Stopping the Cycle of Worry about Chronic Pain

Stopping the Cycle of Worry about Chronic Pain

By Jessica Martin

“How did you get the door open?  Avalanches of things you’ve been wanting just begin coming into your experience!”  You say: “Well, I just stopped worrying about it not happening and it started happening.  I just started playing the positive what if game instead of the negative what if game.”

– Abraham Hicks

I had a conversation with someone at a doctor’s office yesterday regarding fertility and how many people of my generation have a huge struggle getting pregnant.  I would say about seventy percent of my friends have been in fertility and could not get pregnant without IUI, IVF, or medications to help them conceive a child.  We were all born in the early eighties and are in are young thirties.  Infertility is becoming an epidemic.  My grandmother had four boys, my friends grandmother had twelve children just by making babies the old fashion way.  I grew up thinking that you get married and then you have kids.  I never heard of fertility treatments or thought that it was difficult to get pregnant because everyone I knew as a child and young adult had multiple kids.  I only worried that I would not be able to be a mother because of chronic pain.  The woman I was speaking with has been working for the same fertility doctor for twenty years and has seen a huge rise in people who are my age having a very difficult time getting pregnant.  Most of the patients in this office are in their young to mid-thirties and many are healthy, if not most.  Take me for example, aside from chronic pain I am a very healthy person.  I eat well, exercise, and have been pregnant three times: two miscarriages and of course my amazing daughter Kayci who was born in 2012.  I asked this woman why is it that our generation is fertility challenged.  I cannot tell you the amount of people I know who ironically go or have gone to the same fertility doctor as I have gone to.  He is the best and I can happily say every one of my friends has gotten pregnant with the help of this practice and have children because of this amazing doctor.  However, what the hell has happened that so many people go through fertility treatments to get pregnant because after trying to get pregnant for a year or two naturally, nothing happens?  Her answer was quite clear and precise: stress.  Our generation is fueled by stress, anxiety and worry.  There is a reason more people get pregnant when they are not trying then when they are.   There is a reason all my friends and I spent half our life trying not to get pregnant and half our life trying with no prevail.  Our bodies cannot possibly get pregnant when under stress.  This is not a philosophy, this is science.  What are we so worried about?  What is causing our generation to be so stressed?  There are a million reasons obviously: work, money, marriage, family, job loss, the economy, the change in roles for women who are now expected to do everything, how we were raised, technology etc.  We know all the reasons for stress but we also have the power to focus on how blessed we are instead of how stressed we are.

The cycle of worrying is killing us, literally.  Most of my readers have chronic pain or some form of an invisible illness.  Do I believe stress is the cause of chronic pain?  Absolutely not.  I do not have chronic pain because of stress; I have chronic pain because I wasn’t wearing a helmet when I fell off of my bike in my young teens.  However, stress and anxiety increase pain more than anything in my opinion.  People without chronic pain get back aches and headaches when under stress.   I worry more than I should but a lot less than I used to.  We have the power to change/re-wire our minds from negative thinking and worrying to positive thinking and excitement and that is why I am such a believer in the Law of Attraction and the works of Abraham Hicks.  If you enjoy reading, I urge you to read some of his articles online or one of his many books.  If you do not enjoy reading (aside from this blog of course haha) I urge you to go on you tube and watch one of his speeches.  I promise you, his words will resonate with you and overtime you will begin to practice the Law of Attraction without even thinking about it which will lower your stress and in turn lessen your pain levels.  What are we so worried about?  Everything always works out the way it should and cognitively we know that worrying never changes the outcome but we have been thinking the negative what-ifs for so many years that it is all our mind knows.  My mind can be a total lunatic: I look back to the things I used to worry about and the things that kept me up at night and laugh.  Life is short and many of you know that because of your illness.  We truly need to start practicing the positive what ifs because the more we expect wonderful things to happen, the more our lives will begin to change for the better.  You have a choice: worry or faith.  I am no expert, I worry much more than I should but my heart and soul know everything I want and desire are coming to me just not at the exact time I want them to.  I realize we are a society of immediate gratification and I also realize that is a horrible way to live.  We cannot control most things but we can control our actions and thoughts.  Instead of thinking: what if my pain gets so bad that I will not be able to do this or that we could be thinking what if I have the best time this coming weekend despite chronic pain?  Instead of thinking, I’ll never have this or that why not think: “I am so excited for this or that!”  Example: one of my worries is money and finances and not being able to make a living through writing which is such a huge dream and passion of mine. Three years ago I used to repeatedly think that there was no way I could ever help people with chronic pain through writing and there is no way I can turn my passion of writing and helping people into a career.  Now, I think: “I am so excited for my dream of writing to one day touch millions of people.  I cannot wait until I can totally focus on writing and make it my career.”  Even just writing those two sentences gives me chills because I now truly believe it, as crazy as that may sound to some.  I know years from now my story will be helping others who have chronic pain and I will be a published writer.  I am not worried about it one bit, I’m excited.  Ironically, once my shift from worry to excitement manifested inside me, I began getting more readers/emails/and slowly my dream started coming true.

