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Day 1 Postpartum recovery triggered fissures, IBS, anxiety

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by petitebou, Apr 18, 2023.

  1. petitebou

    petitebou Newcomer

    So I have been familiar with TMS work for a while. I first discovered it about 4 years ago when I threw out my back - each time it was during a very stressful time in my life (sister's messy divorce, going through IVF treatment etc). Then I started getting what I thought were hemorrhoids and later found out were anal fissures. Horribly painful. With the Nicole Sachs JournalSpeak method, I was really able to change my mindset and never experienced the back pain again (other than some twinges). But the fissure... that kept coming back. Eventually it resolved with a fiber supplement, woohoo! I was free! And I never gave it much thought until I had my baby 18 months ago. Since then, non-stop fissure and other pelvic related symptoms, the most anxiety-inducing and debilitating of which was this horrible fissure pain. Literally a pain in the ass. I knew that I carried so much tension in my pelvic area from a very traumatic birth and postpartum recovery; motherhood was SO MUCH HARDER than I had ever anticipated... keep in mind I had been trying for 5 years to start a family and thought I would finally achieve happiness and fulfillment if I had my miracle baby. Well, imagine my horror when I had my baby and life became infinitely harder.. lack of sleep, traumatic delivery and pelvic pain, fear of my body and that it would never heal from the traumatic event, no time to myself to eat or shower or exercise, the total loss of autonomy that comes from having a baby during COVID in a very cold and blizzardy winter that prevents leaving the house or seeing anyone.. and the resulting depression and anxiety. Motherhood was not at all what I expected and I cried all day every day that I had brought this on myself and brought this helpless baby into this world when I couldn't even love or appreciate him... I tear up as I write this, and anyone who has had a child can probably relate...

    I had so much resentment about this huge life change that I felt no one prepared me for (because how could they?). I was so angry at my husband that he now had this beautiful child but I was the one that had to suffer so much to bring him into this world, and continued to suffer from these never ending anal fissures, pelvic pain, stomach issues, weight gain, and then had to be at home with a baby with no chance to rest and no identity outside of being a mom, which I was convinced I absolutely hated (and then felt so guilty about because I HAD WANTED THIS, AFTER ALL).

    I met a friend online who had also recently had a baby, suffered from health anxiety and experienced anal fissures... this is what bonded us, actually! We exchanged numbers and would leave multiple 15 minute voice memos for eachother during our days to keep eachother company. She recommended a prescription cream for the fissure that had worked for her (a calcium channel blocker), and it solved the problem for me. Hallelujah!! Other than a few minor discomforts or flare ups, I was pain free for 5 months. We even sold our house, moved into another one (with a 7 month old!), and I was totally fine. And then I started to experience weird IBS symptoms.. the main one was incomplete evacauation/bowel emptying. What the heck? I'd go to the bathroom, and then wouldn't feel done, and then need to go again! This would ignite fear about my fissure getting aggravated and coming back... and it did, hardcore, worse than I ever thought it would.

    When was that? It was in October, 5-6 months after I had healed my chronic fissure issue with the "cream". What was going on in my life at the time? My son was turning 1, which brought to the surface all kinds of feelings about my traumatic delivery... he was starting daycare and as a result got horribly sick and had croup (this meant we were up with him all night, holding him upright so he could breathe, for 3 weeks, 3 trips to the ER to check his oxygen levels, etc). I was also going back to work, after a year of maternity leave, to a job I found unfulfilling and had wanted to move on from for years but felt I couldn't while we underwent fertility treatment. Anyway, this fissure flare up lasted at least a month. It was excruciating. And since then, I have had periods of healing (with the cream), and then flare ups that last way longer than they ever did before. I have gone down the rabbit holes of fiber and how much, diet and when and how to eat, achieving the perfect bowel movements, laxatives, magnesium, sitz baths, relaxation, pelvic floor physiotherapy... you name it I've tried it. Hours spent on Reddit forums where people talk about how surgery is the only option and for many of them it resolved the issues but for many of them it didn't and brought them back to square one. Many people talking about how constipation is what caused their fissure, whereas in my experience I was never constipated and it made no sense why I kept getting flare ups.

