Getting hooked means getting caught up in thinking and losing touch with what is happening outside of our minds. When we get hooked by unwanted thoughts it is as though they push us around or bully us, like a critical coach who stands on the sidelines giving harsh feedback.
Getting unhooked means stepping back from our minds and experiencing our thoughts without evaluating them, trying to change them, or pushing them away. That is, paying attention to the experience of having the thoughts, rather than focusing on their meaning (for example, “there must be something wrong with me).
That doesn’t mean you have to like or want the thought. It is more to do with acknowledging that you are having the thought and that pushing it away may not have been very helpful. The more you resist, the more the thought persists.
The shaman I am working with journeyed to the spirit of fibromyalgia recently as we wanted to find out how I could be helped and what is going on on a metaphysical level with fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals. Basically, it feels like hot acid burning all over my body 24/7 brought on by many theories circulating – trauma, stress, infection.
The shaman journeyed into another realm of existence and said he saw a castle, a castle with traps all around it and a draw bridge. Inside the castle the shaman found a man wrapped totally and suffocating in bandages; he was wrapped in total fear. ABSOLUTE FEAR.
The man would not reveal anything. The only way to get through to him was to surround him with love, shower him with love. With that, the bandages started to unravel themselves. That’s all he found out…..
“Have you ever read something a million times only to one day, for no apparent reason, think “Wait, what is that?” This happened to me the other day for “the vagus nerve.”
I kept coming across it in relation to deep breathing and mental calmness: “Breathing deeply,” Katie Brindle writes in her new book Yang Sheng: The Art of Chinese Self-Healing, “immediately relaxes the body because it stimulates the vagus nerve, which runs from the neck to the abdomen and is in charge of turning off the ‘fight or flight’ reflex.” Also: “Stimulating the vagus nerve,” per a recent Harvard Health blog post, “activates your relaxation response, reducing your heart rate and blood pressure.” And: Deep breathing “turns on the vagus nerve enough that it acts as a brake on the stress response,” as an integrative medicine researcher told the Cut last year.
I liked this idea that we have something like a secret piano key, under our skin, to press internally to calm us down. Or like a musical string to pluck. At this point I was envisioning the vagus nerve as a single inner cord, stretching from the head to the stomach. In reality, the vagus nerve is a squiggly, shaggy, branching nerve connecting most of the major organs between the brain and colon, like a system of roots or cables. It is the longest nerve in the body, and technically it comes as a pair of two vagus nerves, one for the right side of the body and one for the left. It’s called “vagus” because it wanders, like a vagrant, among the organs. The vagus nerve has been described as “largely responsible for the mind-body connection,” for its role as a mediator between thinking and feeling, and I’m tempted to think of it as something like a physical manifestation of the soul. Also: “When people say ‘trust your gut,’” as one Psychology Today writer put it several years ago, “they really mean ‘trust your vagus nerve.’”
I became increasingly enchanted with this nerve, even as it felt like I understood it less and less. How does this all work? How does activating a nerve calm us down? Is this why I get so needlessly upset about things?
“Stimulating the vagus nerve to the heart has a really powerful effect on slowing the heart rate,” said Lucy Norcliffe-Kaufmann, associate professor of neurology at NYU-Langone. And this, specifically, is what relaxes us. The vagus nerve is basically listening to the way we breathe, and it sends the brain and the heart whatever message our breath indicates. Breathing slowly, for instance, reduces the oxygen demands of the heart muscle (the myocardium), and our heart rate drops.
The vagus nerve is essentially the queen of the parasympathetic nervous system — a.k.a. the “rest and digest,” or the “chill out” one — so the more we do things that “stimulate” or activate it, like deep breathing, the more we banish the effects of the sympathetic nervous system — a.k.a. the “fight or flight,” or the “do something!” stress-releasing adrenaline/cortisol one.
Put another way, “Your body senses your breathing and adapts its heart rate in response,” Norcliffe-Kaufmann told me. When we breathe in, she explained, the sensory nodes on our lungs (“lung stretch receptors”) send information up through the vagus nerve and into the brain, and when we breathe out, the brain sends information back down through the vagus nerve to slow down or speed up the heart. So when we breathe slowly, the heart slows, and we relax. Conversely, when we breathe quickly, our heart speeds up, and we feel amped, or anxious.
