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Being disabled by TMS is upsetting... but should it be?

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by music321, Apr 12, 2018.

  1. music321

    music321 Well known member

    It seems that a key aspect of TMS recovery, if not THE key aspect, is to be "at peace" with physical problems. With this in mind, I've tried to consciously steer my thoughts toward positivity regarding TMS and the associated problems. I've tried not to feel sorry for myself, have tried to think of a positive future. I try to look at my present limitations as just a temporary state that will yield to something better. I try to steer myself away from feeling down.

    Out of nowhere, I'll sometimes be seized by depression/anxiety regarding my condition. My latest tactic is to simply experience this somewhat, and let it drift through me. It's a tough balancing act between allowing myself to experience these emotions and dwelling in negativity. Trying to "look on the bright side" often feels like an act of repression.

    I have started seriously meditating, after having been away from it for quite some time. As is always the case when I delve deep into meditation, I feel profoundly worse over the next day or two prior to feeling better. I believe that this period of feeling worse is a catharsis during which negative thoughts and attitudes are worked out of the mind, to be replaced by something more positive.

    Most recently, my experience of feeling worse manifested in feeling profound anger regarding not only my great difficulties in walking as a result of weakness and stiffness, but also the incredible length of time I've been trying to walk properly again. Furthermore, I'd just stopped using a walker all the time, and was spending some time walking without it. Unfortunately, I bent my toes backwards as a result of slipping off of an outdoor walkway between my front door and my car. As a result of this, I have not been able to exercise my feet. My modest gain of walking 100 feet in a pool is something I can't do at this point. Frankly, for all I know, this pain could be TMS to some degree, but I can't know this. It seems unwise to push through this pain.

    How am I supposed to feel about these things? To say that I feel fine with hardly being able to walk, and bending my toes backwards, would be a lie. I completed the six week program about a year ago, and am still struggling with TMS.

    At one point in my TMS journey, I tried to differentiate between pain from real injuries as opposed to TMS pain. I realized that I couldn't differentiate, and instead tried to experience all pain as a neutral sensation, devoid of emotional encumbrance. In some ways, this has worked. I've managed to decrease mini panic attacks that accompany pain. As I mentioned though, I'm frustrated and hurt by my predicament. At this point, I'm thinking that perhaps the path forward has nothing to do with my attitude toward pain, but rather with my attitude toward life. Perhaps it's natural to feel upset when in pain. After all, who doesn't? Is the answer instead just to process my reactions toward pain, complete with fear, anger, frustration, etc., and let these emotions play out over days or weeks, while just keeping a hopeful eye toward the future?

    Is recovery essentially just having a positive outlook toward life, and nothing else?
    If this is not the answer, maybe someone can offer some advice.

    Last edited: Apr 12, 2018
  2. KevinB

    KevinB Well known member

    Sounds like you could benefit from working with a TMS therapist. There's no shame in this, Dr. Sarno always said that a good chunk of his TMS patients required psychotherapy. I myself finally began seeing a TMS therapist, and continued with her for just over a year. I'm currently in the midst of a flare up, but I have the tools to get through it, many of which I learned in therapy.

    There's a list of practicing therapists on this site. If there is not one near you, many, if not all, do Skype or FaceTime.

    Good luck!
    Tennis Tom likes this.
  3. Homestead Hermit

    Homestead Hermit Peer Supporter

    In my experience, pretending to be happy when I'm not feeling happy has done more harm than good. I've always been on the path of self-discovery and spirituality, always searching for answers to the big questions. But I think your post has made me realize something big: What if the goal is not to be HAPPY but, instead, to be GRATEFUL. I've tried my entire life to find happiness, to look at the silver linings in order to be happy...it feels like a facade to me, it's not my nature. BUT I can always be grateful for anything, even the negative emotions and events of life, and maybe in the end that will lead me to more happiness.

    I say, if it feels wrong to you to deny your feelings of anger, fear, etc. don't do it. I believe these are also emotions we need to feel and not repress (that will only build upon what we're already repressing). FEEL them, let them pass, there is also no need to act them out. Let them be there.

    To me, it's such a double edged sword to have a positive outlook toward life...I know I would LIKE to have that attitude. There is so much to love about life and silver linings can always be found. But if my whole goal of life is to be positive, what happens when negative things occur? I'll feel let down, deflated. "But I tried so hard to see the good things? I had my expectations raised so high!"

