Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Branson, Feb 20, 2016.
This thread somehow reminded me of this:
Outcome Independence. This is taking your pain with you. It isnt about ignoring.
When you have a good walk, you feel happy, optimistic, feeling like you're on the right track. When you have a bad walk, you feel down, defeated, bad about yourself and your prospect of ever getting rid of the pain.
This attitude, this outcome dependence is feeding the pain cycle. It's reinforcing its very purpose.
Change your definition of success. Work on it. Success is no longer measured by whether or not you have a good walk. Success is measured by how little you care.
At the beginning of your walk, tell yourself, "It doesn't matter how much it hurts afterward. That isn't an accurate measure of monitoring my progress with PPD anyway. What matters is how little I let it affect me; how I refuse to let my mood, my self-perception, my feelings about the future be determined by how much pain I'm in afterward."
I'm not disputing the fact that outcome independence is not the way forward, it's pivotal in recovery.
But, we all have quite varied symptoms. For some, the tools of meditation, journaling are a lifeline when being on the road to recovery and serve as an aid to help in eliminating fear, anxiety etc. To profess, we need to drop every single tool, ie journalling, meditation etc, (which we champion on the forum) might be bad practice for alot of us. Simply practicing outcome independence without looking at the "wider picture", ie reflection and change does seem somewhat questionable, but that's my opinion.
I can see the value add of this practice. But for most of us we need to gradually build up confidence, eliminate fear and the preoccupation with it by using different modalities and before fully pursuing/embracing outcome independence.
I also believe outcome independence is more effective, if one has quietened the inner chatter by means of meditation/mindfulness.
Our journies are uniquely different and what works for you, might not work for me or someone else.
Some don't have the luxury of being able to walk around with ease, so have to find solace and happiness by other means.
Well Branson, I imagine there is more involved to getting up and being active than simply that. There is a mental process that follows, leading to lowered anxiety and pain. Say, renewed activity -> lessening of focus -> lessening of worry -> less hyperactive nervous system -> etc. But doing what hurts seems like an inevitability in eventually getting through chronic pain (not acute though, lol).
I don't know how acute your anxiety/TMS is, but if it's debilitative, I would consider taking some meds for it--but, that's me. If you want to breakthrough, using TMS psychological thinking alone, that's commendable. Dr. Sarno prescribed meds when necessary.
When I had my first, of two, panic attacks (about 10 to 15 years apart), and thought they were heart-attacks, (there's nothing like the thought of imminent death to give you anxiety), my kindly doc sent me home with an rx for Xanax. I passed the doc's office EKG treadmill test at Mt. Everest level, which was reassuring that I was in excellent physical health--no heart attack. My doc told me if I felt like that again take a Xanax. That was almost twenty years ago and I've taken maybe only half of one since. Just knowing they're in the medicine cabinet has been reassuring as a psychological band-aid.
In college, during a junior year abroad program in the Mid-East, a doc prescribed some Librium for me during a rough patch. My roommate got hepatitis and was in the hospital for weeks. His doc saw I was a nervous wreck trying to help my buddy. After a couple of weeks taking the Librium, my nervous system settled down enough to return to successful functioning. I got back to my university studies finishing the program with good grades. My roommate recovered from hepatitis, regaining his normal skin tone after having turned carrot orange, passing out while we were in a phone booth while calling for a taxi to the hospital--fun times in 1968/69--the falafels were good.
After hearing that mild doses of anti-depressants were helpful for TMS/back-pain, I experimented with a short course of Celexa. They helped alleviate some of the L4/L5 pain and to focus on the TMS aspect. After a couple of weeks stopped taking them feeling a bit detached from life.
After another very rough-patch, having to take over my aged Dad's life situation, I had a bad reaction to Lexipro when a doc mis-read my nervous system's needs--but some people swear by them. I think it depends on whether one needs settling down or pepping up. I may be sounding like a drug addict here but this spans a few weeks over a fifty year period and, I take as few meds as possible too.
The same with my Flomax for urinary urgency, I was spending a lot of time looking for trees on the side of the road after I turned fifty-five. It took a few years to convince my sub-c that TMS was the volume control for the my UU, and now I don't give it a thought-- or I'll laugh and make a contest out of how many times I can go in 100 miles.
