1. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this link: http://go.tmswiki.org/newprogram
    Dismiss Notice
Ellen
Last Activity:
Jul 18, 2018 at 1:20 PM
Joined:
Apr 20, 2013
Messages:
2,047
Likes Received:
2,700
Trophy Points:
131
Bookmarks:
29
Gender:
Female

Share This Page

Ellen

Beloved Grand Eagle, Female

Your heart gets bored with your mind. And it changes you. John Prine Nov 23, 2015

Ellen was last seen:
Jul 18, 2018 at 1:20 PM
  • My Story

    It is my two year anniversary of learning about TMS and I realize I still haven't written out my success story. This is not because I'm without success, but due to my perfectionism I thought I needed to wait till I was free of all vestiges of TMS and TMS equivalents before declaring myself a "success story". However, I now see that the success I have had in recovering from my major TMS symptoms of decades of fibromyalgia and migraines may provide some inspiration and hope to those with similar conditions. Even though my recovery from these conditions is over a year old, it still feels like a miracle to me. Yet, I know that it was really no miracle, but came about through persistence, hard work. and the patient application of the wisdom and strategies that so many other former TMS sufferers have shared through their books, blogs, and thoughtful, compassionate posts on this Forum. I hope my summary of what worked for me will be helpful to others as well.

    My TMS Story:

    I learned about TMS when a video by a urologist, Dr. Eric Robins, appeared for no apparent reason on my phone. In this video Dr. Robins talks about how he had fibromyalgia, describes the philosophy behind TMS, and how he recovered. He names several resources that he found helpful, which I quickly jotted down. The first one I investigated was Unlearn Your Pain by Dr. Howard Schubiner, and from that book I learned about Dr. John Sarno and the tmswiki. I knew within reading a few pages of TMS theory that it explained all of the physical pain and other symptoms I had endured throughout my life. Embracing the diagnosis was never a problem for me.

    At the time that I learned about TMS, I was feeling very desperate about my health situation and thinking that I would most likely have to quit my full time job and file for disability. I was in intense pain all over my body, but especially in my shoulders and neck, despite taking the maximum dose of the pain medication Tramadol 24/7. I was having migraine headaches almost daily even though I was taking a beta blocker to prevent them every day. The Trazodone I was taking nightly for insomnia wasn't working anymore and I had to take Ambien most nights in order to get any sleep. And I had developed a new symptom of extreme sensitivity to light which made my job that involved looking at a computer screen all day almost impossible. After starting the journaling in Unlearn Your Pain, I figured out that what I was reading on that computer screen every day was triggering repressed emotions about my difficult childhood and causing all of my chronic TMS symptoms to flare up to the point of almost complete dysfunction. I was barely able to crawl through my day, and was completely isolated and trapped in the fear that I would no longer be able to take care of myself.

    I was at a loss for what to do about my situation, since over the last 20 years of having fibromyalgia I had endured many treatments without success, and at significant cost both financially and professionally.The difficulties and side effects of many of these treatments are still too painful for me to write about. I tried the usual array of traditional medical treatments and alternative treatments. At one point I even enrolled in a Master of Oriental Medicine program, thinking that acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbs
    could be my salvation. After completing 2 years of the 3 year program and undergoing countless acupuncture and herbal treatments, I was no better. So I dropped out of the program. If I couldn’t cure myself, how could I help others.

    I had my first migraine headache when I was 4 years old. Several months prior to this I had experienced a traumatic playground accident that almost resulted in losing my right arm (I am right handed). Fortunately, through intense medical intervention in the following months, my arm was saved and I have had full use of it throughout my life. Though I don't remember a lot of the details of that time in my life, what I do remember makes it clear that it contributed to the beginning of a lifetime of TMS for me, starting with that first migraine headache. I lived in a family that did not tolerate the expression of strong emotions and embraced the belief that providing comfort to a scared child would only encourage self-pity and malingering. It was made clear to me that I had to hide my emotions and cope with this trauma on my own. This lesson was reinforced in many ways throughout my childhood. Thus began a lifelong pattern.

