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A week with some improvement then....crash!

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by James59, Jun 16, 2013.

  1. James59

    James59 Well known member

    For those who haven't seen my introductory post, I've had pain and stiffness affecting almost every part of my body for several years. Everything I tried provided some minor relief at first, then petered out to nothing or even made things worse. I am currently housebound by my condition.

    I started reading Dr. Sarno's Healing Back Pain about ten days ago, and finished it in about a week. Since then I've re-read several portions to help it "sink-in." Over the week I noticed some minor, but definite improvement. I was finding it easier to settle into bed, slept a bit better, woke up less often, and got up feeling less stiff and more clear-headed. During the day I also realized I was walking more upright and generally feeling more relaxed. Most of my body still hurt, and I was also experiencing some shifting of pain in and out to new areas, and a couple of mood swings, but I was generally feeling confident that the ideas I was putting into practice were starting to bear fruit. I felt this was real progress, even if only baby steps.

    Yesterday, however, I awoke prematurely (I'm a night owl and late sleeper) to the sounds of neighbor kids throwing balls, rocks, and other junk over the fence into our yard. My wife spoke to their father who was quite indifferent to our complaint. This had us both quite agitated. And quite abruptly all of the week's progress was erased.

    By evening I thought I had gotten my focus shifted back to the things I was learning, but after a few hours in bed I woke feeling absolutely horrible, stiff, foggy-headed, and anxious, and I had to use the bathroom quite urgently. I then had to sit up in a chair for half an hour to relax before going back to bed. I was pretty relaxed by then, and thought I was finally going to sleep well, but two hours later I woke up horribly stiff, foggy-headed, and agitated again. I'm still feeling very stiff as I write this.

    I'm of two minds right now. On the one hand I can't deny that I made some real progress just by realizing that my problem was TMS and employing some of the ideas that Dr. Sarno recommends to deal with it. On the other hand, I'm still skeptical that it will solve my problem, and this setback reinforces my skepticism. It's as if the the improvement I experienced was just an illusion. After all, everything I've tried helped a bit at first. I'm afraid that this is going to be just another disappointment in a string of disappointments. Is this normal?
  2. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think James you're confronting the fact that TMS uses fear of the onset of pain and other unpleasant symptoms as the number 1 distraction away from unpleasant emotions or traumatic memories. Often while doing the SEP patients report become anxious and the pain getting worse. So the answer to your question is not normal so much as typical. At about day 3 of the SEP I remember feeling anxious and not knowing exactly what that emotion was. It was rather novel in fact. I have to tell you that I'm assuming you've been checked out my a conventional MD for any preexisting conditions that might cause your pain symptoms. But it is entirely "normal" to experience new or heightened symptoms when you begin to address your personality traits and traumatic experiences. If it doesn't get better, I'll tell you what I was advised: Back off and give yourself a break from the SEP while you process any disturbing emotions you might have stirred up while journaling. I sense you're in the workaholic phase of the recovery process where you do the work like a check sheet for a merit badge. But it isn't just getting through the material, you also have to digest and process what you've learned in order to bring it to bear on your TMS recovery. Sounds like you'll do okay though.
  3. yb44

    yb44 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi James

    Like you I would have been so incensed about the kids next door and would have invested far too much time thinking about what I could have said or done about it. These little scenes would have played like a film on a loop in my mind, over and over again. Outwardly I would have sat in a chair and fumed.

    I was listening to some audio sessions recorded by Dr Claire Weekes the other day. She has written some well-respected books about anxiety although she uses less fashionable terms such as 'nervous illness' and having 'turns'. I never considered myself a particularly anxious person and do not suffer from panic attacks but over the last couple of years I have considered how my habits of worrying, ruminating and catastrophising affect me physically.

    When reading your post it made me think about something Dr Weekes had said in these recordings about so-called setbacks - when they happen you feel like you have just destroyed all of the progress you had made and it was all for nothing. She refutes this vehemently. I can't say it better than her so if you get a chance listen to these recordings. There are four and the longest is 25 minutes or so. She does use 'the typical housewife' as an example a couple of times and talks about panic attacks, depression, etc but hang in there.

    For what it's worth, my pain has ramped up in the last month to the point where I need some outside help. I was never entirely pain free. I know all the basics, on a conscious level, but I feel there is a part of me that just wants to hang on to the hurt for whatever reason. For a fortunate few the road to recovery is short. For others like myself, the road is full of speed bumps, pot holes, miscellaneous obstructions and confusing signposts leading us in too many different directions.

    The link to the recordings:
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  4. gailnyc

    gailnyc Well known member

    I agree with yb44 that Claire Weekes's approach can be enormously helpful. I think so far it's been the thing that has helped me the most in my recovery. In addition to her "face, accept, float, let time pass" method, she also has a very soothing way of reassuring the reader (I have only read, not listened to, her book) that as long as you commit to the process and don't give up, even if you have setbacks and often find yourself failing, you will eventually get there. I cannot tell you how helpful this has been to me.

