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One aspect applicable to having AS and other pain related conditions that I’ve treated over the years, which is often over looked, or totally ignored, is the mental state of the individual. It can vary enormously, having constant pain, whether an ache or severe is mentally exhausting. Having a sudden sharp flare up can be a shock mentally, as well as being exhausting too. It can make people depressed without them realizing it and can truly bring a person down emotionally and mentally; like living with a cloud over them, or a weight on their shoulders, carrying it everyday, it can make life that bit harder than it should be.

We all cope with pain differently and whilst some people are very resilient, others aren’t, there is no right or wrong way to be, it just means pain is very relevant to the individual. It’s a very important factor of the overall condition, some people are very keen to tell you how they are suffering, some are terrified when their body experiences pain, whilst others soldier on and try their hardest to hide their pain and remain strong in the eye of the beholder, no matter at what cost to themselves. They find it harder to admit to anyone especially a Practitioner, just how much their pain hurts, or how they are struggling to keep going, as if it would be an admission of failure or weakness. I’ve used this expression a lot, because it’s true, but we all need balance. To be able to share our problems with the right sympathetic ear can greatly help through a crisis.

That in itself isn’t easy for a great many people, myself being one! But as a Practitioner I look at the patient and myself in a holistic way, I take the whole person into account when treating any problem they present. I purposely assess the mental approach everyone takes towards their life, and many a time I have been blown away with the strength and grace people have dealt with problems in their lives. It is often the case too, that people who do not have the ability to share, either because they can’t or don’t want to, find it very hard to relax in any way. With pain, the ability to breathe and relax, in my humble opinion is a fantastic advantage to have. I am not advocating ‘button-holing’ anyone who will listen and go on and on about all your ailments. But at the same time to not be able to share, release, and express your concerns, keep emotions bottled up, can lead to deeper-seated problems when dealing with pain. It prevents the body and energy flowing, which can exasperate pain levels, and weaken the mental emotional side of you.

If some of this resonates with you or someone you know, see if you can find a way to help. Be it expressing your own mental thoughts to a confidante, friend or Professional, or encouraging someone you know to talk and share their thoughts. It could give the sufferer a release they may have been in great need for but didn’t know how to achieve, often feeling they would be a burden, and you would possibly think less of them for ‘moaning‘. It isn’t easy to admit you are struggling.

If talking and sharing isn’t the right process for you, then there is a wealth of other avenues that could help, Counselling, Meditation, Yoga Therapy, even relaxing treatments like aromatherapy, reflexology, cranial massage, facials, there are many disciplines that aid in releasing pent up emotional tension, and therefore helping you have more balance; yin and yang, positive and negative, you know what I mean! Even just taking time out of your every day to allow yourself your special slot to relax and unwind could work wonders. You may find having an afternoon snooze works, or a gentle walk outside, listening to some music you love, laugh with a friend, there are so many things, but at the end of the day, whatever makes you feel good, do it!

Being anonymous is another way to release too. The Internet is a tool that could facilitate that in the form of forums, blogs (this being one!) where you can write your thoughts down. People of like mind can reply with the empathy of knowing what you’re going through. It can be a powerful form of support. Obviously be careful and don’t divulge personal information you wouldn’t want people to know. But to connect with people who have the experience of the same condition can alleviate the isolation that often comes with conditions governed by pain.

Many pain suffering people tend to shut themselves away from the world when the pain strikes, so to be armed with techniques to ease the length of those days, the better. Branch out and see what you can discover, enrich your life in doing so – bonus!