Emotions Impact Pain

I never understood the impact of emotions on pain until I studied for my hypnotherapy diploma back in 2013 and then took a pain management diploma last year.  I also didn’t realise how changeable pain is, it isn’t constant and it is controlled by our brain.

When people have a bad accident the emotional state of the patient is critical to recovery which is why medics often give high doses of medicines such as ketamine to relax the patient so that they don’t really know what is happening, reducing the chances of going into shock.

When I went for spinal surgery I was quite emotional knowing it was a 5 hour procedure with a high risk of paralysis or nerve damage, I was shaky and trying to be brave but my consultant and surgical team understood how I was feeling.  They gave me IV Ketamine as they were setting up my heart monitors and getting the operating table ready as I had to lay face down for my operation, I did not care what they were doing to me I laughed hysterically as the drug took effect then fell unconscious, meaning I was not stressed at all whilst they were putting me to sleep.

After surgery I began to notice that the more I fought (in my mind) not actually fighting anyone ­čśéwith the pain that came with developing fibromyalgia and recovering from surgery, the worse it got.

Fibromyalgia increases nervous system sensitivity as well as other other important roles it controls the messages that travel to and from our brain for pain management.  Have you noticed that when you’re sad, upset or in another ‘negative’ mood that pain feels worse, but if someone makes you laugh or you spot something that makes you smile inside the pain reduces, even if it’s a brief respite?  Have you noticed that when you wake up happy and the sun is shining that you wake up feeling less stiff and in less pain?  You might be saying to yourself ‘no’ but you do I assure you, it might not be for long but you will. 

I want you to try something for me, the next time you are feeling happy, are laughing, maybe you’re outside with your family having fun, just stop and do a mental scan of your body and compare it to when you have been in a ‘negative’ mood and I promise you your symptoms will feel much better, reduced, maybe give even forgotten about them!!

This does not mean it’s all in your head, pain is controlled through a complex system involving our nervous system which travels up to our brain through our spinal cord and how the pain is felt depends on the individual, emotions, past memories etc.  Some people can handle lots of pain.  Before my operation my twisting spine was very painful but I still went to work and the gym for 18 months and I had to have my painkillers increased to 20-25 a day until I begged the doctor to do something as none of them worked anymore and fentanyl was looking like the next option and no way was I quitting my job!! But now one little episode of pulling my back, a headache, banging my arm or whatever can quickly become so intense I can end up paralysed in pain or hysterical.

I had a very stressful weekend once dealing with some inappropriate behaviour of some I knew last year and the stress brought on a panic attack, something I’ve not had since I was 17.  I developed a migraine that was so painful I could not see, had to sit in the dark, my heart rate and blood pressure were off the chart.  No medication helped and the ambulance service rushed me to hospital for a potential brain scan.  I was horrified and embarrassed when we realised it was nothing more than a migraine.  Only the 3rd time I’ve ever had one and they had never been that painful, welcome to fibro.

Painkillers are a band aid for pain. Some are very effective but the brain gets used to them and more or stronger versions are needed, not a viable long term strategy for chronic pain.  My painful twisting spine was resolved with surgery but Fibromyalgia is in a league of its own as there is NO cure and not a pill that will keep the symptoms successfully under control long term.  

The nervous system is complex, feel free to read more about how it works here. I not only talk from being a qualified hypnotherapist and pain management therapist but someone who has Fibromyalgia.  I believe the messages/chemicals that are supposed to travel back from our brain to our nerves during pain do not work properly and no operation or pill is going to cure such a complex system.  Even if they did invent something to help at what cost would this be to our health.  All medications give side effects as they change our mind and bodies state.


I know some of you are desperate for a cure and hate having this condition and let me be honest I’d give a limb if I thought I could get rid of it but I can’t.  So I do the next best thing and accept it is part of me, fibro will never go away and me and my fibro (I’m thinking of giving it a pet name) have to coexist and get on.  Like you might have to with a naughty sibling or a demanding irritating boss at work.

Learn from your experiences; the most powerful skill you can learn is how to control pain, how to reduce the length of time a flare up lasts and how you react to both of these! 

My flare ups are rare and they don’t last longer than the same day they occur as I use my mind to help me get through it.  I can’t stop all flare ups as I want to live, I want to work, I want to go out with my family and I want to have holidays, but I can change how I feel about them.

