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

Fatigue and fibromyalgia 

I have to be honest fatigue and anxiety are two of my most crippling symptoms at the moment.  I have had a busy weekend with a motorbike lesson Saturday morning, loading up the campervan for camping and unloading on return then I went out on my motorbike 3 miles to watch a stunt show for 2 hours.  Monday I felt great, Tuesday and Wednesday morning I have felt by far the worse I have ever felt in terms of fatigue.

I open my eyes and the stiffness and pain is extreme I feel it in every part of my body all over my skin, like I’m severely bruised, I cry lots more out of frustration I guess.  I struggle out of bed and it takes me between 90-120 minutes of waiting for my tramadoland the caffeine from my coffee to kick in.  I hate this feeling more than anything it’s horrible, getting into work is a massive struggle, today I have booked a days annual leave as I don’t even have the energy to get up.  I’ve been laid in bed for 3 hours now!!

Fatigue is a difficult one it’s all about pacing and you have to keep a diary of activities to learn how much you can do and when to rest to reduce fatigue flare ups, fatigue never kicks in straight away it takes my body 48-72 hours for it to kick in but when it does it floors me.  It’s a frustrating experience as I really had fun with my family this weekend and now I am paying the price.

Tips for controlling fatigue which I do not always follow hence why I am feeling ill today:-

  • Learn pacing; this means stretching out activities over a longer period.  I’ll give you an example I used to hoover the whole house in one go, now I have a lightweight rechargeable hoover and I do a room a night.  
  • Find easier ways to do things.  All my shopping is done online and delivered, any other essentials are fetched by my daughter and husband
  • Hire a cleaner or ask a family member or friend to help.  I am a proper clean freak so clutter and dirt stress me out so I pay my daughter a wage to clean.
  • Find ways to rest and this does not necessarily mean go to sleep, napping messes up your sleep health.  It means finding a way to relax which could be watching tv, reading a book, doing some crafts, sitting in the sun, etc etc
  • Meditate, get on the sofa and put on a YouTube and look up mindfulness meditation close your eyes, switch off your phone and follow the instructions.
  • If you are feeling down then have a good cry and get it out your system then move on, it’s my favourite way of getting all the frustration out!  Don’t let it ruin your day!
  • Stay positive, focus on what you have and what you can do not what you can’t.  I know this is hard but life is beautiful and when fatigue kicks in it’s overwhelming but we all have great things in our life even if it’s just the blue sky and sun today.
  • Keep telling yourself it will pass because it always does.  If needs be write it down ‘it will pass’ on an A4 sheet of paper and stick it on the wall to remind you.
  • Increase your painkillers to help you get through the flare up but remember to reduce back down or you could end up on a slippery slope of ever increasing pain meds.
  • Take a hot bath, not a shower and use magnesium flakes as they soak in your skin, at first you will itch and go redbut as your magnesium levels increase in your body this will stop.
  • Eat healthier than ever before, poor diet choices will increase fatigue.
  • Do not drink any alcohol as this will make you feel worse!!  The alcohol turns to sugar and is toxic to your liver it will only prolong the fatigue.
  • Get a massage it releases and removes toxins in the body and you will feel the benefit later on in the day.
  • Go and sit in the sun and top up your vitamin D levels naturally.
  • Remember your vitamins.
  • Talk to someone about how you feel, sharing your experience helps.  Why do you think I have my fibro page I need you more than you need me!!

Take a look at this site it’s got great tips and logs to help you plan living with fibro here 

Post Christmas Fibro Flare

I really don’t feel as bad as I expected to feel.  Obviously I’m not feeling like I could cope with a full day of ‘doing stuff’ either!!

Yes I am chronically exhausted and need to rest, my sleep is not great and my head doesn’t feel like it belongs to me.  I can’t control my body temperature and my IBS is terrible.  But I still don’t feel as ill as I thought I would.

I mean let’s be honest Christmas can be a nightmare for those of us with a chronic condition.  Overeating ‘bad’ food, drinking alcohol, having to go out and travel and spend days at a time at social events which all impact negatively on our nervous systems.  I mean the worse people get over Christmas is a hangover and maybe a couple of pounds of extra weight whereas someone with fibromyalgia we can end up with the mother of all flare ups, not being able to get dressed, go out or even cook for ourselves.  The intense nerve pain, digestive issues, depression, skin itching, insomnia, stiffness, headaches etc etc, the list goes on and can be so debilitating it can ensure we housebound for days, sometimes weeks.

It’s important to reflect on this; there is a reason why we feel like this:-

  • We have no paced our activities and just dived in head first, not wanting to let people down.
  • We have drank alcohol which is a very bad idea with this condition
  • We have not ate healthily (a Christmas dinner or 3 is not all healthy!)
  • We stayed up later and get up later which ruins our sleep routine
  • We have watched much more tv and used our phones more which has disrupted our production of the sleep chemical melatonin
  • We have travelled much more than normal which exhausts our bodies
  • Social occasions tire us out too!

It’s important to acknowledge why we are having a flare and then get back on our plan.  By now you should have worked out what that is right?

