1. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this updated link: https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/painrecovery/
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Day 1 Alright, let's see if I can find some hope again.

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by Stiffbreeze, Jan 25, 2021.

  1. Stiffbreeze

    Stiffbreeze Newcomer

    I know I have it. I just worry sometimes if there isn't a confounding issue as well. It feels like sometimes it's always in the same place in my spine, and that the muscles tense up around it and it sets me off. I've been seeing a dedicated therapist who specializes in Sarno's work for a year now and it helped a TON after the first 3 months, but then things got bad again after about 6 months. I've been really struggling since then and I don't really know what to do anymore. I feel like this is probably all still just TMS, but it sometimes feels like my mind is so far gone, and that it just takes the tiniest thing to set off my back to the point where I can't do anything at all. It's frustrating. I can't sleep right now for more than 4 or 5 hours before my back wakes me up. It means I'm tired all the time. I'm really hoping this forum and group will help me ingrain some more habits and exercises in addition to my bi-weekly therapy. And maybe also give me some more hope again, because I've started to feel like I'm losing it.
    Balsa11 likes this.
  2. Hedger

    Hedger Well known member

    Definitely sounds like TMS! A structural issue should not become so much better from therapy.

    Don't fear low amount of sleep. I feared this a lot too when my back/hip woke me up a lot. Now when I´m much better, I have a child waking me up instead several times a night, but my energy is so much higher anyway! So me being tired was more from the heaviness of emotions and TMS than the actual lack of sleep.

    Good luck and keep us posted!
    Idearealist and JanAtheCPA like this.
  3. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is your brain on TMS. Seriously - as @Hedger said, three months of success via therapy tells you everything you need to know.

    The thing to always always always remember, is that your brain is relentless in its desire to keep you in fear. You have to break the cycle by reminding yourself of this, and take back control from your primitive fear brain.

    Easier said than done, folks, I know. We've all been there, and we all go back there during tough times. But this is the ultimate goal.

    Thanks to the SEP (back in 2011), Alan Gordon's teachings, daily writing, constant mindfulness, attempting to meditate regularly, and, finally, therapy for the last half of the disaster that was 2020, I'm doing better at this. Actually, I was doing quite well after discovering Dr. Sarno and this forum late in 2011, through much of 2016, but the last four years were really HARD, and the pandemic kinda did me in. Write. Meditate. Practice mindfulness. And above all, be kind to yourself, okay?

    Balsa11 likes this.
  4. Stiffbreeze

    Stiffbreeze Newcomer

    @Hedger and @JanAtheCPA , thanks so much for the encouragement.

    With regards to not fearing sleep, I've actually noticed that this week, where I feel ok with less sleep despite not feeling ok with this amount in the past, and I suspect it's because I'm feeling hopeful again.

    When you write, what do you write about?
    Balsa11 likes this.
  5. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    I do the "daily brain dump" form of writing. I also call it "writing shit down". I use crappy old notebook paper and recycle it when both sides are filled up, because I have no need to go back and review what I wrote. It's basically stream of consciousness. HOWEVER, I have been able to develop the habit to make a point of writing down at least one thing from the day for which I am grateful. It's not always easy, but finding even one little tiny thing has been shown to be good for your negative brain. Once you get in the habit, it's easy to keep it up - both the writing, and the being grateful!

    This is a great thing to do before going to bed. Another great bedtime habit is to do a meditation and visualization about having a restful night and waking refreshed. This doesn't take long at all, but it's surprisingly powerful.

    Nichole Sachs, LCSW is a well-known advocate of writing. She calls it "JournalSpeak" and she also advocates throwing away what you write. She wrote a book, has a website full of paid and free resources, and I highly recommend her podcast. She's in the list of recommendations and favorite TMS things that is in my Profile.

    Hedger likes this.
  6. Stiffbreeze

    Stiffbreeze Newcomer

    Hahaha I thought you were about to say "She wrote a book, and then threw it away!"

    Thanks for the recommendations. I think I understand the stream of consciousness writing idea, and I like the idea of adding something I'm grateful for afterwards.