I was surprised by the idea that it’s specifically the exhale that triggers the relaxation response, but Norcliffe-Kaufmann confirmed: “Vagal activity is highest, and heart rate lowest, when you’re exhaling.” She mentioned that the ideal, most calming way to breathe is six times a minute: five seconds in, five seconds out. She also noted that in the study that determined this rate, researchers found that this style of slow breathing is also what practitioners naturally lapse into during meditation with mantras, and during the Ave Maria prayer with rosaries. “Each time you do either the rosary prayer or a meditation mantra,” Norcliffe-Kaufmann said, “it naturally synchronizes your breathing at six times per minute.” (“That’s fascinating,” I said. “It is!” she said.)
It made me wonder if there are ways of measuring the quality of the vagus nerve, or “vagal tone,” as Norcliffe-Kaufmann described it. This is basically how healthy, strong, and functional the nerve is. One way, she said, is to measure heart rate variability (HRV) — it’s a sort of “surrogate” for measuring actual vagal tone (barring open chest surgery). Heart rate variability is the amount that the heart rate fluctuates between a breath in (when it naturally speeds up) and a breath out (when it naturally slows down). That is, heart rate rises on the inhale and falls on the exhale, and the difference between those two rates essentially measures vagal tone. Athletes are known to have higher vagal tone, for example, whereas people who experience extended periods of bed rest — and astronauts in no-gravity situations — are known to have lower vagal tone. (How quickly your heart rate slows after exercising is also a good marker of vagal tone.) Vagus nerve stimulation has also been proposed as a way to treat addiction (some heavy drinkers, for instance, have low vagal tone).
Certain devices measure HRV — and I’ve personally tried a chest strap and a wristband, but I got stumped on what to do with the data — although Norcliffe-Kaufmann is skeptical about their reliability. “Those technologies are coming,” she said, “but it’s more important to focus on breathing and feeling calm and balanced, rather than on a number.” Some other practices believed to improve vagal tone (beyond deep, slow breathing) include laughing, singing, humming, yoga, acupuncture, and splashing the face with cold water — or having a full-body cold rinse. (Stimulation of the vagus nerve, both manually and with electricity, has also been used to control seizures in epilepsy patients, reduce inflammation, and treat clinical depression.)
Writing this story, and after talking with Norcliffe-Kaufmann, I found myself breathing more slowly and feeling calmer. Not necessarily happy, but steady. Slow breathing is boring, but it’s almost sad how effective it is. I’d usually rather spend hundreds of dollars to get a gadget to track myself than do this free and more-effective thing.
“If you’re in a stressful situation,” Norcliffe-Kaufmann said, “and you’re like, How do I respond, how do I respond? — if you consciously slow down your breathing just for one minute, or even a few seconds, you can put yourself in a calmer state, to be able to better communicate.””
“How does your brain know when you feel pain? How does it know the difference between the soft touch of a feather and a needle prick? And, how does that information get to your body in time to respond? How does acute pain become chronic pain? These are not simple answers, but with a little explanation about how the nervous system works, you should be able to understand the basics.
What the Nervous System Does Your nervous system is made up of two main parts: the brain and the spinal cord, which combine to form the central nervous system; and the sensory and motor nerves, which form the peripheral nervous system. The names make it easy to picture: the brain and spinal cord are the hubs, while the sensory and motor nerves stretch out to provide access to all areas of the body.
Put simply, sensory nerves send impulses about what is happening in our environment to the brain via the spinal cord. The brain sends information back to the motor nerves, which help us perform actions. It’s like having a very complicated inbox and outbox for everything.
The Role of Nerves in Identifying Pain Sensations Let’s say you step on a rock. How does a sensory nerve in the peripheral nervous system know this is any different than something like a soft toy? Different sensory nerve fibers respond to different things and produce different chemical responses which determine how sensations are interpreted. Some nerves send signals associated with light touch, while others respond to deep pressure.