My top tips for dealing with pain:-

  • Remember it will pass, pain changes and is not constant, it is like a volume control on a radio and you can change it in any direction you want.
  • Stay positive, if you are struggling then have a good cry and then do something to make you laugh.
  • Exercise helps and reduces pain long term whilst releasing endorphins like a natural anti depressant.
  • Stay away from fibromyalgia support pages that focus on negativity as this will NOT help you at all.  
  • Try yoga, not once but every day for just 5-10 minutes.  Have you ever met a miserable unhappy yoga teacher?  No of course not.  It’s relaxing and gives you focus and mental clarity.
  • Only temporarily increase painkillers then cut back asap.  Remember these are not the solution, they are a band aid.
  • Listen to music, meditate, undertake self hypnosis to lift your mood, clear your head, take you to your happy place ­čśŐ
  • This last one might sound crazy but I actually use my headspace app and focus my breathing through the area that hurts and it changes the pain.

One last thing do not sit and stew about the pain as this will feel increase the pain.  Talk to someone and if you haven’t got anyone you are more than welcome to talk to me ­čśü

The silly season and Fibromyalgia 

I wanted to share some of my tips for surviving Christmas with this condition.  In the sat I’ll be honest I’ve been a right miserable sod as I focused on what I couldn’t do not on what I could do or asked for help!!

If you choose to drink alcohol then don’t expect to have a healthy Christmas, I am going to be brutally honest, alcohol and fibro go together like chalk and cheese.  It’s seriously bad for you, your mind and your body, your already oversensitive nervous  system will make you pay, here’s what happens to me:-

  • Palpitations
  • Overheat or am freezing
  • Numbness in parts of my body
  • Pins and needles
  • Panic attacks
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Indigestion
  • Pain under arms and on my upper stomach when touched 
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

I am sure they are more!!  I used to be able to drink shandy but in the past month I cannot.  It’s your choice but ask yourself why you do it if it makes you feel ill?  Peer pressure, don’t want to look a party pooper?  Personally I’d rather feel healthy.  Do your research on google 

Okay let’s go onto the second thing that affects fibromyalgia; food.  Many of you might not have made that connection but I have my keeping detailed food diarys, food affects our nervous systems in more extreme ways than a person without this condition as we have sensitive nervous systems.  Not only does it affect my nervous system but I now have an inflamed bowel that I am having an exploratory operation for next week, it really is not worth eating shit food or drinks!  Okay here’s some of the food that affects me in a negative way and I’ll give you a few symptoms of what it does to me:-

  • Red meat
  • Cows milk
  • Alcohol
  • Coffee
  • Sugar
  • Anything containing sugar; cereals, dessert, chocolate etc
  • Cheap takeaways, fast food such as McDonalds, KFC and Chinese takeaways
  • Too much chilli ­čî 
  • Fizzy drinks
  • White rice 
  • Pasta
  • White processed bread
  • Processed, packaged cheap food that contains chemicals
  • MSG (found in many foods; Chinese chemical that enhances the taste buds in humans)
  • Too much cheese

I am sure there is more!!

I am not a saint, I’ve slipped up this Christmas, wanting to join in with my colleagues and friends at work, who have been absolute stars ԺɴŞĆ I’ve eaten canteen Xmas dinner, been out for s meal and ate red meat and had 2 shandys on two occasions and boy have I been ill, not just with fibromyalgia but also my inflamed bowel has not reacted well to the ‘crap’ food.

I’ve had to take 2 tramadol each morning and I have gone hit more than 3 days and I’m afraid that my body is now needing it to feel normal.  It just goes to show how dependant our bodies get with these pills, the pain from fibromyalgia is extreme, I know that.  But I need to get my nutrition back on track and wean back off these stupid tablets.  One thing I won’t do no matter how ill I feel I will not take more than 2 a day!!

Do not let your condition get you down, it can be controlled, you have to stick with the plan!

I have found my spirit

Something happened to me 2 weeks ago, I was travelling home on my motorbike and I’d been having a hard time with withdrawing off all my fibromyalgia medications, crying every day and generally feeling very disturbed, lonely and depressed. But one day whilst riding home, I felt free, different, like I’d dropped something off on the way home. I got home and after locking up my bike I just sat in the house smiling, knowing I felt different but not really understanding what had happened.


I thought about this most of the night and I thought maybe this was due to the transition of coming off a number of regular medications, which quite frankly didn’t work or did for a short period of time and transitioning to natural supplementation.  I mean what else could it be?  Acceptance, maybe my mind had shifted by undertaking mindfulness practises every day with yoga and meditation?  Maybe it was a combination of everything?

Well whatever it is it’s like it all clicked into place.  I’ll be honest since that day the fibromyalgia really hasn’t bothered me too much as long as I stick to the plan.  What plan is this you might ask?  It’s my plan.  Something I’m working on for me, something I will share with the world once I prove it works and something I dream about doing as a profession.  This is why I’ve been given the gift of fibromyalgia after my spinal fusion. It’s to learn optimum health, the meaning of my life and to help others, thats what I feel happened to me 2 weeks ago.


