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Acceptance of TMS cured me. So why is pain back?

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by BC77, Nov 23, 2019.

  1. BC77

    BC77 Newcomer

    Suffered from male pelvic pain on and off for 18 years or so. Saw loads of physicians, experts, etc. to no avail. About 4 years ago, I found TMS and the related websites, literature, etc. Within weeks, I was cured, and I assumed, for good. Once I discovered my pelvic pain was a hoax, it migrated to my feet until I realized the feet pain was also TMS. I, therefore, beat TMS twice in two separate parts of my body. If I discovered that anxiety, fear, etc., was the cause of my pain, and the pain was all coming from my mind, I assumed it could not come back. I felt that way because I assumed my brain could no longer cause me pain and told myself “no way, brain, I’m on to you.” But several weeks ago, after hearing about somebody else suffering from pelvic pain, my pain returned. My question is if I know my pain is not structural (but instead mental), how can it come back? Yes, anxiety, fear, etc., has returned as well, but not nearly as bad as when I thought my condition was testicular cancer, nerve damage, hernia, etc. I know the cause of my pain is mental, that’s how I came to beat it 4 years ago. Why then, is it back? Shouldn’t acceptance cure me and prevent the return of my pain? I feel like a baseball player who could hit the fastball, but always swung and missed at the curveball. Eventually the curve ball didn’t fool me anymore and I could hit it. But now, after 4 years, the curveball is fooling me again.

    Looking forward to hearing from anybody who can help me hit the curveball again.

    Thanks in advance
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi @BC77, and welcome to the forum - as a TMS-old-timer! We're glad to have you, and even though you are struggling right now, that doesn't mean that your experiences and successes don't have value for others, so I hope you can stick around.

    Here are my thoughts, which continue to evolve over time - and I've been doing this since 2011. Back then, I was perfectly happy to achieve 80-90% recovery, 80-90% of the time. Most of the time I would say I am functioning at or close to 100%, even with symptoms, which vary in their ability to bother me at various times. I learned early on that the TMS mechanism really isn't a condition that can be healed, but is actually a primitive (and perhaps not very effective) survival technique that is built into our brains, and that we are wired to be negative, fearful, and always anticipating danger. This knowledge has been really helpful to my ongoing maintenance.

    I actually feel like I was doing great for the first five years after I discovered Dr. Sarno - but I don't feel that way anymore, and I blame technology and especially world affairs. In other words, times have changed just in the last few years. The thing is, the TMS mechanism never did work very well in the modern world, when most of us are lucky enough to have very safe lives, secure from the physical threats of the primitive world - which were very tangible and very few. We have traded those few tangible threats for what seem to be an infinite number of intangible threats, with which we are bombarded 24/7. We also live much longer lives than our primitive ancestors, so while those ancestors worried about survival in the present, we spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about how to survive the future.

    Our longer lives, combined with the effects of technology and the growing stresses of today's world, combine to throw the TMS mechanism into overdrive, a trend I see growing every day.

    I know I could do better by engaging in three daily practices, which I seem to be unable to achieve: journaling, meditating, and exercising. I still escape too often into entertainment (distractions!) and then guilt for procrastination ends up in the mix.

    If you learned how to journal back when you started doing this work, I really highly recommend it. I don't do it every day, but I manage it at least once a week, and the meditation helps, too. For many of us, TMS recovery actually ends up being TMS maintenance, needing regular tune-ups! I really believe that current affairs affect us more than we think they do. I have journaled about that, too, surprised at the depth of emotions that come up.
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  3. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi BC77,

    I think Jan makes many good points, and here are a couple which I especially think are helpful.

    So we know the "tendency to have TMS" is not something which goes away, and Dr. Sarno said we need to "take the vitamins" of our TMS learning even after we've recovered ---whatever that might mean to you. It might mean something as simple as reading the 12 Daily Reminders, or a more challenging activity. -------------but this is after you've recovered again.

    Often people are able to have "book cures" or we could say perhaps in your case "cognitive cures," wherein understanding is all that is needed.

    Often when a symptom returns afterward, this is calling us to do deeper work, more psychological work (in combination with the understanding part). For this the Structured Education Program at the Wiki is a great resource. There is also Dr. Schubiner's Unlearn Your Pain, which is like TMS therapy in a box!

    What I want you to know, and Jan is saying too, I think is that your symptoms arising now is not a failure on your part. It is not uncommon. Long-time practitioners of this TMS work often report being completely blindsided and activated by new symptoms. Sometimes they get them checked out by a doctor, and then proceed to "up their game," often including "digging deeper" into what events are currently up in their lives causing inner tension, how they're being or not being honest with important people around them, etc.

