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Can TMS occur without emotional or psychological issues?

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Mtn biker, Jan 31, 2020.

  1. Mtn biker

    Mtn biker New Member

    This will be a longer post, so here’s the "TL;DR":

    Can TMS develop without any emotional distress or psychological issues? If so, how do I cure it if I've got no emotional issues to resolve?

    That being said, here is my story.

    I have been experiencing low back pain since last March, which has been persistently present every day. I've seen every type of doctor you would think could treat this: My primary care doctor, an orthopedic spine specialist, a rheumatologist, two different chiropractors (for 15 sessions each), a massage therapist, an acupuncturist, and now weeks of physical therapy. Nothing has helped. I've gotten xrays, MRIs and bone scans, none of which revealed any abnormalities. The rheumatologist ordered a bunch of blood tests done. Everything came back normal (which is good news). My physical therapist had me go through the McKenzie protocol, which is basically a series of back extension exercises. That was uncomfortable but I told myself "it might hurt at first, but it's going to make you better, so just do it." Yet my pain persists.

    There was no physical event or injury that caused this pain (that I am aware of). It just started one day, and never went away. I am an otherwise completely healthy, active 46-year old male. I eat a squeaky-clean diet (most of the time). Outside of work, I am a competitive mountain biker, which has been my hobby for years. (I actually had a full professional bike fit done last summer, thinking my setup might be my problem, but the fitter didn't really make any major changes. Besides, the pain started before I was training for the season.) I took about six weeks off around December from most physical activity (except some occasional yoga and stretching). Didn't help.

    I've continued to do research to try to figure this out. A few weeks ago I heard about TMS and read Dr. Sarno's book Healing Back Pain. My symptoms seem to match those of TMS: unexplained, chronic low back pain. The pain actually "moves around," meaning certain parts of my back hurt more than others on some days. Lately the pain has occurred in the front too (groin area). This week it hurts most around the upper corners of my pelvis. Movement and stretching relieve the pain, but it always returns. I can ride my bike without aggravating my back, and gym workouts diminish the pain also. But when I wake up in the morning, it's always there.

    However, I can't explain the cause of TMS: I wasn't under significant stress when the pain started. I have no psychological trauma in my past. I am in general happy and satisfied in my life. I am married to a wonderful woman. We're financially stable. I grew up in a normal household, one of four children with parents who remained happily married. (My mother passed away from cancer about 15 years ago.) I don't have any hidden fears, I'm not a perfectionist, and am generally pretty self-confident.

    The ONLY thing I can think of was that I was very unhappy in my previous job for about a year (2018), but I eventually found a new job and left my previous one in November of 2018. So I don't think that would have been the cause. Dr. Sarno discusses the "delayed-onset reaction" in his book, but states that "one or two weeks after it's all over, they have an attack of back pain." My pain first appeared in March 2019, over four months later.

    So is it possible for TMS to occur without any significant psychological stress? Could this maybe not be TMS? It is going on a year now, I am incredibly frustrated and keep waiting for the day I wake up in the morning and it's gone. I recently ordered Dr. Schubiner's book Unlearn Your Pain. I've contacted two TMS practitioners in my area (the only two listed in the Philadelphia area) but neither are seeing new patients.

    At this point I am willing to do almost anything to be rid of this. I've tried all the mental exercises I can think of and lately have been telling myself "just quit worrying about it!" but that doesn't magically make the pain go away.
  2. Benjiro

    Benjiro Peer Supporter

    Thoughts and emotions like to hide, sometimes even for years or a lifetime. When my TMS was its worse, I consciously was a very unemotional person, and had no idea what could be causing it. As I started to heal, emotions like anger began to surface and then I had a better idea what was going on. This makes sense because the whole purpose of TMS is to distract from unconscious emotions. And as long as you keep believing you are perfectly happy inside the strategy is working to perfection.

    Remember, you don’t need to embody all the personality traits or have lived trauma to get TMS — in my opinion most people have some kind of mindbody issue, even if in some cases it isn’t too disruptive. If your pain is intense, then that may be a good indication there is significant unconscious stress.

    TMS is a vicious cycle — it typically adds to the psychological stress that triggered it through a negative feedback loop. But I also made the mistake before I accepted the diagnosis of believing my only problem in life was TMS. TMS, in fact, was the effect, not the cause, of the real issue.

