Trauma and chronic pain

There is a link between emotional trauma and chronic pain. It’s not just physical damage that can create pain conditions.

It is why making peace with the past is so important if we are going to successfully manage our pain. And as importantly we must find a way to deal with stress in the present moment. We must find a way to forgive.

It was when I began working with the pain clinic and began to talk about my life that I was first made aware of the link between trauma and pain. Stress being the one of the main triggers to ramped up pain levels. I have a history of traumatic events from an abusive childhood, homelessness, alcoholism and bdp to other serious mental health disorders.

It all had an effect on me even though I was unaware of what it was doing to my central nervous system. Stress also caused me digestion problems and stomach ulcers. It caused my hair to fall out when I was 16. Alopecia is common in people who are highly anxious. It is a signal that something is going on under the surface that needs addressing.

Then after getting sober at 36 I had a period of good health. I had discovered a way to deal with stress in the present moment. I met and married Stacey. Became a father to Frankie and went on to have triplets which was a traumatic experience in itself. No joke, having triplets was a test of patience and tolerance. And in all that time there was a history I rarely discussed.

It was only when I got hit in my car and nerve pain became permanent that I came to realise that I had to deal with my past and make a beginning on unravelling my past traumas. Event’s that were adding to my current pain levels. In short I had to make peace with my past.

Over the last few years I have worked with the pain clinic in dealing with the mental strain of chronic pain. I had sessions with their clinical psychologist and from those appointments I have gone on to get counselling to finally discuss and deal with my childhood abuse.

Even though I have no resentment towards my past it still resonates in my mind and can cause fear. It is still a factor in my stress levels and still causes me problems in personal relationships. So seeking help was vital. It is the last area of my life I need to deal with.

The past affects the present

Pain changes the way the brain functions as does stress and anxiety. I can’t do anything to fix central pain syndrome but I can do as much as I can to deal with stress. I learned early on that resentment and fear ramp up my pain levels. Emotions that are prevalent and not easy to deal with while suffering from chronic pain.

I have to live a healthy lifestyle. Diet and exercise help with chronic pain. The healthier I am the easier it is to manage my pain levels. And I’ve realized that the more I face and overcome trauma the better position I am in to face life now.

Nothing has helped me more than non contemplative meditation. It is a way to practice observing overthinking and negative emotions without being dragged into the whirlpool of thoughts. It is a free exersise unlike anything out there. I will leave the link at the bottom of this post.

If you are suffering from chronic pain and have a history of traumatic events that may be affecting your pain now I urge you to seek help. Find the courage to face your past and in forgiveness you will find peace. And living with chronic pain will become that little bit easier.

One step closer

In March last year you may remember that I had a neuropsychological assessment due to some cognitive problems I was experiencing. Yesterday – almost a year later, I had my follow up appointment.

Getting answers has been a difficult process of elimination. From the pain side of it a diagnosis of central pain syndrome in 2019 gave a label I could learn to understand. I finally began to get to grips with a permanent condition. One only I can manage.

Since the pain began permanently after a car accident in 2018 I have also suffered mentally. Memory loss, problems finding words and fainting/dizziness spells became a regular occurrence. I have also experienced hallucinations which have been a bit unnerving at times.

The neurologist I spoke without yesterday helped clear up some concerns and shone a light on what may be going on with me. The main point was that she was happy to rule out MS. It has not been easy to mentally deal with the possibility of such a debilitating illness. So to be cleared of it was a big relief.

It would seem that a life of trauma and previous alcoholism may have damaged my central nervous system. I had minor random attacks of nerve pain that I first noticed after I quit drinking 7 years ago. The pain only becoming permanent after the accident.

Central pain syndrome has changed my life. It has drained me into deppresion at times and turned my world upside down. The neurologist has put my cognitive problems down to dealing with chronic pain. Like a side effect. She explained that pain changes the way a brain functions. Hence her diagnosis of a functional cognitive disorder.

She is requesting that I get a nerve study done. This may show exactly what is happening to my nervous system, it’s a step closer to getting clarity on my rare condition.

One thing I have learned from all I have been through is that life goes on no matter what Is happening. That I am still a husband and father. That my relationships under my roof come first and that I cannot let my illness dictate my life. There are times I have struggled with this principle but I keep moving forward. Trudging the road ahead of me.

It takes grit, determination and faith to deal with chronic pain and the challenges it brings. Living with the monster isn’t easy but with the right attitude and clearer understanding I have a chance at a better life.