So, like I said I don't know how debilitative your nervousness is, but I wouldn't rule out the right mild tranquilizer under the supervision of a competent medical professional that is agreeable to your mindbody. What do others think?
You just proved and defined my point. The mental process FOLLOWS.
I was the worst of the worst. Hey, Ill go make a post all about Branson.
That's a great point, Branson, thanks for sharing it. Our TMS wants to be the biggest thing in our life and the way we overcome it is by re-immersing ourselves in life and finding joy in that life.
The quote reminds me of the closing epigraph in the Great Pain Deception: "Happiness first, and good health will certainly follow...."
On a similar note, neither Steve Ozanich nor I actually journaled as part of our recovery, and while other people have done a lot of journaling, sometimes I think we emphasize it too much here. The journaling in the SEP is meant to provide a foundation for understanding how we feel, but I've come to think that on a day to day basis, resuming healthy lives and changing how we think about ourselves and our lives is often just as important or more important. One can certainly reach a point of diminishing returns with journaling.
I've come to believe that TMS is often a message that we need to change the way that we are living our lives, and often it is a very personal and life changing journey to figure out exactly what we need to do. I wish that there was an easy way to encapsulate this, but "stopping living my whole life trying to feel better and just shift back to [joyful, effortless] normal living" seems like a good start.
I think it is important to look at the success stories subforum to see what techniques are actually successful. I'd have to look at it more carefully, but I'd bet that resumption of relaxed and happy normal living is a common theme. We tend to think that once we are out of pain we can be happy and relaxed, but perhaps it is just the opposite. Dr. Hanscom says as much in his chapter on "Reversing the Chronic Pain Process:"
(I'm just working my way through this thread, starting at the top, so I'm sorry if I missed something important since the post I'm replying to.)
I thought I’d drop in to add a historical perspective. I think that we can all agree that what we care about is people getting better, and there has been a history of different people taking different approaches to healing their TMS. The approach that I designed into the SEP seems to work for many people, but it’s interesting that for some people who get stuck with that approach, other approaches seem to work for some people.
Relevant here is a guy who posted as “Hillbilly,” who came up with a different approach. A lot of people who had tried the “journaling” approach but who weren’t making any progress read the approach and found that it helped them get un-stuck. They were, of course, thrilled with this. One might call Hillbilly’s approach the “anxiety approach.”
I can’t tell you how many posts I’ve read from that time period by people who have said that they were helped by following Hillbilly’s approach. We all know what it is like to suffer from TMS here, so we know that this is what really matters.
For example, have you ever noticed that threads pop up about how Ace's keys to healing helped? It's nowhere near our most popular thread. But many people who had gotten stuck in their recovery said that it really helped them. For a while, it was the same way or even more so with Hillbilly. (It was also true with Monte Hueftle for a while and also for a bit for Balto.)
Both with Hillbilly and Ace, they were just people who lived with terrible symptoms and who didn’t get better with Dr. Sarno’s ideas alone. Instead, they came up with their own ideas and then gave those ideas away free, wanting to help others who had suffered like they had.
The thing with Hillbilly is that he started out with Dr. Sarno’s books, following the approach of attempting to root out repressed emotions, etc. When that didn’t work, he got very frustrated and came up with his own ideas (with help from a mentor) that helped him heal. As a result, he rejects the idea that our unconscious minds deliberately create the symptoms to distract us from emotions that it considers unacceptable. Instead, he sees the symptoms as byproducts of anxiety, which is a scientifically well understood natural part of human experience.
My personal feeling on this is that I don’t care about theoretical differences. All I really care is that people on the site are getting better. If they say that Hillbilly’s words are helping them, so be it. I read Hillbilly’s posts from a regular TMS perspective and still find them helpful because of some interesting ideas they contain.
This same idea of not wanting to sweat the theoretical differences was captured by Dave, who administers another TMS forum called TMSHelp, where this whole Hillbilly thing played out. Dave used to post a lot over there but doesn’t post as often these days. Nonetheless, I think his posts had some real wisdom to them that he gained from many years of reading posts and responding to them. He wrote:
Of course, because these issues tend to be contentious, and at TMSHelp some friendships were even lost over these topics. To help prevent this, I will make sure to enforce our policies supporting respectful dialogue. Of course more important than that is each person’s individual decision to try to learn from and understand all of the perspectives in the discussion. I’m sure that we’ll do well with it as we have an amazing group.