    Over the years my migraines became more frequent. As an adolescent insomnia and depression became problems, as well a multitude of inexplicable symptoms that came and went, which I now know to all be TMS. In my 30's I developed chronic pain that became severe on a regular monthly basis dependent on my hormonal cycle. This was finally diagnosed as Endometriosis and I underwent a complete hysterectomy at age 37. This felt like a miracle to me, as I was pain free for the first time in a decade and no longer on the hormonal emotional roller coaster I had endured. However, about 6 months after my surgery, I developed all the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, and my migraines became more frequent and severe. Clearly this was the symptom imperative at work. Surgery is never more than a temporary escape from TMS.

    How I Recovered:

    As I mentioned above, my first book on TMS was Unlearn Your Pain and I realized within the first few pages that TMS (or Mindbody Syndrome as Dr. Schubiner describes it) explained all of my chronic pain and other health conditions over the course of my life. I actually experienced the "book cure" and spent about a week symptom free. I was elated and could hardly believe this was possible. However, I was still taking the maximum dose of Tramadol for pain I no longer had. I knew I needed to stop taking it, but that I would need to do it gradually as I had been taking it for 15 years. As I started cutting back on the pain medication, my symptoms flared up again; plus I experienced new symptoms related to medication withdrawal. So much for my "book cure". It then took me about a year to get back to a pain-free level. I firmly believe that if I can do it, anybody can. Below is the strategy that worked for me.


    If the purpose of TMS is to distract us from emotions that the unconscious has determined are unacceptable to our conscious brain, then it made sense to me that the primary treatment strategy is to take away its purpose by (1) not letting TMS be a distraction; and (2) demonstrate that these emotions are acceptable to the conscious brain.

    However, even after we accomplish these two points, many of us will still have TMS due to conditioning and habitual patterns of thinking and behaving that create stress and tension. And some of us may have a highly activated nervous system from chronic stress or PTSD that has to be addressed as well.

    Take Away the Purpose of TMS

    1. Don't let TMS distract you or define who you are

    * Acquire knowledge about TMS and TMS theory to reduce the fear of your symptoms.

    * Use the logic and reasoning your conscious brain has derived from this knowledge to "talk" to your unconscious. (e.g. "I am healthy and strong and there is no reason for me to have pain.")

    * As much as possible, go about your life doing everything you need and want to do despite your TMS symptoms. Try to never use TMS as a reason not to do something.

    * Don't feed your perception of yourself as a disabled person by talking about your symptoms to others. (Except to offer support to other TMS sufferers.)

    * Do things that change your perception of yourself to being an active, healthy person (e.g. exercise, sports, yoga, dance)

    * Realize that you are not fragile and don't need special equipment, diets, supplements, routines, perfect weather, etc

    * Accept that it is OK to have pain. Your brain is sending you a faulty signal. TMS pain can't hurt you, and you can push through it. (see my post on how Hatha Yoga helped me understand this.)

    * Realize you can still fill valued roles despite having TMS (e.g. as an employee, spouse, parent, friend).

    * Create positive distractions that get you out of your head and your "story of pain". Shift your focus outside yourself (e.g. other people, nature, pets, absorbing activities).

    * Practice mindfulness to remain in the present.

    * Use guided meditation to cope with intense pain if you can't be distracted from it or push through it. (A free one is the "Soften, Soothe, and Allow" meditation on this site.)

    * Don't let "working on my TMS" be the new way TMS distracts and defines you. Limit time spent to no more than about an hour a day. Use a structured program to have daily activities, then put it away.

    * Beware of the symptom imperative. When a new symptom arises, ask yourself if this could be TMS. It probably is, and must be treated the same.

    2. Demonstrate that all emotions are acceptable

    * Use expressive writing/journaling and dig deep to uncover difficult, dark, disturbing emotions; past painful events; internal conflicts; personality traits; defense mechanisms; dysfunctional patterns; current stressors, etc. Lay it all out there with complete honesty. Hold nothing back. Tear it up afterward if you are afraid someone will find what you've written.

    * Tell your brain, "I'm not afraid of any of these emotions. I'm willing to look at everything and accept them all."

    * Don't become obsessed with finding THE repressed emotion that will free you from TMS. In my opinion, this is about demonstrating to the unconscious that all emotions are acceptable to the conscious and are not to be feared.