Special pain receptors called nociceptors activate whenever there has been an injury, or even a potential injury, such as breaking the skin or causing a large indentation.1 Even if the rock does not break your skin, the tissues in your foot become compressed enough to cause the nociceptors to fire off a response. Now, an impulse is heading through the nerve into the spinal cord, and eventually all the way to your brain. This happens within fractions of a second.
The Role of the Spinal Cord in Pain Response Your spinal cord is a complex array of bundles of nerves, transmitting all kinds of signals to and from the brain at any given time. It is a lot like a freeway for sensory and motor impulses. But your spinal cord does more than act as a message center: it can make some basic decisions on its own. These “decisions” are called reflexes.
An area of the spinal cord called the dorsal horn acts as an information hub, simultaneously directing impulses to the brain and back down the spinal cord to the area of injury. The brain does not have to tell your foot to move away from the rock because the dorsal horn has already sent that message. If your brain is the body’s CEO, then the spinal cord is middle management.
The Role of the Brain in Interpreting Pain Even though the spinal reflex takes place at the dorsal horn, the pain signal continues to the brain. This is because pain involves more than a simple stimulus and response. Simply taking your foot off the rock does not solve all of your problems. No matter how mild the damage, the tissues in your foot still need to be healed. In addition, your brain needs to make sense of what has happened. Pain gets cataloged in your brain’s library, and emotions become associated with stepping on that rock.
When the pain signal reaches the brain it goes to the thalamus, which directs it to a few different areas for interpretations. A few areas in the cortex figure out where the pain came from and compare it to other kinds of pain with which is it familiar. Was it sharp? Did it hurt more than stepping on a tack? Have you ever stepped on a rock before, and if so was it better or worse?
Signals are also sent from the thalamus to the limbic system, which is the emotional center of the brain. Ever wonder why some pain makes you cry? The limbic system decides. Feelings are associated with every sensation you encounter, and each feeling generates a response. Your heart rate may increase, and you may break out into a sweat. All because of a rock underfoot.
Other Factors That Influence Pain Response While it may seem simple, the process of detecting pain is complicated by the fact that it is not a one-way system. It isn’t even a two-way system. Pain is more than just cause and effect. It is affected by everything else that is going on in the nervous system. Your mood, your past experiences, and your expectations can all change the way pain is interpreted at any given time. How is that for confusing?
If you step on that rock after you have a fight with your wife, your response may be very different than it would if you had just won the lottery. Your feelings about the experience may be tainted if the last time you stepped on a rock, your foot became infected. If you stepped on a rock once before and nothing terrible happened to you, you may recover more quickly. You can see how different emotions and histories can determine your response to pain. In fact, there is a strong link between depression and chronic pain.
When Acute Pain Becomes Chronic In this scenario, after your foot healed, the pain sensations would stop. This is because the nociceptors no longer detect any tissue damage or potential injury. This is called acute pain. Acute pain does not persist after the initial injury has healed.
Sometimes, however, pain receptors continue to fire. This can be caused by a disease or condition that continuously causes damage. With arthritis, for example, the joint is in a constant state of disrepair, causing pain signals to travel to the brain with little downtime. Sometimes, even in the absence of tissue damage, nociceptors continue to fire.1 There may no longer be a physical cause of pain, but the pain response is the same. This makes chronic pain difficult to pin down and even more difficult to treat.”
Hi. Just want to let you know that a woman from a dissociative identity disorder clinic in Norwich has my results back via email that I sent (questionnaires I filled in) and she says I should be diagnosed with DID (dissociative indentity disorder) originally called multiple personality disorder as I fit the criteria and the results more than fit the diagnosis. She is sending the results to my GP and I could potentially get funding for help if they think I am eligible.. So many diagnosises.. But I know I am a beautiful human being who was traumatised and its caused my whole mind to be imbalanced.. 🙏🏻
I’ve been putting writing this post off for a while now, there has been a lot of resistance within myself, stress, sleep deprivation and confusion of how I am to word this post of my current reality.
I have no idea how I am still alive.
