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Recent Breakthrough for Allergies/Hay Fever

Discussion in 'Success Stories Subforum' started by Christina, Jan 15, 2023.

  1. Christina

    Christina New Member

    Hi all, I'm new to this particular forum, but I wanted to share with you my experience with TMS, low back pain, and a host of other symptoms, in the hopes that it might inspire others to think outside the box and really question their symptoms. And honestly, I think writing this out is also partially selfish because I'm reinforcing to my mind that most (and maybe all?) of my symptoms are emotional in origin.

    About 10 years ago, I was dealing with some severe low back pain. Initially, the perceived injury was pulling a rain boot on in the morning (in hindsight, I was very unhappy with working on this farm, but thought I "should" like it.) I'll also say, previously I was lifting 80-90 pound plaster molds in getting my art degree, and I felt pretty strong in my body. So it kinda didn't make sense that pulling a boot on would be a source of severe injury.

    Fast forward a year: I had recently moved in with a new partner to a new city and started up school again for a second degree - so it was kind of a stressful time (I also really resented going to school-- I have issues with our whole educational system, but again, felt like I "should" just be happy.) My back pain increased in severity ten-fold, and "progressed" to sciatica. The pain was nearly constant, I was popping aspirin like crazy, was seeing a physical therapist (with no progress at all, just temporary relief at times). I would wake up in the middle of the night, and have to get up to walk around my apartment to get some relief from the pain, it was so bad.

    I'm pretty crunchy, so I eventually went to see a Naturopathic doctor (for other symptoms as well - a holistic check-up). He asked me what was the main thing that I wanted to address, and I said, "This back pain... I have to figure this out. It's excruciating." And he replied, "Well, I think you're a really angry person." (He said this in a pretty kind way - I was surprised, but intrigued.) He told me he wanted me to read Healing Back Pain by Dr. Sarno, and follow his protocol. So, I checked it out from my local library and read it. I definitely could see myself in Sarno's profile of his typical patients who had TMS. I did get an X-ray of my back, to ensure that there wasn't anything structurally wrong (there wasn't), and I also stopped going to physical therapy, stopped taking aspirin, and stopped babying my back. I began telling myself, "there is no physical reason for this pain, my brain is trying to distract me from my emotions." It didn't happen immediately, but I began seeing progress in a great reduction in my pain, and I would say it completely resolved within 1.5-2 months, which was pretty remarkable to me.

    I did read some of Sarno's other books, and I remember him mentioning hay fever/allergies as being a possible symptom that the brain uses to distract from emotional pain. I probably developed allergies around the time I moved to North Carolina when I was a teenager (maybe 13 or 14 years old). When I look back on it, I remember hearing many different people (including doctors) tell my mother, "If you didn't have allergies before, you probably will moving to NC!" (stuff like this plants the seed in the subconscious). Anyway, I developed allergies. I'm not sure if it came on in any certain season, but after suffering with it for years, it was hard to see it following any particular pattern. It didn’t seem to be worse in any season or any environment/building. Allergy attacks felt random.

    Then I remember overhearing someone mention that she was trying to cure her allergies through diet (another seed planted). This intrigued me, and I kinda went down that rabbit hole. I dived into changing my diet, sourcing quality whole-food ingredients, learning to cook from scratch, and playing around with different protocols over the years. I’ll say that I’ve probably tried almost every diet/protocol. Somehow I started with a Nourishing Traditions (ancestral) type of diet, progressed to Paleo, tried Veganism (that one was a pretty hard for me - I never felt satiated for long now matter how much I ate), ate heavily plant-based for awhile, tried cutting out gluten and dairy several different times throughout the years, did the BEAN PROTOCOL (haha ask me about that one!) very strictly for 6 solid months, and then eventually found a Pro-Metabolic (rooted in Dr. Ray Peat’s ideas). Allergies weren’t the only thing I was trying to “fix”. I have also had severe menstrual pain since I was about 15, and was trying to resolve that as well.

