Hi all. I overcome debilitating back pain several years ago, but I want to post my experience in overcoming it so that I may help others experiencing the same confusing dilemma that is chronic pain. My back pain started at about 18 years of age, and was about a 3 year, highly stressful ordeal. my family and I spent thousands on all kinds of treatments in an effort to treat this back pain problem I suddenly had. I got Mri's, went to chiropractic, physiotherapy, acupuncture, had surgical consultations, got massage, got pain medication, bought electric shock pads, special braces, shoes and on and on and on. The Mri's showed concerning "abnormalities" in my spine, and so my fear skyrocketed, and the situation got so much worse. MY physical activity decreased dramatically, I was living in fear of pain and hurting myself and "causing more damage". I could barely sit in chairs, sit in vehicles for long, I stopped living life and doing normal everyday things. I became obsessed with this "problem" I had, and my life was just getting smaller and smaller and smaller. So you know, my spine has scoliosis, bone spuring, disc bulging, herniations and I was even told I have an "extra" vertebrae that didnt fuse properly to my sacrum (highly distressing). These scary things the doctors showed and told me ended up having no real relevance to the pain I was experiencing, and now have zero limitations in my physical activity and only slight irritations of pain in my back nowadays. I now know how to deal with these flare ups since I understand it is simply a reflection of stress and tension, it is NOT a physical problem. So, how did I heal? I can remember one night laying on my bed crying in desperation, wondering if this would be my life forever. I surfed the net in hopes of finding ANYTHING that might help. I came across a blogpost of a girl who said "I healed my back pain naturally" and she mentioned Dr. Sarno. Intrigued I followed up on it, bought the book Healing Back Pain, and my life was revolutionized and changed forever almost over night. I read the book and experienced the typical cliche "I saw myself on every page". I was perfectionistic, high achieving, undergoing a lot of family stress, and overall putting myself under a TONNE of pressure. I had just entered university, I broke up with my high school girlfriend, my parents were going through a divorce, I was rowing competitively and training at a high level, getting up at 4:30 every morning to do workouts, and I was pressuring myself to get A's in my classes. On top of this, Up to this point in my life, I didnt feel or channel my emotions very well, like at all. I always suppressed them and pretended I simply didnt have them, I also didnt meet my own needs very well. I always was trying to be the nice guy, and appear perfect. However, this simply isn't real, and I realized that these behaviours were generating a tonne of pressure and tension. After reading the first few chapters of Sarno book, to my amazement, I remember going to a 3 hour lecture and sitting through the entire thing. I was excited and eager to keep going. I started to feel fine sitting again, so I could get in cars again, and I started running again and resuming my usual physical activity. I finally started enjoying myself again. However, the path to healing is full of setbacks and I want to share what I remember being key pieces of information that I had to decipher and apply to my situation so that I could heal. - I Stopped obsessing that I had a problem, and adopted the mindset that nothing was wrong with me, I resumed all physical activity, and stopped talking about my pain with friends and family. - I allowed the pain to be there when it did come, I simply said to my brain, this is TMS, not a physical problem, and took my mind off it. I didnt let it grab me. - I told myself that it didn't make any sense how the pain would come and go, and wasn't always consistent, so it had to be TMS. how could it be physical if it wasn't hurting all the time right? it had to do with the mind and attention being either on or off it. - I started journalling out my emotions and any pressures and finding expression for them. I exercised, screamed into pillows, punched pillows, and channelled the internal anger I knew was inside any way I could. I played a lot of guitar and channeled my emotions into music. - I started to relax and make this a priority in my life. - Any thoughts that were related to the pain I simply ignored. any what if thoughts, or any future projections or worrying or planning ahead for how I was going to deal with my pain in such and such situation. - I ignored people who were fixated on their own chronic pain and stopped trying to fix and argue with them if they didnt share the mindset I was trying to develop in relation to Sarno's ideas. - I resumed all physical activity and payed no mind to the perceived limitations my brain was telling me. Ie, "you can't run on concrete", or "your doing more damage to your back by doing this" - Once I lost the fear of the pain, and actively did things in spite of the pain, everything changed. the pain disappeared quickly. - I told myself the human spine is very rugged structure, built over millennia to be strong, durable and flexible to handle a vast array of physical stress and activity. MY spine was normally abnormal, or perfectly imperfect, however you want to say it. it made no sense to be in physical pain and therefore it had to be emotional. - sometimes I got odd pains not related to my back that seem plausible or have a physical cause. like my knee or something. I simply payed these pains no mind and wrote it off as emotions and stress. - Go out there and live life, take your mind off your pain, for me it was about taking control back from my subconscious mind. I talked to my brain and told it that I am in control. I even did the inner child talks where I talked to the little me inside where I tried to understand my emotions and what I was feeling. I simply said I hear you, but we don't need this physical pain anymore. - I also realized I didnt have to fully understand the process of mind body pain and how it works or be able to perfectly explain it. Sarno says it is oxygen deprivation caused by the brain to divert attention away from emotional stress so as to not deal with it. for many that's hard to grasp, but this truly does work I knew I just needed to stop seeing it as a physical problem and that there was nothing to fear. As I implemented Sarno's protocols and did the daily reminders, it was an amazing feeling as my life was opening up again and I could do all kinds of things I thought I couldn't do. It truly is wonderful knowledge, especially living in a society constantly creating fear that something is wrong with you when you have pain, and then providing solutions to that fear, like products and services you pay for or medications to take to remedy your "problem". It seemed to become clear to me that chronic pain was a call for help from our bodies that we are overdoing things, or not taking proper care of ourselves, and nothing more than that. When I started to see the results I saw that this pain I was experiencing was actually a blessing, there to expand my awareness about myself, and therefor move me forward in my life. I hope this helps! Whenever I get flare ups of pain now, I simply pay it no mind since I understand the fear of it is not required. What I experience now is nothing physical, but I have been experiencing a lot of anxiety. I am still figuring this out and how to cope with this. I get obsessive thoughts and can get caught in ruminative cycles, and I experience a lot of anxiety in response to this. I think this is OCD? From what I understand, anxiety is prolonged mental stress and that stress manifests in different ways for different people, I don't get panic attacks, but I get obsessive thoughts and then compulsively try to "solve" them to no end, I don't have typical OCD compulsions like hand washing or anything like that, my OCD seems to be purely mental obsessions and compulsions. Im not sure yet how much of anxiety is a mind body disorder and can therefor be treated like TMS (a distraction from emotions), or if anxiety is its own thing that needs to be dealt with in a different way other than Sarno. Any insight would be great if anyones experienced anxiety post chronic pain (ive heard this is common). Claire Weekes has been helpful for sure, and learning to let anxious thoughts pass without grabbing onto them, thus allowing the nervous system to desensitize, and allow the anxious thoughts and feelings to ultimately dissolve and disappear, at least that's the idea.