Your body is aching and the pain feels unbearable. The last thing you want to hear is, “it’s all in your head.”
For people with chronic pain and endometrisosis the discomfort is very real, and they know all too well they feel it in their bodies.
“If you are lying in bed and hurting, the pain is your whole world,” says Joseph Hullett, MD, board certified psychiatrist and senior medical director for OptumHealth Behavioral Solutions in Golden Valley, Minn. USA
CBT has proven to be effective in reducing pain and disability when it is used as part of a therapeutic strategy for chronic pain.
CBT addresses the psychological component of pain, including attitudes and feelings, coping skills, and a sense of control over one’s condition. It can provide educational information and diffuse feelings of fear and helplessness.
It can help a patient look at ways in which their attitudes contribute to inaccurate and unrealistic expectations, and can help them find a more realistic and balanced view of the problem.
By changing their negative thoughts and behaviors, people can change their awareness of pain and develop better coping skills, even if the actual level of pain stays the same.
To treat chronic pain, CBT is most often used together with other methods of pain management. These remedies may include medications, physical therapy, weight loss, massage, or in extreme cases, surgery. But among these various methods of pain control, CBT is often one of the most effective.
“A key CBT concept is reframing”.
People trend go through the day going through an inner monologue. If your self-talk has become negative, then you can be ‘talking yourself into’ corresponding negative emotions and moods that leave you feeling bad and reinforce depression.
“A good way to change negative self-talk is through a concept called reframing.”
When we reframe, make a conscious effort to tell ourselves a different story. Instead of a negative interpretation, we interpret it in a more positive way. Reframing begins by asking yourself a few questions, like:
Is it really all that bad?
Do I have to say “never” or “always’ or ‘awful” when maybe realistically it is more like “sometimes” or “annoying”?
“Am I really alone”?
“Do I really hate my body”?
When you ask yourself questions like these, you are giving your mind an opportunity to come up with a different interpretation.
Here are some examples of self-talk that I have been playing with that has been reframed:
“My body is letting me down today, but yesterday was a good day. Maybe tomorrow will be too!”
“I remember when I faced this situation in the past. After a couple of days, everything got back to normal.”
“I hurt yes, but not as much as before.”
“I am not alone in this.”
Now, I know that sometimes life with endo isn’t so great and that’s all there is to it.
But nevertheless, with some reframing, you might be able to have a different perspective on situations that might normally cause anxiety and stress which can add to the pain.
Look at you have done instead of what you haven’t done! Even if it small. Not too long ago, just getting out of bed and getting dressed was a bonus for me!
Another technique I use with with reframing is positive breath.
Ok… it sounds a bit out-there .. stay with me.
Remember to try and stay positive.
Take a deep, long, comfortable healing breath.
Picture a warm, healthy glow (white, yellow or gold) traveling throughout your body as you breath in.
Center it where the pain is. Imagine the warmth of the glow soothing the pain and adsorbing it. Turning red, black, or brown.
Then, when you breath out, take it slow.
Imagine the now dark glow (from absorbing the pain) being pushed out of your body by the force of your breath, taking all the bad stuff with it.
Then repeat the steps again.
If you can, try and do this in a quiet spot.
I find this really helps. Some people can find even find a happy place when doing this.
I find after a while, I find myself mentally lying in a large field of long glass. The sun is warm on my face and I can smell the grass, hear the birds and animals, as well as sea somewhere in the distance.
I know where I am in my memory. New Zealand. On a farm where I rode horse, counted sheep (really!) and gathered firewood off the nearby beach. I was happy and mostly pain free there (thou there where a few really bad days). Lot’s of exercise and feasting my eyes and soul in that beautiful scenery. Perfect.
Give it a go. Let me know how you get on!
Good Health Sisters