    HattieNC, Aimee88, plum and 2 others like this.
  4. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks for this, Andy! You're right, I totally agree, and will try to remember to make this important point!
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  5. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    a Baseball metaphor...you knew I couldn't lay off of that one (Pun intended).

    The late Great Charley Lau used to say "Pitchers are dummies"

    I think Sarno said "You might as well be upset about what color your hair is or how tall you are". Certain of us , for whatever reason have had more incursions of TMS. I have yet to meet the person who had it bad once, where it didn't emerge again OR in some other place. That's why Sarno said he didn't treat pain.... his methods were preventative. Whenever I have a new 'curveball' I just lay off of it. 'what the hell was that?'. The pitcher might even strike me out...once. (getting pain)...

    But pitchers are dummies and so is TMS. If I sit down and go back to work, there is inevitably always some new dynamic that is so STUPID and such a FASTBALL down the middle that it froze me and I forgot to 'go inside'.

    I have found the most PECULIAR things going on with TMS. I recently got a 15 minute sciatica attack when I heard my EX-wife spent money ear-marked for a construction project on some silly whim. Why? It doesn't even affect me? Conditioning! That used to enRAGE me when it WAS my dime... and my unconscious not recognizing the elapsed time (a decade) immediately went to the symptom I had the most often back when most of my symptoms were around my horrible marriage... swimming upstream against an insatiable appetite

    You heard about your old symptom and your ID (which never ages a day) went right back to 'Oh Yeah...THAT'. That is the Nocebo and I have had it and seen it too may times to document.

    Two decades of doing this work (self inspection, reflection etc) has made me pretty damn efficient at laying off the curveballs... I just don't swing (e.g. Buy into them with my mind). Its also amazing that in twenty years I am fundamentally still the same in spite of perceived outward change. That is a GOOD thing because it means when I have an issue it always responds to the same treatment as long as I can get quiet, humble myself to go to page one and start over...

    Usually, the TMS being the dumb pitcher, gives up easier and easier. It took me 5 weeks the first time. Now...days..sometimes hours, even minutes.

    I wish I was Mike Trout. But I'm not. I'm a smallish little construction worker in Nashville. I need to lay off the curveballs and just hit the fastball...and it always comes again...

    Because TMS and Pitchers are dummies.
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  6. BC77

    BC77 Newcomer

    Thanks to all for your wisdom and responses. Sorry for the delay in responding. You all said several things that stuck out to me. Baseball, you said several things I want to touch on.

    You said TMS is dumb. I like that idea and buy into it as I've seen that happen in my case many times before. But you also said, essentially, Sarno "doesn't treat pain, he prevents pain." I guess what I'm struggling with is that I can't prevent something that has already happened, and now I'm stuck trying to treat the pain. Any anger, fear, etc., that triggered my relapse in the first place is gone because I know exactly what's going on. Yes, there is still the anxiety and frustration related to this relapse, but my flare-up (going on 3 weeks at this point) was caused by speaking to someone who had the same condition as me. Even if there were other stresses (like an issue I had at work) contributing to this new triggering, those stresses have since been tackled as well. So I guess where I'm confused is that I have pain, I know the cause, but I still can't get it to go away. Are there no strategies to deal with the pain when it actually arrives? Or is it mostly just preventative and then "wait it out" when there is a flare and try not to exacerbate it?

    Jan, you mentioned meditation. Which particular method (app, book, etc.) do you use? Somebody also mentioned "tune-ups," which sound great. Are those mostly in the Structured Education Program, or the Unlearn Your Pain Book? I found my copy of Unlearn Your Pain. I bought it years ago before but never read it as I was "cured," by the time it came in the mail.

    Thanks again, folks. This website is an invaluable tool.
  7. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    I learned to journal by doing the SEP back in 2011 and I absolutely believe in its power to help uncover repressed emotions - IF you are 100% honest when you are free-writing, and don't allow your brain to talk you out of writing things down. I have read at least two recent professional articles, one of them reporting the result of a study, which both said that writing is one of the best mental-health exercises that we can do. But watch out for your tricky brain - it WILL try to convince you that certain things are "not important" or "too embarassing" to write down. You have to force yourself to do it anyway, no matter what.

    I'm a big fan of Nicole Sachs, LCSW, her work, and her podcast "The Cure For Chronic Pain with Nicole Sachs". Nicole places a high priority on a practice of daily journaling followed by meditation. She is also really skilled at explaining how to get at the deeper emotions, the ones that are still effectively being covered up by everyday stresses and frustrations. The key is really accessing what those daily stresses really mean to your deeper core, meaning your identity, safety and security in your lifetime community - because our place in our community is at the heart of everything.