Making the most of chronic pain

Living with a chronic pain condition is draining, it mentally and physically takes it’s toll yet I have learned to function with pain levels most people will never experience.

When i was newly diagnosed it became clear that I was going to have to mentally manage my condition and that it was down to me to do it. As much information I read about my condition the one sure thing was that it was going no where. I had to somehow get on top of it.

2020 was a particularly difficult year as far as my pain went. It was for the most in control of me. I hit deppresion and got swamped in self pity from becoming overwhelmed by the pain. I was also exhausted, suffering from undiagnosed sleep apnea.

By the end of the year I had made changes to better manage my condition. For one I learned to not talk about it constantly. My wife knew I was suffering and didn’t need reminding all of the time. And it wasn’t doing me much good talking about it every day. It just kept me stuck in the negativity.

I changed my diet, began taking vitamins and along with meditation began to step back from the negativity in myself. I slowly managed to get on top of it for what felt like the first time in a long time. I also managed to get my medication levels where the positives in turning the pain down outweighed the negative side effects.

The result is a better attitude towards my pain and to life. I try not to get too complacent when I’m I’m experiencing lower pain levels. I was in the habit of pushing myself too hard when I felt better, always to have a worse flare up. Treatment for the sleep apnea is also helping me to turn down the pain.

My new bedtime look. Think it will catch on?

So I’m doing well at the moment. I still have chronic nerve pain in my back and hips. I still suffer electrical pain in my head and face but it’s turned down to manageable levels. I am slowly learning now to live with it without the crippling resentment and fear.

It is what it is and I will continue to find new ways to cope more positively with it. The monster had me for a while but I refuse to be beaten by it.

A positive pain post

It’s been a while since I have shared about my Central pain syndrome. And it feels good to be able to write a positive post about it.

The medications I started on last October have finally kicked in. I have of late experienced much lower pain levels. Mentally I also feel much clearer. I put much of my current health down to the meditation exercise I practice.

Last year I struggled with the pain. To the point of deppresion. Getting lost in self pity my relationship with Stacey was becoming affected by it. We already have enough to deal with having a teenager in the house and triplet toddlers.

There’s little time to rest at home

The main problem looking back is that I was grappling with fear and resentment. I began to get overwhelmed with the fact that I was in so much pain. I resented that I was suffering, the stress of which only amped up the pain. I also began to get dragged into fear of how much the CPS had changed my life, and what the future would look like for me.

Another of my problems was tiredness and exhaustion. I have recently had a sleep study done and have been diagnosed with a sleep apnea. No-one can function well with out solid sleep, and due to my condition I wasn’t getting sufficient rest. Dealing with the situation I am in at home on top of it, it was no wonder I was wrestling with myself to remain conscious and free from negative emotions.

I am picking up a breathing unit from the sleep study clinic. It means I will have to wear an oxygen mask to bed. And with proper, sound and solid sleep my days will be much easier to handle. It also means that I will be able to manage my CPS better.

So it would seem like things are going well. I am also now clear of the Coronavirus which is another positive. It’s a good start to the year in many ways. Let’s hope it continues. And I’m praying that my CPS is going to remain easier to navigate around. It means I cannot get complacent with it, but I am determined to not let it control me anymore.

Managing CPS

It’s been two and a half years since I got rear ended in my car. My vehicle was written off and I developed central pain syndrome.

My life changed dramatically from the beginning. I was unable to work for months at a time. My family took a big financial hit as testing began to discover and diagnose my condition. It was a difficult adjustment.

Over the last couple of years I’ve had bouts of depression when I have been overwhelmed by pain. It takes it’s toll on me at times. But lately I have made a little progress in managing my chronic pain condition.

I put it down to settling on the medication, cutting sugar out of my diet, taking vitamin supplements and above all letting go of the fear and resentment tied to the forced changes in my life. Being treated for sleep apnea will also be a benefit to my mental state.

Being present is everything

I spent a lot of time in frustration at my doctors, resenting the months between appointments. I felt shame that I can now only work part time and the impact that’s had on our financial situation.

I have experienced fear in that my condition hasn’t improved and I have worried about how life will be in ten years time.

All this worry and frustration has dug away at my mind. My deppresion brought on by the pressures I have experienced. I cannot change what has happened, nor is there any point in speculating about the future. All I have is the now.

By this I mean that what is happening in the present moment is all that really counts and it’s where my attention needs to be. Worrying removes me from real life into a stressed out fantasy land with only bad outcomes. I get lost in the fears and instead of having faith in my journey I become overwhelmed by the ‘what ifs’ that may not even occur.