    Once you accept the diagnosis and take steps to deal with unconscious emotions, it would not surprise me if you healed within a relatively short period of time, especially if your environment is otherwise healthy/supportive.
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  3. balance4me

    balance4me New Member

    Mtn biker--enjoyed your post.

    I think it is very important to remember that the subconscious is irrational, and that even though we may feel that everything in our lives is wonderful and under control, the very fact that we have a nagging pain syndrome proves that something is amiss.

    Your post could have described my husband several years ago. Great job, plenty of money, good marriage, successful child, physically active, even his national sports teams won all the time! (ha ha!). However, he developed intractable lower back pain that nothing could dispel. He is a highly skeptical, low-emotion engineer, but he gave Sarno's book a try at my insistence and as soon as he accepted the possibility that it was TMS--poof! The pain disappeared. He has an occasional twinge now, but just acknowledges immediately that the TMS is back, looks at his life and emotions and talks himself out of it.

    Hope this helps you!
  4. Mtn biker

    Mtn biker New Member

    Thanks for the responses. So if I accept the diagnosis of TMS (which I have), and the effect of TMS (the pain) is caused by unconscious emotions, how do I begin to identify what those emotions are and what triggered them? I keep digging through my memory for emotions that might have been present when this all started last year and I'm coming up empty. Whatever it is, I need to bring it to the surface so I can deal with it (I don't know how to do that, either) and move on. Maybe it was all that time when I was miserable in my job, but leaving it felt like the best day of my life. I had no physical pain during that dark period; it wasn't until a few months later that this started and I am way past that now.

    Benjiro, you mentioned as you started to heal, your anger began to surface. How did you know that was happening? Did you think "oh yeah, I remember that particular situation, and it was awful" and then suddenly feel angry about it?
  5. Benjiro

    Benjiro Peer Supporter

    It was more of a progressive thing. Once I accepted the diagnosis (for real), my mind started caring less about my biology and more about my biography. As this happened, pain started decreasing and emotions started increasing. I did some journaling, I exercised, I paid attention to my dreams (unconscious clues), I talked to people.

    It was quite alarming because prior to then I had become a very unemotional person. Once you are fully convinced your body is basically fine, your attention will often make the switch by itself. But I’d recommend some kind of journaling and paying attention to dreams (royal road to the unconscious) if that’s not already working for you. Dreams are often a clue as to what is going on beneath your conscious attention. And when you start paying attention they typically become more vivid.
  6. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Great answers from @Benjiro and @balance4me, and Welcome @Mtn biker.

    Unlearn Your Pain will get you there, although I never got very far into it because I found it kind of heavy going, in spite of the fact that I love and admire Dr Schubiner for everything he's done and the amazing work he's still doing.

    The resource that got me on the road to recovery was our free Structured Educational Program on the main wiki. It incorporates material similar to ULP, but in daily easy-to-incorporate modules.

    Like you, I didn't have obvious reasons for emotional repression, but, perhaps unlike you, I'd had low level anxiety and minor TMS symptoms all my life, which got worse as I got older. Aging alone can be a powerful source of emotional rage and repression.

    You don't sound like you really need a TMS practitioner. I totally self-diagnosed back in 2011, and never looked back.

    I have a list of favorite resources on my profile if you're interested. But check out the SEP!
  7. Mtn biker

    Mtn biker New Member

    Thought I'd give the forum an update on my condition since my post a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I haven't made any progress and my symptoms actually seem to be getting worse. My back pain continues and is more focused in my pelvis lately, sort of around the corners of my hip bones. Also, over the past two weeks or so, I've noticed some new symptoms: First, I am getting bouts of dizziness. They only last for a few seconds and go away, but are annoying nonetheless. Secondly (and more concerningly), I've been experiencing heart palpitations. I had to google this to see if it is another TMS symptom and it seems that it is. I feel them very easily; it's like a hard "thunk" in my chest each time it happens. My heartbeat is like this: ba-bump... ba-bump... ba-bump... bump-THUNK-bump... And repeat. It's happening as I type this. From what I've read online about palpitations, they are mostly benign, but still somewhat scary. I did a training ride today with my cycling team and my heartrate at times got up into the 170s. At that heartrate I can't really distinguish the palpitations but I can still feel almost like a "hollowness" in my chest and neck just above my sternum. It's very strange, but doesn't seem to be affecting my strength or physical stamina. It comes and goes, and when it's not happening, I don't notice it. When I finally realize "hey, my heart has been beating normally for the past couple of hours!" the palpitations then start back up.

