Over the past week I spent a lot of time thinking about my recovery story for my presentation at the PPDA conference yesterday. As I was organizing my thoughts, I remembered how I first came across TMS. Looking back it is always interesting to see how closed off our thoughts were before we learned about TMS. One thing that I did, which I have mentioned before, was to read success stories, but as I thought about it I remembered that I was obsessed with reading success stories about people with symptoms just like my own (of course, I had a lot of symptoms so it wasn’t all that hard to find them ). When I was starting out, I didn’t really care about how my personality was like other people’s or how other people’s stories were similar to my own. At first it was really all about if they had the same symptom as me. As I looked back I saw that I was looking at TMS from a completely structural focus, and this is something I see a lot of people do as they start out. By obssessivly searching for the story that fit me to the "T", I was doing exactly what my unconscious mind wanted me to do. That is, instead of gaining insights into why I repressed my emotions, I was thinking structurally and putting up barriers that prevented me from fully accepting the diagnosis. I get it. When you are in pain and trying to get out, you want to know there are other people who have been able to recover from your same exact symptom. Those intitial stories give you a lot of confidence and hope. This is actually why our community of peers is so important. There is so much benefit to hearing from people who have been there, and reading stories of others is very beneficial. But I also think we need to find the right way to read these stories and understand when your TMS personality is feeding the pain cycle. Our unconscious mind will look for anything it can do to prevent us from accepting the diagnosis and uncovering our repressed emotions. When you read success stories, don’t worry if the symptoms match yours exactly. Sure if you have some sort of arm/wrist pain reading the RSI section will probably be helpful. But don’t ignore the stories on back pain, gastrointential conditions or headaches. In so doing you are telling your unconscious mind that these conditions are different than yours, when in fact they are all the same thing...TMS. If a person was able to recover from toe pain by using this approach, then reading their story may give you tremendous insights about how to treat your chronic headaches. Reading success stories is a tremendous way to learn about TMS, gain valaubel insights into how to recover, and, most importantly, build up hope. Just don’t get hung up on what the symptoms are.