I can begin by stating that my life is absolute misery, pain, terror and a horror story. It’s all about how you perceive things but believe me, transfer your consciousness into this physical vehicle and you would go to the nearest train station, find the nearest rope, find as many pills as you can, find a cliff and jump. It’s pure torture, being whipped metaphorically by the devil and tormented and chained up. Every moment of everyday I am screaming and begging for it all to stop. If you continue reading, if you dare, you’ll find out why. Life is far from the pretty pictures of flowers and plants I post. It’s all pretend and fake; it makes me sick. I feel so misunderstood and of course we are all living our subjective experiences but there is no unity of connection or relation in my world. I feel so alone it’s like being in the underworld of Greek Mythology, in pitch black and no one can hear your screams, all they hear is your fake laughs and words. All I have ever wanted was peace. Instead I have gotten the very opposite. I have brought it on myself ultimately but of course I never wanted this.
I’m fucking proud of myself for getting this far. If I died today I would die in awe of how I have fought this battle and overcame absolute terrifying experiences. I am the weakest strongest person in a paradoxical sense.
Daily I experience fibromyagia, this is a chronic pain condition with no cure, it causes burning sensations all over the body, fatigue and cognitive issues like memory problems. The pain in my body seems to be getting worse, I limp some days and can’t get out of bed. I can’t sleep because of the intense pain I am in. Invisible knives jab at me. I wake up and feel as if I have been in a car crash. This condition seems to be getting worse and I cannot cope with the level of pain I am in. Every single thing I do, move, breathe, eat, it screams at me from my limbs. Acid is burning away at my bones. I sit here with my whole body knotted up and my limbs creaking every stretch I take. It feels like I haven’t stretched in years. In a 20 year old body I feel about 70. Waking hurts, moving hurts, staying still hurts. Every single second is agony and unbearable. My knees feel like some unseen force is grinding them dowon with a big chisel and drilling into them. My ankles feel as if they have been squeezed and chained up in cuffs. My spine is so sore every step I take it aches like a thousand bruises line my back. My neck can barely hold my head up. Every part of my body burns 24/7. No medication, no therapies, nothing works and I feel like I am chasing my own tail, going round and round in circles.
I can’t sleep. For the past three weeks since I left the city and you because I had to, I have had insomnia. Four hours here, three hours here. I brought a new duvet, new soft pillows and they help a bit, I’ve started to get 6 hours of sleep that is broken into parts. I wake around 2pm every night and cannot get back to sleep until around four or five am in the morning. My mind is so active and hyper, it won’t settle down. The evenings are scary, I don’t know if I’ll be alone awake all night by myself, staring at the ceiling wishing I was dead. I yearn for sleep, to go unconsciousness so I don’t have to deal with this reality anymore. All my sleep problems started when I travelled to The Netherlands and lived in a squat; all day everyday there was loud techno music playing constantly. I’ve been on high alert since. Along with copious amounts of trauma and homelessness in various countries no wonder I cannot sleep. I was smoking weed for the past two years on and off here and there to sleep, to cope with the fibromyalgia pain and to escape from the misery of my reality. I’m three weeks clean from cannabis now. I don’t want to smoke cannabis anymore, not for a long while. Maybe here and there sometimes but I realise that this plant is sacred and I want to use it in beneficial and respectful way in the fugue. I’m already up there you know, I’m already in the sky, I’m already able to see psychedelic visions and get high without cannabis.
I’ve moved back to my parents house, I’ve been here three weeks for reasons I do not need to disclose. I’ve come back to the place where all the trauma and pain started. I’ve been running away from this village and bedroom for years and always end up coming back. A lot has happened in this bedroom I am writing in, taking psychedelics, dark nights of the soul, spiritual awakenings and a whole truck load of pain. I’ve designed it with plants, new pillows, posters and wall art; materialism doesn’t change my mental health but all I could do was try. It is a beautiful room though but part of me wants to chuck it all out of the window.