    * Talk to a psychotherapist if needed.

    * After digging up painful emotions, always use the antidote of telling yourself that you are human and these are normal human emotions. Tell yourself, "No one is perfect. I am entitled to feel the full array of human emotions."

    Address Conditioning and Habitual Patterns

    * Use the logic and reasoning of your conscious brain to override the unconscious. For example, I was conditioned to get migraines when the barometric pressure changed. When I could feel those beginning twinges of a migraine in response to this, I told myself repeatedly, "There is no reason that a change in barometric pressure should cause a migraine. So stop it brain!." This eventually worked.

    * Develop your awareness of behavioral habits that create stress and tension and use mindfulness to address them. For example, I realized that I had this habit of hurrying from one thing to another throughout my day, and that this was causing tension in my shoulders and neck. When I would catch myself doing this, I would take a deep breath, sink into the present moment, and complete my task mindfully, almost in slow motion. Eventually, I broke this habit and my last 10% of TMS pain in my neck and shoulders finally went away.

    * Develop awareness of your habitual thinking patterns that create stress and tension, and employ strategies to change (e.g. the inner bully, ruminating on past or future events, negative thinking, catastrophizing, etc.) [This metaphor of thoughts being like a train has been very helpful for me: Thoughts are like trains arriving at a station and you can either watch them arrive and depart, or you can jump on board and go where they lead. If they lead you to a place of stress and tension, you can just jump off the train.] The practice of writing three things that I'm grateful for at the end of each day has helped counter my tendency toward negative thinking.

    Address Highly Activated Nervous System and Trauma

    * If your fight or flight response seems to be stuck in the on position, the following techniques have been most helpful to me: deep breathing (see 4-7-8 breathing technique); guided meditation for progressive relaxation; yoga (the ultimate mindbody exercise); practicing mindfulness.

    * It is my experience that this is most effectively addressed through the body. I can tell myself "I'm perfectly safe" all day, and it doesn't seem to help me become calm.

    * If you have experienced significant trauma in the past, receiving therapy from someone trained in using mindbody techniques to address trauma and PTSD may be necessary (e.g. EMDR, Somatic Experiencing).
    [ I still have problems with a highly activated nervous system, and will probably need to do this at some point.]

    Stop Medications (when you are ready)

    * If you are on multiple medications for your TMS, I suggest stopping only one at a time. I first gradually weaned myself off of the Tramadol, then about 6 months later I gradually stopped taking the beta blocker. I had significant withdrawal symptoms both times, but I had taken these medications for 15-18 years, so it was a big adjustment for my brain.

    * Discuss this with your doctor, but wean yourself off as gradually as you need to.

    * Know that reducing and eliminating medication may cause your TMS to flare up as your brain adjusts to the change. Tell yourself that these symptoms are temporary and that it doesn't mean that you need the medication to be symptom free.

    Dealing with Relapse

    * Accept that it is likely that even after you have eliminated your TMS symptoms you will experience either a relapse of the old symptoms, or a new form of TMS.

    * Remind yourself that overcoming TMS is about recovery, not cure. It is very easy for our brains to fall back into those old neural pathways.

    * When a relapse occurs, stay calm and get back to the basics. Ask yourself why you need a distraction right now.

    * Don't become obsessed with finding the exact reason for your relapse. Go back to reading, journaling, or restart a structured program, if needed, but limit your work on TMS as in the beginning.

    * Don't catastrophize. Having a relapse doesn't mean your recovery has failed, and you will now have these TMS symptoms forever. Remind yourself that you overcame TMS before and you can again.


