Understanding pain helps people understand why they feel the way they do. It can be part of a multi-disciplinary approach to treating chronic pain. Here, I talk about the bio-psycho-social model of pain, focusing on different parts of the pain process and how they can be modified. I gave this talk on May 17, 2021 […]
I remember that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach every Sunday afternoon. Sunday at 3:00 was youth orchestra. When my son first developed migraine disease, attacks came like clockwork. Every Sunday around 2:30, he’d begin to yawn. Then the auras would start. I’d see him start wincing from light and then, just as […]
Pain is invisible. That means any time, any place, someone can just kick you in the stomach by telling you that your pain is ‘all in your head’. That’s why it is so important for the people we love to believe us when we describe what we feel and it’s why we so value medical […]
Two weeks post-vaccine, it’s been liberating getting out of the house. Even walks in the woods seem freer, less worried about folks strolling by mask-less and much too close. I am excited about chatting with folks at the dog park – still socially distanced and faces obscured. It felt ridiculously friendly to have a face-to-masked […]
This year of COVID has been a year of loss. Loved ones. First dates and coffee with old friends. Shared worship. Beach parties. From the profound to the trivial. For many who live with complex illnesses or who struggle to get out of the house and make it to school or work, it’s also been […]
Doctors, patients, and caregivers all bring something different to the table. All contribute to healing. The patient has the lived experience. It is their body. Their life. It is their decision what they decide to do and take from the relationship in the hope of moving forward. The caregiver brings support. Often – especially when […]
I’m a professor and admit to being a bit long winded. I was asked to pull together information on tyramine into small bites so it was easier to read and digest. So here we go! And if you want the long version, please read It Tyramine Intolerance Triggering Your Brain Fog, Headaches, and Vomiting? Living […]
What is tyramine? Basics Tyrosine is one of the ‘big twenty” amino acids used to build proteins in animals, plants, bacteria and effectively all living organisms. Tyramine is a natural break-down product of the amino acid tyrosine. There are 3 main ways high tyramine foods get into our diet. Some foods, like soy beans, snow peas, […]
Tyramine is a naturally occurring amino acid present in many common foods. Cheese, sausage, lentils, snow peas, and soy. Deli meats, sauerkraut, nuts, wine, and beer. Yogurt and Cheetos. All have high levels of tyramine. Because tyramine occurs when proteins age, virtually ALL leftovers are high in tyramine. For example, I might cook fresh chicken […]
It was my cousin who was laughing on Facebook. “They’ve taken this whole fad way too far! Now they’re selling gluten-free dog food! Idiots!” Admittedly it looks ridiculous. As far as I know, dogs do not get celiac disease. But the people feeding dogs that handle the dog food do. I should know. Allergies, […]
Are you a fan of podcasts? Would you rather listen to the 1step2life blog than read? We will be podcasting many of our essays. Follow us on Breaker, Google Podcast, Pocket Casts, RadioPublic, Spotify, and Anchor (RSS). We will be adding new content as it comes out and slowly recording our catalog.
Confession time I feel guilty. Why? Because there are times I feel I’m failing at my most important job: being a mom. My son hurts all the time – and I can’t protect him. He is having a hard time transitioning gracefully to adulthood. He struggled to make it through high school – it’s tough […]
It’s hard to believe that pain is ever good. But it is. A friend developed a condition where she was able to move her lower body, but couldn’t feel pain and had no sensation. The biggest danger she faced was injuring herself because her warning system – pain – didn’t work. Chronic pain, on the […]
Hydration is important for everyone. Folks with chronic pain get really tired of being asked if they’re drinking enough water. I know my son does. But how much you should drink is a more complicated question than it first appears. And important enough to think about before rolling your eyes when asked – one more […]
Many types of pain – including migraines, amplified regional pain syndrome, and fibromyalgia – are caused by a failure of the nervous system. A negative spiral Acute pain protects us from tissue damage – we pull back from flames because we feel pain. Unfortunately, this healthy system can backfire. Many chronic pain conditions are caused […]
Learning to breathe, meditate, or do biofeedback doesn’t have to be hard. It doesn’t have to cost money. It doesn’t require you to leave your house. It’s BREATHING and focusing. It’s what people did in cold medieval churches and in Tibetan monestaries. It’s what I learned to do – and got me through – labor! […]
Biofeedback is a set of techniques that allow you to exert conscious control over what are normally involuntary biological functions. For example, consciously slowing your breathing and heart rate are common forms of biofeedback. With more practice, you can learn to increase circulation in your hands and warm them up. You can become more conscious […]
I walked into my son’s room this morning – it was immediately obvious it was one of ‘those’ days. Light sensitivity. Migraine spike. Fog. You know the gig. So I asked my usual self-care questions: Did you take your rescues? Water? Salt? Magnesium oil? Daily meds? “Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.” No eye roll (thank […]
Biofeedback is a skill, not a pill. Unlike medications, it is something that you need to practice between sessions and learn to make it effective. I’ve heard people only try it once or twice and then give up because they got a migraine anyways. It’s not something that works right away. You need to practice […]
Friday, after an appointment with my psychiatrist at Emory, it occurred to me that this month marks 13 years of therapy and treatment. I would almost describe those 13 years as an “After” period, denoting a new phase in my life, because it has been so transformative. Before I finally reached out for help, I […]
Biofeedback has many potential applications. Short term, you can embed breathing and conscious relaxation and bodily control into your everyday life. This changes amygdala functioning to reduce pain and can help you foster mindfulness. I combine biofeedback with meditation and sometimes binaural sound to manage my migraines. I can only rarely get rid of them, […]