    There were some time periods that I did find relief from my allergies (going Paleo being one of them, and making an association that eating oranges was a “trigger” for congestion/sneezing). But it didn’t ever really last long. They would always come back. When I finally found a pro-metabolic approach to eating, I was working privately with a health coach, and I told him my allergies/congestion seemed to be getting worse with how I was encouraged to eat. He explained that: because my metabolism is low, my gut must be really sensitive, I’m having trouble digesting foods, and so it’s probably irritating my gut, and overloading my liver with processing out these “irritants”, and my liver can’t keep up, so my body is increasing histamines and reacting with congestion and allergy-symptoms. I bought into this for over a year! I kept trying to play around with my diet, avoiding these “irritating” foods, trying to cut back on the amount of carbs I was eating, eating more protein, exercising more so that I would burn the carbs/increase gut motility so food wouldn’t just “sit” there, etc etc etc. Just pretty much driving myself crazy through all of this preoccupation/worrying about my health.

    Some more context: I eventually did notice a pattern that my allergies seemed to increase when I had feelings of “obligation” - doing things I didn’t really want to be doing. This could be school-related, work-related, even going to visit friends/family (if I felt like I “should”). So, yeah, related to my emotions. But I couldn’t let go of this idea that perhaps I was still eating something that was “bad” for my body, that it was increasing the physical stress-load, and when I felt more emotional stress, it just got worse. I also noticed, with particularly bad allergy attacks, the only thing that would help would be for me to go to sleep. It’s like my nervous system would need a reset or something. Benadryl, Claritin, and other allergy pills never really helped me, even temporarily. They just made me feel foggy-headed or sleepy, and my nose will still just be dripping like a faucet, sneezing, eyes red/itchy, etc. Also, I would rather just avoid being dependent on a pharmaceutical, or any other outside fix (even natural ones like herbs).

    More context: I have been seeing a Somatic Therapist for the past five years to work on relationship issues and developmental childhood trauma. Such good work y’all! I highly recommend. I’ve done a lot of deep, consistent work with her around shame, anger, and grief. Recently, I’ve been orienting more toward my grief, and I had set the intention for this year to dive into healing work around my father (we don’t really have a relationship; he wasn’t very emotionally available when my parents were together, and then my parents divorced when I was 8, and he became more and more distant over the years. I finally became tired of our superficial relationship, and I just stopped talking to him. He never reached out either, and we haven’t spoken in about 6-7 years.) With that said, just this past NYE, I did a little ritual and set the intention to tend to/court my grief (and really just my feelings in general). I made an altar as well, with the intention to sit before it everyday and just be with my feelings - whatever arises - and to FEEL them.

    Oh my gosh - I think my brain freaked the fuck out. I went into a full-on allergy attack for DAYS! Nothing was helping. I couldn’t sleep, my allergies would just keep going. Sneezing, dripping nose, or full on congestion where I had to breath through my mouth (I cannot stand mouth-breathing - it just feels so wrong). It went on and on. (I use cloth handkerchiefs and I have A LOT of hankies having dealt with this for years) and I think I had to wash at least three loads of them in one week because I was going through them so fast!) One day (about a week and a half of this), I kinda lost it. I was at my wit’s end, just crying and feeling so overwhelmed. As I was processing my overwhelm with a friend, I realized "OMG - I think this is emotional! This must be because I made this intention to dive into my feelings and no longer avoid them! My brain/nervous system is freaking out!” And I kid you not, my allergies completely cleared about three hours later. And I mean, CLEARED! Absolutely no congestion, no drippy nose, no sneezing or itchy/watery eyes. I could sleep through the night. I have been waking up completely clear. Y’all, I’ve been waking up for years with a runny/sneezy nose. Almost every single day. Now, it’s all gone!

