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Day 29 Setback on vacation

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by Porpoise, Sep 13, 2014.

  1. Porpoise

    Porpoise Peer Supporter

    I’m technically on Day 29 although I’ve been doing the program for much longer. I thought I was making progress (mainly still ‘reconditioning’ - not much visible concrete change but big changes in attitude) and then we went on holiday ('vacation' for the Americans!). Although we’re somewhere reasonably familiar, it completely put me in a tailspin! I've had more pain and fatigue than usual, my confidence has decreased and I've felt quite anxious and fearful. I had been able to subtly increase my everyday walking at home and work, but here everywhere is too far for me to walk.

    I've been continuing to journal while I'm here but one particular piece of writing brought up almost overwhelming anxiety - something that doesn't usually happen for me with journaling.

    Has this kind of setback (temporary, I hope!) happened to others on vacation? A holiday is supposed to be relaxing but I’ve been feeling very stressed! We’re on our second week now (we're going home at the end of the week), and I’m feeling a bit better and less stressed, but does anyone have any comments or advice?

  2. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Porpoise. I'm sorry you are in more pain while on vacation.
    The change may have caused it, because Dr. Sarno says even pleasant things can bring on TMS,
    maybe triggering some past thing.

    I'm sure the setback is temporary and probably came on because while journaling
    you hit upon a subject that your subconscious is using to give you pain so that you confront the issue.

    Try to relax and just enjoy the vacation. Claire Weeks says that for worry and anxiety we need to
    "let time pass." Take a real vacation and have a good rest.
    JanAtheCPA and Porpoise like this.
  3. Porpoise

    Porpoise Peer Supporter

    Hi Walt,

    Thanks again for your sensible advice. I've just realised that I've been putting pressure on myself during this holiday and then beating myself for allowing myself to 'relapse'! I'm going to really let go and rest over the last few days of our holiday.

    Thanks for 'listening'!
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  4. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    You hit the nail on the head Porpoise, you answered your own question from Walts thoughts and gave some wise advise to yourself, enjoy.
    JanAtheCPA and Porpoise like this.
  5. Porpoise

    Porpoise Peer Supporter

    Thanks, Eric!

    Not only was I beating myself up for relapsing, it was adding to my already existing anxiety. And we know how that vicious circle works.

    I've just been listening to the Claire Weeks recordings you put on your blog, and I've just realised that my symptoms of being ill, fatigued and in pain after walking/activity have quite a lot in common with agoraphobia. In fact, my reactions to being away from home, on holiday, has something in common with agoraphobia as well. In some ways feels more meaningful than the 'fibromyalgia' diagnosis. Although I'm not agoraphobic, the principles are the same. This understanding is helping enormously - thanks for posting it on your blog. By the way, it's also nice that she has an Aussie accent - I hadn't realised she is an Aussie! (I'm one, too.) :)
  6. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    FYI going on "VACATION" counts for 13 points on the Rahe-Holmes Stress Scale:

    "To measure stress according to the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, the number of "Life Change Units" that apply to events in the past year of an individual's life are added and the final score will give a rough estimate of how stress affects health.

    Life eventLife change units
    Death of a spouse100
    Marital separation65
    Death of a close family member63
    Personal injury or illness53
    Dismissal from work47
    Marital reconciliation45
    Change in health of family member44
    Sexual difficulties39
    Gain a new family member39
    Business readjustment39
    Change in financial state38
    Death of a close friend37
    Change to different line of work36
    Change in frequency of arguments35
    Major mortgage32
    Foreclosure of mortgage or loan30
    Change in responsibilities at work29
    Child leaving home29
    Trouble with in-laws29
    Outstanding personal achievement28
    Spouse starts or stops work26
    Beginning or end school26
    Change in living conditions25
    Revision of personal habits24
    Trouble with boss23
    Change in working hours or conditions20
    Change in residence20
    Change in schools20
    Change in recreation19
    Change in church activities19
    Change in social activities18
    Minor mortgage or loan17
    Change in sleeping habits16
    Change in number of family reunions15
    Change in eating habits15
    Minor violation of law11
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  7. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    An old boyfriend once told me "expectations are the road to hell" which I think he got from est (anyone remember est or Actualizations?) but it's a valid statement. Holidays/vacations are full of expectations, and expectations lead to stress that you must live up to the expectations and fear that you will fail. I know this all too well. One of my current goals is to travel again and see if I can enjoy myself this time around!

