Stress and Burning Mouth Syndrome

Stress. We know it makes our chronic neuropathic pain worse. Our pain increases as stress rises, which increases pain, which increases stress…and well, you know the rest.

It’s an automated answering system from Hell, with no readily visible pound sign to hit to get a live person on the line. Or is it?

Stress is coming at us from all sides now, from the worries and complications of the pandemic to the feelings and actions we are experiencing about racial equality and equity. We are not alone in our stress by any means, but chronic pain sufferers can be triggered in more than one way by it.

I admit that I resisted counseling at the beginning of my Burning Mouth Syndrome journey. I had an instinctively negative reaction to the assumption that this pain was “all in my head,” or that therapy could or would help. It also felt suspiciously like I was getting shuffled off into the “menopausal female” box where any aches or pains or issues were part of the incredibly mysterious malady that seemed to be menopause. As a strong and independent female, I rejected this categorization and marginalization and started fighting back.

How?

With education. I read everything I could get my hands on about Burning Mouth Syndrome and eventually became an advocate for its sufferers through a television interview and working with the BMS Support Website.

With communication. I collaborated with my doctor to get more information (Some of those abstract and study sites are just not available to the public!) and we made a great team that taught me how to communicate and to help my health providers understand and assist me. I started this blog in order to express myself and also to give folks out there another place to look for the details of this journey. It’s not a sprint, my friends, it’s a marathon through a suburban neighborhood where you may get an open path to some information but many times it turns into a cul de sac or traffic circle as studies are not completed or the information from them is not relevant to our plight.

Opening up a line of communication opened me up, as well, and I found a Counselor to help me process how I was feeling and the coping strategies I was employing. Do you get the distinction there?

NOT someone to psychoanalyze me regarding what horrible incident in my childhood or my feelings about my mother or father, or even the changes that come in menopause might have caused this pain. INSTEAD, an empathetic listener (not a family member or friend) who is trained to help you cope with things that you cannot change. It’s a whole different paradigm and I highly recommend it if you are able to do it. Stress can be released through verbalization and perhaps even a good cry. The less stress, the less pain, and that is a great thing.

Support groups for chronic pain may be helpful as well, and many are free for the asking. Check around your area and see if there is one you can attend. One or two sessions will tell you if it is a good thing for you to do and you may even make new friends who really get the way that chronic pain affects our lives, bodies, and even our personalities.

Yoga, Acupuncture, Massage, Exercise of all kinds, Giving back to others by volunteering, and other coping strategies are wonderful but many have become so challenging in the current pandemic.

What are you doing in lockdown? Have you got some great ideas for dealing with the stress of Burning Mouth Syndrome?

Feel free to share them here and we appreciate it!

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