Ditch the non healthy food and treats, stop drinking booze, rest, go to bed and get up at your planned times, pop on those uv glasses once it gets dark and don’t forget your vitamins, 2-3 litres of water a day, meditate and exercise daily, you will soon recover and feel more like you.

I think the reason I don’t feel as bad as I thought I would and the flare is not as bad as I’ve had in the past is that my head is in a good place and I know this won’t last .  I’m enjoying the opportunity to rest, watch some films and eat healthy nutritious food whilst smiling about the best Christmas I’ve had since getting seriously ill 4 years ago.

Happy new year everyone 

What a year!!

I was just thinking to myself whilst sat on the train to London (only the second time I’ve made this trip in the last year) how far I’ve come.

It’s easy to sit here concentrating on the pain in my spine, my upset (not very sociable) sensitive digestive system or the fatigue but where is that going to get me?  I’d rather sit here looking out the window admiring the beauty of the world, the fact I’ve managed to keep hold of my employment and how I planned a year ago to move out of my very highly demanding role of spending 4 days a week in London (6 hours round trip).  To now successfully obtaining a local job at the same grade leading a team less than 2 miles from home.  I’ve weaned of all regular meds, found 2 fantastic super fibromyalgia supplements that work.  Altered my diet.  Found mindfulness meditation and yoga (I love these).

It’s easy to focus on what we can’t do but that just makes us more sad, the mind does not understand these are only passing thoughts, if we continue to focus on them we get sad, even depressed and guess what our physical symptoms get worse!!

If we focus on positivity, our brain, our mind soaks this up and everything becomes much better.  We feel happier, our pain reduces, some of even all of our symptoms improve.  I could barely work a year ago and this week I am back in work full time.  
I am by no means cured as there is no cure for Fibromyalgia but YOU CAN learn to live a happy healthy life!  It took me a good 6 months to figure out what I needed to do and another 6 months to change ALL aspects of my life, things that you may not be willing to change and I may first I found it hard but whenever temptation sets in I remember how these things make me feel and I say no and if people don’t like it then screw them.

Put yourself first always, you are no good to anyone, partner, kids, work colleagues if you’re ill, but get yourself well and everyone benefits.

I’ll share in more detail how I got myself well in coming weeks…………

Fibromyalgia worsened by negative thinking

This should come as no surprise to anyone right?  I recently decided to come off several online support groups as I personally found that commiserating with others was actually making me feel worse and very negative about my personal situation of living with this condition.  That’s my personal choice and I’m sure others have felt the same on many occasions.

I’m a very positive individual and this condition has really pushed my resilience to the maximum.  I use a number of techniques to help me through the tough times that I’d like to share………..

Laughing is a great free medicine and even when I’m having a flare up I have a collection of comedians that I know when I put them on to watch I’ll end up crying with laughter, this releases endorphins and increases my pain threshold.

Mindfulness Meditation; closing my eyes and deep breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth whilst undertaking a full body scan down from my head to my feet, taking in all the feelings from my body, not judging just acknowledging them and continuing to move on.  I do this very slowly over about 5-10 minutes.

Mindfulness walking, no phone nothing, just walking, deep breathing and taking in the air and enjoying that particular moment, taking in the sights and sounds.  Clearing my mind.

Repeating positive affirmations in my mind, out loud and even on paper, for example; I love my body, I am feeling healthier every day, I am loved, I love life, I feel great etc oh and the most important one first thing in a morning is I am going to have a great day today.

Undertaking mindfulness yoga it’s so relaxing and really helps my stiffness and pain.  Search on YouTube there are loads of free workouts ­čĹŹ

When I’m feeling negative and stressed all of my symptoms feel worse so it is important that I keep positive and use a wide range of techniques.  What do you do?  Read more about research here 

Fibromyalgia, Insomnia and Depression

If you don’t sleep well, have you ever noticed how sad you feel the next day when you have fibromyalgia?  Every little thing that doesn’t go my way is like the end of the world.  I hate everyone that doesn’t have this condition and I don’t have any interest in doing anything.

The thing is with this condition it’s like it amplifies everything; emotions, pain, light, sound, everything.  It’s like I’ve forgotten how to laugh at things.  

Constant insomnia is very bad for your mind and body especially with fibromyalgia, not only can it cause your mood to dip but it can increase nom specific pain, tingling, restless legs, body temperature regulation and it steals your sense of humour.


I’ve tried meditating today and I can’t sit still as I have restless legs which I also have in my arms too.  so I went for a walk to see if I could use mindfulness techniques as I was walking, it did help.  I came back with a clear head.

Positive affirmation we also a great way to snap out of the doom and gloom thinking.  But out loud don’t just say it in your head!!  Sat out loud:-

  • I am getting healthier
  • I am happy
  • I love my body 
  • I love me
  • I am loved
  • I am improving every day

I am sure you can think of many more?

So tonight it’s time to have a red hot Magnesium bath, do some gentle mindfulness yoga and meditate in the best position I can even if that’s sitting up, moving it standing!

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).