    What if it's about not having expectations? Just taking life as it comes? On the TMS journey, it can feel daunting to think of our desired end result, to be pain free. What if we never get there? (which I know we aren't supposed to think of, we need to be 100% sure our pain is TMS and that we WILL recover) But I'm finding I feel better about taking it one day at a time, being an observer of this process, focusing on decreasing my FEAR rather than the pain (this mindset has helped me more than anything lately).

    I've been trying to not have expectations of what the outcome will be of this process. I just want to take it as it is. And that means accepting all the negative emotions surrounding the pain. They will exist, there's no need to deny them.
    Lynn S likes this.
  4. music321

    music321 Well known member

    Thanks for both of the replies. I hear what you're saying regarding being grateful. I did consult with a TMS therapist, but maybe it's time to do so again.
  5. Loobie

    Loobie Newcomer

    I just thought to share my experience . . . to see if it sheds any light.
    My tendency has been to look at things positively / optimistically - and there is definitely a shadow to this!

    My physical symptoms are milder than yours (though enough to keep me out of work for 2 years), so probably much easier to believe it's TMS.
    So yesterday when I was walking and noticing my physical symptoms - I observed them and told my body I didn't believe them. Telling myself that they were there to protect me from emotions I didn't want to acknowledge. And then letting myself know that I was pissed off with this. I'd rather acknowledge the difficult emotions that existed. I did this repeatedly - as my symptoms hopped all over my body, trying to get my attention - it was like, 'no I don't believe you, nor you . . .no, not you either'. I noticed that some symptoms I found it harder to not believe..
    I even sat down for a while and talked out loud to myself - I even started by thanking the part of myself that was creating these symptoms, believing that somewhere the intention was a self-protective mechanism. And then got sterner, telling this aspect of myself, I didn't want to do it anymore, and it was time to do things differently.

    (Having been a yoga teacher, and years of training of listening to my body, it's a thing to start not believing its' queues and seeing these physical messages as a lie to smoke-screen the difficult emotions. AND my emotions will be experienced as sensations in the body - so a balancing act between the two I believe.)

    As a result of this, I had the most energised walk I can remember having for a long time. And rather than coming home after this longer walk, I didn't need to collapse, as normal, and recover - I was able to sort out some food in the oven straight away.

    So for me, it wasn't denial of my emotions. It was more getting pissed off with the part of me that was creating this collection of physical symptoms to protect me from emotions.
    And then, I managed to procrastinate and get to bed late - another way to distract myself from what is going on emotionally! So something that I want to attend to as part of the program.

    Wishing you well on your journey.
    Homestead Hermit and hecate105 like this.
  6. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    To me music, there is something to be said about allowing and exploring anger that jumps out in your story. That is where the aliveness is. To feel it, own it, explore how your anger connects to past experiences which the TMS may be evoking, etc.
    Homestead Hermit, KevinB and Lynn S like this.
  7. Loobie

    Loobie Newcomer

    Yes - and for me it is key to place the anger in the right place . . . not at the symptoms . . . but at the defence mechanism that has developed the need to create the symptoms. And then as you say to feel, own and explore . . . what this defence mechanism is protecting.
    So bloody glad I found this work! And I've started reading Steve Ozanich - Great Pain Deception. In the midst of reading Id / Shadow, Superego and Ego. Feeling very alive with thoughts about my work too - how I can bring all this together.
    Wishing one and all well.
    Homestead Hermit and KevinB like this.
  8. Homestead Hermit

    Homestead Hermit Peer Supporter

    I read this and it made me think of your question regarding feeling the anger. I think this anger and frustration can actually HELP the process, especially if you recognize that you are angry because of the pain and pretend that pain is a bully.

    Taken from Stand up to Your Inner Bully section of Week 0 of the TMS Recovery Program:

    "When you hear this internal bully criticizing, pressuring, or terrifying you, let yourself feel the justified anger that such mistreatment warrants.

    “How dare you!” “Get the hell out of here!” Or imagine yourself punching the bully in the face"

    http://www.tmswiki.org/ppd/TMS_Recovery_Program (TMS Recovery Program)
  9. karinabrown

    karinabrown Well known member

    Like this homestead, focussen on decreasing fear instead of pain
    My attempt too at this moment
  10. Loobie

    Loobie Newcomer

    I've just got a copy of Geoff Thompson's book Fear (it's an abridged version of his book Fear - the friend of exceptional people). He's been a bouncer - so will know a thing or two! The introduction opens with 'The Jonah Complex (a fear of success)' - which I can relate to.
    I found it recommended on this Wiki somewhere I think. I'll let you know how I get on with it.
    I went out and had a knickerbocker glory today! (A piled up ice-cream thing.) In honour of my inner child, felt good.
    OK, wishing you all well with your journeys.

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