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Day 3 Back Again, Starting Over

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by Stephanie71, Feb 24, 2017.

  1. Stephanie71

    Stephanie71 Peer Supporter

    Hi everyone,

    I just want to share that I am starting once more and attempting to stick with the Structured Ed program, even thought a lot of it feels like information I already know and feelings I have dealt with. I am trying to just start fresh with a humble open mind.
    My TMS journey has been looooong and rocky. I started having chronic pain at 18 (I'm 31) and discovered Dr. Sarno and TMS recovery at 25. I did have some reduction of symptoms for a period of time, mainly in my neck and upper back/shoulder area. My pain has always been on the left side of my body only, and the worst in the low back/leg/sciatica area. The pain has never been extremely severe, but always there, along with other terrifying symptoms and sensations. I have also had numbness, seemingly limited range of motion, weakness, tingling sensations in that leg and a feeling of it just being "not right" in comparison to the right leg, and this is what has scared me the most. It has always felt so very very structural. I have had MRIs on my low back, left knee, and left hamstring (where I had initial injury) and everything was normal. I'm healthy in every other way ('cept my mind!) I have the TMS personality like WHOA (goodist, people-pleaser, fear-based, worrier, highly sensitive, occasional perfectionist) and had plenty of childhood trauma and issues. I am a recovering addict, as well, but sober for a long time. I still struggle with the mental illness stuff like anxiety and depression off and on, and TMS is definitely connected to that.
    I know this is TMS, and I think it is starting to sink in on deeper levels in ways that it hasn't before. I have been extremely stubborn (not ME but my annoying brain) about accepting TMS 100% and being free of doubt and fear and thinking there is something structurally wrong. But I am getting there. I never have felt like the symptoms have ever left, because I think I have always had lingering doubt that there is something structurally wrong, but I had definitely had symptoms get worse at different times. Sometimes the symptoms, even when they are mild, make me feel a wave of suicidal thought because there is such a deep cutting feeling of "there is something wrong with me that can never be known or fixed."
    Which leads to what I was thinking earlier today - if my fears around my pain functioned as a metaphor, it is pretty interesting what they say: there is something wrong with me, I am deformed, I broke my body/it's my fault, I am different than other people, I am not normal, I deserve this, I am alone in this, I have a big secret, etc. and this is helping me look at the feelings of pain psychologically.
    But I have such a promising beautiful life. In so many ways, I love my life and who I am. I really want to be free from this, and I am willing to do the work, whatever that may look like. I appreciate feedback and support from you all. This is not a path I want to walk alone!
    I do have a question - I am prone to dark thinking, clearly - is it better to "release" these thoughts, or is it better to turn my attention to the positive? I get confused - are we supposed to express our pent up anger in terms of TMS recovery? Or focus on the good and feeling good emotionally? This has always been an area that I have felt torn - like, for instance, I really believe in God and the spiritual path, but then I wonder if believing in hope and goodness and all that is pissing off my unconscious mind that is angry at the world - does that make sense? Haha. I imagine it does to someone! Thanks for reading. Thanks for getting back to me.
    -Stephanie
     
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Stephanie, and welcome to our community - I hope that what we offer here can help you on the road to recovery. You've asked what I think is a core issue when doing this work. Here is my belief, and it is what worked for me.

    I think that we have to be able to differentiate between the "dark thoughts" of depression, along with the panic attacks of anxiety, vs. the emotions that our brains are repressing. This is because I firmly believe, as Dr. Sarno eventually came to believe, that depression and anxiety are simply two more forms of distraction created by our primitive brains, which keep us from experiencing and acknowledging what our brains think is the really bad stuff, the stuff that will somehow kill us if we allow ourselves to experience and acknowledge it. This all worked a lot better when our lives were harsh and very very short. In the modern world, not so much.

    When I was doing this work in 2011, I realized that my panic attacks and episodes of depression actually did feel like physical manifestations - I could feel them coming on, just like I could feel that I was getting a headache or shakiness or digestive discomfort. I used the same technique on all of these conditions, which was to physically calm down (deep breaths), talk myself down ("you're okay") and, most importantly, change the conversation in my head - changing the negative thoughts to something positive and/or constructive and TRUE. This does not mean just "thinking positive" - because putting on a fake happy face when you're feeling bad is simply not helpful, and only adds to emotional repression. The change in your inner dialogue must be TRUE. For me, the true thing I typically told myself (and still do) is "This is just TMS, and it is NOT necessary!"