    I'm definitely struggling with sleep right now. When you are doing your meditation and visualization for a restful nights sleep, do you mind explaining exactly what you do? Are you lying in bed? Do you spend just a few moments on this, or a few minutes? Is their a particular routine you go through or listen to? (I'm just curious because I'm desperate to try anything to help me sleep better right now)
  7. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    I knew about and had practiced a bit of meditation and visualization, off and on, long "Before Sarno" which means that I had a decent grounding in it by the time I was ready to recover from TMS. I would recommend some kind of introduction to the topics - easy to find on the internet these days. Apps are a really great way to develop a meditation practice, and they all offer a free trial. I subscribed to Calm for a year, but switched last spring to Ten Percent Happier, by Dan Harris. I like the wide variety of teachers and meditations, and especially the updates and extras based on current events (that's why I switched) and his approach appeals to my pragmatism. I recently learned about Sam Harris - no relation, but the two are friends and Sam was on Dan's podcast not long ago. They both have books, of course, and Sam Harris also has a meditation app called Waking Up. I see and hear the Insight app mentioned a lot.

    I never took the practice very seriously, but I have learned this year that I don't need to take it seriously - by which I mean, I no longer worry about how I do it. Worrying about how you meditate is the antithesis of meditation. It is important to just do it, and I'm still struggling with that - my brain resists.

    It's really all about mindfulness - which is becoming aware and awake to the state of your mind - rather than adhering to some kind of rigid practice. I personally see meditation and visualization as two sides of mindfulness. In meditation, you clear your mind of the background chatter from your brain. In visualization, you actively replace the background chatter by envisioning a desired outcome (short term) or a future (long term) for yourself.

    As for a nighttime meditation, start with your brain dump on paper, ending with something positive that you are grateful for.
    - Lie down in bed.
    - Do about a minute of meditative breathing (there are many styles - try them all, settle on the one you like).
    - As you do this breathing, clear your mind of the chatter (the writing will have helped with that).
    - The main part can be something you visualize, or perhaps something that you tell yourself using affirmations, or a combination. You envision and tell yourself that you will sleep through the night, having normal sleep cycles and perhaps waking only briefly between them, and finally waking up at the desired time in the morning, feeling refreshed and without pain. If you don't know about sleep cycles, read up on them so you understand them and accept that it's normal to wake up a bit between some of them.

    Last edited: Jan 28, 2021
  8. Stiffbreeze

    Stiffbreeze Newcomer

    @JanAtheCPA Thanks so much for taking the time to write all that out. I've been practicing mindfulness meditation for years, but never did much visualization work. I'll give that a shot. I've tried the Waking Up and Calm apps before, but I haven't tried Ten Percent Happier yet, I might look into that.
  9. Hedger

    Hedger Well known member

    I have an alternative approach to sleep as another option for you to consider. I use outcome independence after studying TMS, meaning I don't care if the sleep is long/short, good/bad etc. I simple stop thinking about it all together. I don't care if I go to sleep 9 or 11, I go to sleep when I´m feeling like it. And sometimes it is 9.

    Before I could think like "OMG I have to sleep really well tonight because I have this important meeting tomorrow with some managers and have to be alert and perform well, bla bla bla"
    Off course, that had the opposite effect. I would also try deep breathing and meditation etc. For me it could help a bit sometimes, but not fix it.

    So I started using outcome independence. Every time my mind was wondering into thinking about sleep, I think to myself: If I sleep well, that is fine. If I have terrible sleep, that is fine too. If my kid wakes me up 5 times, that is fine too. It happens.

    Its in analogue with pain, thinking about sleep a a lot and having problems with it can act as a TMS symptom (keeps u preoccupied) and don't buy into it. Instead I focus on my emotions. Some of my best sleeps have been after I have cried (outlet of emotions) or had a really good day emotionally, or connected with my wife in really god emotional conversations or physical intimacy.

    Once after journaling ragefully and crying during lunch I got sooo relaxed I had my best 20min nap in years right there in the chair. And I mean, 4 months ago I had pain just from sitting in a chair...
    Balsa11 and Stiffbreeze like this.
  10. Stiffbreeze

    Stiffbreeze Newcomer

    @Hedger Thanks for the insight! That sounds really promising. It resonates with me. I think it'll be hard to do without caring about my sleep, but the idea that I'm just putting the whammy on myself each night makes sense.

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