My meditation practice is vital to my spiritual wellbeing. Replacing fear with faith and letting go of resentment is the most important thing I can do to manage my health. Getting lost in anger causes my body to run at higher revs. Anger amps my pain up – as does fear.

I have made a little progress over the last couple of months. I am no longer stressing about the future or running on thoughts of fear. And as a result of practicing conscious awareness I am now dealing with the pain without complaint. I am still suffering but doing it with a clear mind, free from overthinking and the negative emotions that weave their way out of thoughts.

I still have a long road ahead of me but with a conscious mindset and faith in God’s grace I know that I will manage. Leaving me available to be a good parent and husband. One that does as much as he can to support his family.

Chronic pain and limbo

A CPS post.

It’s been two and a half years of living with chronic pain. There have been times I have had a handle on it and times it has got the better of me. But one thing is for sure, its going nowhere.

In that time I have learned that management is the key to surviving high levels of nerve pain. There has been little improvement in the pain levels. If anything it has evolved. Spreading to different areas of my body as new symptoms appear to test me.

I chased up a neurologist appointment this week and it seems my case was forgot about after my assessment in march. That’s 8 month’s wasted that I could have had my follow up appointment to discuss multiple sclerosis as a diagnosis. 8 month’s that I could have been getting the right help. My phone call has got the ball rolling and I’m back in the system. It’s a frustrating place of limbo to say the least.

I have been proactive this year in dealing with past trauma in the hope that lower stress levels get my pain levels down. It’s definitely been beneficial if not painful at times.

New symptoms concern me but I have no where to discuss them. With month’s between appointments I am left to deal with them the best I can. I have also recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Just another problem to understand and deal with.

Meditation is my first point of management. Pregabalin, baclofen and amatriptalyne are the meds I have settled on. They don’t take the pain away but they allow me to function and deal with every day life. Which is anything but normal with triplet toddlers.

I feel like I’m up against it, sometimes on a daily basis. With central pain syndrome it’s all about living along side the monster and not letting it take the wheel. Not always easy.

I apologise if this seems like a bit of a whinge. I have ups and downs on this journey and positivity comes and goes. Sometimes it’s just tough going and I’m tired of hurting.

An excerpt from my new book

Over the last year I have been working on a new book. In it I share my experience with central pain syndrome, from when it began to a diagnosis.

The purpose of this book is to raise awareness and give a sufferers perspective of a rare neurological disorder. It explains the connection between pain and stress and also offers a solution to dealing with the pressures involved with living with a chronic pain condition.

The following is taken from my new book, currently titled ‘On Fire – An early journey with CPS’. (Available early 2021)

‘It also felt like I had finally grown to manage my symptoms with less of a sense of negativity. It is easy to fall into a trap of resentment, which I had done over and over again.

The monster was a part of me I could not evict, he was well and truly here to stay, and whatever else may be happening with me health wise, I saw it as my job to live alongside him without holding anger towards him.

I had also stopped feeling so victimised in my situation. Having CPS is bizarre. It takes everything from you, from friends to your livelihood. It is like living with a vacuum that sucks everything worthwhile into it and leaves the sufferer with a draining sense of loss and fear.

It almost felt as if I had to start my life again. From scratch, and in a way I did. I had to learn to accept my limitations, which I eventually did, and a sense of peace came from giving up fighting it.’

My first publication ‘From triples to triplets’ is available now on Amazon.

Resentment & pain

Living with a chronic pain condition drags a hoard of negative emotions along with it. Fear and frustration go hand in hand with cps (central pain syndrome).

Before I developed this bizzare and rare nerve disorder my focus was on dealing with work and raising my family. Being a dad to triplets brought enough pressure and stress. Weight that I had adjusted to since the triplets came home. I felt as though I was managing well, considering I was a first time parent.

Then came the accident just in time for the triplets first birthday. I wasn’t even remotely prepared for such a huge physical upheaval. And I soon discovered that there was more to the pain than just the pain.

I immediately fell into frustration as I struggled to do my job. Being a welder and with much of the pain centred in my head and face, and having to work a physical job with random back spasms I started getting overwhelmed with fear that I could no longer do my duties at work. Then came the fear of how I would support my family if I couldn’t work. I ended up on the vicious cycle of stress flaring up the pain, and the pain causing me stress.

Having an invisible illness is tough going

I fought through it for a couple of months but it became too much of an aggravating trigger for my nerve pain. Fairly soon I was off work and unable to earn. Not a great position for a man with a young family to support.

