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Anxious doing nothing

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by tarala, Oct 3, 2012.

  1. tarala

    tarala Well known member

    I have thought for a long time that my sciatica/back problems were my brain's way of making me slow down, as I'm a chronic over-doer. This goes hand in hand with my perfectionism, and trying to get it all right. Now I'm really noticing how bad I am at doing nothing. I often don't do the things I "need" to be doing, and am just goofing off or playing computer games. But it's not relaxing as I have the feeling there are things I should be doing. But I don't do them either because really I don't want to.

    Yesterday as per Day 7 (Self Care Day) I even planned a massage. Not a pain reducing massage, a pleasure one. But I couldn't resist-- I ended up telling her, "get those knots out no matter how hard you have to go." I noticed last night I had a headache and my shoulder hurt. What a surprise.

    The only exception is on holiday, when doing nothing is what I am supposed to be doing. Almost always my symptoms ease greatly or even disappear. So now I've scheduled an hour a day in the sun, just reading or, well, not doing nothing-- I'm not quite there yet! Any suggestions are very welcome. Thanks for all the help, it's a great forum.
  2. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    It's hard to make time for ourselves. I think when you finally slow down there's this feeling of, now what?

    Also I sometimes feel like I have to be doing something amazing with my free time when all I really want to do is take a walk or watch TV. I get perfectionistic even with fun things! I think a lot of us do this.
  3. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Terry, I notice I have the same problem you describe. I can't just go out and take a leisurely ride on my road bike. I have to ride as hard as I possibly can for 40 miles. Each thing I do has to involve total commitment, perfectionism and over-achieving. You can really see the truth in what Dr Sarno says about the roots of TMS in personality type; that is, the worst sort of pressure that leads to the development of TMS symptoms is quite often the self-imposed pressure we put on ourselves.
  4. Explorer

    Explorer Well known member


    This is Day #1 for me and admittedly I am an OCD Do-er. I just always have to be busy. I think it's because if I am busy I don't have to address my real problems and worries, and oh there are many.

    That said, since getting this full body pain syndrome, I do much more relaxing and taking care of myself. I can see myself opening a yoga studio, if I can learn yoga, and just doing peaceful things for the next juncture of my life.

    I've been in the hussle and bussle of a corporate job for way too many years. Change is good. Especially for those of us with TMS.

    Stay in touch,
  5. tarala

    tarala Well known member

    Thanks so much for your responses. I'm sure my busy-ness is a way to not stop and feel. It helps a lot to put it right out there on the table and shine a bit of light on it. So thanks for listening.
  6. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    My behavior today really told me something about the amount of pressure I put on myself. Yesterday I took a fast bike ride and then went to gym and lifted weights until 11 pm. Felt fine all day, and woke up with no TMS pain (or very, very little). However, instead of exercising vigorously this afternoon, instead I hung around the house and did very, very little. Now, as evening draws on, I went outside to pick up a few limbs I pruned in the front yard and could feel my sciatica flare up again. Obviously, the source of my TMS pain is not physical since I did a 100 times less today than yesterday, yet my pain is a number grade worse. Obviously, the pain is due to pressure I'm putting on myself unconsciously while just sitting around trying to relax (which I still can't do completely, even with my daily meditations and breathing exercises). I think it's probably due to the fact that when I don't get out of the house, I'm forced to face the residue of my relationship with my dead parents who owned this place for 50 years. The unconscious conditioning makes me squirmy and nervous as I feel guilty about not doing enough to live up to their expectations. Ghosts of the unconscious! But I guess becoming aware of these things is a necessary first step toward finally exorcising the influence they have over me. Seems that's what Dr. Sarno really means about knowledge of the emotional sources driving your TMS being the necessary first step to healing yourself. Slow learners. Fast learners. But if you keep plugging away eventually you will find out how the process of emotional repression works in yourself.
  7. tarala

    tarala Well known member

    I did two things this morning I haven't done in quite a while. The first was to wash some windows, some of which are pretty difficult to reach and require contortionist type behavior. The second was much harder. It wasn't causing pain (yay!) so the compulsion to keep going and going until I had washed them all and the neighbors too was very strong. So each day I have just washed a few, and what's more, some of them are still a bit streaky. This is murder for a perfectionist, but it was kind of fun to watch how crazy I am :) I have sciatica too, MorComm and it's so hard for me to monitor my over-doing rather than the pain itself.
  8. honeybear424

    honeybear424 Well known member

    I have the hardest time doing nothing. I have told my husband more than once (many more times) in our 21 years together that if I am sitting on the couch doing nothing and someone sees me...whether someone comes to the door or even my husband or my girls...they will think I am lazy. So I go and go and go and go...
  9. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    This business about the development of PPD or TMS (or whatever else you like to call it) during periods of inactivity following some emotional crisis really resonates with me. My first bout of TMS (diagnosed as a so-called 'herniated disk') occurred a short while after my mother passed away when I was no longer overwhelmed taking care of her in the retirement home. My relapse in 2008-2009 occurred right after I finished writing a book that had completely absorbed all my energy for over a year. I would say that taking care of my late mother and writing the book both served to distract me from underlying emotional problems that I had to face during a down time following a period of crisis. I understand from Dr Zafirides that this is a common scenario leading to the development of TMS and its equivalents. I notice too in Edward Shorter's book on the history of psychosomatic complaints, From Paralysis to Fatigue (1992) that even back in the 18th century it was young women who were sitting around at their leisure waiting for "Prince Charming" to come along and make them brides who most often developed general pain symptoms that were caused by what was then diagnosed as "spinal irritation". It certainly seems as though hobgoblins of the mind develop at those points in life that follow a crisis that has totally absorbed the patient's energies. The mind must be "switched on" during the crisis, but just can't switch itself off again after the problem is over, especially if you have a perfectionist, goodist personality type that is always striving, striving, striving. In the 18th century, symptoms were often relieved by applying irritants to raise a blister on the skin over the back or else by "cupping", which obviously functioned as placebos. Other distractions to replace old distractions? I find it assuring though that these sort of Mindbody symptoms have such a long history and seem to function according to the same psychological laws if you will. That means they can be treated and eliminated through knowledge about how they originate and function.

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