I’ve been following the recent discussions on smoking/eating and stress with interest. Also remark re: chronic pain and previous trauma. Presumably the trauma doesn’t have to have occurred all the way back in childhood, though? I’m not saying I have experienced anything *traumatic* in the strong sense, but I made a connection only yesterday, whilst talking to my Alexander Technique teacher, with the most stressful period of my life, which was a split up with my long-term partner. This occurred about a year before the very first symptoms of sore neck I experienced, and then the RSI kicked in a few months later. I’m not suggesting that one key period necessarily caused my RSI, but rather that I was maybe a candidate for some kind of occupational related problems, due to job/posture etc, and this extra tension, which I just absorbed (as one does), augmented my ‘baseline tension’ and eventually caused my body to ‘fail’.
I had never really thought before about the long term effects of stress, in that sense. What I would be interested in hearing about is whether all you guys (and perhaps it’s only the ones with diffuse-RSI?) would consider yourselves to have either gone through something traumatic, or have always been stressful-type people, and therefore you can actually understand why your body has fallen into this state? Do we all fall into a broad, but similar category? I remember someone on this list mentioned the possibility that we may all be more conscientious workers, more inclined to work on through in order to get things done. Perhaps we can really get a much clearer profile of people at risk? And finally, I just want to say how brilliant it is that this list exists, because just knowing you’re all out there can help so much.
Comment 1: No, it doesn’t have to be in childhood. Once you have experience ongoing stress, it changes your sympathetic nervous system and something called the HPA axis…..hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal. This can happen anytime. My childhood was stressful and so were my twenties. In fact, as a response to stress, my adrenals started to produce excess androgens and produced adult acne which I control with a birth control pill specifically designed for acne. This happened in my early twenties. I am also sensitive to noise. I recently read a book called the ‘highly sensitive person’ which provides a case for sensitivity as a physiological thing. Such bodies can be literally sensitive to everything, environment, emotion etc. But there are solutions too. It is an evolutionary phenomenon for those of you who believe in evolution.
On the other hand though, I have strong emotional survival skills. But for a long time that is all I had. I knew how to survive, but not how to live. It is only recently that my life situation and my spiritual faith have been teaching me to relax and trust and let go. And boy, it is hard! There are various predisposing factors I think, many of which you have mentioned above. But I do think RSI can be simply physiological, at least to begin with, for some people. So many times I have thought ‘ thank God I can go to work on Monday and write to the list about this or that’!
Comment 2: Yes. I haven’t got diffuse RSI and posture was nothing to do with my injury; and as it happens my metabolism had changed and “calmed” a few years before I got this. There is research on stress and RSI. It shows no simple relationship. Rather a stressful work situation predisposes to RSI (though overwork in a non-stressful one could still cause it, it is significantly more likely to occur in the former case). The research compares groups of people and takes no account of personality type, but it would be reasonable to assume that was randomly distributed.
Comment 3: I’d love to know how you calmed your metabolism. Was it with relaxation techniques or did you do all that after the RSI?