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"The nature of the Beast"

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by The Fool, Sep 1, 2014.

  1. The Fool

    The Fool Peer Supporter

    This quote by Alan Gordon from an earlier thread really resonated with me, and has led me to try to understand just why my pain increases when engaging in certain activities. I know how TMS is controlled to some extent by "learned behaviours", and that most of the time now, my "learned behaviours" are out of my conscious control. I fully engage in most of life's activities. I say most, because I'm 55 now, and in truth, I have no desire to go bungee jumping or snow boarding. But I have recently painted our house from top to bottom, and try to walk for at least an hour every day, some times two or even three if I'm feeling particularly energetic.

    My pain generally increases with sedentary occupations, such as using a computer (I'm one finger typing on my iPad at the moment), writing, reading, drawing, using the telephone (crazy!), and actually anything which I consider to be creative, useful and interesting. I am retired, with time on my hands, and anything I try to pick up as a hobby seems to create more pain. I have neuropathic pain in most of my body, but especially in my shoulders, head and jaw.

    I have been trying to understand why these sedentary activities create more pain, by examining my emotions around them. I know I probably try too hard, too soon when I pick up a new hobby, and can get very excited and engrossed. Is it the excitement that's sending my pain levels up? Or is it because I try so very hard to be the best I can be at whatever I'm attempting. Am I trying too hard? I know at my time of life, I'm never going to be the next George RR Martin or Robin Hobb, or produce a Rembrandt, and my scribblings are purely for my own entertainment, but why do they cause me so much pain? I do love to create, and it does take a degree of concentration, is it the concentration which is my trigger?

    In my heart, I know it's ridiculous that a five mile walk creates less pain than 10 minutes of typing on my laptop, or half an hour of drawing. But the pain persists nevertheless. We are coming to the end of Summer here in the UK, and my walking will soon be curtailed by the weather, leaving me with time on my hands in the house. I'd like to be able to get back to some drawing or writing, but I can feel the fear attached to these activities just at the thought of them. And there it is - fear again. Fear of pain, fear of failure, both? I never seem to match up to my own high standards. How do I change these habits formed over a life-time? I'm sure I was never as fastidious as this when I was younger, and although I did have migraines sometimes when I'd overdone the studying, or physical exercise (which really used to excite me), I was never in constant pain.

    Does anyone else here have severely increased pain with activities that mean a lot to them? And what are they? How can this problem be overcome?
  2. Huckleberry

    Huckleberry Well known member

    Hey Fool, another avid walker from the UK here.

    I am in a similar situation regarding an increase in pain levels when doing something that means a lot to me but of course the paradox for me is that this serves to reinforce a structural explanation in that the pain increases when I hike.

    What is interesting is that this doesn't always happen but seems to be far more likely when I hike on rough and uneven ground...something I do vividly remember though is a chiropractor who suggested that I had SI joint problems (lower back/hip) did say that usually people with this issue experienced pain when walking on uneven surfaces etc, since that time...well you can probably guess the rest. Nocebo at its finest maybe.

    Yesterday I wild camped on Dartmoor and we walked about 6 miles. About a mile into the hike (on rough ground) my pain started to flare but I perservered and got through the hike...whilst I approached the walk in a good state on a conscious level I can't help but wonder if unconsciously there was a lot of fear and angst going on along with the chiropractor nocebo chiming away. I did think today I would be on a pain flare due to yesterdays activity but I've actually been ok.

    I do think there is an awful lot in the idea that TMS/pain will flare and attack us when we are partaking in something we enjoy and maybe even more importantly define ourselves through. I know I define myself as an active, outdoors person and my back pain threatens this...I find that there is huge amount of fear, tension and anxiety around the belief that the pain will finally get to the point when I am unable to carry out the activities that I enjoy and also define myself through...it does seem to tie in with the concept of all or nothing and black and white thinking.

    I have no idea how to overcome this as I am obviously still in its snatches. As mentioned the longer its gone on the more I'm becoming sure that this is down to fear and tension that gets transmitted through the nervous system due to an unconscious almost tightening up as we start the activity...I'm sure this isn't a conscious thing that we can easily switch off though unfortunately.
  3. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    Huckleberry, you're walking and keeping active, so don't worry about how mobile you may be tomorrow or in the
    years ahead. Instead tell yourself you're going to always be active. Enjoy each hour of each day. Don't put any
    negative thoughts into your mind. Stay positive, happy, and be well.
  4. The Fool

    The Fool Peer Supporter

    Hi Huckleberry - I'm sure you're right about the activities that define us. Over the years I think my priorities have shifted a little. When I was in my twenties and thirties keeping fit, and particularly running were very important to me. I had to give up running in my early forties because of exercise-induced migraines. At that time, I had never heard of TMS. When I retired, my plan was to concentrate more on study. I also took up a late interest in drawing, and lately photography. But everything I try seems to accelerate my pain levels. Of course, like you I started out with the theory that my pain had a structural cause, as in poor posture at the computer, writing desk or easel, endorsed by a chiropractor. But, on discovering Dr Sarno, I came to realise that my pain was actually due to a particularly stressful time in my life, and not my physical condition.

    The walking is an essential part of my daily routine - I have always loved physical activity outdoors. Although, after 3 cases of skin cancer over the last few years (which actually occurred alongside the TMS), I have to be really careful to apply plenty of factor 50 sunscreen. It also gives me the same stress-relieving release that my running did. Not quite as good, but good enough.

    I do also have a knee problem which flares up occasionally when I walk, but more often than not, I manage to talk myself out of it. This can occur on a lot of undulating terrain, but it's inconsistency smacks so much of TMS, that it loses it's hold when I start the self talk. Just wish I could do the same for the neuropathic pain in my head, shoulders and jaw.

    I like your explanation of the unconscious tightening up transmitted to the nervous system by anxiety and fear. And, like you, I don't seem to be able to break the cycle however much I try. And as it is unconscious, how do I stop it?

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