So what are my tips for starting your plan?  Tackle the number one problem; stress. Work on your diet, you must find the right exercise for you and do it every day and find the right supplementation. Retrain your brain using mindfulness meditation, self hypnosis and other techniques. It takes blood, sweat and tears but one day the weight will come off your shoulders too.

You’ll never cure fibromyalgia but you’ll learn to live with it like I have, even maybe learn to love it ÔŁĄ´ŞĆ. Sound crazy?  Not at all, do you love yourself?  Learn to love the condition and help your body cope using the power of your mind.  Your body deserves that. 

Tips for managing stress:-

  • Don’t worry about the things that are out of your control (for example developing this condition, just accept it)
  • Take things one step it day at a time (don’t worry about tomorrow or next week, use mindfulness to bring you back to the present time)
  • Prepare for stressful events by taking 5-10 minutes to focus and calm your mind. (Close your eyes and visualise your favourite place, taking in all the sights, sounds, smells and turn up everything including the colours and noises)
  • Try and look as change as positive or as a challenge, instead of assuming it is an hindrance.  (List down the positives of what the change could bring)
  • Ask yourself what you can learn from things, and how you can inspire or motivate people from your experience. (Is there a friend or someone in a focus group who is having a hard time that can benefit from what you have learnt?)
  • Share your worries or concerns with like-minded people.  You are not looking for sympathy, but empathy. (Sharing with a focus group or friends can be empowering)
  • Take a 5 minute walk if you can.  Walking and stretching can renew your energy.  (I walk every day for at least 5 minutes and do mindfulness yoga daily.  It’s relaxing and clears your mind).
  • Remember to eat (fibromyalgia makes your nervous system over sensitive so how often you eat and what you eat makes a massive difference to how you feel both mentally and physically, make it natural, organic and small meals every 3 hours).
  • Try and set realistic goals – but don’t push yourself, you have been through enough already (your goals can be simple enough to be achievable and you need to have them pinned up somewhere where you see them).
  • Journal your thoughts or begin a simple blog.  Reaching out to others who have been through similar experiences can be life changing (I do this both on WordPress and on Facebook, my sites are not to share negativity but to share my experiences with others but also to allow me and others to laugh at the ups and downs on finding my path, you need to write down the purpose of your blogging, this will keep you focused). 

Core strength and fibromyalgia 

I used to undertake core strength and body weighted interval training 5/6 times a week, I loved it!  I was so strong both mentally and physically.  It is still my goal to get to my core strength back to a level where I feel strong.

Working your core strength is essential, I spoke at length about this with my physio and she said she was shocked at how many body builders couldn’t even hold a 30 second plank!  If we all had core strength we wouldn’t have so many back issues!


I used to be able to hold about 6-7 30 second planks in one session. Core strength is essential in keeping a strong back and a healthy back is essential in keeping your whole body strong and injury free.

In order to embark on this kind of training with fibromyalgia you have to do this slowly as the lactic acid will build up and hurt like hell.  This is why I’ve switched to mindfulness yoga for the next year.  Believe me my lower back feels like I’ve been kicked in the back at the minute, but it will ease once I get used to twisting again. ­čśé

We cannot afford not to exercise, immobility is not an option for me and I feel like I am becoming something I always hated.  Whenever I do a chore now I’m sore and with this condition the soreness is extreme.  Our bodies were not created to just sit down all day and I damn well am not going to grow old hiding my body under baggy clothes.  I want to grow old feeling as strong as an ox, able to take care of myself.  Not sat down pointing at stuff as I cannot even get up to fetch it.  (My poor husband),  I want to be able to ride my bike, enjoy gigs and festivals without having to take a week of work to recover.  

Read the article here.  My #fibrogoals are to slowly build up to a minimum of 30 minutes of mindfulness yoga every day, then I shall move into body weight exercising then back into weights.

What are your goals?  And if you haven’t got any then why not? 

Fibromyalgia and women

I read a great fact based article today about this condition and why it’s predominantly women who get diagnosed.  I absolutely do agree with the hormone link and why it’s again predominantly around middle age, but there are a few exceptions as there is with most conditions, ones that fall outside the ‘norm’.  Read more here

I know why I developed it, I have spinal disabilities and had major surgery on my spine to correct the twisting and collapsing of my spine.  My dad also has ankylosing spondylitis, another link to why I developed this, it’s in my genes.  I am certain if we all reflect on our family history and health we can work out why us?