    You can't go wrong by starting with Episode 1 of Nicole's podcast and keep listening. Don't go overboard. One a day will do it.

    @plum recommended the Calm app for meditation, and I love it, because it has what seems like an infinite number and variety of meditations, including the unique 10-minute "Daily Calm" which is so easy to access, and which often reminds us that we don't have to be "perfect" in our practice.
    Velvet_Hidden and plum like this.
  8. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    For most of us, it's whatever works when we experience a flare or a setback - although I'm really quite sure that a regular practice of mindfulness (journaling and meditation) is likely to prevent setbacks. But it's sooooo easy to backslide, and become mindless over time... The good news is that it's much easier to recover, and the fear component is mostly nonexistent (and MUCH easier to overcome with TMS logic).

    But as I said in my first response, give yourself a break, acknowledge the effects the modern world is imposing on us, and allow yourself some extra nurturing or whatever you need to account for that.
  9. BC77

    BC77 Newcomer

    Thanks for the info, Jan. I will look into those tools.
  10. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    I do love the word peculiar and yet I’ve not heard it for years. Our @Baseball65 is a marvellous wordsmith. (Marvellous and marmalade are also gorgeous words).
    HattieNC and JanAtheCPA like this.
  11. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Calm is also a thing of beauty. It’s one of the best investments I’ve made in a long time. @JanAtheCPA are you using the new mood check-in? I was a bit cynical at first but it’s actually a brilliant way of tracking your emotional ‘weather’, and the recommended meditations are always helpful. ❤️
  12. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    LOL, I am really resisting it. I guess that's a message, isn't it? :oops:
  13. sb_flyer

    sb_flyer New Member

    Jumping into this thread as @BC77 has had a similar journey as me. I've written about my story here and had a long journey with pelvic and genital pain. After 12 years or so, it disappeared, but not because I was aware of TMS. It simply just disappeared. Not overnight, but it wound itself down and I thought I was healed. Three months ago it came roaring back as my anxiety was building towards starting a new job. When the symptoms reappeared, that's when I discovered TMS and started doing work - learning, educating, meditating, talking to a therapist. After two months of TMS work and as I neared the holidays, I noticed the symptoms were decreasing as my job was quieting down. For me, the holidays aren't stressful the way I know they are for others. For me, they are downtime that I get to spend with my family and to get away for a while. As I entered the holidays and over a week off from work, my symptoms vanished again - for about 10 full days. My anxiety levels about work were low, and accordingly, I was feeling great. I was going to the gym and even went mountain biking (I live in New England so that's a rarity in late December/early January).

    Fast forward to my first day back at work. I felt a small twinge of nerve pain in my pelvic area. The next day it was slightly intensified. Over the weekend it built up even more. Then, in this first full week back, my symptoms went back into overdrive. Yup, right back into the thick of it. This week has been awful as I feel like I've been battling with my symptoms every minute of every day.

    Here's the thing...I now know this is TMS and am way more mindful of my mind-body connection. Because of this new knowledge, I figured that if I had another flare that I'd be able to catch it and send it on a retreat to where it belongs. But, with my symptoms comes my fear, and I assume that's what opens the door to the symptoms getting worse -- the spiral between fear and the symptoms themselves. I'm really struggling with this relapse as I feel like I had developed the tools to confront this, but I'm clearly not succeeding in pushing the symptoms away. Something about how I'm coping (or not coping) with the stress and anxiety of this job is bringing me back to this place of TMS. Like I said, I'm much more mindful of how my body is reacting when I'm stressing. In fact, I thought I had the breakthrough I needed a few weeks back and even wrote about it on this forum, but now I'm sitting here feeling like my path to success has been thwarted and I feel like I'm back to square one. I'm pretty lost here and not sure hot to process all of this and get on the right path forward.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2020
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  14. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    I struggle a lot these days @sb_flyer - I think I've mentioned that it's partly a sign of the times and information overload. Do you journal and meditate? And have you listened to the podcasts that I recommend? My two favorites are The Mind And Fitness Podcast, and The Cure For Chronic Pain which I already mentioned. The last episode of TM&FP is about giving away your power, and includes a real time "session" with Eddy and his guest, therapist Julie Markowitz. High recommended. Nicole Sachs has also been doing "Real Time Heal" sessions lately, which are great, and listening to her feels like receiving therapy from her. I have more information about both these podcasts after my profile story.

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