If you do nothing else try and stop your mind from worrying as much as it loves to do.  The second you begin to worry about something happening or not happening change your focus and realize that A. worrying will never change the outcome and B. more than ninety percent of your worries never come to fruition.  Let it go and allow your faith to be larger than your fear.

If you only had a year to live what would you do?  I know for damn sure the things you are worrying about would vanish completely.  Tomorrow is not promised to any of us, all we have is today and if we want to be happy we need to change our thoughts and make the best of the cards we are dealt.

Editor’s Note Jessica Martin is a 34-year old stay at home with a three year old daughter and lives in New Jersey. She was severely injured in a bicycle accident 20 years ago when she was only 14 and has battled chronic pain since. She blogs on chronic pain and you can read more of her work at noonegetsflowersforchronicpain.com. She will continue to contribute to the National Pain Report.

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Authored by: Jessica Martin

There are 9 comments for this article
  1. BL at 4:08 pm

    Sandy Auriene Sullivan, that’s interesting. How did they deteremine that fertility wasn’t a problem after it was removed ? What type of evidence was there ? I need to add some history books to my reading list. I studied it in school, but that was a long, long time ago. .LOL I didn’t research history because she mentioned her grandmother and I was basing my comments on that time and the time of her mother.

    Cathy Cooper, if/when something happens to your partner, will you be able to stay where you are and afford the living expenses ? Many of my clients were on Section 8 and they had the same stresses that you had. Some were able to get off Section 8 and move into nice neighborhoods, some were able to get Section 8 Tenant Voucher and move into regular neighborhoods and away from the bad neighborhoods complexes. The ones that stayed in the bad neighborhoods stayed there because without the Section 8 they wouldn’t have had a roof of their and their families heads. I’m glad you were able to move to where it is safe and peaceful.

  2. Jessica Martin at 1:30 pm

    Thank you for all the comments and for reading my article. I appreciate everyone’s different view points.

  3. Sandy Auriene Sullivan at 6:04 am

    Sorry BL but I call you out on this one. It’s true women didn’t use chemicals like today. Rather hormones but they did implant devices! From ancient times we’ve discovered little pebbles in the uteri of ancient mummified women from all over the world.

    The original IUD. Pebbles or any foreign object in the uterus stops the sperm from getting to the egg. And the best part? You can remove that object de art from the body part and wahlah – have a child within weeks.

    I’ve have used a regular no hormones IUD after having my first child rather young. We were married and didn’t want to do that again right away. The age gap between my kids is quite large and all because of the IUD.

    There is a hormonal IUD that I never thought I would need but turns out I do. You see can’t take regular oral hormones and the IUD w/hormones? It’s like a chemical hysterectomy for a woman MY AGE. Less risk of blood clots and no need to remove all the plumbing as they *used* to do. Which causes bladder/bowel problems in older women among other things and the IUD will last till I start full menopause. In approx 10 years.