    My TMS journey continues as I'm addressing some stubborn TMS equivalents (insomnia, fatigue, allergy symptoms), and still working on eliminating my final TMS medication of Trazodone. I am confident I'll recover from these symptoms as well. And I thank all of you on this Forum for your continued support and advice as we work together to let go of the past, and live our lives fully in the present moment. Namaste.
    1. jullemire
      jullemire
      This is great Ellen, thank you for sending me here! I will use your techniques and hopefully will be migraine free soon!
      1. Ellen likes this.
    2. Time2be
      Time2be
      Thank your for sharing this and thank you for the good advices! Especially to limit the work with TMS to about an hour is very important to me. Not thinking about it all the time, but doing one hour concentrated work.
      1. Ellen likes this.
    3. eeckert
      eeckert
      Ellen, this is such an inspriring story. I would love to speak with you directly, as I am currently weaning off of a medication and having a major relapse of my migraines and neck pain and my fear is growing everyday I continue to have a migraine... I am new to the TMS wiki, however I have been working with a TMS therapist for just about a year now. Is there a way to directly message you? Thank you so much!!- Libby
      1. Ellen likes this.
      2. Ellen
        Ellen
        Libby, if you go up to the right hand corner on the Forum page, there is the Inbox (between your name and Alerts). You can start a conversation directly with me that way.
        Jan 17, 2018
    4. IanH
      IanH
      Hi Ellen - thank you for sharing your inspiring story. What emotional reasons were behind your blepharitis tms symptoms? I healed my TMS back, shoulder, arms hand, neck pain 2 years ago after a deeply traumatic period, but have had blepharitis since, and wasn't sure it was linked to TMS until I read your comment on another post this evening. Best wishes - Ian
      1. Ellen likes this.
    5. Lainey
      Lainey
      Ellen
      Thank you so much for you detailed journey with TMS. Reading it is very encouraging and ultimately helpful. The train visualization you wrote is similar to one often used in EMDR. It can help with keeping us in the present, watching the scenes go by. Your suggestions are great.
      Thanks again.
      Lainey
      1. Ellen and plum like this.
    6. Gini
      Gini
      Thanks so much for this - it's so helpful to read about steps to take/practices to do from someone who has had so much success. Very inspiring!
      1. plum and Ellen like this.
    7. caligirlgonegreen
      caligirlgonegreen
      This was fantastic. Thank you for sharing such deeply personal strategies and information. I wish you love and healing. Namaste.
      1. plum and Ellen like this.
    8. JulietBlue
      JulietBlue
      Just read your story and wanted to tell you how inspiring and encouraging I found it. I'll be referring back to it often during this process. Thank you for sharing it and your very helpful advice as well.
      1. plum and Ellen like this.
    9. Elina
      Elina
      Very helpful
      1. Ellen likes this.
    10. Cricket313
      Cricket313
      This is wonderful advice! Thanks for sharing your story in such a concise and useful-to-others way. Peace.
      1. Ellen likes this.
    11. intense50
      intense50
      awesome!
      1. Ellen likes this.
    12. Bodhigirl
      Bodhigirl
      I am so grateful you "liked" one of my posts while I was traveling and had time to read your page! I used the soothing meditation and had a surprisingly good cry about loss and my fall off my young horse two weeks ago. Truly, thank you from my heart. I give a lot and receiving felt just wondrous.
      1. plum, mike2014 and Ellen like this.
      2. mike2014
        mike2014
        There's another. :-) Have a marvellous day and many warm blessings to you.
        Mar 30, 2017
        happyMcWow and Bodhigirl like this.
    13. Shine4me
      Shine4me
      Hi Ellen, thank you so much for your story. I like what you said about slowly weaning yourself off your Meds. That is very encouraging that that I don't have to go cold turkey, but can just be kind to myself and go at a pace at which I'm comfortable. I popped over to the 4-7-8 breathing technique site and will definitely do that.
      1. plum and Ellen like this.
    14. Star238
      Star238
      Hi Ellen, thanks for your story. I discovered TMS at Christmas following many years of fibromyalgia, migraines etc. It really helped to read what you have written.
      1. Ellen likes this.
    15. AC45
      AC45
      This is incredibly helpful. Thank you!
      1. Ellen likes this.
    16. hecate105
      hecate105
      OMG so similar to my story. Thank you for posting it - it will be a great help to many people. I too got rid of almost all my symptoms but i still have highly activated nervous system and tend to catastrophic thinking... (a learned trait from my Mother!) I will try the Somatic Experiencing...
      1. Lavender, riv44 and Ellen like this.
    17. Ajay
      Ajay
      Thank you so much for all the helpful tips! I have experienced "the book cure" a couple of times but I am only beginning to realize that many of my maladies - not just back pain - are due to TMS.
      I'll be back to read your story again, I'm sure, as my symptoms move around. You have such good advice on sticking to it!
      1. Ellen likes this.
    18. Roger1978
      Roger1978
      Hi Ellen I'm from Ecuador I have TMS and need an Advice , do you have skype direction ? because I need help .
      1. Ellen
        Ellen
        No Skype, sorry. Post your questions in the support forum and everyone can answer. Best wishes....
        Dec 28, 2015
        happyMcWow likes this.
    19. Ellen
      Ellen
      Your heart gets bored with your mind. And it changes you. John Prine
      1. Cricket313 likes this.
    20. kyleisnowhere1
      kyleisnowhere1
      So inspiring, thank you...
      1. Ellen likes this.
  • Loading...
  • Loading...
  • My Story