    Anyway, my wife is getting more and more concerned and wanted me to go back to my primary care doctor, but I don't think he can help me. Since the only two TMS practitioners in the Philadelphia area aren't seeing any new patients, I broadened my search and made an appointment with a doctor up closer to New York. (I found him on the practitioners list on this site.) It's a longer drive but at this point I am willing to do almost anything to be rid of this.

    I've been reading through Dr. Schubiner's Unlearn Your Pain, but so much of it focuses on identifying past traumatic or stressful events, and as I mentioned before, I really can't think of anything lingering in my past that would be causing this to drag on for almost a year. The meditations on his website are very relaxing but don't seem to have much of an effect on my symptoms. I am just assuming I've got something buried in my past that must be affecting me on a sub-conscious level, and I think I need a professional to help me dig it out and figure out how to deal with it.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2020
  8. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Of course you can't because you have pain there to make sure you never find anything. That's how repression works. You can't think of anything... not even in your pre-conscious which is stuff you can shake lose with contemplation and trigger questions.

    I was born to the most loving , enlightened family ever. My father was like Gandhi and My Mom, Mother Theresa. They never even bickered but lovingly talked out all problems with my siblings, who also never ever had any problems with me or with their own lives. There was love and egalitarianism all the way around.
    I had no problems growing up and all of my dreams and plans came to fruition out of steady work and determination and I never got off my path but only got loving nudges which I responded to with humility and grace. All of my peers were also from enlightened families so we never fought or name called or bully-ragged but conscientiously discussed any differences of opinion.
    I fell in love with a girl when I was 13 and I never had any turbulence, rejection or bad feelings. We married at 18, mutually supported each other through every endeavor and have agreed on everything for the duration of our marriage, including how to raise children, who is in charge of the finances and how they are spent and what is done in our recreational time.
    I am full satisfied spiritually economically and mentally with my occupation, I get along with all of my co-workers, I am rewarded liberally for all of my hard work and have so much free time that I am constantly looking for new ways to share the wealth I have discovered with the rest of the world for whom I only have compassion.
    I have no interest in politics, Don't ever even listen to controversy or disagreement and am OK coming in third place if that's my lot....

    If that's even close to your story, You probably don't have TMS. Wherever it ISN'T your story might be a good place to start digging...

    Figuring out WHY we need the distraction is an act of creativity.... Since it's repressed I have to speculate. I am not even sure if I am right in real time (hindsight is sometimes 20/20)... speculation is enough.

    ...and all of this meditation/relaxation BS I keep seeing on this forum is annoying. Sarno spoke out against anything other than educating yourself about this problem. I am like a squirrel on meth and I have been pain free for 21 years doing the speculating part.... If relaxation helped banish TMS the chronic pain clinic I was in would have helped, but it DIDN't....

    check your story. I am always flummoxed whenever I have had little relapses, wondering why I got them because "Everything's OK"....and then on closer inspection... maybe not so much.

    read, the literature and dig. You will find it.

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  9. Mtn biker

    Mtn biker New Member

    I appreciate the insight. I have been doing a lot of self-education on TMS and it's pretty clear that my symptoms match the disease. So I've accepted that. And of course I haven't had a completely charmed life. Like most people I've had my struggles. Most likely not as bad as some, but nonetheless there have been times when my life was less than fulfilled. But I've always managed to pull through.

    What isn't clear to me is what I'm supposed to do with the past issues when I speculate that something in my past might be the source of my pain. The cure has got to be more than just educating myself. For example, as I mentioned in my first post, I was in a job that I hated for about a year. I was miserable. Eventually I found another company and moved on, which was a tremendous relief. When I reflect back on that dark period of my life, what am I supposed to do to with it?

    My challenge lies in the fact that this unexplained back pain (my first symptom, which morphed into others) started during a period when I felt things were really going well for me and my life was in a better place. Why would my subconscious brain choose then to sound the alarm bells, and not when I was actually suffering emotionally?