    Once I've done that, it's time to check in and figure out what's really going on that has brought on the episode. I've written up a couple of examples of how I have successfully done this - once early on with depression, another time a couple of years later with a really scary headache:
    http://www.tmswiki.org/forum/bookmarks/608/view-item (Bookmark | TMS Forum (The Mindbody Syndrome))
    http://www.tmswiki.org/forum/bookmarks/137/view-item (Bookmark | TMS Forum (The Mindbody Syndrome))

    These are the techniques I use and will be using the rest of my life to deal with TMS incidents as they crop up. I haven't had an attack of anxiety or depression since that last episode 2011, but I'm still prone to physical manifestations of TMS, which mostly don't last too long.

    I also want to say that when I was doing the SEP, I discovered that my brain was constantly trying to sabotage me, by telling me that this or that subject wasn't "important" or that it was too embarrassing to look at. When I realized this was going on, I forced myself to write those things down and to look at them. None of them were particularly earth-shattering (I didn't discover any traumas) but they WERE very revealing about how I really felt about myself as a very young child - and getting to the heart of how I came to be so anxious, for example, was incredibly helpful and freeing.

    Good luck, and keep us posted!

    ~Jan
     
    Ellen likes this.
  3. Stephanie71

    Stephanie71 Peer Supporter

    Hi Jan,

    I really appreciate your reply and relate a lot to what you are talking about. In the end, when you specify the best way to deal with negative thinking and emotions, was really helpful. I find that when I try to just overly "feel" and express my anger and suffering about past events, I feel worse, overall. So I am doing my best to be in acceptance of feelings, without suppressing, but also taking good care of myself. I saw that someone recommended Back in Control and Feeling Good, and I am starting to read both of those. I am really seeing that it is my mind (and soul) that needs treatment, not the areas of my body that hurt. Thanks again.
    -Stephanie
     
  4. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Jan and Stephanie,

    Wonderful conversation. I wanted to respond to this:

    This to me is basically superego activity, or Inner Critic attacks related to the deficient self-images that we all have down deep. This "lack" is at the core of the personality and common to all, although many do not experience it so directly. It may be helpful to see each of these thoughts, including "I'm at fault because I'm not getting better" as Inner Critic attacks, and disengage from your belief in them. This takes practice, but it starts by seeing these repetitive thoughts as "attacks from the Inner Critic," witnessing them as such, and not believing them. And Jan has some good techniques in
    dealing with this too. These inner attacks are relentless and lead us to believe that our lives are "less than" or even "not worth living." I love Byron Brown's book Soul Without Shame as a primer for disengaging from the inner critical voices.

    This is a great insight!

    Best,

    Andy B
     
  5. Stephanie71

    Stephanie71 Peer Supporter

    Hi Andy B! Thank you for your reply and book request. I'm a book junkie, so I look forward to adding another to my list. I have been working with some cognitive behavioral stuff, and it seems to be helping. As I said before, I am very aware that I need to be in the process of treating my mind, not my body. I am still struggling at times with doubt, and I wondered what people do when those thoughts come in? I still waffle back and forth between totally accepting the pain as TMS and believing there is something structural. This is going to sound a bit crazy, but since I had an MRI on my low back and hamstring, my mind is now trying to convince that it is the glute area that was never MRI'd and that is where the problem must lie! (Piriformis syndrome, a diagnosis I have had before.) As much I liked a lot of the info in Back in Control, his mention of surgery sometimes being necessary and helpful really triggered me. I set the book down. Anyone have experience with continuing to accept TMS when structural problem thinking is flying in your head?? Thank you!
     
  6. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is the natural movement of your mind, in the TMS cycle. Observe and disengage. If you have doubts, observe them and move to the next thought. The longer you dwell there, in your fixing, strategizing, worried mind, the more TMS is doing its thing to distract you. Then it will do it more. Break the cycle when you see it arise, in any way you feel called.
     
  7. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Stephanie. You need to stop thinking any of your pain is structural. It takes 100 percent belief in TMS to heal. Give that a real good try. I recommend you read Steve Ozanich's book, The Great Pain Deception. He tells how he healed from multiple pains through finally believing they were caused by his emotions... in his case, his anger at a doctor for botching his wife's operation that nearly killed her.
     

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