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Recovery from TMJ, IC, tendonitis, sciatica, vertigo and back/neck pain

Discussion in 'Success Stories Subforum' started by merijlevy, Jul 20, 2019.

  1. merijlevy

    merijlevy New Member

    My TMS recovery story is long and complicated, but I wanted to share it because I've recovered from more forms of TMS than most people ever experience! It started in my mid-twenties with TMJ pain as well as back and neck pain, and going to the chiropractor and doing PT helped sometimes. Then, around the time I got together with my now ex-husband (yes, it IS related!) I developed severe tendonitis in one wrist. It eventually became bilateral and prevented me from typing, gardening, opening doors and jars, or doing anything that involves bearing weight in my hands. I had that for over two years despite trying every modality I could think of (PT, acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, Alexander Technique, Feldenkreis), but nothing helped my symptoms for long. Around those years my mother passed away at age 59 of a heart attack, and I became severely depressed. I took antidepressants and recovered quickly on them and my wrist symptoms began to come and go.

    During the years I had tendonitis, I also developed interstitial cystitis, which felt like a severe bladder infection that wouldn't go away. Sometimes I couldn’t go pee at all for hours and it was excruciating. Managing my diet seemed to help it, but it would get much worse at times of high stress. I read that IC can be chronic and severe, but luckily my symptoms remitted after having my first son. My wrists and hands got a lot worse after he was born, and I heard about John Sarno's Healing Back Pain which was like a lightbulb went on, and I began to recover using his techniques.

    After my second child, my stress level got much higher. I wonder how many people develop TMS during the postpartum period. Having a spirited three year old, a screaming baby and a hostile husband (and being a goodist and a Highly Sensitive Person) was more than I could handle. I developed vertigo and nausea and spent four months in doctors offices trying to figure out what I was dying from. I lost a ton of weight because I couldn't keep food down most days and I was living on Ensure and Gatorade. I couldn't care for my children without throwing up, and after months of that torture I ended up in a psych hospital because I wanted to die. The vertigo and nausea were basically a four-month long panic attack, and it became clear when I stopped throwing up in the hospital that I was severely depressed and anxious. My recovery involved antidepressants, lot of therapy, self-care and journaling. I had to come to terms with the fact that I hated my husband (I got a lot better when I could admit that!) and I loved my kids but I didn't love mothering small children. I needed to work at least part-time in order to survive as a mother. That was a big one. I tried for years to have a healthier marriage. Six years of couples counseling, and things got better for me but my marriage was still miserable. Eventually I had to divorce my narcissistic, emotionally abusive husband and switch careers a couple of times to find what made me happy. I eventually became a therapist myself, and I work primarily with postpartum mothers, which is hugely satisfying. I experienced sciatica and hip pain a lot after having kids, but nothing was ever quite as bad as it was during those early few years.

    Throughout all these physical issues, I knew about TMS for pain issues but I didn’t realize it was all connected. I have had asthma and allergies since I was a child, and I have always wondered why I was susceptible to so many physical issues. A few years back, I decided to see a Doctor of Functional Medicine and try to find out why I have suffered from so many physical complaints throughout my life. I thought maybe it was all connected and that it could all be fixed. I learned that I have a genetic mutation (MTHFR for those who are interested) that can contribute to anxiety and depression and other psychological issues. I spend thousands of dollars on visits with her and supplements to improve my health, but nothing really changed from all that. In the end, I had to realize that all of it -- the allergies, asthma, depression, anxiety, vertigo and nausea, bladder symptoms, back and neck pain and sciatica are all different manifestations of TMS. I have gotten some training in helping treat patients with TMS and have been learning so much about it that has been helpful to me.

    The amazing thing is that I am now 54 and I can honestly say that I have no severe pain issues. While my peers are complaining about the aches and pains of getting old, I’m filled with gratitude that my body feels healthy and strong and I have no physical limitations at all.

    For myself, I have to say that taking antidepressants when I’ve needed them has been very helpful and I disagree with anyone who argues that they are always a placebo. SSRIs quite literally saved my life when I was living in an intolerable situation and I would take them again if I needed to. But the main thing that has helped me recover has been lots of inner work and psychotherapy to help me figure out how to allow myself to experience and accept my negative feelings, how to communicate and set boundaries in relationships and how to take good care of myself physically and emotionally. Being in a loving, healthy relationship helps a ton, but I don't think I could have had that without all the work I have done on myself.

    I have no pain today! That doesn’t mean that TMS won’t try to trick me again tomorrow, but I also know that I can overcome it when it does.
  2. Dida8349

    Dida8349 Peer Supporter

    That's a wonderful and inspiring story! Have you managed to get rid of your allergies and asthma as well?
  3. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Awesome Success Story @merijlevy, and well-written, too. I read the whole thing!

    I agree 100%. I've seen the value of SSRIs in our teenaged foster kids, and I know they work. The key to using any medication in TMS recovery is to to view it as a short term tool to get started.

    And there it is. The essence of an ongoing success story.

    Thank You for posting!
  4. merijlevy

    merijlevy New Member

    You know, I've controlled both with medication and I don't let them limit my activities, but I haven't tried to get off meds for them yet. I'd really love to see a TMS recovery story from someone with lifelong asthma and year-round allergies and hear how they did it! I imagine I'd have to experience more discomfort in the short run to get off the meds, and I'm not sure I'm motivated enough...
    Balsa11 likes this.
  5. HattieNC

    HattieNC Well known member

    Inspiring post! Thanks for sharing. The postpartum mothers are fortunate to have you.
    merijlevy and Allissa RS like this.
  6. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    As a child I experienced a lot of “chest infections” but it wasn’t until my late teens that I was diagnosed asthmatic and prescribed the requisite meds. Within weeks I decided to stop using the brown inhaler (the steroid, if memory serves), but kept the blue one for a while.

