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Want to exhale smoothly again

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by OnTheRoad, Jan 2, 2017.

  1. OnTheRoad

    OnTheRoad Peer Supporter

    My exhale is often constricted and shaky. I healed substantially from another persistent pain problem with the aid of, among other things, a breathing pattern designed to calm the nervous system: softer, smoother, longer inhale and exhale, about 4 to 5 seconds for both the inhale and exhale, no stop at end of inhale or end of exhale. (Thanks to Neil Pearson's "Life is Now" pain self-management program for that exercise). Doing this for 5 minutes a number of times a day really helped. But for months now my exhale is shaky. Sometimes I can smooth it out by concentrating very hard, but I feel like I'm working too hard. Breathing should be easy, that's the whole point.

    At first I thought my diaphragm must be "stuck" somehow. And when I had an athletic therapist "release" it months ago, for about an hour afterwards I had the most marvelous feeling of comfort and ease and my breathing was calm. Then the shakiness and tension came back.

    I also experienced a most wonderful soothing comfort and ease one morning when I awoke...a physiotherapist had worked on the nerves in my thighs the day before, and calmed them down. But again, the ease did not last.

    These memories of ease give me an image to return to in my mind, to know it is possible to feel comfort and ease.

    Because the shakiness returns, I am thinking "this is TMS" and trying not to worry about it. Worry doesn't help. But I look forward with great joy to the day my breathing settles again!

    My take on all this is that the shakiness may be fear. That my brain is staying stop! and constricting even my breathing, after repeated back spasms...making me afraid even to breathe for fear of pain? But it is the exhale, the letting go, that is shaky...so I also think it may just be that point in the journey where there is more and more letting go to be learned...

    It is also possible that some muscles are constricted. Months ago I tried exercises (the Gokhale method) where the instruction was to "tighten every muscle you can find in your core", and basically put my abdomen into a state like a rock! I still feel my psoas is learning to release gradually from that period of time. It got me through the worst of the spasms so that I could still be mobile enough for some activities of great importance to me, but has had to be unlearned. Somatics has been helpful for this. I feel though that if my brain is causing the constriction (TMS), the brain will undo it in time, if I stick with ignoring, refocusing on psychological issues, treating the shakiness with disdain, no biggie. It is hard to do this at times as breathing is so basic! But I have observed how pain moved around illogically here and there, and how I can sometimes undo pain with thoughts, or changing my breathing, and even my doctor is supportive that this shaking is probably TMS. (That didn't stop her putting me on iron, but I'm not going to mess with that, as iron was very low).

    Any thoughts on this, anyone?
  2. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi OnTheRoad,

    I think your view of your exhale experience as TMS is the best approach. The more you worry about making it go away, the more it serves to grab your attention. The more you see it, and name it as harmless TMS, and move your attention to something else, the less reason it has to continue. I have not heard of this particular symptom, but in my experience TMS can cause all kinds of strange symptoms.

    Your statement I also think it may just be that point in the journey where there is more and more letting go to be learned... is interesting to me. I think the more you can make this kind of connection, the more the process makes sense, and the more ease you will have. I also think that if you can hold this thought without needing anything particular to happen --such as letting go, this is very good. After all, letting go might well mean letting go of any agenda to let go ;)

    Andy B
    OnTheRoad likes this.
  3. RichieRich

    RichieRich Well known member


    I see a lot of myself in your post. In 2012 I had my first ever full bore panic attack which was preceded by a week of confusion and an abnormal breathing pattern. I kept feeling like my inhales and exhales did not align.

    After the attack, the end result was a terribly awkward breathing pattern. I used what seemed like every method I could find to correct this, but not a single one worked. I assumed an iron deficiency too, which was also confirmed in labs.

    It wasn't until I started seeing an anxiety counselor that I finally got the answer to my problem. During one of our sessions there was one thing she said that seemed to be what my brain must have been searching for: you're an untrained breather.

    Her explanation was that highly anxious people get so excited that they start to feel like they're suffocating, and this causes them to seemingly wreck they're normal breathing pattern. She didn't suggest any breathing exercises except the 4-7-8 count breathing as a means of helping me reassure myself that I wasn't suffocating. She said that in time your body we relearn or reset itself, and fall back into a normal breathing rhythm.

    Sure enough, after a few months of anxiety related reading, and basically learning not to fear the awkward sensation of my breathing (and a ton of other symptoms), everything kinda reset and the symptoms disappeared.
    OnTheRoad likes this.
  4. Saoirse

    Saoirse Peer Supporter

    Hi Richie , I too suffer with very restricted breathing and also weight and pain in my breast bone/heart. It was so bad a couple of years ago that I thought I had pulled something and the Phy Ed guy released the diaphragm and I breathed a bit better. It escalated so much that as an asthmatic I had to take a nebuliser with steroids 4 times a day and had to stop even walking my dogs; I was an Invalid. I was sent to the best respiratory specialist in Ireland where I live and had lots of tests done there and then the result was astounding. He told me that as an genuine asthmatic my lungs were 10% better than non asthmatics my age , he said there was nothing on the tests but he asked me to lie down and checked my back and ribcadge my palpating areas which were really sore. He concluded an experiment for me , he felt my back and ribcadge chect-torso was muscularly tight and some muscles were in spasm and had been for a while with my history thus reducing my ability to breath this lay with fear and anxiety . He recommended the next time I felt an attack not to take the nebuliser but to take a Valium to relax the anxiety and muscles. He have me a prescription for a couple and I went home. That night the breathing got so bad I reached for the nebuliser and then stopped and took a valium and as"told if they dont work take the nebuliser" I had it ready. I did not need it they worked 100% crazy. After 6 months of takin it 4 times a day I did not take it again just stopped( I have taken it 3 times for asthma in 2 years since. I worked on relaxing and meditating when I had an attack instead, I still have breathing issues from anxiety , the shallow breathing and trembling is an anxiety trait but I know the TMS is the cause and I am working to change my life.Good uck with yours .

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