    Again, really appreciate your comments.
  10. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    That's one of those Gnostic mysterys.... we don't know, nor does anybody except God . Sarno did point out that a lot of women get their symptoms AFTER the holidays... Maybe it's a deep resentment at not being appreciated for their sacrifice? selflessness unacknowledged?
    There was a lot of stuff I didn't understand in '99 that is clear to me now... But i did take it on faith that I didn't need to figure it out, just understand that it was causing the pain. Each one of us has to be our own researcher into our own peculiarities.

    NOW (like 2020) when I get an attempted incursion it is ALWAYS when there is 'nothing going on and my life is great' because that's how my lifes been for a long time now.... but, in the psychology chapter(s) we learned that the ID never really grows up. So, sometimes it's guilt that my life is going so well when others' are not. Sometimes it's Shame, sometimes anger... whenever I get a 'tickle' I immediately have to think 'childishly'... Like a selfish veruca salt-ish 5 year old.

    Then I see that a lot of my learned 'adult' behaviors, whilst they have helped me succeed at a lot of stuff, cover up some uncomfortable embarrassing residue. I don't need to act on them...just know they are there.

    I have two cars, my own pad, great relationships with my kids, a beautiful loving partner and a job where I have unchecked freedom and I am paid well for my time (for real). I play baseball and guitar everyday I can and am 54 competing with 20somethings. I have a charmed life.... but that 5 year old who got left alone, put in places, had to go to special ed, got beat up on the way home and fought non-stop with his siblings is still there in the basement. We all have a basement...we just need to keep an awareness of it. Whenever I do get a symptom I turn my mind to some unsavory feeling and focus on it and the symptom goes away. It's so easy it sounds absurd, but it's worked for 20+ years....

    ..and I know I'm not special cuz it has worked for all of my Bro's as well.

    took me a second to get the hang of it, but it works. Will for you too!
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  11. Ren

    Ren New Member

    Hi there @Mtn biker - sorry to hear that you're dealing with this. Trying to navigate through all of this can be a hugely frustrating ordeal, I know!

    I just thought I'd chime in, as from reading your posts, you sound an awful lot like me, about a year ago. I've been dealing with different symptoms (I'm not all the way there - so perhaps take my advice with a pinch of salt - but I'm way, way better than I was last year), mostly headaches and head pressure, but the actual symptoms themselves are incidental and the differences don't really matter. I also thought I'd contribute, because I feel I have a somewhat different perspective than the replies that you've already received. Not to say that these are false, or anything like that at all. Far from it - you've gotten some good advice. It's rather that TMS as a 'condition' is incredibly nebulous and that what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for another, and so taking any advice you receive as suggestions as opposed to verbatim, intractable truth is important. There's no unified, right way to go about healing.

    That actually leads onto my first and main point - there's nothing wrong with you. TMS isn't a real 'condition,' so to speak, but rather a normal, natural function of your body. Everyone on the planet experiences TMS to some degree, whether that's a minor headache when you're feeling a bit stressed, or full-blown fibromyalgia/CFS/etc. Those examples are at opposite ends of the spectrum, and obviously one of them represents a major, debilitating issue when the other doesn't, but it's exactly the same process going on inside, just on a different scale. I'm making this point because you referred to it as a 'disease' - it's not. It's a natural constituent aspect of human existence - but in your case it's gone haywire. My doctor friend made a pretty good analogy, actually: the hardware is fine, but it's as if the software has gone awry.

    Now, some are going to advise you that you need to dig through your past, find this unconscious emotion that you're repressing, bring it out, feel it, process it, and then once things are out in the open, you'll be fine. Thing is - that didn't work for me, at all. I spent months on months trawling through my past, examining my relationship with my parents, among other things. I was convinced - obsessed - that I had something buried deep inside, and that I would only be pain-free once it was out in the open. And so I went on and on, trying to find whatever emotions I had buried inside. It only made me worse. My headaches became a singular, intractable headache, and the head pressure I was experiencing ramped up in intensity. At some points it felt like my head would burst at any moment. It was absolutely horrible.

    I probably do have some repressed things inside that don't want to come out. But I don't think it's necessary to go looking for them. In fact, for a lot of people, I think it will only make you worse.