    Gender:
    Female
    It is my two year anniversary of learning about TMS and I realize I still haven't written out my success story. This is not because I'm without success, but due to my perfectionism I thought I needed to wait till I was free of all vestiges of TMS and TMS equivalents before declaring myself a "success story". However, I now see that the success I have had in recovering from my major TMS symptoms of decades of fibromyalgia and migraines may provide some inspiration and hope to those with similar conditions. Even though my recovery from these conditions is over a year old, it still feels like a miracle to me. Yet, I know that it was really no miracle, but came about through persistence, hard work. and the patient application of the wisdom and strategies that so many other former TMS sufferers have shared through their books, blogs, and thoughtful, compassionate posts on this Forum. I hope my summary of what worked for me will be helpful to others as well.

    My TMS Story:

    I learned about TMS when a video by a urologist, Dr. Eric Robins, appeared for no apparent reason on my phone. In this video Dr. Robins talks about how he had fibromyalgia, describes the philosophy behind TMS, and how he recovered. He names several resources that he found helpful, which I quickly jotted down. The first one I investigated was Unlearn Your Pain by Dr. Howard Schubiner, and from that book I learned about Dr. John Sarno and the tmswiki. I knew within reading a few pages of TMS theory that it explained all of the physical pain and other symptoms I had endured throughout my life. Embracing the diagnosis was never a problem for me.

    At the time that I learned about TMS, I was feeling very desperate about my health situation and thinking that I would most likely have to quit my full time job and file for disability. I was in intense pain all over my body, but especially in my shoulders and neck, despite taking the maximum dose of the pain medication Tramadol 24/7. I was having migraine headaches almost daily even though I was taking a beta blocker to prevent them every day. The Trazodone I was taking nightly for insomnia wasn't working anymore and I had to take Ambien most nights in order to get any sleep. And I had developed a new symptom of extreme sensitivity to light which made my job that involved looking at a computer screen all day almost impossible. After starting the journaling in Unlearn Your Pain, I figured out that what I was reading on that computer screen every day was triggering repressed emotions about my difficult childhood and causing all of my chronic TMS symptoms to flare up to the point of almost complete dysfunction. I was barely able to crawl through my day, and was completely isolated and trapped in the fear that I would no longer be able to take care of myself.

    I was at a loss for what to do about my situation, since over the last 20 years of having fibromyalgia I had endured many treatments without success, and at significant cost both financially and professionally.The difficulties and side effects of many of these treatments are still too painful for me to write about. I tried the usual array of traditional medical treatments and alternative treatments. At one point I even enrolled in a Master of Oriental Medicine program, thinking that acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbs
    could be my salvation. After completing 2 years of the 3 year program and undergoing countless acupuncture and herbal treatments, I was no better. So I dropped out of the program. If I couldn’t cure myself, how could I help others.

    I had my first migraine headache when I was 4 years old. Several months prior to this I had experienced a traumatic playground accident that almost resulted in losing my right arm (I am right handed). Fortunately, through intense medical intervention in the following months, my arm was saved and I have had full use of it throughout my life. Though I don't remember a lot of the details of that time in my life, what I do remember makes it clear that it contributed to the beginning of a lifetime of TMS for me, starting with that first migraine headache. I lived in a family that did not tolerate the expression of strong emotions and embraced the belief that providing comfort to a scared child would only encourage self-pity and malingering. It was made clear to me that I had to hide my emotions and cope with this trauma on my own. This lesson was reinforced in many ways throughout my childhood. Thus began a lifelong pattern.

