What Your Anxiety & Chronic Pain Are Trying To Tell You

Anyone who deals with chronic anxiety knows how crippling it can be and how much it can affect your day to day life. If you are struggling with anxiety, you may be desperately searching for something, anything, to dull the senses.

The human body is an incredible thing. It gives us signs and signals when something isn’t right whether mentally or physically, in the form of symptoms. You may develop a cold if you’ve been overworking yourself or not taking the time to properly care for yourself. It’s your body’s way of telling you to take a break. Anxiety is a physical response to an emotional pain that stems from fear. Our emotions have a deep connection to the body. Often when difficult emotions arise, if we are unable to process them, they can get stored in the body. I’ve noticed mine come in the form of extremely tight muscles that have contorted my body. I also notice my buried emotions come in the shape of large, deep knots, daily pain all throughout my body (particularly the back and neck) and a significant decrease in my range of motion. No two people are the same, so your body may store emotions and show symptoms differently. The key here is awareness.

Physically, I’ve found a few ways to release some of the emotions stored within the body. My personal favorite, because it can provide instant relief, is called dry needling. It’s very similar to acupuncture, with the main difference being that dry needling is more science based whereas acupuncture is more spiritual. So rather than targeting stuck chakras and things like that, they target the heart of your pain, which is called the trigger point. When they correctly hit the trigger point, you feel the area tighten, then release. I like to call these twinges. If the spot is particularly deep, old, or tight, when the muscle contracts, it may even bend the needle (which I find fascinating)! Yes, I said needle, but let me try to ease your mind before you freak out. They are more like little pins, just like the acupuncture ones. Personally, I’m not a fan of needles; I tried acupuncture before and didn’t like it. Dry needling can change your life; it definitely changed mine! After years of a mix of chiropractic care, physical therapy, stretching, yoga, and anything else I thought might alleviate some of the pain, relax my muscles, and realign my spine. I did several sessions through a physical therapist’s office, which also allowed my insurance to cover the expense which was a life saver! Some people may only need a few sessions depending on your situation. I immediately saw huge improvements, and kept seeing them! My posture improved, various symptoms due to my nerves being compressed by my vertebres disappeared, headaches and migraines are practically nonexistent now (except for the occasional hangover..lol..), and I even grew a few inches from my lengthened and more aligned spine! Sometimes, I could feel the emotion leaving, and often people have emotional responses to the dry needling either during the session or afterwards. If you have any other questions or comments about dry needling, comment below or feel free to email me (info@mentalmindmorph.com).

 

The next best thing, is to try to achieve the same muscle spasms that release trapped emotions is through either stretching or rolling on a ball. It’s a much slower process than dry needling, but basically works the same way. Through stretching, you target the spots that are giving you trouble. This can often be difficult because you have to push into the trapped areas, which you may not have been able to use those muscles in many years. I find taking deep breaths and breathing into the pain allows the muscle to relax to reach the trigger point, and you’ll know when you do! You’ll get that same muscle spasm that can be large, sometimes painful, but super gratifying afterwards. You can also use a ball, I prefer a lacrosse ball like this.

Kieba Massage Lacrosse Balls for Myofascial Release, Trigger Point Therapy, Muscle Knots, and Yoga Therapy. Set of 2 Firm Balls (Blue and Red)

If you find yourself in constant pain, particularly in your back, I find foam rollers really helpful. I need the extra firm kind which really digs into those tough spots and loosens them up. I’ve tried all kinds of them and still wasn’t getting enough, so I finally got the RumbleRoller and I am super happy with it! I use it on my back, neck, hips, psoas, glutes and hamstrings, arms, and everything else! I love it!

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Just make it stop!

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What do you do when you’re feeling down? How about when you’re feeling really depressed? Take a second and really think about it.
If you’re anything like me, you may sleep too much during the day, stay up late doing absolutely nothing remotely productive (Game of Thrones for the forth time through perhaps?), then you might beat yourself up for being a slob and wasting your days getting nothing accomplished. You might go multiple days without a shower (don’t judge! we all do it from time to time), eat almost nothing or eat your feelings, and you might find it particularly difficult to get up in the morning and go to a job that makes you feel even worse. It could be because you don’t feel heard or seen, are constantly walked all over, and no one seems to give a shit or show any sensitivity or compassion whatsoever. Everyone needs to feel valued and appreciated. Instead you get railed day after day and are always on your ass. Do I need to get a hall pass to go pee?!!! Being micromanaged is the worst!!
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Dealing with this everyday really started to get to me, and I became more and more depressed…again. Ugh…I was doing so good!

