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Pregnancy & TMS? GERD, Severe Hives, etc.

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by jrl2014, Aug 26, 2019.

  1. jrl2014

    jrl2014 Newcomer

    I sent this post in to "Ask a Therapist" and am posting here in case any of you have insight to offer. Also because I'm itching like a madwoman and anxious to get help sooner rather than later. :)

    For background, I'm a true believer in TMS / Dr. Sarno and recovered from dozens of symptoms several years ago. It's been among the biggest life-changing forces in my life and wellbeing.

    That said, I'm now six months pregnant (for the first time) and have dealt with a slew of common pregnancy symptoms including but not limited to morning sickness which quickly evolved into GERD, lower back pain, constipation, and most recently, severe hives.

    What started out as a random smattering of small itchy bumps a couple of months ago evolved into diffuse full-blown hives last week across both underarms, chest, back, and groin. Ended up in urgent care yesterday after a day of Benadryl proved ineffective and was prescribed Atarax, another similar first-generation antihistamine. It seems to be marginally more helpful, but the itching is still disruptive and to the point where I'm waking myself up scratching during the night and not able to go to work.

    Throughout my pregnancy I've held in the back of my mind the possibility that my symptoms could be TMS but I was never able to definitively get rid of any of them by adopting that mindset / ignoring or trying to think away the symptoms. The lower back pain went away on its own after a couple of weeks but it didn't seem timely enough to be to my credit. The GERD improved to the point where I could halve my Prilosec dosage, but when I tried to wean off the meds cold turkey, I woke up dry heaving on the third or fourth night without meds, so I kept my sweet spot at the halved dosage, one pill a day. What makes it tough is that pregnancy (in my mind) is a kind of wild card that leaves me less comfortable / willing to operate off normal TMS assumptions. To boot, all pregnancy literature of course provide very rational, believable physical explanations for the symptoms, i.e. literal structural and hormonal changes.

    Now because hives is such a commonly acknowledged stress-induced condition, and because it's been the most acute and debilitating symptom so far, I am feeling more confident in the the TMS connection here. Pregnancy has certainly been a time fraught with all sorts of existential and health-related anxiety and fear. On top of that, I still have a career to keep up with (plus the pressure / shame of being pregnant in the workplace), family dynamics to juggle, and an upcoming trip with my parents and husband that have my people-pleaser / peacekeeper in overdrive.

    However, I was a bit concerned by Alan's remark here, where he asserts that hives is NOT a TMS equivalent but a consequence of stress: http://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/how-do-i-lower-my-stress.10868/ (Alan G. - How do I lower my stress?). It's discouraging because I don't expect to be able to significantly reduce or eliminate my stress until after the baby is born, and after that, I'll be dealing with a whole different, possibly worse, beast of stress.

    Would love to hear any of your thoughts/insight around this situation including:
    - How does TMS factor into pregnancy?
    - Is employing mindful breathing is the best/only course of action to remedy the hives? Is hives really always a consequence and not a TMS equivalent (asking because it really is an excellent distraction)?
    - Any other pregnancy / TMS success stories you can point me to? I've seen a few on the forum but always looking for more.

    Thank you so much!
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Huh, that's an interesting reply by Alan Gordon. Because, to me, it's all connected, ESPECIALLY in those of us who tend to be hyper-sensitive and prone to anxiety. As much as I love Alan (and I totally credit him, from some of his early webinars on our forum, for totally helping me to open and soften) I don't see the point in trying to separate these responses.

    Dr. Gabor Mate is the one whose book, When The Body Says No, is subtitled "The Stress-Disease Connection". To him, physiological stress is the result of emotional repression. So yes, we've got Dr. Sarno's brilliant theory of distraction, but when emotional repression goes on too long, you also definitely get a physiological response. And all of this is made worse by excess anxiety.

    In your "spare time" (LOL, I'm sure you've got plenty of that :eek:) are you able to do any journaling, bringing your negative emotions about pregnancy and impending motherhood out in the open where your brain can stop believing that it needs to repress them? I've found that it's one thing to "think" that I'm aware of the things I might be repressing, and it's quite another to get them down on paper. There's a reason that writing has always been seen as a cathartic exercise.
  3. jrl2014

    jrl2014 Newcomer

    Thank you, Jan! I really appreciate your take, and I tend to agree. Yesterday when I had to stay home from work, I read and "meditated" on TMS stuff all day, including journaling. You are right -- getting my fears out in writing made me realize just how much I've had on my emotional plate...and of course, the overarching theme was all about toxic shame -- not being a good enough mother to be / wife / daughter / person. I also realized I was stubbornly trying to deny my fears / shame for fear of "contaminating" my unborn baby's psyche with them. Wow!

    Have you ever dealt with TMS skin conditions and successfully gotten over them? I think this is the hardest TMS challenge yet because the skin is one organ, yet it's not as discrete as, say, a foot. Whereas I got rid of other joint / muscle pain almost instantaneously , my fear has still got a vice-like grip on my mind because of the fear that the rashes will continue to spread across the body. And because I'm unable to control the itching very effectively (not taking oral antihistamines because they make me too woozy, not applying hydrocortisone cream because it's not advisable for pregnant women), the attention and fear remain.
  4. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    I recommend self-compassion, soothing, and nurturing. Try an oatmeal bath or salve, and visualize it calming your skin. Think about how your own mother nurtured you as a baby, before you had to grow up and leave her arms. It's what we all miss, and wish we could have again. A little visualization can bring back that simple time, and help to soothe you, and remind you that you will be giving the same nurturing to your child too.

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