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Derek S. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Discussion in 'Ask a TMS Therapist' started by Guest, Sep 24, 2014.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    This question was submitted via our Ask a TMS Therapist program. To submit your question, click here.

    Hey there,

    Over the course of a year or so, I've successfully reduced or gotten rid of the following mindbody symptoms: neck/back pain, epididymits, migraines, digestive issues, anxiety. All of which has been accomplished through practicing Sarno's techniques, journaling, meditation, positive thinking, educating myself through this forum, and changing certain personality traits, such as easing up on myself, being a goodest, and a perfectionist. For this, I'm extremely fortunate.

    I am however struggling to rid myself of chronic fatigue, and am wondering whether or not any therapists have any suggestions for me, specially Alan Gordon, as I see that chronic fatigue was something he overcame. I'm not letting it defeat me, and am going on rubs, exercising, and doing yoga, even when my body is weak and fatigued. This seems to help, but never permanently. I'm 100% certain it's TMS, as there are times when I'm not super fatigued, more of just a lingering tiredness, especially when another symptom is flaring up like a migraine.

    I'm thinking that lifestyle changes could be my best route in defeating this? Reason being, is that I have a very demanding job. I'm a co owner of a rapidly growing screen printing company and design firm, that handles business operations, decision making, major client accounts, etc. Basically all the most stressful stuff. We're also currently expanding into a new facility, adding equipment, employees, etc, and it's mostly up to me to make this transition go as planned. Through journaling and meditation I've learned that the heavy lifting and duties I have are not ones that I am passionate about. I started the company out of my love for screen printing, and soon after getting extremely busy, I was forced into running the business, while my business partner ran the printing floor, due to my skills of running the business. Although I may be good at this, it's not something I love to do, however in many ways I feel trapped. Another reason I think this is contributing to my fatigue and other symptoms is that when I do get the chance to print, I generally feel fine, and less fatigued.

    I also have my fair share of childhood traumas, my father recently passed away from cancer, and my relationship with my mother is basically non existent. Through therapy, I feel like I've came to a place a peace with childhood traumas, and my father passing, and am currently working through my relationship with my mom, so quite honestly the only stressor I feel is wearing me down is my work situation.

    Sorry for the long post. I hope others can benefit from the insight of Alan, or other therapists on the board.

    Many thanks,

  2. Derek Sapico MFT

    Derek Sapico MFT TMS Therapist

    Hi Aaron,

    Thanks for your question.

    Chronic fatigue is a symptom that I see frequently in my practice. It is one of those symptoms that has a more abstract presentation which is why I think it can be so perplexing. I see some similarities between fatigue, insomnia, and generalized anxiety in that they are not as cut-and-dry as symptoms like back pain or joint pain. I think this is why some folks tend to get stuck when the symptom imperative roulette wheel lands on one (or all) of them. That said, fatigue is most definitely a mind body symptom which can be conquered like all the rest.

    One thing that is important to emphasize is that getting rid of fatigue symptoms is no different than getting rid of any other symptom.

    I would suggest that this symptom appears to be stubborn because you are preoccupied with it. Your statement that you are "100% certain it is TMS" may be an example of reaction formation. This is a defense mechanism that basically substitutes certainty for ambivalence because uncertainty is so hard for a TMSer to tolerate. It is important to acknowledge if you have lingering doubts or ambivalence about the cause of your symptoms. You have to be able to see the ambivalence in order to successfully confront it. Really work on squashing any persistent doubts using the evidence that you have gathered to date and reassuring your unconscious mind that you absolutely can and will get rid of it.

    Don't problem solve around the symptoms and work towards authentic indifference to the symptoms and becoming more outcome independent.

    Stop trying to make the symptoms go away. If you're tired, take a short power nap and get on with your day.

    The work-related stressors that you mentioned could certainly be generating symptoms, especially if they are bringing up difficult emotions for you. That said, I don't want you to develop the belief that you must have all of these issues resolved in order to get better. Think of yourself as a work-in-progress rather than expecting yourself to be a finished product. Continue working through these issues on your own and/or with a therapist. Work toward embracing the idea that having total clarity on these life issues is not a prerequisite for feeling better physically.

    Regarding the emotional trauma and issues from your childhood, I would hazard a guess that some familiar emotional dynamics are appearing in your work setting. Working through these emotional issues will inform any logistical decisions in the future.