This condition does not have a cure, it’s a chronic condition.  It will not kill us but it DOES have a serious detrimental effect on our quality of life.  We CAN however takes steps to improve our quality of life; keep diaries of our condition, what we eat and drink, sleep journals, activities we do, how we feel mentally and physically.  From this we can work out what is toxic and needs to be removed or reduced in our lives in order to improve our symptoms.  This IS going to be a challenge, if it was easy none of us would be suffering!

I will not give up this challenge, why? Because this is my life and I will live a good quality of life.  The best that I can.

Are you with me? Or are you prepared to give up?  Trust me I have been to hell, I’ve suffered so much pain, given up so much of my old life, landed in the gutter so many times.  

I WILL NOT GIVE UP, NOT UNTIL I AM OLD AND DEAD.  BECAUSE IF I HIVE UP I MIGHT AS WELL BE DEAD.

#fibrogoals 

Pain pain pain 

I am not going to lie, the pain is at an all time high as it feels like I’ve got the early stages of flu.  I felt rough this morning, had 2 cocodamol felt slightly better, went to the bike shop to get our new bikes and had another coffee, one more than my usual, felt great, Christ I felt high.  Then I crashed big time, I felt dreadful, exhausted and in pain.

I decided to go for a little trundle out on my new bike to learn how to use gears, I’d passed my CBT on an automatic bike.  Now the way Fibro works is every little amount of ‘stress’ which normally I’d just deal with, my head and body go into full on ‘fight’ mode, I either hold my breath or take fast small breaths, the pain starts and I feel exhausted.  I managed to deep breathe and kept it under control.


After an hour I went home exhausted and in great pain, like having the flu, especially in my lower back around where I have had it fused.  I went to bed, listened to 2 mindfulness meditation sessions, ate a chicken snack, used a hot water bottle and after an hour of being in agony I took 2 cocodamol, begrudgingly, as I do not want to rely on pain pills.

I’m sat in bed still, hoping I feel better so I can go round the block on my new bike to get used to it.  Then I have all night and day to relax!!  Wish me luck.

Do you have tips and techniques you use to get you through the early stages of a bad Fibro attack?

Negativity hit me like a cricket bat in the face

I did not sleep well last night.  I got less than 3 hours due to having a sore throat all night.  I went to bed, got up then went back to bed late!


I stocked up on throat supplies and took them to work ­čśé

I went to work and it was very busy, I hardly had a minutes peace to myself, but I enjoyed it and it kept my mind off the pain.  

I completed a 30 minute mindfulness yoga meditation on Monday and my back, each side of my body were sore after this and in Wednesday my daughter rubbed magnesium spray into these areas and they were swollen?!?  But it felt much better.
After spending 24 hours in London with my backpack my back pain has reached epic levels.  I cried on the train on the way home yesterday so had to pop sunglasses on and take 2 Tramadol, I resisted for an hour but I literally could not keep my legs still and I was sat at a table with 3 other people, I hated that I relented and had 2.  The pain relief took about 20 minutes and 3 mindfulness meditation sessions on my phone using earphones to get me to a point of delirium.  I went from crying to giggling, yes I think my new train mates thought I was mental.

The pain moved into my entire body today and as I was at work I ended up taking a Tramadol this morning and 2 cocodamol in the afternoon and grrrrrrrrrr tonight I took another 2 Tramadol.  I was laid on the sofa crying as my back pain pulsed and my skin hurt to touch, my throat feels like I have 3rd degree burns in the right hand side and hurts all the way into my ear ­čśô.  I was literally crying and eating food at the same time, I could not even make it to the kitchen table.   My husband came over to give me a cuddle and told me to go to bed for a while if I felt that bad.  

I will not go back on regular meds and I know I will feel rubbish tomorrow after all the pain pills today!! But shit happens and I’ll get over it.


He knows what I was thinking and yes I threw an almighty pity party.  “Why me, I hate this, I can’t stand the pain, I’ve got a busy weekend I can’t afford to have this again right now”.  He always remains positive, “Maz” he says “you’ll be fine in a day or two”and that was all it took as I answered “yeah I know”.  Normally I would be griping, no I won’t, my life is ruined and a load of other negative stuff. But he’s right, I will be okay, it’s just my body’s way of saying hey you are a little sore from travelling and yoga, let’s take it steady tonight, this will not last as pain changes by the minute, it isn’t static.

I know the retraining of my brain is helping, the mindfulness is helping me focus on the now and not the past or trying to sabotage the future with pain I may not feel.  Let’s take it one moment at a time!!

So now I’m in bed, sat upright and cross legged, having had some magnesium spray on my back from my husband, this stuff is awesome, I make it myself.  The aches subside and I’m ready to do some meditation with a smile on my face.