all made sense.

    But at the same time, reading the book didn't "cure" me. I didn't quite believe it at the time. I moved on to trying other things and put mindfulness aside.

    The last couple of months, I've had an "exacerbation" and I've been looking for answers. It all started when I found out we're likely going to have to move in the next year and I'll have to give up my home, job, and start over. I had never been back to normal, but I'd cut back on massage and all my little modalities. Now I've taken ten steps backwards.

    I want to be done with this for good! Also, I want to figure out how to deal with my anxiety in a better way. My mother has tinnitus that evolved to the point where she couldn't go to her grandchildren's ballet recital because she's scared of the noise. I see myself moving in that direction and I'm SO scared. It's like a freight train barreling toward me that I can't stop.

    Sorry that this turned into a novel. I really want to try this now... I feel like I'm ready to go all in, but I'm not entirely sure the best way to begin. I want to believe in TMS, but it's hard to believe that there's no physiological basis for my pain, even though it makes sense. That's probably why it didn't work for me when I read the book.

    I'd be SO grateful for any words of wisdom. Thank you in advance.
  2. Jules

    Jules Well known member

    welcomeaBelieve me, I was just like you, and the first thing I did was do the SEP that is on this site, start journaling getting out all of those emotions, and not being afraid of the pain. That is a big thing, do not be afraid of the pain. Also, talk to yourself and tell your brain that it doesn't need to overreact to these emotional stresses, that you are OK and that you can get well.

    If it makes you feel any better, I have dealt with everything that you were dealing with and then some, for the last 20 years. I am now back to a full-time job, typing on the computer eight hours a day. At first, I had the pain, but then I told myself that it needed to just calm down that there was no reason to overreact. I then got nausea, then I got anxiety. My brain did not want to give up the ruse. I had to desensitize my brain to the habit of pain. Once I started to change the way I dealt with stress, by a therapist, and started to think about the positive things that could happen, my brain started changing. It's also helpful to read the great pain deception by Steve Ozanick . He was a stubborn case, and it took him quite a while before he finally got well. I am on year five, off & on, but it's only because I've had chronic pain for the last 20 years. You can do this!!

    Keep coming back here for inspiration, guidance, advice, and support. I owe my healing to many people on this site, as well as to Dr. Sarno and Steve.
  3. Alice

    Alice New Member

    Thank you so much! I know fear is a big part of it. During my "good periods," I was not scared of the pain. When I had it, I'd just brush it off, figuring it would get better, and ultimately, it would. Now I'm the opposite... the second I start feeling it, I fly into a panic and that makes the pain much worse. I've had like three mini panic attacks over it in the last few weeks. It's just so hard to change my way of thinking though! I did psychotherapy for about four years (actually started *before* the pain started, for my anxiety) and it was useless, but this woman was not specially trained in any of my issues.

    I bought "The Mind Body Workbook" by David Schechter and I was planning to do that, but maybe I'd be better off doing the SEP on this site. What do you think?
    Celayne likes this.
  4. Celayne

    Celayne Well known member

    I just started the SEP and while I was having a bad, bad day when I started this afternoon, it has improved vastly just by going through The TMS Recovery Program. Now I'm on Week 0 of the SEP.

    I have had a similar experience to yours, the pain moving around, spreading, nothing really helping. It's annoying, frightening, depressing. Not to mention expensive. The panic and fear is the worst, though. I can't tell you the number of last minute cancellations I have made because I felt a little off and was terrified that I'd have a bad pain episode while out in a restaurant or elsewhere. Not much of a life, when you think about it. It does feed on itself - any time I would have pain/panic somewhere, I could never go there again for fear of re triggering it. I did EMDR therapy with a psychologist a couple of years ago and that really helped. That was before I'd heard of TMS. Now I live in a different city, so can't go back to that therapist, but found a different one to help deal with the TMS pain/fear/rage issues.

    Good luck on your journey. This forum has already helped me a lot in a few hours.
  5. Jules

    Jules Well known member

    To tell you the truth, I did do the mind-body workbook, and it helps some, but the SEP and the daily reminders, as well as trying not to heal is what ultimately got me to heal. Sometimes, the very fact of us trying desperately to heal is a TMS equivalent, because it still keeps us distracted. You have to just do it. You have to tell your brain that it is not in any danger, and that you don't need to be afraid, and then you need to just start doing things. I have painted my whole house, I have swept and mopped, and vacuumed, walked miles, hiked, you name it. you just have to be brave and do it.
    Celayne likes this.
  6. Alice

    Alice New Member

    You painted the whole house?! That is amazing! Right now, that's an impossible dream to me. I am afraid to use certain forks to eat with because I'm worried they are too heavy and will make my pain worse. It sounds so ridiculous writing it down, but I really think that way now.

    I think I am going to do the SEP because I love the sense of community here. If I do the workbook, I'll feel like I'm doing it alone. Already, I feel a "part" of this, and it's motivating me to keep going. You guys are awesome. I'm tearing up.

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