    Over the years my migraines became more frequent. As an adolescent insomnia and depression became problems, as well a multitude of inexplicable symptoms that came and went, which I now know to all be TMS. In my 30's I developed chronic pain that became severe on a regular monthly basis dependent on my hormonal cycle. This was finally diagnosed as Endometriosis and I underwent a complete hysterectomy at age 37. This felt like a miracle to me, as I was pain free for the first time in a decade and no longer on the hormonal emotional roller coaster I had endured. However, about 6 months after my surgery, I developed all the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, and my migraines became more frequent and severe. Clearly this was the symptom imperative at work. Surgery is never more than a temporary escape from TMS.

    How I Recovered:

    As I mentioned above, my first book on TMS was Unlearn Your Pain and I realized within the first few pages that TMS (or Mindbody Syndrome as Dr. Schubiner describes it) explained all of my chronic pain and other health conditions over the course of my life. I actually experienced the "book cure" and spent about a week symptom free. I was elated and could hardly believe this was possible. However, I was still taking the maximum dose of Tramadol for pain I no longer had. I knew I needed to stop taking it, but that I would need to do it gradually as I had been taking it for 15 years. As I started cutting back on the pain medication, my symptoms flared up again; plus I experienced new symptoms related to medication withdrawal. So much for my "book cure". It then took me about a year to get back to a pain-free level. I firmly believe that if I can do it, anybody can. Below is the strategy that worked for me.


    If the purpose of TMS is to distract us from emotions that the unconscious has determined are unacceptable to our conscious brain, then it made sense to me that the primary treatment strategy is to take away its purpose by (1) not letting TMS be a distraction; and (2) demonstrate that these emotions are acceptable to the conscious brain.

    However, even after we accomplish these two points, many of us will still have TMS due to conditioning and habitual patterns of thinking and behaving that create stress and tension. And some of us may have a highly activated nervous system from chronic stress or PTSD that has to be addressed as well.

    Take Away the Purpose of TMS

    1. Don't let TMS distract you or define who you are

    * Acquire knowledge about TMS and TMS theory to reduce the fear of your symptoms.

    * Use the logic and reasoning your conscious brain has derived from this knowledge to "talk" to your unconscious. (e.g. "I am healthy and strong and there is no reason for me to have pain.")

    * As much as possible, go about your life doing everything you need and want to do despite your TMS symptoms. Try to never use TMS as a reason not to do something.

    * Don't feed your perception of yourself as a disabled person by talking about your symptoms to others. (Except to offer support to other TMS sufferers.)

    * Do things that change your perception of yourself to being an active, healthy person (e.g. exercise, sports, yoga, dance)

    * Realize that you are not fragile and don't need special equipment, diets, supplements, routines, perfect weather, etc

    * Accept that it is OK to have pain. Your brain is sending you a faulty signal. TMS pain can't hurt you, and you can push through it. (see my post on how Hatha Yoga helped me understand this.)

    * Realize you can still fill valued roles despite having TMS (e.g. as an employee, spouse, parent, friend).

    * Create positive distractions that get you out of your head and your "story of pain". Shift your focus outside yourself (e.g. other people, nature, pets, absorbing activities).

    * Practice mindfulness to remain in the present.

    * Use guided meditation to cope with intense pain if you can't be distracted from it or push through it. (A free one is the "Soften, Soothe, and Allow" meditation on this site.)

    * Don't let "working on my TMS" be the new way TMS distracts and defines you. Limit time spent to no more than about an hour a day. Use a structured program to have daily activities, then put it away.

    * Beware of the symptom imperative. When a new symptom arises, ask yourself if this could be TMS. It probably is, and must be treated the same.

    2. Demonstrate that all emotions are acceptable

    * Use expressive writing/journaling and dig deep to uncover difficult, dark, disturbing emotions; past painful events; internal conflicts; personality traits; defense mechanisms; dysfunctional patterns; current stressors, etc. Lay it all out there with complete honesty. Hold nothing back. Tear it up afterward if you are afraid someone will find what you've written.

    * Tell your brain, "I'm not afraid of any of these emotions. I'm willing to look at everything and accept them all."