  4. BL at 9:16 pm

    The medications that you take to not get pregnant affects your body after you stop taking them. They are strong drugs. How can anyone expect to get pregnant after telling your body over and over again month after month, year after year, to Not get pregnant ?
    Drs and pharmaceutical companies make tons of money from patients that don’t want to get pregnant, that do want to get pregnant but can’t because they have taken drugs for years not to. People want what they want when they want it and they don’t allow their bodies to adjust. The mothers of past generations that had children and large families didn’t have drugs inplanted in their bodies to keep them from getting pregnant. They didn’t take injections so they wouldn’t have their periods for months. They didn’t have drs insert devices inside of them to keep them from getting pregnant. And they didn’t bombard their bodies with drugs to keep them from getting pregnant for years. They were responsible and when they had to they used self control if they didn’t want children. Getting pregnant and giving birth is a natural process, if you mess with that natural process, it doesn’t do what it was intended to do. God knew what he was doing. Mother of older generations were taught that things don’t happen just because you want them to. It takes time, work, more time and more work.

    People are repeatedly told how stresful their life is. Everything is blamed on stress. Stress does cause a lot of health problems. But when you’re told over and over again that your not sleeping, sleeping too much, weigh gain, weight loss, etc everything that you don’t like in your life is caused by stress, of course everyone is going to be preoccupied with stress. People didn’t talk about stress countless times a day in older generations. We were too busy working, raising our familes, helping others, etc. We did the best to make our lives what we wanted them to be. We overcame obstacles, not by blaming others for them and whinning and crying about how unfair life is, but by learning how to adjust our lives and not allow the obstacles to stop us. They may have temporarily slowed us down, but they didn’t stop us. We also didn’t have limitless sources telling us what was normal and what wasn’t and how stressful our lives were.

  5. Cathy Cooper at 11:31 am

    Thank you for the Article. I am on the fence about the “Law of Attraction.”. I have seen it go both ways. Of Course Stress is affecting so much, even Fertility. Children are having difficulty learning, People are succumbing to stress related diseases. In my life, I had to turn to SS to live, after years of misdiagnosis. I tried on numerous occasions to go back to work, and made an idiot out of myself. I ended up living in subsidized housing, which amplified the stress. Every time I left my Apartment I had to deal with the demoralizing Poverty and disease all around me. I realize that I had not even been able to sleep properly living there. I moved out after my Pain doc told me it was literally killing me.
    I have simplified my life and my pain is getting more tolerable sometimes.
    I am now living with a man, something I thought I would never do again. I don’t like being defendant or inflicting myself on others. It took a while to decompress, I had literally given up, let go, and left the option of suicide on the table. I have a good Pain Doc an Hour and half away, but i don’t know is he will be there next Month. I have had to stop thinking I might get better. I waited over a year for my last surgical referral, to be told I have to wait until the nerve compression is really bad before they can operate. I have to understand that with Medicare, I am “lucky” to be alive.
    So anyway we have a dog, who makes me laugh. We moved out to the country where things are simpler and less expensive. The quiet has allowed me to remember what sleep is. I had 6 drug addicts living above me in the Section 8 Apartment. They only became active after midnight. I was a bundle of nerves, afraid to even leave my apartment at times. Now I have bird feeders in the backyard. Just watching them relieves Stress. I have also returned to one of my old practices, baking. I got tired of lecturing my Guy who is diabetic about what kind of bread to buy. Now I bake as a stress reliever. I am enjoying life between pain bouts, but hey it is not a competition. I love having Nature nearby, and we saw a flock of Wild Turkeys last week.
    I no longer torment myself with what a loser I ma because I don’t work. There are plenty that will do that for me. Oh! I fired my Therapist also. 10 Years of crap undermining my self confidence. I thought that would help dealing with Chronic Pain. I found out he did not believe me, or he had issues with me. I suppose it is his problem. I wish I had the energy to socialize more, but it is OK. I am happy with my own company.

  6. HJ at 7:25 am

    Had a very hard time reading this article. More paragraph breaks would have helped me not lose my place repeatedly. I ended up using scrolling to hide what I’d already read and to keep my place.