    Ok, ok, so it’s only been a week and a half. BUT, what’s interesting is that my back pain CAME BACK. And my body has just been recycling through all these different pain programs. And it keeps moving around. Switching from side to side, sometimes showing up randomly in a foot/toes, popping up into an elbow, twinging in my forearms, moving up into my shoulder/neck. I’m just literally being with it all. I’m not freaking out. I’m not anxious, because I see exactly what my brain is trying to do. It’s like it’s testing me, trying to see if something will “stick” that I can then preoccupy myself by trying to find a “solution” or “cure”. It’s WILD. But I’m here for it. I’m no longer allowing my subconscious to rule me. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, eating healthy still but not worrying about food, keep moving and being active (even pushing myself gently to let my brain know that I’m strong and there is no reason for me to believe I’m injured/fragile).

    I’ve also continued to sit at my altar, to create space to be with myself and feel my feelings, and to let my brain/body know that I can handle whatever it’s trying to protect me from. I think there is still more emotional work to do, obviously. I’m kinda wondering what’s so “bad” that my brain feels it has to protect me so severely from it. I don’t think my childhood was that traumatic, but hey, maybe I was just a sensitive kid and I’m definitely a sensitive adult.

    I’m also thinking, “Gosh, if my brain can create this much chaos, think about how much healing it has the power to create as well.” There’s a reason why research has to control for the placebo-effect y'all— our brains are powerful. And, I’m also thinking about all these other symptoms I’ve been having over the years. This dermatitis thing that showed up on my face a few months ago (which has already improved significantly - I think it’s going away), my menstrual pain and my association with that “time of the month” (btw, I had an ultrasound done about a year ago, and absolutely no signs of fibroids, endometriosis, etc.). I’m even wondering about my chronic constipation (which started probably around when I was 10 years old)… how much of that is potentially emotional? Just curious about it all, and allowing myself to be in a place of not-worrying/spiraling, because frankly, that hasn’t helped me. And overall, I think I’m a pretty healthy 35 year old woman. I do yoga everyday, I eat pretty well and nourish myself, I have a sweet community of friends who I can spend time with and go to for support, I live in a lovely home, I go to therapy, I journal, and I have lots of different hobbies. I don’t even work full-time at this point because I’m trying to change careers/figure out a more fulfilling path to creating income. Life isn’t all roses and completely stress-free (obviously), but overall it’s pretty great and I feel hopeful.

    Whew, that was a lot! I hope this share might be of service to others so they can see another possibility, and to give them hope, beyond even pain. I’ll be sure to keep you updated as things continue to shift.
    JanAtheCPA, mbo and Ellen like this.
  2. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Enjoyed your post. Thanks for sharing your journey.

    I, too, have allergy symptoms that I know are TMS. One thought about it that I'd like to add is that possibly it is a substitute for crying that we can't allow ourselves to engage in, but our bodies need.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  3. Christina

    Christina New Member

    Yes, I have heard this theory too. It does make sense to me in a way. But in my case, I am wondering why my mind/nervous system freaked out once I decided to really intentionally tend to my grief? I have been making space for my feelings even more consistently, and have been expressing my sadness/grief and crying more and more over the past several years. I judge that I express myself pretty "fluidly" and authentically, though I can still see that I could release more.

    So the only thing that really makes sense to me is that my mind is trying to protect/distract me from some sort of deep emotional pain. And I suspect it's grief, because it feels like an immense Well of grief within me that I really only touch the surface of in all my personal growth work.
    Ellen and JanAtheCPA like this.
  4. Richie Deegan

    Richie Deegan Newcomer

    This was very well written and helpful. I too defeated debilitating back pain with Sarno's approach which saved my life and these seasonal allergies here in Austin get me every year around the same time, Dec-March. I know cognitively the allergies are a manifestation of TMS but the symptoms (sneezing, itchy eyes, congestion d runny nose) still present because I haven't quite truly believed that they are TMS in my unconscious mind. Thanks for sharing, Christina
    Christina and JanAtheCPA like this.
  5. Elizaann

    Elizaann Newcomer

    Hi Christina,
    Thank-you for sharing and giving encouragement on this healing journey. I wonder how your symptoms are now?? I also have allergies that appeared from nowhere after a period of severe stress. I know it is my nervous system protesting and unprocessed emotions.
    All the best to you! Elizabeth

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