Have you heard about the psychosomatic theory of back pain, jaw, leg, shoulder, you-name-wherever-it-occurs pain? The recent theories call it TMS pain. It stands for Tension Myositis Syndrome, recently also evolved into being used as The MindBody Syndrome.
I have been a pretty good back pain sufferer over 20 years now. I won’t go into boring details of where and how it occurred during different life phases and how excruciating it got from time to time. I thought I had a bad back, knee, jaw etc. Till one day I came across to the book Healing Back Pain by John Sarno. I was already a lot into the mind body healing stuff by then, so, I was quite open to his ideas and after reading his book my back pain magically disappeared. However, it came back and I thought of it as a psychological thing and did not bother too much. But then it got worse again, and I thought the concepts in the book was not working.
But THEN I got pregnant, and my pain interestingly and magically disappeared again. Only to be replaced by a horrible pregnancy sciatica pain. I tried acupressure, chiropractors, restorative yoga, conventional doctors, doing lots of sports to outrun hormonal imbalance, sciatica belt; but alas, all in vain.
I was so angry that the paint would not go even on our beautiful baby moon holiday in Greek Islands, one night lying wide awake in our AC cooled little hotel room, I started to look for books in kindle. Then I came across Sarno’s books again. But I was like “but this is related to pregnancy, it’s hormones, it’s cannot be TMS”, then I looked at the life events that cause the TMS most: the first one is lost of a spouse and the seventh one is pregnancy. My mouth fell open, I could not believe that pregnancy in general create stress in people. I know I was a bit stressed, but I thought that was me. Because in all these maternity shots all these mamas look so happy and divine, I always thought all other ladies were having an amazing time with only occasional worries that were caused by hormones.
WHAT? What was I thinking! Of course it can be one of the most stressful times of your life if you keep avoiding the emotions that it is creating to teach you everything to be the mother you are destined to be. It’s a metamorphosis, probably the most intense time period you feel the uncertainty so intensely and continuously in your life.
This discovery combined with the knowledge that basic characteristic of TMS is moving around the body made me open up to the idea that this sciatica can be a form of TMS again. My back pain was completely gone after I started to suffer from the symptoms of sciatica. After the chiropractor my sciatica would be gone for a day or two but my back pain would return. I was the perfect candidate for TMS. I had doubts but that’s how you start the TMS healing process.
The main idea behind TMS is that most of the muscle and joint related pain + the allergies and hypertension are caused by the unconscious to protect us from a much worse emotional pain that our mind thinks that we cannot handle. Characteristics of TMS sufferers are: being a goodist, being a perfectionist and having feelings of inferiority frequently. Most of the people have one of these and some all. Childhood traumas contribute as well.
The solution is simple though: feel your emotions. Right, so easy! I hate that part. I can get busy doing thousands of things in a day not to feel the emotions I do not like. I especially do not like the feelings of boredom, insecurity, feelings that come with ending something, be it a day or a work or a journey. I used to soothe myself with beer or wine. Which at a time when I had my 1-3 evening drinks my back pain was mostly gone. But then I felt that something was not right, and decided to do an experiment and not drink for 100 days. Then my back pain returned. Ha!
I continued not having a drink, because I spotted a problem there and I was happy with non-drinking me, I was brave and liked myself better despite the back pain. And I got pregnant after 5 -6 months of not having a drink. Back pain gone, sciatica starts.
I was horrified to walk, run, move in certain ways, and also with the prospect of having this pain for 7 more months, that fear made the pain worse, and I had times it was so difficult to walk I had to sit down every 5 minutes. After reading couple of other books by Sarno and this one, I started to ignore my pain, and focused on my emotions more and more. I learned to sit through emotions – I still find it very difficult-, I did not avoid any physical activity that I felt good regardless of sciatica pain -no jumping and too much cardio due to pregnancy but I did pretty much everything else- I started to walk 5K without any problems after convincing myself what I really have was TMS. I can do down dogs again.
I am still having the pregnancy sciatica pain if I am not present and criticise myself a lot. I feel like it’s my return-to-present-time-emergency-whistle. It hurts when I feel like I have to do everything on time and perfectly. For instance, preparing breakfast! I know right? But this brings out the perfectionist in me all the time, like coffee, bread, pressed juice, toasted bread and eggs should all be ready at the same time. – I did not realise that was the problem until I wrote this by the way, I know I was stressing myself and my husband during breakfast preparation but I did not know THIS was the reason. Wow- So maybe tomorrow I won’t have my sciatica pain after preparing breakfast. :)
Hence the main idea is to ignore the pain, do your exercise, and feel your emotions. Reading the books by Sarno and Ozanich helps great deal too. This worked for my sciatica + a horrible eczema that dominated my hands. I stopped paying attention to them and also visualised some cooling baths to soothe my whole body. And they are both gone mostly and I am so grateful.
They come back from time to time, then I know I should be more present and mindful. The most importantly the fear is gone. When the fear is no longer there the pain does not feel so bad. I take a deep breath and surrender to the pain and the feelings. I feel like this pain high speeded my spiritual evolution great deal + not only I have a reminder to be mindful in most needed times, I had an introduction to how to deal with birth surges I think ;)
Images are from today’s 5K hike. Grateful.