Where you are right now in your treatment? Trying a multitude of different modalities, yet probably not leaving enough time to explore each one adequately…a very clear reflection of my ADD sort of mindset that causes me to frequently engage in too much multi-tasking and subsequently getting very little accomplished. In spite of that tendency, I am determined to introduce healthier habits into my daily routine, because every system is more connected than ever before. If I don’t get enough rest, don’t stretch enough, or eat unhealthy foods, it throws everything out of balance & slows down any progress. I am 100% convinced that TMS plays a significant role in my back pain. However I am finding myself increasingly open to the idea that the ‘pinched nerve’ described by neurosurgeons is also playing a role, despite all of my TMS-related education that says otherwise. Despite the fact that my ‘TMS-education’, over the long-term, has proved far more effective than any other, I still find myself very strongly considering surgery. It might just be out of desperation at this point, but also because doctors who I do trust (rare) are not all telling me the same thing, as opposed to my first bout with TMS where I would get a different diagnosis depending on which doctor I was visiting. What would a life without TMS mean to you? Everything. Assuming this question is designed to equate a ‘life without TMS’ with ‘a life without chronic pain’, then yes, it means everything. The best analogy I can use for my back pain is to compare it to a wrecking ball through my life. It’s completely halted forward progress toward reaching any kind of personal or professional goals. It’s caused me to voluntarily give up most of my social life, leaving me feeling stuck, trapped, hopeless, all of those common emotions associated with chronic pain. I’ve identified all of the sources of my repressed rage. I have what I believe to be a very solid grasp on the emotions that can cause this kind of pain. Yet all of the analysis, introspection, and affirmations - the pain just gets worse. Reading some success stories, which is always helpful. In order to completely eliminate all symptoms, you must identify which unacceptable emotions are threatening your self-image. The physical symptoms are present for a reason: They distract your attention away from the unacceptable emotions. Once you acknowledge the threatening emotions, the symptoms no longer work as a distraction, and they go away. Quite dramatically, I might add. You don't even need to eliminate the source of the stress--you just have to become aware of it. 1 Fear of never accomplishing professional goals, which, in my family is tied much too closely to financial success, and the idea that one cannot live a ‘happy’ life without monetary abundance. 2 Fear of continuing to spend years of my life chasing that financial success at the expense of experiences, relationships, or participating in fulfilling activities related to causes or interests driving personal passions. 3 Fear of being physically disabled or too sick to care for myself, and either winding up burdening family members or entrusting my care to anyone else. 4 Fear of putting off life until I get better, and getting better never happens. 5 Fear of never again being able to participate in the kinds of activities that I love, like riding the Dirtbike, playing softball/sports, and just being unable to maintain the active lifestyle I not only prefer, but know is required for my overall mental and physical well being. 6 Fear of being unable to shed the label of ‘chronic illness’ that was stamped on my forehead at age 6. The label that’s, for my entire life, has told me that I would never be able to accomplish certain things because of a lifelong debilitating autoimmune condition. The worst part is that over the last 30+ years, there is no doubt that the treatments have been far more harmful than the disease. 7 Fear of never being able to let go of the anger caused by #6 above. The fear that this anger has been with me for so long, that I might have on some level given up and accepted this anger as apart of me. Holding on to this anger is a choice. It is a huge part of why I am still in pain, and still, I don’t know if there’s a way to really get rid of it. When I was 23, acknowledging my repressed stress was enough to eliminate my back pain. Nearly 2 decades later, that same acknowledgement isn’t powerful enough to make a dent. I can be angry that my doctors told me that instead of adopting healthy eating habits, it was more important for me to get as many calories as I could, even if it was all fast food & pizza. I can be angry that Prednisone was the drug of choice throughout my adolescence & stunted my growth. I can be angry that this has drastically reduced the available dating pool and blame it for why I never got married. I can be angry that I spent a good chunk of my most productive years spilling blood, sweat, and tears into startup companies and corporate America, finding no real success in either, diminishing my prospects for ever experiencing real professional fulfillment. I can be angry that even after all of the countless hours spent learning about why I am the way I am has accomplished virtually nothing. I still cannot completely release feelings of regret for missed opportunities. I often advise others about the futility of ‘regret’, and how worrying about the past without a time machine is a waste of energy. Yet remain helpless in completely stopping the daily ruminating over things that I cannot change. I catch myself doing it and quickly put a stop to it, yet it never goes away completely. I can be angry that I have ‘allowed’ the last 10+ years of my life to go by without ever really dedicating myself 100% to this treatment program. Even if I am still only able to admit that my pain is 50% TMS - why on earth would I not have at least done everything humanly possible to eliminate that 50%? Why haven’t I re-read every Sarno book on my shelf, and why have I still not gotten all the way through ‘Unlearn your Pain’ and ‘Zero Pain Now’. I am clearly afraid of success and failure on some level. But why doesn’t this change anything?? Maybe I’m afraid that I’ll truly exhaust the TMS-related treatment options and still wind up not getting any better?