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5 days into TMS awareness. Experience so far and questions at bottom of post :)

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Bicepmuffins, May 30, 2019.

  1. Bicepmuffins

    Bicepmuffins Peer Supporter

    Short version for those who avoid long reads :
    I have tennis elbow, forearm and hand RSI, depression and anxiety.

    My relationship to pain is awesome now . Pain free from the moment I read the book until a couple days later after 25+ hours of gaming. Pain comes and goes now in severity since then. Mostly it's hardly noticeable. Started lifting weights since yesterday, pain has increased a bit possibly coinciding with stress. Questions are surrounding that I'm convinced that TMS causes real damage and my understanding of dropping treatment in lieu of returning to activity to be a little counterproductive if you have faith in TMS either way. Thanks!

    Full version:
    My experience :

    Hey all, so let me start by saying this site is a miracle. I've seen so much success in a short amount of time which may be an exaggeration but just the change in relationship with the symptoms have been a huge help.

    I have tennis elbow and some nerve pain in arms and hands on both sides. These seemed to have been triggered by video gaming, web development and weight training. I also have had depression and anxiety for 6+ years. And am a self critical perfectionist in a few areas of my life.

    These symptoms came on slow in right elbow, then left shortly after. Everyone says you overcompensated. By doing what? Opening doors with my left arm, I think not. Seems to be what one arm gets, so does the other. I was conspicuous of this from the beginning so I considered it was coming from something other than my arms. Neck maybe, possibly now the brain. I still am convinced there is a level of real damage in there however.

    Halfway through reading Sarnos book I was pain free for an entire weekend while I gamed my heart out. Towards the end I had some hand pain but I was sitting there for 20+ hours. To be expected.

    I continued back to my regular life for a couple days with the pain coming and going. If I thought about my emotions it would dissipate and turn into a headache. If I thought about my arms and headache it would turn into foot pain. Seems very TMS esque.

    The past 2 days I was weightlifting again and today, I did the workouts that I knew would normally aggravate me. They did a little but probably due to the blood and lactic acid during workout and they subsided shortly after. BUT tonight on the drive home, which was a pretty stressful drive home between weather, crappy car problems and heat , the pain came and felt as expected for the workout and has been mostly present since. Also, my elbow is painful to the touch. It always has been, TMS training or not.


    1. Is removing treatments such as acupuncture only suggested because they believe it's for people who need to be sold on the TMS concept?
    (Accupuncture restores bloodflow to parts of the body, I dont see why this would be good to do in adjunct. Also great stress reliever. Massage too)

    2. Is it actually wise to return to your activities so quickly? Is there a level of intensity easing that's suggested or is it just, go for it, fight through increased pain? (To me it makes sense that the pain is increased since TMS has essentially caused damage to my elbow by restricting oxygen and blood)

    3. Is depression and anxiety going to interfere with recovery?

    Thanks all!!
    Last edited: May 30, 2019
  2. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Removing physical treatments is recommended because the correct TMS "belief" can be tricky. You might be fully convinced consciously, but if you're treating symptoms as physical problems, then you are reenforcing "thinking physically" rather than psychologically. I think anything you do physically has to be very consciously done for another reason, not treatment. For instance in the case of acupuncture, you may find it helps you relax. But that is probably not what the practitioner is thinking. And it may not be what you're really thinking a layer or two down. If I were you, I would lay off any physical treatments until you're further down the road ---a few months.

    Returning to activities: Keep challenging the fears and level of activities. Work the edge, work with your fears, work with symptoms. You don't need to go overboard. Document your progress and be proud.

    Symptoms and anxiety and depression are typically linked, deeply. Psychological symptoms won't interfere with your recovery per se. It is helpful to develop mindfulness with all ---TMS, depression, anxiety. Watch patterns, connect the dots, work with fear.

    Congratulations on embracing this work so whole-heartedly and wishing you the best. Each person finds their own way, and it usually takes digging fairly deep. Free programs at the Wiki, highly recommended. Or use Dr. Schubiner's Unlearn Your Pain program/book/meditations.

    Andy B
  3. Bicepmuffins

    Bicepmuffins Peer Supporter

    @Andy B That does make sense regarding the physical treatments considering the rationale for TMS in the first place is one thats harbored in a conscious we don't fully understand. I am probably the same as everybody else who has a few simple questions, mostly regarding "What ifs" in misdiagnosing your problem with TMS regardless of how many times you prove to yourself the pain isn't getting that much worse, it comes and goes, it came on in a very peculiar way and appears where I fear it may. It just also seems even though I feel fully on board, the symptoms still exist and vary in severity which raises some doubts as im sure it does with everybody as well. Which leads me to believe the pain needs time to heal, regardless of level of brainwashing. Im mostly fearing the continuation of weightlifting but that must be where I need to work the most then.