    Despite the vast majority of more modern research on TMS pointing towards activated neural pathways, many people still swear by John Sarno, and strongly advocate that you need to feel your repressed emotions, otherwise you're never going to heal. I find this fairly ironic, because Sarno never advocated this at all. If anything, he said the opposite - that it was likely fruitless to attempt to 'figure out' what you were feeling in your unconscious, and the way to healing was simply to accept the diagnosis. That being: you're fine, there's nothing wrong with you.

    That said, for some, advocating that you need to identify your repressed emotions can be useful advice, because it encourages you to have greater self-awareness, compassion, and emotional intelligence. For others, I think it's quite dangerous advice, because it sets you on a path of obsession, trying to figure out what you've got buried underneath. And when it comes to TMS, getting obsessive is probably the worst thing you can do. That's what exactly what I see when I read your posts.

    Anyway, you might be wondering - I've accepted the diagnosis, why am I still in pain? Obviously don't just take my word for it - you'd be better off speaking to a professional - but here's my take on why you're feeling how you are:

    - You're still fretting over individual symptoms. As scary as the heartbeat irregularity/palpitations are, the actual symptoms are irrelevant. Worrying about new symptoms will only produce even more new symptoms.
    - You're in fear. This is entirely normal and natural. Who wouldn't be fearful, when they are suddenly struck down by horrible pain, even though they feel happy? (My point being - don't beat yourself up for being scared. I did this a lot when I realised fear was the main driver of my pain - I knew that I had to just let go, but I carried on being scared and fearful. This just led to more pain).
    - You're trying to get over/heal your symptoms. I know this sounds paradoxical - again, who wouldn't be trying to get rid of them? But acting out of a want to dispose of symptoms will only entrench them.

    The trick is acceptance. You have to accept your symptoms, to the point where you don't care if you have them or not. It's really hard - seriously fucking hard - but it's crucial to realise that fear is the main driver in your pain. So long as you're worried about your back pain, your heartbeat, your dizziness, these symptoms will be unlikely to resolve. To add to that - and I think this is the main thing you need to hear - so long as you're trying to get over these symptoms/do anything about them, they will likely remain. And this includes digging around in your past, trying in vain to find the 'emotion' that's driving all of this, that's keeping you in pain.

    There's already a major clue, in my view, in what you wrote here:

    'It comes and goes, and when it's not happening, I don't notice it. When I finally realize "hey, my heart has been beating normally for the past couple of hours!" the palpitations then start back up.'

    This is exactly the crux of it. Whenever we think about our symptoms, we reinforce them. When we just get on with our lives and forget about them, they go away. This is why 'trying to heal' from TMS can often just make it worse - we just end up thinking about our symptoms all the time.

    Anyway, I've already written way more than I thought I would, and I don't want to overwhelm you, so I'll just give you one last piece of advice. I know you said that meditation wasn't really working for you, but I urge you to give it another try. Somatic tracking is a particularly useful form of meditation when it comes to all of this - there's a whole section dedicated to it actually in Alan Gordon's recovery program, which is available free here on the forum and I also seriously urge you to look at (he's fantastic, and explains things really clearly). Meditation likely wasn't working for you before, because you were using it as a tool to vanquish symptoms. If you go into it with that mindset, it'll never work. Treat it as a way to practice acceptance. Your goal here isn't to get rid of your symptoms, as bizarre as I know that might sound (why else are you here?), but to accept them to the degree that you no longer care if they're there or not. If you do that, the fear no longer has a hold over you, the brain no longer feels unsafe, and the neural pathways will slowly reset to normal. The system that's gone haywire calms down and resets to normal as it realises there isn't any danger, basically. Measure the success of each day not by how much pain you have, but by how little you care about it. It's not easy - but for me it was the only way out of this mess.

    Good luck mate. If you have any questions, I'll be happy to take a go at answering them. Though there are far more experienced people here who will probably do a better job!

    PS - don't take anything I said as gospel truth. Different things work for different people. I see myself in nearly every word of your posts, though, so I couldn't help but try advise you.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2020
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  12. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is so good (with my emphasis):
    Altogether an awesome post from @Ren with great advice. Especially the emphasis on how we are all different. To which I will add to always remember: doing this work is not linear, it's not black and white, and there is no one answer for everyone. It's an absolutely unique process for each person.