However you feel, I encourage people to get informed and draw their own conclusions. To me, this means reading the original posts, most of which are several years old and can be found through the following link (many of the original posters, including Hillbilly, no longer visit the site, which does not send out notification emails when new messages are posted):
If you read a bit, you can see that lots of people found his ideas very helpful, but there was also a lot of tension.
As you know, I love your posts, but I disagree that these things are merely a distraction. On the contrary, I think that they can have some very positive benefits.
A great deal of scientific evidence has shown that regular meditation has many healthful benefits for our minds. In any mindbody approach, the goal is to get one's mind in the right place, with the idea that once the mind is in the right place, the body will heal as well (i.e. healing goes from the mind to the body). Wouldn't you agree that meditation can help with getting one's mind in the right place no matter what approach to healing you use?
For example, any type of meditation is great because it calms us down (i.e. invokes the relaxation response). When we are calmer our brains work more effectively, so it's easier to do whatever we need to do to heal. Similarly, with mindfulness meditation (as opposed to lovingkindness meditation or TM for example), one develops an awareness of what is going on in one's head (i.e. mindfulness). Again, this will be helpful for any approach to TMS healing. Finally, as was discussed in another thread, simple meditation alone will decrease pain perception.
Regarding journaling, many people find it very helpful to develop a baseline understanding of how their mind works with journaling. While plenty of people heal without journaling (the book cures, Steve O and I for example), the work that we do in journaling provides a very solid foundation for understanding what is going on in one's mind. Further, a large body of research started by the pioneering work of James Pennebaker has show that short journaling programs can have a wide range of benefits, from stress reduction to improved wound healing, to faster recovery from illness.
As I've described above, I think that journaling runs out of steam and should only be done when it feels helpful. Pennebaker's research often involved, if I remember correctly, only four sessions of journaling, which is far less than most of us do. Of course, that doesn't mean that more isn't better, but Dr. Gwozdz in NJ has been known to say that he knows of many TMSers with fat journals who are still in pain.
Finally, tapping can be a safe and easy way to confront negative feelings and diffuse them. This can decrease our internal tension, soothing our body in the process. In fact, a moderate amount of scientific evidence has even showed that it works to heal the mind (and what heals the mind also heals the body).
I know you don't visit the forum as regularly as some, but if you do happen to see this, I'd love to know if there are some links that you could recommend that best capture your approach to healing. Would your success story be the place to start?
Unfortunately, this thread is probably more interesting to people who are stuck and are looking for new ideas or who want to exchange ideas about TMS. If it helps, here is the advice for newcomers from the FAQ:
Help, I'm new here! What do I do?
At this point, you will want to keep things simple. Get a TMS book and read it and think about how what it describes applies to you.
You may also want to try out the Structured Educational Program. It is very popular in our community and we have found that the feedback from the various posts is very helpful to people while they are recovering.
You may be tempted to try to read every book and every post, doing every program as well. However, attempting this can wind you up when the main goal of TMS healing is to find a way to soothe yourself.
Eventually, you may find that developing a mindful or meditative approach to how you are feeling helps, but for right now, you've got a lot on your plate. You might find it helpful to restrict your attention to the Support and Structured Educational Program subforums because that is where the conversation is most tuned to the needs of newcomers.
Whatever you decide is best for you, the people here understand what it is like to live with severe pain or other symptoms, so you are very welcome here. Feel free to ask any questions you have in the Support Subforum.
The magic of a healthy forum often comes from the interaction of newcomers and oldtimers. Of course, anyone is welcome to read whatever they want, but I think that in the interest of helping people to focus on the basics, the support and SEP subforums are best for newcomers. In contrast, the General forum, our most popular subforum by far, caters more to people who have been reading for a while and just want to see what's new.
This may be a reason why we might want to start, as a community, encouraging people to focus their attention on the SEP and support subforums when they first learn about TMS. Some of us may even want to tell them that they can ignore the general discussion subforum, which tends to get a bit feisty.