    Thanks for your reply and congratulations :)
  4. AnonymousNick

    AnonymousNick Peer Supporter

    The TMS process isn't supposed to be doing damage, because that is not the brain's intention. It is to distract you with pain so you won't think about strong emotions, so it requires very little blood flow restriction and oxygen depletion to create that pain. I would get out of the idea that TMS can do damage, that your brain is trying to harm you. It's not. It has just gotten this idea that your emotions are more of a threat than they should really be and is serving up a very painful physical feeling for distraction, but one that is actually structurally harmless.
    zclesa and Tennis Tom like this.
  5. Bicepmuffins

    Bicepmuffins Peer Supporter

    @AnonymousNick I appreciate the sentiment and I know that's the intended mindset to overcome this condition. It seems like tennis elbow in particular is a tricky, lengthy recurring issue with almost everyone who has posted about it in particular. Especially in the presence of weightlifting which has caused I guess a little bit of self doubt in that area but there has been claims they have overcome or at least reduced the pain to a manageable level. My emotions have been stuffed down since childhood from some unsavory family relationships and adulthood didnt quite serve me too well. I cope well but this diagnosis is a true match it's just a difficult one to accept, elbow specifically.

    I'm thinking perhaps a therapist would be the appropriate route. I also have an orthopedist appointment in a few days to rule out any serious physical issues which should help ease my mind.
    AnonymousNick likes this.
  6. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    It felt like FLAMES running through my forearm,elbow and in my shoulder. I was given steroids, pain killers and told to Not throw a ball for a week or so...and it got worse.... Then I realized it was TMS.

    I applied the same strategy to it that I did to my back and it left INSTANTLY... I mean started leaving that day and was gone the next day. True, I nipped it in the bud by NOT getting conditioned, NOT taking it too serious and NOT believing in it. Sarno always said that the resolution of symptoms had a correlation to the duration of the conditioning and the levels of fear... Basically how indoctrinated you are into the medieval medical model. That's why seeing a doctor can sometimes be counter-productive. WE all have our own decisions to make, but I steer clear of Orthopedists as virtually all of them have told me how much pain I 'ought' to be in with my x-rays and Mri's and such.

    The Therapist will probably be more useful than anything the Doc can do for you.

    You seem to be getting this , and You look young so you oughta' get better fast.

    BTW... I too had a ...uh...colorful? Childhood and young adulthood. Continuously in trouble with schools, the law and my family...never had a drop of pain. plenty of Drama to distract me
    it was when I stopped being a dick and started trying to be an adult that all the symptoms came.

    All of us had 'what ifs'... keep moving forward with the same intensity you lift weights or apply to any other problem you care about and it will be gone...fast. The 'what ifs' just kind of fall away
    zclesa likes this.
  7. Bicepmuffins

    Bicepmuffins Peer Supporter

    @Baseball65 A lot of this hit home with me! (get it?) . It sounds like yours wasn't that long in duration before you applied your learnings and I am willing to bet your previous TMS work set the stage for a kind of muscle memory if you will. Great to hear you solved your problems. I still certainly have some pains but they are really not getting worse, and now that im observing them through the filter of TMS (as well as reading more of Sarnos works), its becoming pretty obvious. They are transient, they come and go and the severity is dependent on the severity of its other forms (headaches, anxiety, depression). I have noticed an increase in depression or anger but I agree, a therapist is the way to go. or psychoanalyst. I have dismissed therapy for the most part due to my introspective nature and coping skills but apparently, that wasn't the way to go. I do have some pretty intense internal conflict that I have had since very young. I too found that maturity exacerbated my symptoms which is another way of saying "getting better at stuffing things away" instead of letting us really feel and process our daily traumas.

    I can honestly say that I can feel the pain melting away as every day I get better at ignoring its existence and no longer have intense fear of using my arms. Its going to be a process but I literally feel like I hit the jackpot allowing myself to be open minded to this, I was ready to pass on even clicking into the links when I first saw someone talking about it on reddit.. until I saw how many people claimed it cured them.

    Thanks brother.
    Baseball65 likes this.
  8. BigBlueWolf

    BigBlueWolf Peer Supporter

    Hey BM,

    I came to this forum with almost the same history as you: worked as a software developer for decades, weight-lifting for even longer, major video-game player. I never had a problem with my hands until around two years ago (spring/summer 2017) after some intense couch co-op games that left my hands hurting. I tried to moderate only my gaming activity because I had zero pain using K+M and so no problems at work. But the pain persisted even after taking off long periods from gaming. Eventually the pain started creeping into my hands while I was on the computer as well. By the end of 2017 I was in a panic and getting evaluated for carpal tunnel/RSI but none of the therapies were working. I did no gaming for three straight months and yet pushing a thumbstick on a controller for a minute or two was excruciating.

    Then in early 2018 I discovered this site and Dr. Sarno's work. I started tentatively playing again while reading his books and others' experiences on the forum. I made it through several games including "Uncharted 4" with progressively fewer symptoms. Finally jumped into "Witcher 3", which I'd been dying to play for over a year. And that was the start of 5 weeks of absolutely zero pain. And man, I enjoyed every minute of it! All my pain on the computer at work vanished as well. I thought I'd be writing my success story on here soon enough.