I quickly sank into resentment. I resented the pain, I got lost in self pity in between the trips to A&E and neurology appointments. With no clear diagnosis of a cause of the cps I became overwhelmed with negativity. Life became a struggle, one I had to face. If you have followed my blog you will know I haven’t always posted from a place of positivity this last year.

Lately though, I finally feel I’ve made some progress in managing my pain. And it lies in not resenting it. That’s it! There is nothing more I need to do than observe the pain without reacting to it. After all it is stress that dials the pain levels. So the solution to flare ups is to remain free from resentment and fear. I do this by way of non contemplative meditation. The answer was with me all along. I had to stop struggling with a problem beyond my control.

I figured early on that there was no way of avoiding my condition. That I was going to have to live with it somehow without it overwhelming me to the point of insanity. And I’ve come pretty close over this last year to losing a grip on my mental wellbeing.

There is always a simple solution to be found, and for the secondary pain such as the emotional battering of constant nerve pain all I need to do is stay mentally well. Conscious awareness helps me achieve a state of mental neutrality. It needs to be experienced to be understood, and I know a few of you have already began using this meditation and are having life changing results from it.

Life is hard enough without chronic pain to contend with. So whatever you find useful grab on to it and know you’re not alone in your suffering.

Fighting fatigue

I often wonder how well I would deal with cps if I didn’t also have triplets to contend with. Not that I would wish for that situation, in fact the triplets are probably a blessing in that I’m forced to find balance and solutions to managing chronic pain. I need to constantly look to improve the way I approach my illness.

Although I’ve slipped with the diet since being away on holiday this last week, I had definitely felt an improvement from a simple change in diet. There seems to be an ongoing issue though when it comes to fatigue. No matter what I try to do to beat it I find myself continually exhausted.

I wake up tired and stay that way all day. If I sit down for more than 5 minutes i drop off. Until I get rudely awoken by a toddler or my wife who is tired herself from my complaining.

For the better part of the last two years I have been sleeping every afternoon when the triplets took their afternoon nap. But now they have dropped it, I am no longer able to sneak off to bed for a few hours.

I’ve tried vitamins, light exercise and early nights but I can’t shake the weight of the fatigue. It’s like wearing led boots all day and my brain can barely function at times. I’m the guy that makes old man noises when I move. The pain is constant and difficult to hide at times. My body feels too old.

CPS is a vicious illness that I am in a constant battle with to manage. As for the fatigue, if you have any tips or suggestions please leave a comment. I’d love to hear your experience.

Stress & chronic pain management

At my first pain clinic appointment I was told that they couldn’t fix my pain. I was a little surprised by this as I was expecting physical treatments like steroid injections or new medications. Anything that would give me a quick fix by people who would understand what I was going through.

Instead I soon realised that what was on offer was pain management. Ways to alleviate stress, and therefore be in a better mental condition to live with the pain I was experiencing.

In the pain management group I signed up for the talk was more about diet and mindfulness, not a steroid injection or a magic wand in sight! It was not what I was expecting at all. But the more I dug into my own experiences the more relevant a factor stress became.

I was on the back foot to begin with. After all I meditate daily, and my pain began as a physical result of a car accident rather than a stressful incident. Although the accident brought it’s own stresses, none more than the permanent nerve pain that began following the incident.

But I was open to listening and understanding, and soon realized that stress and chronic pain go hand in hand. Therefore managing stress became paramount if I was to be able to cope from day to day with CPS.

When the suggestion of seeing a clinical psychologist was brought up my immediate reaction was ‘nope, no need to go down that road’. But in looking at the whole picture of my situation I began to see how that bigger picture was now playing a part in the way I dealt with, experienced and managed my pain.

I had triplets to raise, a family to support. A long history of mental illness that had never been fully addressed or discussed. There was childhood sexual abuse that had been kept brushed under the rug. All problems that without pain I was dealing with quite well with on my own.

But now add in the factor of daily widespread electrical nerve pain, the stress of not being able to support my family workwise and a whole bag of worms now opened with it. My past it seemed was also now catching up with me.

I had to be willing to look at past suppressed resentment and fears in order to make my pain more manageable. Everything became relevant, no matter how insignificant or irrelevant it seemed.

In short I accepted help and in doing so have gradually improved my pain levels and lessened the hell-born flare ups.

I still have a long road ahead. But with understanding of the direct correlation between pain and stress. The road may become a little easier to navigate. Minus the steroid injections and magic wands.