I guess that the last thing that I'd want to say is that I checked out Paul David's books on Amazon and the reviews were very positive. People seemed to find the book very helpful, perhaps because the book was written by someone who had actually lived through major crippling anxiety and managed to get better.
It sounds like the book takes what I would call a mindful approach to anxiety in that you sit with your anxiety, allowing yourself to feel it but at the same time not becoming your anxiety. Instead, you try to be fully present in your life.
While I'd love to read the books, my reading list is a bit long already, so I'll have to hold back in describing the book. My bet is that given that they were written by someone who had lived through the condition themselves and given that they come to more than 300 pages together, they probably have some significant nuance and insight to them. It's one thing to tell someone to just resume their life, but I think it's safe to presume that the book does more than that.
I used the "look inside" feature at Amazon, and that is certainly the impression that I get. Certainly, one could tell someone with anxiety to "resume their life," and it could either completely backfire or be helpful depending on how you said it and what else you said. Some of the most passionately written posts by peers can give people so much confidence. They can also reassure them that they don't have to be self critical, etc., in ways that might not be immediately visible on the surface. It's possible that the very high reviews at Amazon (4.8 and 5.0 stars, respectively, for the two books) and from @Branson indicate that these books, as repetitive as they are, give the readers some of the same benefits that they might have gotten from journaling or some of the other techniques we're more familiar with.
In contrast, without the 300 pages of carefully edited text, it's possible that the posts in this thread just aren't rich enough to convey the complete program that is in those 300 pages.
Just finished the 2nd one and nope, that's about it.
TBH, I think that is really the value of the book in that it reiterates a very simple to understand point and this is aimed at people who have probably being going round and round in circles and chasing their tails for a very long time.
My whole take on this debate is basically accepting that some things work best for others and whatever path leads to recovery is the best for that person. Having said that I know form my perspective and from the accounts of others I read that the constant search for a cure causes more problems than it solves and as the author of the book would argue is actually the reason we stay in the symptom-fear-symptom-fear loop. As to what causes the first symptom I'm not getting into that debate.
I've alluded to this earlier but I do honestly believe that the fact that we are told that TMS is curable really is a massive double edged sword...on one level we are overjoyed at the hope we can recover but then we also faced with a massive amount of internal tension generated by the niggling worry if this is really TMS for us and also are we 'treating' it correctly and following the correct treatment protocol correctly and to the letter.
It seems at the moment we have two different protocols. Following something like the SEP and throwing ourselves wholeheartedly into the accepted treatment route such as journaling and the like or basically just coming to the belief that the tools are generating more tension in themselves and just no longer doing anything at all and making the best fist of life we can, accepting the symptoms but not allowing them to define us or limit our lives the best we can.
I'm sure there must be people in the world who have TMS and haven't got a clue as to what the syndrome is and just assume they are suffering from whatever malady the doctor has labelled them with. Some of these people spend a lifetime looking for a cure (see how many people end up on this forum saying they have been from forum to forum, book to book etc and this is a lot resort) whilst others just accept their symptoms and make the best of life regardless. I think it was Jack Osbourne who said when he was diagnosed with MS that whilst it was scary he would 'adapt and overcome'.
As I mentioned this thread does seem to indicate quite a polar opposite regarding how best to deal with TMS. I think alot of the time in such scenarios the general consensus is that some middle ground and balance should be found...the problem here is that it does appear that this middle ground seems to be where must of us and I include myself here get stuck and funnily enough I now feel compelled to make a commitment to one approach or the other and this in itself is creating tension and conflict. The joys of TMS eh.
I think you are absolutely right in this. We often unconsciously know exactly what we need, so we just need to find an approach that "makes sense" in a deep way to us and then try it out. However, if we find that we aren't making any progress, then we need the courage to honestly reevaluate and ask if there might be another approach that might work better. Regarding this, one of the TMS doctors once said to me, "if one thing doesn't work, try another." It's such a simple sentence, but also so wise. It's basically equivalent to that famous quote often attributed to Einstein that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
With the SEP, I tried to make things as simple and manageable as I could, so that people wouldn't be exposed to the stresses of making decisions. If people like that, they can continue with other structured programs. However, the benefit of coming up with your own approach is that you learn so much more about yourself and will be more resilient and able to overcome obstacles in the future. One of the roles of a forum, particularly the general discussion subforum, is to expose people to new ideas, so that if they find they are stuck and want to try a new activity, they can easily find something that resonates with them.