    After reading her book several times through over the past 4 months, I now read from it for about 5 minutes every morning before going to work. It helps to remind me to keep letting go of fear throughout the day.
  5. James59

    James59 Well known member

    Oh, dear I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by the various read-this-study-that recommendations I see on this site. I'm just starting out! I think for now I'll stick with the source, Dr. Sarno, and get to know his body of work before deciding whether to branch out. Frankly, and maybe I'm missing something, but some of the things I've read on this site appear to contradict things that Dr. Sarno wrote. For example, there's a lot of emphasis here on dealing with emotions, while Dr. Sarno says that isn't necessary for 95% of TMS patients. I need to learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff.
  6. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Well, James, I think on this Forum you are encountering many people who were not cured of their TMS simply by reading Dr Sarno and having what is called, "a book cure". Hence, a lot of them want to do more deep emotional work to diminish or banish symptoms that have persisted after an initial improvement. Also, you have people on this site who have not improved after trying all kinds of other structural cures and are having a go at doing self-therapy. Of course, this site also contains instructions for contacting TMS doctors and therapists.
  7. yb44

    yb44 Beloved Grand Eagle

    I'm sorry that you are feeling overwhelmed and I can only agree with you. There is a lot of information on the wiki and elsewhere, books and articles to read, podcasts to listen to, videos to watch featuring a range of techniques and exercises. I am reminded of the video interview Forest did with Andrew Miller (not suggesting you need to watch it though) where Andrew says something to the effect of 'take what you want and leave the rest.' This is good advice. Take what you want, what you can handle, what makes sense to you right now and disregard the rest or, as you say, separate the wheat from the chaff. You might want to look at some of this stuff in future, perhaps not. I keep a reading list on my iPad so whenever there is a mention of an interesting site, article, podcast or video, I add it to this list. Sometimes I will look at the stuff right away, other times leave it until later. For instance I had those Claire Weekes recordings saved for months and I only just decided to listen to them recently. Sometimes I delete the stuff later on without ever bothering to look at it. I have a very long reading list right now!:)

    Steve O in his book The Great Pain Deception (again not suggesting you must read this) writes a few times the only source he ever needed to heal was a copy of one of Dr Sarno's books, nothing else. When researching for his own book Steve read many other sources and expanded on what Dr Sarno said but this was to help others who for whatever reason could not heal through reading a book.
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  8. Sheree

    Sheree Well known member

    James, please don't feel overwhelmed. I can understand that you do, but try instead to feel joyful that you have discovered Dr Sarno and in time you WILL recover. For most people it is not a quick fix however. It requires a lot of delving into our behaviours and thoughts. It is hard to do and can be very frustrating. I think that the fact that the incident with your neighbour disturbed you ( and it would have had the same effect on me) shows how closely related the mind and body are. Have you tried writing down your thoughts about what happened?
  9. gailnyc

    gailnyc Well known member

    Exactly. We're just telling you what worked for us. Don't feel any pressure to read/watch/listen to all this stuff. And as yb44 says, you can always come back to it if you have the time or the inclination.
  10. LauriK

    LauriK Peer Supporter

    James I hear you about being overwhelmed. I tend to jump from one idea to another never quite understanding either of them. I've read quite a few books on recommendation, and you're right sometimes they contradict each other. Maybe I should do like you. Stick to Dr Sarno. Believe in the TMS diagnosis, give up the doctors and try and participate in my normal activities. I'm stressing so much about not journalling correctly I'm making very little progress. I think I should just stick to the basics.
    James59 likes this.
  11. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Learning about TMS can be very overwhelming. It can be hard to reconcile our perfectionist personality with doing what it takes to recover. Our perfectionist personality makes us feel like we have to read every book out there and leads us to becoming overwhelmed when we can't do something perfect. My advice to anyone starting out is to keep it simple. Healing Back Pain is, in my opinion, the best TMS book out there. For the time being read and reread it until the message begins to sink in. Don't worry about other books or ideas that you come across on the forum. As yb44 mentioned, if you hear about something that sounds interesting to you, look into it if you want, but don't feel like you have to look into it. Each person recovers from TMS differently. The key is to find out what resonates with you.
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  12. James59

    James59 Well known member

    Forest and LauriK, that seems like the best approach.

    I've been re-reading Healing Back Pain for the last several days. Yesterday the mailman delivered The Mindbody Prescription which I started last night. I figured it would help to have more than one of Dr. Sarno's books to keep the reading from getting too repetitive.

    Last night I felt like I was starting to regain the ground I'd lost with the "crash," but today I'm a bit less sure. Is it normal or common to have false starts, ups and downs, like this?

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