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A little encouragement for the discouraged?

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Eve2015, Jun 11, 2015.

  1. Eve2015

    Eve2015 New Member

    Hey there, everyone. I'm just looking for a bit of support and encouragement here, as I think the source of my TMS right now is that I don't really have much of a community.

    My symptoms started just over a year ago (for this specific area of my body, though I realized recently that I've had different forms of TMS since I was in college, and I'm 31 now). From the time I was 23, I lived in Korea, though I'm from the US. I see now that part of the reason I lived away for so long was because there were so many stress factors that kept me from enjoying my family and my hometown (a suburb of NYC). My mother died when I was 7 and had been very ill for several years. My brother and I fought from the time my mother was sick throughout the rest of our childhood. My father remarried a few years after my mother died, and my stepmother was very cold and distant for many years. I went to college at 18, and never really moved back home, other than to visit.

    While away in Korea, I got very into yoga and meditation, and I really thought I'd come to terms with the frustrations and pain I had in my life when I was younger. I was also in therapy throughout my childhood, and my therapist was very helpful in teaching me from a young age how much the mind affects the body. I got back to the US in March of 2014, but had already booked a ticket to India to backpack for most of the rest of the year. About a month before the trip, I woke up during the night as though from a nightmare, suddenly terrified that I would run out of money in India, as I didn't have much saved for the trip. My back and hips had been sore before then, but I suddenly couldn't bend at all, and just getting out of bed in the morning required about 20 minutes of yoga. I had symptoms for about 3 weeks, and then they disappeared entirely. I went to India and was fine throughout my trip, though my back was a bit tight at times. I attributed the pain to an old knee injury from 2001 (which now seems ridiculous), and I thought that my scarred knee was somehow throwing off the rest of my body. I was fine in India, though, until a few weeks before I was to return home. I ended up agreeing to travel with an old friend whom I didn't really want to travel with, and on our second day together, I couldn't stand up at all. Out of nowhere, I was nearly immobilized with right hip pain extending down to my ankle. I took lots of very strong Indian painkillers and gritted my way through the last few weeks of the trip, and ended up alone on a beach for my final week. I suspected that my pain was from stress, but assumed that the beach would cure me. Instead, I worried there about finding a job upon returning to the US (more money worries), as well as about how I would reintegrate into my family, which was my plan. I was in agony, and then suddenly, the pain faded away.

    When I got back to the US, everything seemed great initially, and I had healthcare for the first time in almost a decade. I decided that I would go to physical therapy at some point to straighten out my knee, which I still assumed was the cause of my random bouts of pain. I found a job and an apartment and tried to settle into life back in the US, but was aware of the reverse culture shock, as well as a desire to leave for Australia a few months down the line. In Korea, I had such a fantastic life by the time I left--good friends, good jobs, a wide and supportive community. In the US, I have pretty much no established life, and I miss the fun of living overseas, but I've always had so much guilt about "abandoning" my family that I somehow ended up sticking around here in the US a lot longer than I intended. After a particularly busy weekend (4 family parties in 3 days, plus 1 unexpected fight with a longtime acquaintance, plus weird money issues with my brother), I woke up with severe back pain in mid-March of this year, and have had it ever since.

    I thought it was a structural problem, so I saw a doctor who told me that I was "weird" because my hips were (and still are) thrust out to the left side in order to compensate for tightness/pain on the right. He prescribed physical therapy, which did absolutely nothing, and I found that, after 6 weeks, the pain had migrated from my spine/lower back area to my upper buttock and leg. I stopped seeing the physical therapist and started seeing a chiropractor, which seemed to help the first time, and then not at all after that. Finally, I was on the couch in tears one day and googled, "Will my back pain ever end?" which led me to an article on Dr. Sarno. I read the first few chapters of "Healing Back Pain" on my phone, and was able to get off the couch pain-free and dance around the house with the kids I take care of. But then I slowly went back to feeling the pain again, and haven't been able to shake it.

    I KNOW that TMS is my diagnosis, but because my mother was so young when she died (43) and because it was so unexpected and so painful, I have a deep fear that there is something else that is wrong with me, and that I will suffer greatly from it. A second specialist I saw prescribed an MRI, but then I found Sarno and decided not to get the MRI, lest a slipped disc make me believe that there's a structural problem. But in the meantime, I'm worried that my pain is from tumors or something like that, even though I know logically that it's not true. The pain is now really bad and is in my right hip and stretches down to the top of my foot. It's all muscular, but I've noticed that it makes me feel queasy by the end of the day, as it's so intense just to walk around. Meanwhile, I have no real community here and feel so lost after having lived away so long. My family relationships are estranged (which is incredibly disappointing and hurtful), I am perpetually broke, and all of my friends live in other countries. I have decided to move to Australia later this year, where I do have a number of friends, but that, too, is scary. On top of worrying about where I'll go or what I'll do there, I'm also afraid that my body will not heal, and that I'll be stuck living here, totally unhappy. I did give notice already at my job, though, so I'm pretty committed to going. I feel further guilt about my job, as it's not very challenging at all, but the people I work for are so generous it seems ungrateful to be unhappy.

