I put my back out this week. I struggle with the presence of physical pain and the OCD that swoops in to complicate it. The first time I hurt my back, I was all of 24, and visiting my father for vacation. He asked me to vacuum the floor, and by the next morning, I couldn't get upright without my muscles seizing up. I'd never felt anything like it, but I knew that it had to be my imperfection and general deficiency that caused it. Having compassion for myself was not something that came easily, if at all. I had recurring back pain all through my 20's and into my 30's. I did have some physical therapy finally, when I was starting grad school, and the MacKenzie back exercises helped. But I went everywhere with a back pillow, and sat near the aisle so I could go stand up during concerts or lectures. I lived in fear of situations where my back might go out and there would be no way to get relief, or that I would be humiliated by my weakness.
I planned everything around how long I had to sit. I knew where the straight hard chairs were in any place I went to frequently. Once I graduated, and started a new job, my back seized up to the point that I had my husband drop me off a few blocks early to give me a chance to get fully upright before I got to the front door. I was depressed. I was anxious. Once my health insurance started, I went to a physiatrist, and got a referral for more physical therapy. This calmed my back for awhile, but the flare ups continued for a few more years, and then slowly, as I was doing therapy for my depression with Molly, my back stabilized. It seemed like a miracle.
On occasion, my back would get stiff, but recover quickly. But this week, after many situations of uncomfortable chairs--getting my hair washed at the beauty shop(which I do about once a year), meetings, long car trips--and lots of time in the studio, my back protested. I've started my Mackenzie exercises again and that has given me some relief, but I still have 3 more craft shows to get through, and the place I feel worst is in my studio, which is frustrating me, and I feel sad that what I love to do most, make art, is where the pain is aggravated. My OCD is all over this, and the more anxious I feel, the more I do things that make my back hurt even more, rituals of sitting at the computer too long. Slowing myself down is hard. The perfectionism is always in the background shouting about my need to do everything exactly right(whatever that means, since the standard always changes). I am working on it though. And know I may need to go back to the doctor and ask about occupational therapy.
If you have chronic pain and OCD, what helps you? I'd love to hear.