    @Mtn biker, I can't remember what other advice you've already received, and since I'm a tax accountant and shouldn't even be taking time here right now (just taking a little break!) I don't have time to review your posts and all - but I want to assure you that some of us don't have deep dark repressed issues, but we simply suffer from lifelong anxiety, leading, as I think @Ren mentioned, to an over-activated nervous system. It's the little everyday interactions that can get us down, as well as the obvious daily stresses and concerns about getting older (that was my biggest one) - and let's not forget the current state of the world, which is pretty scary and totally out of our control. ALL of these things can add up to fuel for the fear-based mechanism we call TMS. Our brains were designed to keep us in fear, which kept us safe in a primitive world. This mechanism does NOT work well in today's world which for most of us is physically safe (and for which we can be daily thankful) but due to the overwhelming avalanche of modern fears and worries, it's no wonder the mechanism goes so haywire.

    With respect for my excellent peer @Baseball65, whose path is quite different from mine, many of us need ways to calm ourselves down. Those ways include meditation, something I'm trying harder to incorporate. Easier than meditation is a daily practice of simply writing down all the things bothering or annoying or worrying us - this is a technique which continues to be found by therapists and mental health researchers to be extremely helpful for anxiety. It's not what we think of as "journaling" because you just scribble it all out, throw it away, and do it again the next day. I am now doing this every night, and it's really helpful to calm me down and allow me to sleep. I also try to find at least one thing to write down every day for which I am grateful - it can be a small moment of enjoyment, a nice event, or sometimes just an overall feeling of thankfulness (for example, that I am safe and secure and healthy).

    Self-talk may feel stupid, but it's actually incredibly powerful. Learning to hear your brain with its negative messages, and learning to fight back and talk it down, is one of the things that will help in a moment of panic or crisis.

    Everyone with anxiety should read Hope & Help For Your Nerves by Claire Weekes. It's the second book that saved me after Dr. Sarno.

    I did recommend the SEP earlier - it takes very little time if you do just one day at a time - and you certainly don't have to do it every day. I never did - plus, if you've read plenty of Dr. Sarno you can skim through some of the early stuff, until you get to the writing exercises. I still think those are very valuable, because they can help uncover hidden emotions and stresses in your current and/or everyday interactions that you weren't aware of. As @Ren said in a slightly different way, learning to be honest with yourself and accepting of your hidden negative thoughts can only be healthy in the long run.
  13. Mtn biker

    Mtn biker New Member

    Wow - thank you for the all the insight. Helps a ton and good to know that others have been in the same boat and have successfully gotten out of it. I have definitely been reflecting a lot on my past, looking for any kind of clues as to what could be the cause of this. I'm not really an obsessive person, but this has become a persistent distraction.

    In my past, my body has always healed itself: Illnesses, sprains, broken bones, lacerations, etc. (All part of my sport.) They all take care of themselves. So when my back pain first started last March, I just assumed it was some sort of injury and kept waiting for it to heal on its own. After a while, it didn't, and I kept going to one medical professional after another. As the months ticked by and I wasn't getting better, my level of frustration increased, especially when I took about two months off from any strenuous activity around the holidays and nothing changed. I was in total disbelief.

    So I am definitely frustrated. Fearful, not so much. From my research (and your affirmation), nothing's physically wrong with me. I am able ride my bike or to go into the gym and lift heavy without increasing the pain. (In fact, it alleviates it.) So I wouldn't say I'm afraid, but more annoyed and frustrated in the persistence of this pain. I like your analogy that is a software issue, not a hardware issue.

    I'll keep practicing the meditations. There is one Dr. Schubiner does that has me raise my awareness of the pain, but at the same time to reflect on it "with curiosity and kindness."

    Like you said, it's hard not to think of the symptoms when they're in my face. Today the heart palpitations are really rough. It's like there is a small animal inside my chest hitting my sternum with a hammer every 15 seconds. It isn't painful, but super distracting. And I find it odd that this symptom just randomly started a few weeks ago.

    But my big take-away from your response is to quit digging around into my past for some repressed emotional event that I might never find. (In fact, I've actually started to worry my mind might "fabricate" something just to placate myself.)