    And then -- things went sideways. About the time I was finishing W3 and launching into a different game I started feeling an ache in my fingers. I kept telling myself it was the TMS trying to come back, but it kept getting worse no matter how much I tried to ignore it like before. Eventually I got so scared that I started wondering if I had really injured something this time. I'm still not fully recovered yet over a year later, but the pain and its presentation has gone through numerous transitions that in my mind I have no doubt it's TMS. I've got a pretty hefty roster of deep emotional issues and depression going on with work and home that I am certain are the real source of the problem. So the expression of pain I think is partly about the feeling of being trapped by problems that seem impossible to solve and partly about using gaming as a distraction to avoid having to think about them. I believe my first initial success had more to do with the sheer joy of figuring out what was really going on and the exhilarating feeling of being able to enjoy an activity I loved again with a game I adored. Once the game began to near conclusion, the pain started up again as the shift became more about gaming as an avoidance strategy. Can't fool the subconscious. It knows what you won't admit to yourself.

    That being said, I've made a lot of progress. I've had the odd day here and there where the pain factor is essentially low to none. I really cherish those days. But there's a lot more work for me to do to get back to 100% pain-free. I do game -- sometimes more than I should -- and while the gaming might be a trigger for my hand pain, mornings are usually far worse as I wake up dreading the other aspects of the imminent day.

    My best advice is to keep digging into your issues and use a counselor or psychoanalyst if needed. I had one for awhile and she really helped me get a lot of feelings sorted out. That alone reduced my daily pain factor significantly after a few months of working with her.

    With regard to the tennis elbow problem, overuse injury comes with the territory in weight-training, but bodies heal. Especially if you are sticking to weight-trainer's diet, exercise and rest regimen along with proper injury recovery techniques. I had bad tennis elbow (both sides) when I was in my 30s that started with heavy bicep curls. I had to wait nearly six weeks before I could do them again without immediate pain, but I couldn't go full bore without causing irritation for another six weeks after that. If you've truly rested it for a time recommended by most trainers for injury recovery and it's still hurting or hurts even worse then, yes, it's most likely TMS.
  9. Bicepmuffins

    Bicepmuffins Peer Supporter

    @BigBlueWolf Yeah sounds about right. I was pain free for over a month recently in the forearms and hands but my elbow remained sensitive to the touch and occasionally noticeable when lifting heavily. I also would get extreme knuckle pain from excessive clicking when playing League of Legends. I started working out and moved out of my apartment which was epic amounts of work, along with a big increase in stress at work which all happened in the past week or so and today (starting last night) my arms have started burning a bit again and elbow more tender than normal. It seems likely that its caused by the stress. I also snapped on some coworker friends today which is pretty good indication its mood related. I will continue to play me some Fortnite tonight and pretend it doesn't exist and maybe do some journaling. I also created some lists today and will try to knock off some to-dos to help reduce the burden. My sleep has suffered lately due to reintroduction to video gaming so that needs to be adjusted as well. What game has caused the finger aching? A year of TMS treatment and it hasn't abated? That stinks. Once I have my plate clearer and feel I have the space to find a therapist, or analyst, I will look into it. I am pretty good with self analysis but don't commit any time for TMS since the pain stopped so possibly thats part of the reintroduction of pain. The worst part about these conditions is they do match up with what you expect to happen from excessive use. Unhealthy levels of gameplay time, finger and arm pain. Why would you have pain from that? Well, because most people don't have pain from it and secondly, we are consistently in the group of people who have more repressed and depressive emotions than others. Its pretty clearly TMS the more you think about it but its easy to forget.
  10. BigBlueWolf

    BigBlueWolf Peer Supporter

    A year sucks, yes, but for many people it proceeds slowly. I think I could progress faster if I apply myself more to journaling and so forth, but sometimes it's hard to stick with it when you just want to live life. I have seen progress, and I'm very positive that I will make a full recovery. I have days where I barely have symptoms at all. I have gaming sessions that sometimes hurt and others that don't. And I never hurt from gripping a barbell or doing wrist curls. Go figure!

    I think for me gaming can be trigger. It's not what game am I playing or what kind of movement (gripping, pressing, clicking, typing) am I doing more so than why am I doing it. Gaming is such an easy thing to fall back on because it's habitual. I did it for so many years without any problems. But am I enjoying myself? Am I avoiding dealing with something? Bored and can't think of anything else to do? Covering up feeling powerless about crap I have to deal with at work? I have to be more honest now about why I'm doing it and step away from it when I know I'm playing for the wrong reasons. It's not easy. This is a hobby. Hobbies are supposed to be away to relax from stress, not hide it or compound it.
  11. Bicepmuffins

    Bicepmuffins Peer Supporter

    That makes sense to me. I do enjoy my gaming but it does not only distract me from productivity, it also stresses me out when I'm playing poorly and has a negative imposition on my life in general. But im addicted lol. Damn you Fortnite!

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