I’m 33 years old and I’ve had recurring and now chronic neck, shoulder, and upper back pain, and a whole lot of “frozen” neck spasms for probably about 6 years now. Before that, but rarely now, it was severe stomachaches. And throughout the rest of my life, I’ve also had tension headaches that have only gotten more severe over time. I’ve tried the whole gamut of therapies and treatments, many of them making my pain worse and so I’ve quit seeking treatment entirely. After backsliding with physical therapy a couple of years ago, I subscribed to the Curable app and then read and listened to several books by and about Dr. Sarno and TMS. I truly saw myself in all of it, bought into it, and hoped desperately for that “book cure” or “information cure.” While I experienced some improvement, I didn’t get that magical cure, and eventually fell off the bandwagon. I now think that it’s because I didn’t do the actual work of exploring the emotions, triggers, and personality traits that contribute to my personal manifestation of TMS. Almost exactly a year ago, just as the pandemic was starting up, I experienced my worst pain ever when I “moved wrong” getting out of bed one morning and ended up with all of the awful symptoms of a herniated disc. I was in excruciating pain and bed bound for weeks. Physical therapy once again didn’t do much or made the pain worse. And while I definitely have had my share of doubts, in the back of mind, I’ve held onto the idea of it being caused by TMS and refused to get the MRI or seek further medical treatment. Even after recovering from the herniated disc symptoms, the pain over the past year has been more chronic, but I’ve also seen the very obvious link between my flare-ups and my stress, psychological triggers, and my emotional state. I’ve been more frustrated and pessimistic about my pain and reached the point about a week ago (in the midst of another flare-up) where I concluded that I would have to quit my job, which only introduced more fear, stress, and uncertainty. I’ve finally come full circle and decided that before I make any drastic life changes, I need to commit to exploring my relationship with my pain again, accept that TMS is at the root of my problems, and really truly put in the work this time towards recovery. It’s only been a few days, and while I no longer expect a sudden miracle cure and may always have niggling doubts, I am feeling more optimistic, especially as I’ve seen some improvements in both my pain and my mindset and feel like I’m moving in a more positive direction. So many times over the last few days, when I’ve seen TMS explained again (and when I see myself in all of it), or especially when I read or see a TMS recovery story, I get so emotional that I start to full on ugly cry. Just feeling that sense of hope is incredibly powerful after so many years of despair and frustration and fear. I’m tired of living my life in fear, of feeling weak, of being constantly frustrated by my body and angry at the pain. It’s been beyond disheartening to feel as though I’ve tried just about everything and it must just be my lot in life to experience this chronic and recurring pain and all of the limitations that come along with it. A life without TMS would be an absolute dream. To be able to do what I want to do when I want to do it and not worry about the physical effects has seemed out of reach for such a long time. To be able to experience joy and optimism again, to be able to move my body (and trust it!), to be able to feel control over my life again - it would mean the world to me at this point. I want to go back to doing all of the things that I’ve stopped doing out of fear of making the pain worse. I want to be able to exercise again, to enjoy cooking regularly (and not have to outsource the chopping and stirring), to work in the garden, to go out backpacking again, to sit at my desk and write or make some art, to not think twice about lifting things or doing manual labor, to do all of the things I’ve written off as impossible for me if I don’t want to increase my pain. To be able to uncouple these and any other physical activities from my physical pain would be so liberating. To not have to lose entire days of my life to lying in bed would be such a gift. To be able to trust myself to handle anything that comes up within my body or my emotions would mean more than anything else I can possibly think of right now, and I’m committed to doing the work to make it happen. I’m really glad I’ve found this program! A few of the little things I’m trying to do right now to make things better: - stop and breathe deeply when I feel myself getting tense or stressed (which unfortunately, is a lot of the time) - do more of the things that make me feel better (I made a list!), anything from just going outside for a walk or taking a few minutes to dance to some upbeat music A few little wins over the last few days: -I went on a short jog for the first time in... I don’t even know how long! -I completed not one, but two(!), big puzzles, and for the most part, was able to set aside the feelings that kept coming up about it being a “waste of time” and about the posture being bad for my neck (puzzles were on the list of the things I thought I couldn’t do because I’d associated them with increased pain once upon a time). Spoiler Alert: I was just fine.