    Sounds like you're doing good work Porpoise, so be sure to give yourself big kudos and hugs for that !

  8. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    PS, Claire Weekes is The Best! (second only to Dr Sarno). Hope And Help For Your Nerves is the second book on my list.
    Porpoise likes this.
  9. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I agree about the Claire Weekes books.
    I'm writing a long summary of her Hope and Help for Your Nerves and it will posted very soon.
    Porpoise likes this.
  10. Porpoise

    Porpoise Peer Supporter

    Thanks for this info, Tennis Tom!
  11. Porpoise

    Porpoise Peer Supporter

    You're so right, Jan. Expectations equal pressure. I thought I'd be relaxed on holiday and able to walk around more than usual. Instead, because I was out of my comfort zone and not in my familiar micro world of home and work, my confidence was zapped. I started feeling I hadn't made as much progress as I thought I had, because there were long distances I couldn't walk, and so I felt I'd failed.

    Thanks for your encouragement and support!
  12. Porpoise

    Porpoise Peer Supporter

    I was thinking of buying it. I've realised from the recordings that what she says applies to the fatigue/illness/fear part of my 'fibromyalgia' - do you think it would help with pain as well?
  13. Porpoise

    Porpoise Peer Supporter

    Looking forward to reading this, Walt.
  14. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Porpoise - there's no doubt in my mind that anxiety is a huge component of TMS. At the same time, I recognize that anxiety is, itself, a TMS equivalent. Anxiety does a great job of distracting us from the deep negative emotions, by keeping our thoughts at the surface, our brains and guts churning with fear.

    I've often pointed out that the relationship between anxiety and TMS is a chicken-and-egg question: which came first, anxiety or TMS? If you believe that anxiety IS TMS, then you will understand that TMS came first - in the form of anxiety.

    Okay, still chicken vs. egg :wacky:

    We know all too well that there is a symptom>fear>anxiety>more symptoms>more fear>more anxiety cycle that sets us up for a downward spiral. Whether the symptom is pain or any number of other symptoms is at some point irrelevant.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that it shouldn't really matter whether Dr. Weekes addresses your particular type of pain. She practiced in an era before fibromyalgia and CFS. In her day, people had nervous breakdowns. When was the last time you came across someone who was diagnosed with a nervous breakdown? It's not how we deal with repressed emotions these days - or we call it something else. Remember what Dr. Sarno says about symptoms appearing and disappearing like fads? In the 60s it was nervous breakdowns, in the 70s it was ulcers (I dated a guy in college who had an ulcer - at age 20:inpain:) and in the 80s it was back pain. Followed by RSI, Fibro, CFS, and IBS, among others, to say nothing of the vague aches, pains, and systemic disturbances that everyone experiences off and on - those of us with TMS-provoked anxiety, more, I think, than others.

    That being said, Dr. Weekes lists many physical symptoms that go along with anxiety, and I know that pain is on her list.


    PS - at some point after I had achieved significant relief from my symptoms, about three years ago, I came across a description of the "pain points" of Fibro, and was very interested to learn that the top of the collarbone was a well-known point. "Before Sarno" I had known this area was quite tender, but assumed it was just part of my chronic neck pain after two whiplashes. "After Sarno" that pain disappeared, although I didn't notice (I had a lot of other symptoms I was much more concerned about) until I read the description about Fibro pain. I tried to reproduce the former tenderness, but it was simply gone, and has never come back.
  15. Porpoise

    Porpoise Peer Supporter

    Hi Jan,

    Thank you for pointing out such an important point, one that I wasn't thinking of when I asked my question. You're right that pain and other symptoms are either connected to, or equivalents of, the anxiety Dr Weekes refers to - and of course you are so right about the complex and important role of anxiety in TMS symptoms.