I’ve started therapy and have help from a man who is very much spiritually aware for all the issues I deal with: fibromyaglia, PTSD, anorexia, OCD, traumas, insecurities from bullying and giving my power away. I am wary of therapy as I have had so much pain fro other human beings that I don’t trust anyone anymore, so in the beginning my therapist focused on me becoming a tree, stable and grounded, which is a common theme in my life I need to implement, I’ve punched pillows and tried to release all the anger I have inside. I’ve spent my whole life suppressing my feelings. I’ve been walked all over because of my empathy and kindness being abused. I have this deep inner anger welling up inside that I do not know what to do with. I am finally standing up for myself. Things that have happened to me, that I have experience are not okay. I have let people take advantage of my purity. Not anymore. All this trauma I have is stored inside of my body and manifested as fibromyalgia. I’m angry at myself for letting all this happen to me and for letting myself get fucked up so to say. Working with these too people I have expected more, they are not my friends, they are my helpers, I have to realise that. I’ve written letters to my young and older self and forgiven. I’ve visualised the places where I was bullied and told my younger self she is beautiful and these people who bullied me were projecting their insecurities onto me; I do not need to carry that baggage anymore. I need to stop trying to understand everything with my intellect and just let thing be. I need to let go of the same of having sex with men when I was younger and being taken advantage of; I was a lost young girl who was searching for human connection. I need to observe my thoughts and choose which ones are good for me. I need to set boundaries and know that it is okay to say no. The voice telling me that I have to do things is my ego (edging away from god). Breaking down is waking up or breaking through.
I’m going through weed withdrawals. I can’t sleep well, I now get around five or six hours instead of two, none or three. I have to wait it out. I’m waking up drenched in sweat, I feel weird in the evenings and don’t know what to do with myself. I have had thoughts that I am going crazy. I am now three weeks clean, I hope dear god that I can sleep. I’ve never been addicted to cannabis, however I had used it as a crutch and have been dependent on it.
My periods are awful these days. I’ve now been bleeding for ten days which is very unusual and disturbing as they usually last at the maximum four or five days. My hormones are completely out of wack. I get aggressive energy when I’m bleeding and my suicidal thoughts increase to the point where it is unbearable. The pain in my ovary area is immensely horrific, I curl up into a ball and beg for the pain to stop; if I could describe it, it would be lightning bolts of electric volts attacking my lower area. I take paracetamol when I have to but it doesn’t do much. I get more manic and scatty too. It is truly diabolical.
Everyday I experience this: manic episodes, manic depressive episodes, racey thoughts, paranoia (a little because I’ve had so much trauma that I don’t trust people), headaches, blurry vision, diminished senses, eye pain, burning pain all over my body, sleep problems, memory loss, cognitive issuses, heart pain, lowering of the heart rate, nausea, feeling sick after I eat, swollen breasts, severe back pain, anxiety, flat mooded with no emotions, completely numb and dead. Reality does not feel real. Dissociation. Depersoanlisation. Derealisation. Panic attacks of impending doom on my chest, Forgetting where I am and who I am. Tracers of people’s past movements for three seconds. Confusion. Nightmares. Vivid dreams of Orwellian realities. Pain. Ghost-like mood where it feels as if I don’t exist, claircognizance (knowing when things happen before they happen), knowing what people are thinking, knowing all a person’s problems just by stepping outside and seeing them and feeling their aura. I am so sensitive and delicate. I notice the slightest change in energy and if it feels like bad energy I want to kill myself. Suicidal thoughts every ten minutes or five minutes. Loneliness. Fear. I am petrified. I shake, have muscle tremors, I feel the list just goes on and on. Starved of spirit, life force and human connection. I can only eat around ten foods or else my face will swell up. I’m terrified of having a psychotic episode because of all this
It’s as if everyone around me is living their lives and mine is trapped in a cage and the oxygen is disappearing, I’m gasping for air. It
Time seems to be speeding up, I can’t grasp it.
I’ve been in a mental car crash for these whole twenty years of my life. I don’t feel twenty, I feel 16 but also 90 at the same time.
The lock-down I believe is bullshit. Yes, I think there is a virus but I don’t think it is as bad as what the media states it is. There is a big battle going on between the light and dark. On my blog some beautiful quotes have been replaced by dead bodies or something dark when I look back thirty minutes later and I change it back. The spiritual healer I work with says it could be spirits trying to push me over the edge.. I know they can interfere with technology. Something strange is going on.
