More Tension

OK stress levels are high in this house at the moment... got a shock at my blood pressure the other day when visiting the chemist and trying out the cool 'test your blood pressure machine' on a whim.  So I need to relax a bit, mentally relax that is.

Relaxing mentally is very hard for me.  I suffer from tension headaches. 'Tension', a word I hate.  It does not describe the excruciating, unrelenting, soul destroying pain-without-end that I have learned to live with over the last ten + years.

Only very occasionally have I been pain free.  A small amount of alcohol works for a small amount of time but is ALWAYS followed by worse pain which in a way has helped save me from becoming an alcoholic, it's not worth it.  Anti depressants do not work, the pain is still there, I just don't care about it so much.  Exercise sometimes works but only for brief moments while the exercise is in progress.

Once, when I believed that I could possibly have cancer (it turned out I didn't) I found a quiet calm place where I accepted my mortality and was actually totally ok with that and my headache went away for about half an hour... that was such an amazing half hour I have tried to recapture it several times... but I feel the key was believing I was going to die and somehow I just can't find that place again, even though I know that I am going to die (like everyone else, I just don't know when!).

 Other than these brief fleeting occasions I am in constant pain.  It is my faithful companion, sometimes very strong and sometimes less so, but always there... from the minute I open my eyes in the morning, I have a millisecond of peace... a semi-moment in which I am aware of no pain and then WhaM, there it is, with me for the rest of the day until I fall asleep (with difficulty) at night.  I have tried all sorts of remedies and therapies and the only one that offers any kind of hope is the 'getting to the bottom of the issues that cause me anxiety' and that is ongoing, and has its own difficulties because somehow my mind tries to hide the cause of my worry or anxiety from me.  But usually if I can pinpoint the fear then it and the pain goes away.  Mind games aside...

...I live with this pain and have learned to almost ignore it.  Absorbing myself in some engrossing activity, either mental or physical, can deflect my attention away from it, that is a relief of a sort.  The latest engrossing activity is learning Spanish.  Now, alot of people would find learning a language stressful in itself, and it is true that you do need to be in the right frame of mind in order to learn anything.  But I have found the perfect teacher, and the perfect method, for me.

The Michel Thomas method.  He starts with the assertion that if you do not learn, then it is not your fault, but the teacher's.  Well that's exactly what I spent almost my entire school days saying, but would anyone listen!! ha ha.  So I purchased the foundation course (on Ebay, it was very reasonable) and I began about a month or so ago.  I am soooo enjoying it, and I find I look forward to doing a little Spanish every day and I am finding it very easy... so far.  Of course I have yet to practice it on a real Spanish person, but I won't worry about that at the moment... I still have about 5 weeks before I need to actually speak the language.

Here is Michel Thomas in action teaching French to school kids in the UK.  I saw this documentary a few years ago and its pretty impressive.  I think this method of learning should be applied for all sorts of subjects - it certainly could have made a huge difference to my maths lessons when I was at school.  I still get a horrid tightening sensation in the pit of my stomach at the prospect of doing even the simplest calculations.  Thank goodness I don't feel like that about learning Spanish!


  1. Have you tried meditation or hypnosis? If so did they help at all.
    It must be really tough living with such relentless pain and I hope you manage to get your stress levels down a bit and the blood pressure with it.

  2. Hi Jellie, I am a long time practitioner of Transcendental Meditation (first learned when I was just 18 years old) but alas it does not help and in fact the pain interferes with my ability to meditate these days. I do occasionally use a hypnosis cd by Paul McKenna and that works for the duration of the hypnosis, but seldom for long afterwards. I have tried acupuncture and massage therapies too. The only thing that came close to a long-term solution was psychological counselling which in the end proved far too expensive to continue, so I live with it and take each day as it comes. Try to be honest and look inside myself for what is behind all the decisions that I make. Tough? Me? Not really. Just can't see the alternative, I like being alive, I want to live until I'm very old - once we settle in Spain I am hoping the more relaxed lifestyle will help! Fingers crossed.

  3. I was thinking along the same lines as meditation but obviously you have been down that road. Wish I had some helpful advice:( Take good care. Adios:) Linda

  4. The thing that relaxes me the best is getting up on a horse and going for a long ride! Very restful (if you have a quiet horse ) and some good company!
    Have never heard of Michel Thomas(?) but found the link very interesting. I need to pursue more languages- 6 years of school French but want to learn more! I enjoy your blog- Thanks!

  5. Oooh Lynda I haven't been on a horse since I was a teenager - think I might be a bit of a scaredy cat these days! but I do remember enjoying it very much at the time.


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