    The language Dr Weeks uses does sound so strange to our ears, doesn't it – no–one ever talks about their ‘nerves’ nowadays, or having 'one of their turns’ – and yet at the same time, what she says is still so relevant because as you say, it’s readily translatable into our own ways of experiencing and describing symptoms, and because anxiety is such a central aspect of our symptoms.

    Most of the TMS books out there do concentrate on pain – on back/neck pain, in particular – because, as Dr Sarno pointed out, they were the TMS flavours of the moment (and still are pretty prevalent, judging just by the number of people I know with back pain). Still, having a set of symptoms that appear to be atypical for Fibro, I often find myself wishing there was a book or an author who referred to them in particular. It would help me feel less alone. I’m aware that Fibro/CFS has been addressed by Dr Sarno and others, but fairly briefly, as far as I know, and I don’t think I’ve seen anybody describe my own particular weird symptoms. I know they’re all TMS equivalents, but still, it would be helpful on some level.

    I’m aware of Dr Selfridge’s Freedom from Fibromyalgia and will read it at some stage, but as I said, my symptoms diverge quite a bit from the usual descriptions of Fibro. (In fact, even though everything else was excluded, the diagnosis of Fibro was made in my case rather tentatively.) Although I understand that they are TMS equivalents whether they're 'Fibro' or not, it makes me feel more isolated that they're not readily categorisable. I mean, why couldn't my mindbody at least have chosen the *real* flavour of the moment? :)
  16. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Ah, Porpoise, the answer is because our brains are in charge of every physiological process in our bodies, and our sneaky brains can create any kind of symptom to keep us guessing. I had shaky legs, digestive problems,and a weird fuzziness and sense of imbalance in my head that I only call dizziness because the real description of it takes too long. When I read The Divided Mind, followed by Hope And Help For Your Nerves I didn't doubt that my symptoms were TMS even though shaky legs, in particular, were never on any lists, never mind these three things in combination.

    Your proof lies in the fact that they had to guess about your diagnosis.
    When "They Can't Find Anything Wrong" it's probably TMS.
    And, when they add the word "Syndrome" to a condition, that means they don't actually know what it is - go back to my first two statements!

    Looking back, I can see I had TMS all my life. Perhaps the reason I've embraced the concept so easily is that whenever a doc told me there didn't seem to be anything wrong other than stress or anxiety, I was happy, because I didn't want to have a condition. The symptom would invariably go away. But a new one would eventually appear, and at some point they started piling up until at age 60 I was a mess. At 63, I have my life back, Thanks to Dr Sarno and this community.

    So, let's ask the question: What do you really want?

  17. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    I keep thinking about your questions, Porpoise, because I feel like I'm right on the edge of an explanation that will make sense to you. Try this out:

    Your emotional well-being is in a primal battle with your primitive negative brain. If you Google that phrase, "primitive negative brain" you will come up with all kinds of information about what is going on in this weird thing that resides in our skulls.

    The fact that you have symptoms that don't fit the standard mold may just mean that you are willing to believe in TMS if your symptoms are on a well-publicized list - therefore your brain has to work harder to come up with something that isn't on a list.

    As I mentioned before, you have to remember that your brain is in charge of all of your physiological processes. So if you accept that it can create back pain for no good reason other than distraction from negative emotions (just like it can create blushing for no good reason other than distraction from shame) - then why can't it create an infinite number of physiological symptoms? The answer is that it can, and it does.

    I recommend "When The Body Says No" by Dr. Gabor Mate, MD for a technical but very well-written explanation of how emotional stress affects our physiology.

    And I recommend "Meditations To Change Your Brain" to learn about how our primitive negative brains are not serving us well in the modern world. I keep forgetting about these guys, but after Dr. Sarno and Dr. Weekes, they were the third most influential resource that really helped me to flip that switch in my brain, from negative to positive.

    I read Dr. Mate's book quite a bit later, but at the right time for me - it really blew my mind, and opened up a whole new world of possibilities for mind-body health.

    Here's a quick overview: our brains are constantly seeking the negative - they are still helping us to survive in the wilderness by scanning the horizon for danger. This served us well when we were surrounded by wild animals and all we had to do was survive long enough to breed the next generation, but it really gets in the way in our modern lives.