    My doctor appointment is Monday, so I am looking forward to his take on all of this.
  14. Mtn biker

    Mtn biker New Member

    I wanted to give an update for those of you who might be following this thread. I had my appointment with my TMS doctor. He looked through my previous imaging and blood test results and did a quick physical exam (all of which are normal). Then for the next two hours, we went through my life story. He tried to have me identify situations or experiences that might have been traumatic or highly stressful in my childhood and early adulthood up through present day. We talked about family, marriage, work, etc. Yes, there have been a few things that were tough for me (moving my junior year in high school, death of my mother from cancer, my frustrating job in 2017-18, etc.) but nothing jumped out that really seemed to be troubling me, and nothing significant was going on when my back pain first started in early 2019. I will admit that I felt slightly better after talking through those experiences. But I still seem to be coming up empty when trying to pinpoint the root cause of my TMS. (I don't really even try anymore.)

    We talked about my heart palpitations and dizziness, both of which are new symptoms in the past month. He said that is actually a good sign, as it means that my subconscious brain realizes that I am "on to it" and is trying to create new symptoms to distract me from whatever is causing this. And truthfully, my lower back pain is not as persistent and intense as it has been for the past 10 months. Some days it's still pretty bad, but on other days it's actually not (but never completely goes away). And the bouts of dizziness aren't as frequent lately.

    The heart palpitation, on the other hand, are a different story. They're getting worse. As I type this, it feels like my heart is trying to jump out of my throat. My doctor requested that I see a cardiologist to rule out any specific heart problems. So I did that this week. I had actually bought a cheap stethoscope on Amazon to try to hear what my heart was doing, and I was able to record the sound of the palpitations on my iPhone voice recorder. I played that back for the cardiologist. He said they are classic, textbook "premature beats" and he precisely described what I was feeling. The good news, he said, is that they are completely benign and no cause for concern. So I asked "well then how do I get rid of them?" His answer: "Just by me telling you that they are benign, they will go away. I am 99% sure. Your heart is healthy." I told him about my TMS, which he had never heard of, so I had to explain my back pain even though I had nothing physically wrong with my back. So his diagnosis matches the TMS symptoms: The palpitations are generated by my brain, and my brain can stop them.

    Nonetheless, he ordered me to wear a holter monitor for a day and get an ultrasound of my heart, just to confirm my heart is healthy. That will come next week. But meanwhile, if the goal of TMS symptoms is to distract me (from whatever), this one is working. It's a huge distraction.

    I return to my TMS doctor next week Wednesday for his educational lecture. His homework for me was to watch the documentary "All the Rage" (which I've done) and read Sarno's Mindbody Prescription, which I'm doing now.

    Looking forward to putting this ordeal behind me! It has gone on for long enough.
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2020
  15. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    That's good that you got a professionals advice... I am really impressed that a heart person knew that much about human nature!

    I found this quote interesting:
    You got out of the bad job... Your symptoms started in March 2019. When did the Not-bad Job start? I used to get a little TMS on the first day of every film I worked on... the more I LIKED the job, the more I'd get the 'ouch'...knowing it was TMS didn't preclude it. I can only assume it was repressed low self-esteem, My ID thinking I am not good enough, and I would get exposed for being not good enough

    ...and death of a parent is pretty significant. No Matter how 'ok' we are with it, there is always a little funky puddle of emotional sticky around it. My Father died when I was 5. I practiced saying "I'm Ok" for so long I actually believed it. I was NOT. I was Pissed, ashamed, lonely,etc. Reviewing that was instrumental in my TMS recovery...when I read the page in HBP about long festering rage about a parent I actually cried...caught me totally off guard.

    ...and also, the one thing that you don't cover in any of this string is Mortality. You like Biking, obviously and your 46.... I am 54. I am obsessed with 'getting better' all of the time at my sport... But I am not getting the training-result correlation I got even in my 30's. I always say "I am just glad to be on the same field with the twentysomethings". That's a lie. . It's something I say because I am my own cheerleader. I want to win, execute, and be the best... it's all down there. The sportsmanship is a 'goodist' feature. Sarno discussed that in depth (I am re-reading Mindbody Prescription for the umpteenth time)

    perfectionism is at the root of a lot of suppressed rage. You identify with riding.:
    You care. A Lot! Is there any diminishing skill thing pissing you off but you are writing it off as 'just glad to be here'..... recreational-I-don't-give-a-crap riders don't do Pro Fittings.

    Not trying to get in your stuff..just some helpful nudges. Sarno mentions a couple of different men in HBP that couldn't see where perfectionism was in their life...and then they could. The AHA! Moment is there for all of us.

    hang in there bro
    plum likes this.

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