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Mental Health and Temporomandibular Joint and Muscle Disorders

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Cartoon-A-Thon’s  Mental Health Hero: UPDATE

It’s the 22nd!  Yes, we are coming to the last few miles of mental health awareness.  I planned on drawing all week but due to work and some kind of jaw/tooth pain, I’ve been sidelined until today.  For the last few weeks, the pain came and went.  I went to the doctor yesterday cause…OUCH, the pain was so severe!!  I’ve always had a high tolerance to pain.  Well, when you consider my past issues with cutting and branding, you  have be able to take what you’re dishing out to yourself.  Still, constant building pain can be overwhelming…meaning, I want this pain over with and fast!!  I know a lot of you reading this understand what I’m talking about first hand.

Now, I’m at the doctor’s office and right off the bat she tells me, ‘my symptoms sound like TMJ.’  I have to get a CAT scan to rule it out.  Other issues could be a tooth thing and then another possibility… (She did not specify since she did not have all the facts)  I’m thinking cancer but she assured me, most likely, it’s TMJ.

I found this info on a website about TMJ.  When I read the symptoms, I had and “AHAAA” moment.  I bolded all of the symptoms I’ve experienced over the past few weeks.  This is not the first time I’ve dealt with this thing. It’s just the first time the pain was off the scale! Nothing I took helped. Over-the-counter pain relief was worthless.  I then did something I DO NOT RECOMMEND TO ANY ONE!!!  It was very stupid on my part but I was desperate… I took….too much and totally over-medicated myself within a 12 hour period — really STUPID!!  When you have insatiable pain, you know people may resort to all sorts of measures to find a little relief.

Hopefully, I have developed (from this experience) deeper compassion and empathy for people suffering with other painful illnesses on top of mental illness!!

I cannot help but reflect about how my “physical” pain of this week is so similar to Bipolar and Depression.  Deep inside we suffer anguish and it takes a lot to pinpoint what is going on.  Sometimes, we try anything just to ease the pain. Only for it to come back, again and again. Don’t we all need some comfort?!  Please, check out my video.  Be sure to watch all the way to the end…Thanks.

Temporomandibular Joint and Muscle Disorders

Temporomandibular Joint and Muscle Disorders (TMJDs), commonly called TMJ, are a collection of poorly understood conditions characterized by pain in the jaw and surrounding tissues and limitations in jaw movements. Injury and conditions that routinely affect other joints in the body, such as arthritis, also affect the temporomandibular joint. People diagnosed with TMJDs may be experiencing other symptoms and medical conditions as part of a broad multi-systems illnesses that go unrecognized.

Symptoms of TMJDs

Pain is the most common symptom of TMJD. TMJ pain is often described as a dull ache in the jaw joint and nearby areas, including the ear, which comes and goes. Some people, however, report no pain, but still have problems using their jaws.

Other symptoms can include:

  • pain in the neck and shoulders
  • migraine and/or chronic headache
  • jaw muscle stiffness
  • limited movement or locking of the jaw
  • painful clicking, popping or grating in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth
  • a change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together or a bite that feels “off’
  • ringing in the ears
  • ear pain
  • decreased hearing

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Mental Health and Temporomandibular Joint and Muscle Disorders

Chato Stewart

Chato Stewart has a mission, to draw and use humor as a positive tool to live, to cope with the debilitating effects symptoms of mental illness. Chato Stewart is a Mental Health Hero and Advocate. Recovery Peer Specialist board-certified in Florida. Chato is the artist behind the cartoons series Mental Health Humor, Over-Medicated, and The Family Stew - seen here in his blog posts. The cartoons are drawn from his personal experience of living with bipolar disorder (and other labels). [email protected]

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APA Reference
Stewart, C. (2010). Mental Health and Temporomandibular Joint and Muscle Disorders. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 14, 2020, from


Last updated: 22 May 2010
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