Often different approaches only differ in emphasis, anyway. When posts like this come up where someone is really excited about a specific approach, I think we want to read them for how they can improve what we are currently doing rather than how they can subtract from it. As I mentioned in my post to Balto, in my opinion, meditation is wonderful for anyone, journaling can be helpful if we don't go overboard, and tapping can help if we have emotions that we find it helpful with. I often find posts by people who would tell us to stop these things to be thought provoking, but I wouldn't worry about them. Worrying helps no one.
In general, once you find an approach that feels right for you, you should dive into it for a month. Don't even think about changing until that month is over if doing so would stress you out. Once that month is over, ask yourself if you feel better, physically or mentally. If the answer isn't a definite yes, perhaps you want to think about reevaluating your approach. Or not. It's up to you and the important thing is to be decisive. You can always turn to the support forum or explore using tags, our search engine, Amazon, or Google for ideas.
Or just keep doing what you're doing. Whatever you think will be kindest to yourself. Trust your gut.
As for Branson, I suspect that he is on exactly the right track, for him. He might be a bit brash, but he's found something that he really believes in and that makes him feel confident and good about himself. Of course, that doesn't make his approach any better for other people reading this, but it may very well make the approach far better for him. Mind-body healing starts with the mind and ends with the body. If he can find something that makes him feel energized, confident and alive, then that is a great thing. My gut says that he is doing the exact best thing he could do by following his gut. It's possible that journaling, meditation or tapping might be perfect for someone else, but for him, I suspect that those things would only hold him back.
I have tremendous respect for him as I have tremendous respect for most people here. It's pretty amazing that he's lived with 28 years of absolute disability, crushing fatigue, pain and nausea. He's often been housebound and bedbound, but he's found something that he's excited about. He might be a bit brash and intense, but I hope it works out for him. Either way, I hope he let's us know.
An absolutely incredible post @Forest. Very thoughtful and eloquently written. Thank you.
I, too, wish @Branson every success. I have read his recent thread and I now realise, just like most of us, he hasn't had an easy life by any means.
I hope his strong belief, determination and passion in this concept will be the very key to his success. I also hope he will be kind enough to share his story once he's regained true balance in his life.
Wishing everyone on this forum the best of luck on their chosen path. Stay true to yourself and follow your heart, it doesn't lie.
God bless you TMS family.
You quoted me above 'as a newcomer'
and i understand from your comment
a bit that you meant ' i was in a conversation i maybe i was not suppost to be' ? Because i am new here? Well the website does not really 'reads' that way.
Actually : I said almost the same as you did
Please note : A Newcomer on this wikisite does not perse mean newcomer on the subject! Felt a bit restricted to post after that.
Do love this site, and still learning a lot. Lots of great people.
Had to get this of my mind!
I'm very thankful that @Branson started this thread, it led to an interesting discussion and it made me think about what has helped me get better. I've reread some favorite threads on the forum like Lessons from Claire Weekes and Key to healing. What helped me move forward was actually a 'present-based approach', (as @Forest calls it), which is pretty much summed up in Living Tension Free. This might not work for everyone, but my anxiety was/is the core issue that fuels my TMS symptoms and to face it head-on made all the difference.
I only reached out because people who are relatively new to the site tend to be focused primarily on healing themselves. You had indicated distress a couple of times and I was just trying to be helpful.
I only referred to you as a newcomer because you had just referred to yourself as one in this post. Based on several other posts it appears that you may also be quite new to TMS in general. (For scale, I don't consider someone an old-timer until they've thought seriously about it for several to five or ten years or more.)
My post was to reinforce the idea that the General Discussion subforum is meant to be a beautiful carnival of different ideas and perspectives. In my mind, it is meant for those oldtimers who find that that sort of variety keeps the discussion interesting. As I noted in the forum FAQ and in my post above, for newcomers it is often best to keep things simple. I'm sure plenty of people who are still healing read the general discussion subforum, though, and I'm sure that they heal just fine, so you are of course welcome to disregard that advice.
