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Tackling the fear of pain : Help please

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by cookieheals, Jun 21, 2021.

  1. cookieheals

    cookieheals Well known member

    Hi Guys,

    So I recently finished the structured education program and now going through Dr. Schechter's workbook. The obsessions in my mind have drastically improved. I no longer wake up thinking firstly of my foot or how my big toe is doing, and I don't have any anxiety about my toe anymore- which is funny because it was the most serious of all. I feel generally less obsessive. But I am s.tr.ug.g.l.i.ng with fear of pain in relation to conditioned responses.

    One of my major doubts about TMS were my MRIs which Dr. Schubiner says are normal, but the lack of improvement makes me question a lot. Anyway, the main thing now that I am dealing with is a fear of pain. I have some kind of knee pain that is not consistent. Sort of around my knee cap; under it. After jogging, it always hurts to bend at my knee going up and down the stairs. Always.

    I started jogging maybe a month ago to tackle my fears, and the first day I did the pain was so bad i couldn't even bend my knee. And then, I had an extreme surprise last week when after jogging i felt zero pain at all going down the stairs. But with every step I took I had an excessive watchfulness about my body- and its that watchfulness I don't know how to turn off.

    Nowadays when going down the stairs in my house, I feel a twinge of fear at even the thought of going downstairs. A part of me says "it;s going to hurt" then I have to talk to myself and tell myself I am okay. Then, of course, it hurts. Or if it doesn't hurt, the worst part is that I am afraid that it will.

    Then, I know that when I bend my knee weirdly, it hurts. Sometimes it happens when I'm not even thinking about it; which reinforces the watchfulness. The other day I went on a walk. I did not hurt at all, but was watchful and afraid that I would the entire time. Any thoughts about this?

    Then with my foot; I have generally always gotten arch pain along with walking for long distances. Some doctors back in 2014 said it was because of flat feet and in my own mind I;ve assumed that it was because i kept getting sprains in my left ankle every year and being on crutches, and that I have basically just overworked my right foot. This sounds like a legit explanation; no?

    So for about seven years I have had constant arch pain linked to walking for long periods of time. It is hard for me to tell myself- no- I mean what do I tell myself?

    I know that people who suffer from pain that is ON all the time have something to redirect to, but what do I do about this conditioning? And this constant watchfulness; the constant and I mean CONSTANT fear of pain?

    The other day I was dancing, because i like to- and the whole time I could feel my right foot tensing up and hurting, and then my right knee- just being afraid of what will happen. No pain, just constant fear.

    Sometimes when sitting, I'll find some part of my brain noticing that my right foot is more tense than my left. Which is how it's been for years. ALL THE TIME. How do I switch this off?

    The conditioning; what do I say, and most especially the constant watchfulness and fear of pain? I mean what am I to do with going down the stairs in pain- specific to that, or taking long walks and the arch starts to hurt?

  2. Aimee88

    Aimee88 Well known member

    Hi Cookie. Your questions bring to mind the work of Claire Weekes. Have you read any of her books? I think she explores and explains anxiety (fear) very well. What I got out of her work that continues to help me is the concept of the gap. This might help answer some of your question about how to switch off the fear and what to do when the pain comes. This gap is the where we can be aware of what is happening (pain or fear) and then *choose* our response. For me, for most of my first 40 years, I had no awareness of that gap. Something happens, and I respond. I can't control that, can I? Actually, I can. It's about awareness, and you have started with the awareness of the fear. Can you stop and be aware of what was before the fear? Can you step back to the place before the fear started? Maybe in the minutes or hours before the moment, or sometimes you might go all the way back to when you were younger and felt good and didn't fear moving or stairs or whatever you notice now. This helps us to know that we used to be without fear, pain, etc, and we can get back there. With practice, I started to be able to catch that gap, before a response. There is more to it, and although the books were written awhile ago, I believe they are still available, if this sounds interesting to you. Start with noticing, add in more curiosity, and see what you can do, what can be chosen? What could I choose to think now? Could I choose a different thought, instead of the one I usually think? What do I actually fear? (If I have pain, I will/won't be able to _____.) AND....keep moving, keep walking, keep going down those stairs.

  3. Aimee88

    Aimee88 Well known member

    And.....when I got up from typing this to you, Cookie, my pain returned. So, thank you, for the chance to talk myself through just what I needed in these last few minutes. I thought about the fear, that fear I have of not being able to do my job (if I can't walk, bend, lift, etc) and I had the realisation that had me laughing out loud.....90% of the work I do now could be done from a wheelchair!! And I bet the job that needs 10% physical labour would keep me on for the other 80% if I was in a wheelchair. I'm so afraid.....and yet, the actual truth is that specific fear is just not grounded in any reality. And you know what, the anxiety eased (really felt that) and the pain is kind of giving up, as well. What's the point, if I'm not buying the fear? Wow. It's cool when we get to see and feel it really working. Still cool, even after all the 'aha's' and relief I have had in the past. When the pain starts again, I find it's easy to forget that I can do this, that I know what's going on, and that it can be short-lived this time and it might not come back again. Thank you for the chance to remind myself. I hope it helps you too!
  4. cookieheals

    cookieheals Well known member

    Thanks Aimee. I’ve never really thought that I had a gap of choice to decide that I could be okay. And think differently. It’s so weird sometimes I look at old people running or kids playing and I’m just looking at their knees and thinking ‘I bet they are not even thinking about their knees’
    Aimee88 likes this.
  5. Balsa11

    Balsa11 Well known member

    Cramps hurt but aren't permanent

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