    So anyway, here I am. I have had so much fear around this symptom. I found this proctologist on youtube (the friendly proctologist) who is the only medical expert I've ever heard address the mind-body component of this syndrome. He talks about how it's not as simple as tweaking your fiber, applying a cream, relaxing... all of these go together, along with understanding your STORY. I have also come to believe that these chronic fissures are a way my body is devising to give me an excuse to 'bow out' of being a mom when I really don't want to deal with it... I have seen so little on this topic in the TMS community. It's such an embarrassing symptom to have that I even find it easier to put under the blanket of 'pelvic pain' because that feels less shameful than 'anal fissures'. But I am so determined to tackle this. I KNOW that once an injury heals, if it continues to come back and becomes chronic, there has to have a mind body component. I fully fully believe in this and the concept of TMS. But I have just been unable to bring lasting change to myself using any methods, including JournalSpeak, reading The Great Pain Deception, watching Dan Buglio or any other mind-body practitioners. My mind still says to me 'you have this physical injury, exacerbated by giving birth, and you are going to have to perfectly manage your stress, your diet, your supplements in order to avoid constant flare ups for the rest of your life, and you'll probably still need surgery but even that isn't a guarantee'. This is not sustainable. Shit happens (literally). So I am trying this structured program because I have tried everything else and the structured 'what to do' approach appeals more to me than than the 'know you are okay, go about your day, don't give your symptoms any attention' approach even though I know this is part of it.

    I'm not sure anyone will read this but if you do get to the end of it... thank you :)
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    hello @petitebou and welcome! I certainly did get to the end of it, and all of the middle as well - which I don't always do, because long descriptions comprised only of symptoms, treatments and diagnoses do not make for riveting reading! What made your story stand out from the crowd is the connections you consistently make to what's going on with your emotions at any given time - and it's powerful as well as riveting.

    It absolutely sounds like you're in the right place for recovery. The structure of the SEP has been helpful to so many of us (I did it back in 2011). You could also check out Alan Gordon's Recovery Program (here on the forum) for a slightly less structured, more emotionally-based program. And in 2012, Alan produced two live webinars for the forum which were awesome and very influential for me - I've got links to both of them in the long list of favorite resources that's at the end of my profile story - they are in the second grouping.

    THIS really caught my eye! First of all, gold stars to you for being willing to be so open about this! And you're right about how the topic is not mentioned much, and I've been doing this since 2011. But here's the interesting thing: I feel like the majority of participants who are willing to mention this particular symptom by name, or to describe other anal/elimination symptoms in detail, tend to be male. It's not 100% true, of course, nothing is ever absolute - but I would say it's the majority. Which means that female participants are probably using euphemisms and "pelvic symptoms" as you suggested. And you know what? As a female, I totally get it.

    Mind you, part of our skillset as we get better at controlling our TMS symptoms is to stop thinking physically, which first means to train ourselves to stop discussing or describing the details of physical symptoms, and instead to refer to them in much more generic terms - of which "pelvic symptoms" would be an example. But, you know, that rule doesn't apply to introductory stories - so your comment really piqued my curiousity and my memory.

    I love this. The Sarno "purists" will reject this out of hand, but Dr Sarno himself said that sometimes, you just gotta take the medication. In other words, why not use an available tool to find temporary relief? As long as you recognize that it's only temporary, it will get you over the worst, give your nervous system a chance to calm down, and allow your brain to recognize the next step, which is finding a constructive and emotional pathway out of pain.

    All the best, keep us posted, and don't be afraid to ask for help along the way - especially if you find your symptoms, including anxiety or depression, getting worse - perhaps a week or ten days into the program. It's normal, but it's f'ing scary:eek:. But it's normal! And it's okay to ask for reassurance :)

  3. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    By the way, @petitebou, do you listen to Nicole's podcasts? I am a HUGE fan. Several of her most recent ones should speak directly to you. Her episodes are available in all of the main podcast apps, or on the web at audioboom.com. I've personally listened to all of these:

    March 3, 2023 - S3, E27, titled "A Deep Dive Into the Symptom Imperative".
    https://audioboom.com/posts/8245738-a-deep-dive-into-the-symptom-imperative?playlist_direction=forward (The Cure for Chronic Pain with Nicole Sachs, LCSW / A Deep Dive Into The Symptom Imperative)
    This is a repeat from sometime last year because so many people are reporting relapses due to the world-wide existential mental health crisis.

    Episodes 29 and 30 which I reported on here: Nicole Sachs podcast S3 Episodes 29 and 30 | TMS Forum (The Mindbody Syndrome) (tmswiki.org)

    Episode 31 - Pelvic Pain Success Story The Cure for Chronic Pain with Nicole Sachs, LCSW / Success! Pelvic Pain, IC, Back Pain, and Anxiety with Shivani (audioboom.com)
  4. petitebou

    petitebou Newcomer

    Thank you so much for your encouraging and thoughtful response @JanAtheCPA. I sooo appreciate it!!
    JanAtheCPA likes this.

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