    I was always totally in love with natural healing and taking meds didn’t sit right. I simply stopping asking for repeat prescriptions, kept the blue inhaler at the back of a drawer, and resolved to avoid the main thing that triggered me (cats. Not a great loss. I’m a doggy person through and through). And it’s served me well. Thinking back it was probably the invincibility of youth that made it so easy, these days I would probably be more cautious.

    I have had a couple of asthma attacks since but I was able to calm myself. Again with hindsight I see that I used a classic Claire Weekes approach to do this. These days I am rarely bothered by it. I swim a lot and when there is too much chlorine in the water it can initiate the early signs but I am able to stay peaceful and breathe through them until they pass (which can be a couple or more hours to clear completely). During these times, my partner rubs Vic on my back and chest and it always helps. My mum used to do this for me when I was younger and I find it very comforting. How much healing is due to the menthol? How much to the nurturing? Who knows.

    I absolutely do not endorse throwing asthma meds away and going cold turkey because while asthma may well have a strong TMS component, it’s not a condition to play with. But I do think there is a lot to commend becoming less reliant on them and exploring some of the breathing programs out there, and using them in conjunction with mind~body methods. I really believe it can be overcome, just have some safety nets in place.

    As to the rest of your story, you are amazing and I love the interweave of practicality you offer. I get bored with some of the purists because it’s too ideologically indulgent, those of us in the real world know that a course of anti-depressants/anti-anxiety meds’ are lifesavers. They allow us to “first do bullets, then do muck”. I appreciate that you mention this aspect because too many people suffer needlessly. Sometimes we need some emotional breathing space.

    Thank you for sharing your success here. I hope you go onto ever greater glories and ever more magnificent moments of being you.

    Keep shining,

    Plum x
  7. Allissa RS

    Allissa RS New Member

    Thankyou so much for sharing!
    So very inspiring
    If you ever want to find out more about post partum manifestations sing out to me! I am healing from TMS in my post partum period and I believe it is a common occurrence yet there is little knowledge out there unless you are looking!
    Honestly so much love to you and the power of your story xx
    merijlevy, grapefruit and JanAtheCPA like this.
  8. Allissa RS

    Allissa RS New Member

    Agreed! This is a conversation we need to be having more often!
    merijlevy and grapefruit like this.
  9. SRcombs

    SRcombs Peer Supporter

    Man, the postpartum thing can really jack you up. I had it bad, but hid it for the first three months of my sons life. Then one day I just lost it and my husband didn't know what the heck to do. My mother was recovering from surgery, so he didn't want to call her, so he called his mom and thank the Lord he did. After talking with her for about 1/2 hour she quickly realized what was wrong and urged me to talk to my doctor. What we discovered was that I'd probably been suffering with depression on and off for most of my teenage years and that pregnancy and childbirth just brought it to a head. It didn't help that the same I lost my favorite grandma to an unexpected surgical complication and my mom also had surgery and got a staph infections and was very sick. 20 years later I'm still on anti-depressants, but am hopeful that with all the mind-body work I'm doing I will soon be able to think about getting off them.
    Balsa11 and merijlevy like this.
  10. Allissa RS

    Allissa RS New Member

    I am hopeful for you also!. You have a firm awareness of the events surrounding you mindbody experience.

    There are so many cultural stories our mental bodies are experiencing in the post partum period that conflict with our embodied experience. And it is alot to sift through especially if you you are arriving in post partum with an already depleted nervous system. So many people are these days.
    Healing to you. You got this!
  11. merijlevy

    merijlevy New Member

    It's so common that postpartum is when folks face a perfect storm of stress! Go glad you got help and got better. I managed to get off the antidepressants eventually, this work really does help!
  12. TrustIt

    TrustIt Well known member

    Just offering my two shiny pennies about anti-anxiety meds. i have always been a staunch believer in all things natural, NEVER planning to resort to pharma meds. however....HOWEVER...when my digestive problems and post nasal drip problems surfaced and proceeded to get worse and worse and finally practically took over my entire life - present decisions as well as future plans - i decided i needed something for some desperately needed relief! my NP, who offers both conventional and some holistic viewpoints, strongly suggested i try xanax as my anxiety about it all was creating a vicious loop. yes, i fought it. i googled it. i studied it. i struggled with it. and, finally, i took it. and oh...yes! it didn't not alter me in any noticeable way other than simply taking the edge off, aaahhh...deep breath, and my gut pain would go temporarily away. that completely convinced me that it is mind/anxiety related. i have used it only situationally as i am very careful about the possibility of becoming dependent, and i see the benefit of a short term relief mechanism...yes, even if it's a drug...as a valuable tool to be able to move away from discomfort long enough to think about something other than it. i'm still working on the tms aspect and sometimes we just gotta have a break!
  13. merijlevy

    merijlevy New Member

    I'd love to connect about the postpartum aspect. You can find me on Facebook as Meri Hanson Levy, so message me!
  14. merijlevy

    merijlevy New Member

    If talking a medication occasionally gives you a break and reminds you that the pain is only TMS, what could be wrong with that? That's no prize for getting to the finish line without taking a pill, it's all about the journey.
    Balsa11, plum, TrustIt and 1 other person like this.

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