I’ve been told in the past I can be very negative. That was hard to hear, especially from someone I wasn’t particularly fond of, but he was right. Growing up with, having friends, or just being around anyone that is negative or has a pessimistic outlook on the world, people and life in general is suffocating. That was the kick in the ass I needed to see something unpleasant in myself, acknowledge it, and change it. I’m guessing if you suffer from depression in any form, you know how hard this can be. Your brain has become fantastically wired to f*** with you, to bring your demons out into the open, to constantly remind you of everything that may not be going the way you wish it was, and make every single tiny thing seem like the worst thing ever. Anxiety sometimes accompanies this. It feeds into your past traumas, fears, self-doubts, and insecurities. It loves you to feel like you’ve lost control. We’ll get into anxiety more in another post… Depending on how bad your depression is, this may be the part where suicidal thoughts come creeping on. I know better than to act on them, at least now I do, and that has a lot to do with being in a better place than I was years ago.

Depression and I go way back. It started really becoming apparent in high school, and I didn’t realize that until this year to be perfectly honest. I was reading through some of my writings, poems and songs from back then and like a light bulb, suddenly it made perfect sense: the gothic clothes, love for singing along to Evanescence songs, writing poems about pain and rejection, and even the way I decorated my room. I always looked back at those less than stellar times as me being a typical hormonal teenager. That wasn’t exactly the case I see now…  but that was my normal, and I didn’t know any better or anything else. That’s just was who I was: the gothic-punk misunderstood band geek who’s happy and safe place was swinging on the swing sets at an elementary school play ground, at midnight. There was something so peaceful, tranquil, comforting and familiar about it. The silence was beautiful and the light breeze was refreshing and rejuvenating. It made me feel alive and hopeful again in my darkest, loneliest and weakest moments. Having these moments, singing, journaling, playing music, and just writing in general was how I dealt with my depression then.

Those dark, heavy and deep emotions I was only able to connect to through singing were just the tip of the iceberg of years of repressed emotions and deep subconscious hysteria from traumatic childhood memories that I couldn’t even remember. That’s what our brains do – they protect us from pain, trauma, and anything else it deems potentially harmful. That’s also part of our fight or flight response. So, to protect me from painful,  memories it couldn’t possibly know how to process at a young age, and the feelings attached to those memories, it buried them deep down into my subconscious. I never even imagined those particular memories or certain times in my life could possibly be a major source of the pain and suffering that has been so debilitating over the years and caused so much distress, anguish, and anxiety. I would’ve never guessed it could have had such a strong impact on me and my life as an adult almost two decades later.

Over the years throughout my healing journey, I’ve been tirelessly searching for anything that would help me feel better. I’ve tried so many different things for mental, emotional and spiritual health, as well as anything to help relieve these associated physical pains that manifested in my body from years of intense stress. I’ve researched, looked into and tried anything I could get my hands on. I tried prayer in my most desperate times (that’s a whole other article right there). I’ve tried and used acupuncture, trigger point, massages, numerous doctor visits and tests, long-term chiropractic care, medication, and so much more for the physical pain. I’ve used and tried therapists and counseling, group therapy, out-patient care at a mental health facility, medication, psychiatrists, yoga, meditation, mindfulness, coloring, journaling, time in nature, numerous medications, music, alcohol, sex, drugs, holistic methods and practices, herbs in various forms, marijuana, and so much more with varying results in hopes of any  bit of relief mentally and emotionally (I’ll go more in depth on this as well at a later time). I just wanted to make it stop. I just wanted to be normal. To have a normal family, normal childhood, normal home, normal anything… I wonder if some people have an abnormal life or experience because they were never made or meant to be normal. I wonder if some of us go through horrible things and have a tough life because we are the ones that were given the strength (unbeknownst to me) to somehow endure and persevere so we can turn around and lend a hand to someone who can relate and resonate with your story and your truth. Maybe because we were meant for bigger things, meant to make a bigger impact by sparking change and hope in the hearts and souls of others in need. Perhaps everyone has their own story with unique experiences, trials, tribulations and we are meant to use those experiences, the wisdom and knowledge gained, and a special ability and deep levels of empathy and sensitivity to connect to others on a deeper level that couldn’t have even imagined…