    You have to learn to recognize when your brain is in the negative, and then, even harder, be willing to turn it off. It's a constant battle - you are working against very deep conditioning - not just as a result of childhood issues, but conditioning that is built into our core being.

  18. Porpoise

    Porpoise Peer Supporter

    Hi Jan,

    In mulling over your question ‘What do you really want?’, my first thought was that maybe some part of me needs my symptoms to be ‘recognised’ by other people. This brought up a further question for me: do I really want to heal or would I prefer the comfort of being in a recognisable category, or being relieved of responsibility by having an ‘illness'? I admit that a small part of me would like that. (Of course, so many ‘fibro’ sufferers like it so much that they stay stuck in it and make it their identity). But on the other hand, I’m really annoyed by the fibro diagnosis, not only because it only imperfectly fits my symptoms, and not only because I know my symptoms don't fit into *any* particular ‘illness’ or ‘syndrome’. But most importantly, I really wish no doctor had ever suggested fibro to me as a possible diagnosis. I was at first a little relieved because I hoped that some medication or treatment would 'work'. But the diagnosis led to beliefs that I picked up on the web and from other people which led to a deepening of the pain/anxiety conditioning. I believed and put into practice the advice to ‘pace yourself’, to ‘manage your flares’ etc, etc. It cemented the cognitive/behavioural/emotional pattern and entrenched it further. A disaster.

    But what do I *really* want? While recognising the part of myself that would prefer an easy way out that would enable me to avoid my inner truths, I really I want to be free of my anxiety and resolve my many emotional conflicts. I want to be able to do the things I used to do, to be free of fear and pain and illness. I'm close in age to you (62) and want my life back! I've had this particular set of symptoms for only two years but they've given me a very restricted and unsatisfactory way of life.

    You later wrote : 'The fact that you have symptoms that don't fit the standard mold may just mean that you are willing to believe in TMS if your symptoms are on a well-publicized list - therefore your brain has to work harder to come up with something that isn't on a list.’ Thank you for put this in a way that really makes sense to me. I see that I’m allowing my atypical symptoms to feed doubt about the TMS concept. My thinking has been that if lots of other people had exactly the same symptoms as I have, and the illness had a recognisable name, and was written about in Dr Sarno’s books, it would make it easier for me to believe. So it sneakily encourages the thought that maybe, just maybe, I have something that really is ‘physically’ caused and not TMS at all.

    But I can clearly see that in fact, the particular symptoms I’ve developed are red herrings, except insofar as I think it’s possible that symptoms don’t necessarily arise arbitrarily. It seems to me that only do they comprise a strategy (e.g. allowing someone to avoid doing something that deep down they don’t want to do, or is conflicted about) but they can often have a metaphorical meaning. In my case, my symptoms quite cleverly embody my state of stuckness and feelings of helplessness. In this way my brain has created symptoms that have stopped me in my tracks quite effectively.

    Mind you, I *have* had back problems in the past too, in two separate periods of time, and I also have had (and still have) many other recognised TMS equivalents as well. This is of course further evidence for me that my current symptoms are TMS-induced. Like you, I think I've probably had TMS all my life.

    All this said, it probably wouldn’t be ideal to give someone suffering from 'CFS' and no knowledge of TMS a copy of Healing Back Pain, simply because it would seem irrelevant to them, at least at first. (Even though CFS is mentioned by most TMS books, it gets very little attention compared with back pain -possibly because it’s more complex and more difficult to heal from? I’m not sure. Of course, 'fibro' also often involves CFS-like symptoms as well.)

    Thanks for both of your recommendations - I will certainly follow them up. And thank you so much, Jan, for making the effort to really engage with me about my comments. It's really helping to clarify things for me.

    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  19. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Porpoise, your insight into the fibro mind-set is impressive, and, I think, inspiring. When you write your success story (and I know you will) I encourage you to incorporate this description for other fibro sufferers.

    And thank you for your kind words!:)

    ~ Jan
    Porpoise likes this.

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