Like many people over the last few years, I invested in weighted blankets for members of my family. I’d read they are particular good for improving sleep and reducing anxiety. Because I had always slept markedly better with heavy quilts, that made sense to me. I followed the guidelines for buying them: 5-10% of your […]
Why is Sleep So Important? Sleep is your body’s way of letting the brain rest. Getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep a night has a number of positive effects: improved concentration, metabolism, immune system functioning, reduced depression, and inflammation. Lack of sleep can block signals in the nociceptive pathways, which increases the perception of […]
Biofeedback is a technique used to train yourself to control your body’s functions. Examples being your breathing, heart rate and tempurature. It’s really great for handling chronic pain. With practice it can be used to help identify what is causing your pain and I’ve even been using it to help turn off migraines when I […]
Chronic pain is something that can be treated in many ways. When I first got migraines, they were sudden and devastating. Within six months I went from perfectly healthy to migraines that lasted days to a week at a time. They were incredibly painful. I was unable to move and barely even able to go […]
Physics has gravity (it’s not just a good idea, it’s the law). Psychology has learning theory. The basic ideas behind learning theory are deceptively simple: If you are rewarded for something you will do it more often. If you are punished for something, you will do do it less often. If something bad is happening […]
People who write love songs about walking in the rain don’t live in Ohio. In December. I do. I’m just going to say, cold rain is not my idea of romantic. Or comfortable. Miserable. It does come to mind when I think of the word ‘miserable’. I bring this up, because I was thinking about […]
Some days are worse than others. That’s just how it works. You can wake up today feeling refreshed and inspired to put your best foot forward. You can do all of your recommended exercises, eat all the “right” foods, think all the “right” thoughts, and still have pain flare-ups throughout your day. We can never […]
When teens don’t believe parents or doctors have the right to set rules, they don’t follow them.
I write a lot about organizing, because I have too much to do and very few spoons to spare. I also know that if I don’t write things down, they spin around in my head and keep me from sleeping. If we try to keep everything in our head without an organizational system, we keep […]
Pain Rehab: Building Strength To Push Back Pain People living with pain are most successful at taking back their lives when they take an active role in their recovery. (That’s one of the reasons that 1step2life focuses on emotions, activities, and functioning.) For most of us, there is no ‘magic jelly bean’ that will suddenly […]
I was excited beyond words to be asked to present the 1step2life app to the team at the Cleveland Clinic Pediatric Pain Rehabilitation program on Monday. These folks are my heroes. For all the pain and trauma that my son’s migraine disease has introduced into his life, we’ve been incredibly lucky to live close to […]
Why do I hurt all the time? Healthy pain is like a good guardian. It keeps you from hurting yourself and teaches you to stay safe. This type of pain is called ‘acute pain’. Unfortunately, sometimes the acute pain system becomes too sensitive and overprotective. When that happens, you perceive pain as if you were injured, […]
Pain leads to depression. Depression leads to pain. The amygdala mediates it all.
Acceptance means holding both a painful now and a hopeful future in our minds· Death can be a harsh shock, as someone is ripped from us and is no longer present in our lives. It has a finality to it – that’s part of the shock and much of the pain. But it is real […]
Focusing all your attention on one manageable area of sensation can drown out the sensation of pain.
Hydration is every doctor’s go to recommendation for anyone living with chronic pain. But it helps. Your cells can’t function properly without sufficient water. Not drinking enough causes pain all by itself that can’t be distinguished from pain due to illness. Plus – as I always tell my son – if you drink enough water, […]
Acute pain is protective. With chronic pain, the pain itself becomes the disease.
Pain, stress, and emotional distress are in the mind, but express themselves in physical tension. You can feel it in that tight neck, those stiff shoulders, and in that clenched jaw and hands. Notice that your back teeth hurt just a little? Feel that twinge between your shoulders? Back ache just a bit? The relationship is […]
Four strategies to organize work and decrease anxiety.
Concrete tips on moving a teen in pain out of bed and towards functioning.
I’ll be honest. I spend my life crazy stressed. I have a job that my husband describes as ‘flexible – you can work any 60 hours a week you like’. And then I have two more jobs – I am Editor in Chief of the Journal of Adolescence and I’m also starting this company. And […]
Doctor! Doctor! It hurts when I do this!
Well . . . don’t do this.
A few years ago, I wrote a piece in my Psychology Today blog for college students about how to talk to their professors about accommodations. Most professors (not all) honestly want to help. But the letters we get from the offices of disability service are usually vague and don’t tell us what students really need. […]
Just a shout out to a good blog on the use of distraction in chronic pain published in Psychology Today.
This is an ad for a study I’ve been working on with a student (Max Kramer) for the last year. My son took part in the first phase. Max is recruiting an additional 10 participants. It’s pretty easy and participants do get paid. It will contribute to developing a machine learning algorithm to help better […]
When your child is in pain, it’s easy to focus in on the three things that worry us: pain, pills, and homework. I know for myself, just seeing my son’s face triggers that mental checklist.
Today was a bad pain today. It was noon and already he’d taken all his rescue meds. He’d used all the tricks – double water, salt. He’d already done three hours of biofeedback. And there the pain was – a big looming suffocating force drilling into his brain.
Many people living with chronic pain have a condition called photophobia – their brain interprets light as a painful stimulus. That can make looking at screens a painful experience and makes designing an app extra challenging!