Having TMJD (or temporomandibular joint dysfunction/disorder) can be really lonely...
I dealt with it for over 5 years. Each day, I would go to class (during college). I would sing for 20 minutes, only to be in intense neck/shoulder, jaw discomfort for the whole rest of the day. On those precious weekend days when I chose not to do any singing for my studies (I was a vocal music major), I relished each hour of less issues (though still using an ice pack on my face to fall asleep), dreading the coming of Monday when my week of tension and aching and pain would return. I sometimes cried just thinking about it. (And at the time, I hated crying... I still don't enjoy it, but now, I've learned it's okay and good to cry.)
I even tried little tiny magnets taped to my face to bring some relief on those worst days. And they helped... a tiny bit. It was worth a try anyway.
Honestly, it was awful.
Why? Not just because of the hurt...
But because I questioned the career I was so passionately pursuing, the career I felt called to with every fiber of my being, the career where I could share the joy of making music with others.
Not just because of the hurt...
But because no one else understood. I was deeply lonely.
Most people didn't even know I was hurting at all! It's not visible... it's not even a disability or something for which you can get accommodations. I felt alone in this.
My closest friends and I named my jaw "Doris," so we could blame the cranky day on Doris. So we could say, 'Doris doesn't like the rainy weather,' or 'Doris went on a roller coaster today...' And I could share a sliver of my experience with those few close friends - without feeling like a big whiner and complainer, because that is just not who I am!
TMJD is not well understood even by most doctors, dentists, orthodontists, and oral surgeons. Again, I felt alone in seeking help, because they tried to give me shallow bandaids rather than digging to the root of the issues.
How can this be in 2020?
Well, because many different things can cause it or aggravate it or bring it to the surface. Root issues look different for many different people.
So now I sit and watch the conversations in the online support groups happen... how so many people feel jaded and lost and lonely and frustrated and having horrible days, spending thousands of dollars on treatments professionals claim will work, because it is such an evasive issue.
TMJD is much like a snowflake -- a bit different for everyone, and no two manifestations of it look identical.
But what I've come to realize as I sit here 4 years later, in my place of privilege regarding what almost feels like a distant nightmare now, from the other side...
Is that people really just need joy. They need light. They need HOPE! They need to know there IS light at the end of the tunnel, that hurting does not have to be the end of the story. They need to know that freedom is possible.
If you, friend, are dealing with this beast, please know you're not alone. If you have a family member fighting this daily battle, they are not alone. You need to know that there ARE other options, there ARE natural, safe, non-invasive options. Will they be guaranteed to work? No. Is it a quick fix? In my experience, no.
Whether you have insurmountable amounts of hurt or just some tightness and a little discomfort...
I want you to feel seen and heard and known. I don't want you to feel alone.
What I do know, is that this journey to wellness, to physical and mental and emotional wellness and change of mindset is WORTH it. If you would have told me 4 years ago that I'd feel better today than I did when I was 17, I'd have laughed at you! Really?!
There is hope.
If you need a listening ear... if you need to see the light at the end of the dark tunnel.... if you need to hear of other options because you feel jaded and alone and frustrated...
I am here. ❤️ You are not alone.