    * Don't become obsessed with finding THE repressed emotion that will free you from TMS. In my opinion, this is about demonstrating to the unconscious that all emotions are acceptable to the conscious and are not to be feared.

    * Talk to a psychotherapist if needed.

    * After digging up painful emotions, always use the antidote of telling yourself that you are human and these are normal human emotions. Tell yourself, "No one is perfect. I am entitled to feel the full array of human emotions."

    Address Conditioning and Habitual Patterns

    * Use the logic and reasoning of your conscious brain to override the unconscious. For example, I was conditioned to get migraines when the barometric pressure changed. When I could feel those beginning twinges of a migraine in response to this, I told myself repeatedly, "There is no reason that a change in barometric pressure should cause a migraine. So stop it brain!." This eventually worked.

    * Develop your awareness of behavioral habits that create stress and tension and use mindfulness to address them. For example, I realized that I had this habit of hurrying from one thing to another throughout my day, and that this was causing tension in my shoulders and neck. When I would catch myself doing this, I would take a deep breath, sink into the present moment, and complete my task mindfully, almost in slow motion. Eventually, I broke this habit and my last 10% of TMS pain in my neck and shoulders finally went away.

    * Develop awareness of your habitual thinking patterns that create stress and tension, and employ strategies to change (e.g. the inner bully, ruminating on past or future events, negative thinking, catastrophizing, etc.) [This metaphor of thoughts being like a train has been very helpful for me: Thoughts are like trains arriving at a station and you can either watch them arrive and depart, or you can jump on board and go where they lead. If they lead you to a place of stress and tension, you can just jump off the train.] The practice of writing three things that I'm grateful for at the end of each day has helped counter my tendency toward negative thinking.

    Address Highly Activated Nervous System and Trauma

    * If your fight or flight response seems to be stuck in the on position, the following techniques have been most helpful to me: deep breathing (see 4-7-8 breathing technique); guided meditation for progressive relaxation; yoga (the ultimate mindbody exercise); practicing mindfulness.

    * It is my experience that this is most effectively addressed through the body. I can tell myself "I'm perfectly safe" all day, and it doesn't seem to help me become calm.

    * If you have experienced significant trauma in the past, receiving therapy from someone trained in using mindbody techniques to address trauma and PTSD may be necessary (e.g. EMDR, Somatic Experiencing).
    [ I still have problems with a highly activated nervous system, and will probably need to do this at some point.]

    Stop Medications (when you are ready)

    * If you are on multiple medications for your TMS, I suggest stopping only one at a time. I first gradually weaned myself off of the Tramadol, then about 6 months later I gradually stopped taking the beta blocker. I had significant withdrawal symptoms both times, but I had taken these medications for 15-18 years, so it was a big adjustment for my brain.

    * Discuss this with your doctor, but wean yourself off as gradually as you need to.

    * Know that reducing and eliminating medication may cause your TMS to flare up as your brain adjusts to the change. Tell yourself that these symptoms are temporary and that it doesn't mean that you need the medication to be symptom free.

    Dealing with Relapse

    * Accept that it is likely that even after you have eliminated your TMS symptoms you will experience either a relapse of the old symptoms, or a new form of TMS.

    * Remind yourself that overcoming TMS is about recovery, not cure. It is very easy for our brains to fall back into those old neural pathways.

    * When a relapse occurs, stay calm and get back to the basics. Ask yourself why you need a distraction right now.

    * Don't become obsessed with finding the exact reason for your relapse. Go back to reading, journaling, or restart a structured program, if needed, but limit your work on TMS as in the beginning.

    * Don't catastrophize. Having a relapse doesn't mean your recovery has failed, and you will now have these TMS symptoms forever. Remind yourself that you overcame TMS before and you can again.


    My TMS journey continues as I'm addressing some stubborn TMS equivalents (insomnia, fatigue, allergy symptoms), and still working on eliminating my final TMS medication of Trazodone. I am confident I'll recover from these symptoms as well. And I thank all of you on this Forum for your continued support and advice as we work together to let go of the past, and live our lives fully in the present moment. Namaste.

    Signature

    "My definition of healing: coming to terms with things as they are." ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • Loading...