I am currently on three medications: Pregablin (an anti-anxiety, nerve pain reducer, anti-epilepsy drug) at 400mg, 200mg twice a day. Diazapam (anti-anxiety, muscle relaxant) at 10mg, 5mg twice a day and if I cannot cope with the reality I experience. Zopiclone (sleeping pills) at 7.5mg as I cannot sleep properly and have PTSD flashbacks. I also take magnesium supplements at 300mg and Vitamin D at 10mg because after a test at the doctors they found out I had a severe deficiency. I do not like taking highly addictive medication however desperate people do desperate things. I was offered no help when I came back messed up from travelling except pills. I’ve been on so many different ones that I have lost count. There was no help, left in the cold with pills. I had nothing else to help me survive. I want to come off them but I’m stuck with them at the moment as I am not stable enough to come off them. They barely help me function day to day, I don’t feel right without them.. They have gotten me to where I am today at least. I experience nasty side effects like suicidal ideation, increased suicidal thoughts, constipation, feeling constantly nauseous, no appetite then increased appetite that is scatty, feeling lethargic, depressed, on edge, agitated. I am disgusted that I have gotten no help from the NHS and all I have is pills. I went to four meetings at a young peoples centre connected with the NHS in the local city and the meetings consisted of filling out forms, ridiculous and I asked for a letter to go with my benefit money appeal and instead got a girls suicide notes.
I’ve written many emails to shamans and spiritual healers from around the UK and world. I’ve had some beautiful responses that I have already posted on my blog, but some have been hard hitting with the truth. I hope to be able to discern which messages and people are right for me and can work with me. Tomorrow I have two sessions with two shamans; one is doing psychic surgery on me with his spirit allies (I know this may sound wacky but this is my soul path regarding spirituality and shamanism). I don’t know where this will lead me, I just hope something changes, I pray something changes. I don’t have faith in any of them because I’ve been let down so so so many times in the past.
Living in a room in my parents is making me go loopy. I pace up and down like an animal getting exercise, I watch videos, study, try and function when I feel like my brain is breaking down. I am completely lonely and isolated, I have no friends or anyone to truly speak to anymore. Night times are awful, as I mentioned, I cannot sleep, I dread life and sleep.
How do I cope? I live for the next cigarette, for the next meal, for the next blog post, for the next banging on my djembe drums, for the next sleep, for the next conversation, the next piece of information. I bike or walk (sometimes limp from the amount of pain I am in) to get out of this bedroom and my mind half expects to see you in the woods or by the pond. I walk away feeling disheartened and in pain. I curl up into a ball and cry out for help everyday, I lie staring at the ceiling wishing it could all end. I also cope by knowing that I can kill myself, I’m just scared that it will go wrong and I’ll wake up in hospital or have brain damage.
I want to kill myself. I want to live but the pain is drowning me. I know the fifth attempt is coming, the right opportunity. I am scared that it won’t work but I’ve had some experience in this and know what I have to do. I will die alone as I was born alone in complete fear and misery. If someone revives me I will be VERY angry. If that attempt fails I will have to resort to lying on train tracks to finish me off. Of course I have a conscience and feel sick that the driver would have to experience that. However, I feel like I have no escape from this pain and it would be my last resort. I will find a way to finish myself off. It is suicide out of self-love and it’s hard maybe for people to grasp this concept and understand. I want to die out of self-love and release myself, find peace from the pain I am in. At any moment I feel I could impulsively go.
I wish I could be friends with you Michael. What will be will be.
I have no idea what I am going to do. I have no idea what to do with myself. I feel paralized by confusion going round and around and round and around and round in circles.
I try my best and get up everyday. I am so proud of my being but also want to die so badly.
Standing up for myself these days has given me a little personal power back. For example standing up to people who have hurt me, letting them know that they are no better than anyone else. We are all one. We are all infinite consciousness and love experiencing itself through these individual souls we have.
Yes, it’s fucked up. My blog is raw and that’s it. What do I do?