My thinking on this arises out of feedback that I have gotten over the years from people who were concerned that there were "too many ideas" floating around in the general discussion subforum. People felt overwhelmed. Writing the Structured Educational Program was my first attempt at making things more manageable. Nowadays, my plan is for the General Discussion subforum to be a "carnival of ideas" and the Support and Structured Educational Program subforums to be places that keep it simple and focus on the basics in ways that won't lead to anyone being confused.
What makes forums successful is the free exchange of ideas, so there is no way that I'm going to try to change the General Discussion subforum. Instead, my hope is to educate people about the differences between the subforums and encourage people to take that into account when deciding how to spend their time. That's why I included that passage in the FAQ and why I quoted it here. I'm sorry if it wasn't clear.
Several hundred people are reading this thread every day, including, I would bet, many of our regulars. My hope is that they will pass along this idea to other newcomers when they feel it would be helpful to do so.
Edit: With that said, let's try to keep this thread on topic. People want to talk about mindbody healing, so let's keep the discussion centered around that and try to avoid discussing each other's behavior or how that makes us feel. When people start discussing other people's behavior on forums, rather than the actual topic at hand, this is often what forum admins (that's me) describe as "drama." "Drama" is generally a signal of a forum in decline, and it is the admin's job to stop it, whether by gentle suggestion or through disciplinary action.
Great post, Simplicity. It means a lot to me that you like that page because it has a lot of personal meaning to me. During the first four years of running this community at the old wikifoundry site, I kept on seeing testimonial after testimonial about what I now call the present based approach. At the time, people were following all sorts of different approaches, written by various people who had overcome their own symptoms, such as Monte Hueftle, Hillbilly, Ace (keys to healing) and Balto. And time after time I'd see testimonials like yours: "What helped me move forward was X." When I tried to think about what all of these approaches had in common, what I came up with was that they all dealt with managing emotional tension in the present. Hence I came up with the term, "present based approach." Put simply, a present based approach is one that helps you to decrease your emotional tension in the present. The goal is to "live tension free."
There is something about that phrase, "What helped me move forward was X." One doesn't have to be Mother Theresa to care about all of the suffering out there from TMS and want it to get better. So when you see a phrase like that, particularly in the success stories subforum, it really sticks in your mind.
The thing is that those old threads that helped people so much are now dead. The threads got long and flame wars broke out distracting people from the what the forum is supposed to be about (mindbody healing). People moved on, but I think it would be good for the community and promote healing to bring more present based approach ideas back.
In response to those old threads, I wrote up a series of three essays, two of which are relevant to Simplicity's point:
The connection between the two essays is that if you want to live tension free, you have to be aware of all of your emotional tension, even that tension that might be unconscious. For that you need to Self Monitor.
Anyway, since testimonials of the "what helped me move forward was X" sort were what led me to write those essays, I'm glad to hear that for at least one person, those essays were worth it. We always say that "if I could help just one person, it was all worthwhile." (Obviously, many other posts helped, and what really mattered was the hard work that you did in tying it all together in a way that made sense to you. I think that that is how healing works for resistant cases on TMS forums, and it's part of why having a "carnival of ideas" in the General Discussion Subforum is so important. It's also what helps keep the forum fun for me. So congrats, Simplicity, on helping another wonderful member of our forum (yourself) to get to over a hump!)
I understood you correct for the most part.(english!)
Was not upset with 'newcomer' thing i did call that myself. And i did used the word 'confused'
.better had named it' surprised'
I think i am not new to TMS ..it just took me a couple of weeks and reading in the forum
to realize that. They just don't use that name here in the Netherlands. But bodymind connection and that i was a bit working on before. But never mind the name : The approach is new to me.
When i meanted surprised : I was noticing that even inside the TMS forum there a many different opinions..wich is even logical, because i have exact the similar experience in the regular medicin world
So no surprise that is here the case too and maybe you are right: It can be a good thing.
So: As a newcomer' i am not overwhelmed ..but curious and maybe take the B route: Read a lot here: Then make up my mind and work on the SEP..some people
have to follow their own path as you also said thanks for taking time to react..and for your great website
That sounds great, Karina. It sounds like you've got a good plan. I wish you the best in your recovery.
Separate names with a comma.