    I know that I feel lots of guilt, lots of anger, lots of fear, lots of frustration. Like I said, I've been through a lot of therapy in the past. What I'm stuck on is that I feel like I need to lessen my stress in order to get better, but Dr. Sarno says that's not generally true. The idea of going back to therapy to work this out seems overwhelming and exhausting and inconvenient. Also, I feel that by now I should be able to take care of this stuff on my own! Perhaps this kind of thinking is what keeps me in pain.

    I would greatly appreciate any insights/encouragement/suggestions/whatever. The people around me think I'm crazy for my approach to this, and are constantly nagging me to go see another doctor, to go get the MRI, etc. I may end up getting an MRI, just to ease my fears that there's nothing severely wrong with me. But after that, what more can I do for myself to keep healing?
  2. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Eve. You have what Steve Osanich, author of The Great Pain Deception, a wonderful book about his healing from TMS,
    told me. From my childhood involving poverty and divorce when I was seven, he said I had a "Perfect storm" case of TMS.

    Your childhood traumas are causing your pain. It's pure and simple TMS. I urge you to start the Structured Educational Program
    which is free in the subforum of this web site. It helped me to heal from severe pack pain caused by repressed childhood traumas,
    and will help heal you, too. Also watch videos on TMS on this web site and on YouTube from people who tell how TMS healed them.

    A main thing toward healing is to believe 100 percent that emotions are causing your pain and that they are not structural.
    X-rays and MRIs and doctor may indicate some structural problems, but they are caused by our emotions.

    Don't despair. Think TMS and be thankful that you have found this community of people who can help you.
  3. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Eve,
    Your story is easy to read and understand. Welcome to this community.

    It seems that although you believe TMS 100%, there is still the nagging doubt about something serious. My best advice is to learn to witness and inquire into this doubt, and it will probably lighten. Or spend some more money on docs to eliminate this nagging fear.

    You have a good grasp that the stress does not need to go away in order for you to heal. The main practice then is to increase your deeper understanding that TMS is the cause of your pain. This is using the "education" method that Dr. Sarno prescribes. The SEP Walt mentions is a great free resource for this, and you can post progress and get some support back as you go.

    You can begin to put together a list of all the correlations between your symptoms and your stressors, the events, and the way you deal with things (your personality). This can help educate your mind about the real cause.

    This above, for example, is an excellent item. The main practice is not to struggle with where you find yourself (doing xy or z and having TMS symptoms), or reject your personality or life. The practice is to gently connect the dots, and keep contemplating the real causes, and "see behind the curtain," so that there is no more need for symptoms. You understand that they are not physical, so that mind-body distraction strategy of TMS stops. This takes time and patience, persistence. Your letter demonstrates that you have all that is needed.

    This quote shows the education that is happening already. You can observe your propensity to "fix, change, take care of on my own" and connect the dots. Bravo!

    You might like this recent discussion about how hard to try

    Also my blog exploring the pychodynamics of TMS.

    You're on the right track Eve. Good luck in your journey, and realize that in some ways this is all new and takes time.

    Andy B.
  4. Eve2015

    Eve2015 New Member

    Thank you both so much. I ended up calling one of the TMS therapists on this site this morning and was able to meet with her this afternoon. I think I lasted about 5 minutes before crying, and didn't stop for most of the session. At the end, she said, "You have a tremendous amount of stress in your life," and I was kind of shocked. Here, I thought I was just going along like everybody else, with the same amount of pressure and grief and struggle, but I guess that's the pressure I put on myself, to just act like I can handle everything.

    I will start working on the Structured Educational Program tonight, and will check out the book and blog mentioned. Thank you both for the encouragement.
  5. JV63

    JV63 New Member

    Hi Eve,

    I'm new here and no expert but am not new to pain, specifically lower back pain which I've been struggling with for 20+ years. It comes and goes and my latest issue was when I recently bought a new car. Something that should be exciting was filled with stress for me so driving it caused tremendous back pain and I felt it was the seats and was wondering if I was going to be able to keep it.

    So I started reading Sarno and The Great Pain Deception as recommended here and that opened my eyes to things. I had read a little about Sarno in the past but never really put anything into practice for fear of hurting myself further. Then an interesting turn of events occured where I had to have some tree work done and it was a big job so I helped out moving and lifting logs as things were cut down. Afterwards, I realized I did all that without any pain which shouldn't have occured if I had someting structually wrong with me.

    Since then, I've been addressing what stresses me, what makes me angry, depressed, anxious, etc. Not that we need to eliminate it all but just be aware of it. I now talk to my pain and let it know it doesn't need to protect me from me any longer. That it's ok to feel angry or have thoughts that aren't pleasant.

    In the last few days, the pain from sitting in my new car is gone and I'm enjoying it very much. Seats haven't changed, just my thoughts have.

    All that to say, keep reading, keep talking to others and keep talking to yourself. I still have lots to work on but it's a promising start. Years of having a structual issue diagnosis ingrained in me will take some time to remove.

    Wishing you the best!


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