    To think that we have more stress than previous generations is a mistake. Previous generations have had wars, the Great Depression, disease epidemics (tuberculosis, polio…)
    They had lots to worry about.

    The observation of an office-worker in a clinic is not scientific. Perhaps she overheard her employer say that he thinks stress is a factor and perhaps he’s in a position to know. Or he may have his own biases. I have a dentist who swears that I grind my teeth at night due to stress (nevermind I have sleep apnea, TMJ, asthma, cervical spondylosis which causes spasms up my neck). Other doctors I’ve talked to dismissed his claim that I was “just stressed.”

    My sleep apnea went undiagnosed for a long time because doctors insisted I was “just depressed.” My mother’s aggressive spinal arthritis went undiagnosed for decades because doctors wanted to send her to a psychiatrist. My point is: Some people — even doctors — are quick to attribute a lot of our problems to stress, depression, anxiety… Frankly, I think female patients are much more likely to be affected by this bias than anyone else.

    Stress can worsen chronic pain — I understand that and have experienced it myself. But still, it’s a mistake in judgement for doctors (and lay people) to dismiss chronic pain as stress-related — especially without examining other possibilities. It’s not harmful to recommend stress reduction as a component of treatment, but it *IS* potentially harmful to not look at other causes/treatment modalities. It ought to be malpractice to not investigate repeated complaints… when an issue has clearly become chronic. I have strong feelings here because when someone finally did imaging tests on my mother, she was scheduled for surgery within a month for her aggressive arthritis because bone spurs were cutting her spinal cord!

    As for what could be the cause of infertility… I won’t say this applies to the author of the article… but it would be a mistake to ignore the rise of obesity in the population. Obesity is another sore spot for me, personally, as I’m morbidly obese and have had health problems written off as due to obesity. That just happened to me recently when a gynecologist who was well-meaning barely let me get a word in edgewise because he wanted to make a point of letting me know he was concerned for my health. He asked me why I have asthma and asserted it was because I’m obese. Doc, I was born with that one. Certainly, obesity doesn’t HELP my asthma. I’d be making an error in judgement if I said that obesity has no effect on my asthma at all… but it isn’t the cause. And I think that may be a similar situation when it comes to infertility at the level of generalizing to an entire population of people in their 30’s — Obesity may not be the cause, but it isn’t helping matters. Again, I’m speaking about the population, not this particular author.

    Obesity, chronic pain, stress… these often co-exist and interact with each other. I’m less active because I’m in pain. I’m stressed because I know I need to lose weight. The physical stress of obesity is hard on my body. Chronic pain makes me feel more emotional. It affects my sleep, which makes me have less energy for activity and meal planning. Doctors and patients (myself included) want to attribute a health problem directly to a single cause. Our lives and our bodies are so complex and there are many factors. While our minds want that definitive answer, sometimes the definitive answer is multi-factorial, if there is a definitive answer at all.

    Stress may be a factor (in infertility), obesity may be a factor (in infertility)… but when it can’t be entirely clear… look at these as POSSIBILITIES and do what you can to manage them… but don’t exclude other possibilities. There’s more harm in attaching blame to one factor (stress) and ignoring the other possible factors.

    I wish the author well, and I’m sorry she’s dealing with such a difficult problem. I’m sure discouragement is ever-present and I hope I haven’t added to any feeling of discouragement. All we can do is keep on doing whatever is in our power to do to get the help we need and deserve.

  7. Donna at 7:25 am

    While I believe that stress contributes to many of our ills, we must also look at what has changed to cause the increase in infertility. Things such as use, especially prolonged use, of birth control. The increase in STDs which affect fertility. Diets full of sugar and processed foods. Chemical exposure. Putting off conception until our 30s can make a difference in women as our eggs become less and less viable as we age. There are many contributing factors.

  8. Kristine (Krissy) at 5:54 am

    Great article, Jessica! I believe what you say here is something very important and something we need to remind ourselves often! Thanks for the reminder today 🙂