    Keep at it and and be present.

    You will get there.


    Any advice or information provided here does not and is not intended to be and should not be taken to constitute specific professional or psychological advice given to any group or individual. This general advice is provided with the guidance that any person who believes that they may be suffering from any medical, psychological, or mindbody condition should seek professional advice from a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions. No general advice provided here should be taken to replace or in any way contradict advice provided by a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions.

    The general advice and information provided in this format is for informational purposes only and cannot serve as a way to screen for, identify, or diagnose depression, anxiety, or other psychological conditions. If you feel you may be suffering from any of these conditions please contact a licensed mental health practitioner for an in-person consultation.

    Questions may be edited for brevity and/or readability.

    Durga, North Star, Laudisco and 3 others like this.
  3. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks for this terrific answer, Derek. I couldn't agree more with everything you said.

    Three favorite quotes:
    I love this approach! I often write that the most important step in TMS healing is to "get your head right," and this is such an important part of it.
    This is a new idea on the forum that we don't talk about as much, but it is very important. Nicole Sachs talks about it in her chapter entitled, "It's a Process," and it's such an important idea (and probably my favorite chapter of the book). Us TMSers want to get everything solved yesterday, but it isn't kind to put so much pressure on ourselves. If TMS healing is a gift, one of the most important parts of the gift is learning to relax and enjoy life a little. That's the thing that soothes our reservoir of rage.
    Aaron, if you haven't read them yet, the classic essays on preoccupation and outcome independence may help put this point in a broader context.
    Durga, North Star, Laudisco and 3 others like this.
  4. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    I was once dx'ed with "clinical depression" after coming through a rough patch in my life, to say the least, having experienced multiple Rahe-Holmes TMS dis-ease creating events. Having stored TMS KNOWLEDGE PENICILLIN in my mental medicine cabinet. I realized the dx could have just as well been CFS, fibro, or lymes, as my symptoms overlapped all those psychosomatic dis-eases du-jour. Once I figured out my depression WAS TMS, I was well on my way to getting MYSELF out of it--no help from the shrink who'd never heard of it.

    He gave me Lexipro, I gave him a Sarno book. He said it was "very interesting"--I'm sure he never bothered opening it. I'm confident reading Sarno would not have done him any harm--the lexies he gave me did result in me making a mid-night run to the ER suffering from a panic attack (thinking it was a heart-atttack) due to his miss-dx'ing my mental state. He thought I needed pepping, up rather then simmering down neruologically speaking--nothing like thinking you're in imminent danger of dying to increase your TMS/anxiety to panic attack levels.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2014
  5. Derek Sapico MFT

    Derek Sapico MFT TMS Therapist

    Thanks for the feedback, Forest! I'm glad that the answer resonated with you.

    Also, thank you for linking to the essays on preoccupation and outcome independence.

    I thought about creating those links but was way too lazy to figure out how to do it on my phone.

    I think that I subconsciously knew that you would do it for me :)
    North Star and Forest like this.
  6. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I am in the practice of not doing any work or worrying after 4 pm. I go to bed at 9 pm.
    I shut down the computer, turn off the telephone. I don't have any iPhone or other device.
    I find ways to just enjoy the evening. Reading, music, watching nature or animal shows on tv or DVD.

    That helps me to turn off or tune out to anxiety.
    patrickj, Lizzy, North Star and 3 others like this.
  7. Wavy Soul

    Wavy Soul Peer Supporter

    I loved the Gupta Program, which I took with him in person last year when he visited California.

    In a way, it's much simpler than studying all this TMS knowledge. He gives a simple hypothesis, and a simple cure. It works well. I may have already been a bit spoiled by TMI, but I met several people there who had been cured by his method. I went because it focuses on CFS, which was almost never mentioned in all the "pain" forums. I personally had found various pains and other symptoms to disappear with the TMS understanding, but generally when I get this overwhelming fatigue, I am too tired to understand anything.

    Highly recommended, even though it's not cheap, as long as you will commit to actually DO it.
  8. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Wavy Soul. I'm glad that the Gupta Program worked for you.
    I''m not familiar with it, so I'll google about it.

    I'm also glad to know that your pains and other symptoms went away with TMS understanding.
    We all get fatigued from life's fast pace and stresses and can be too fatigued to work on TMS,
    but I found it essential to healing my severe back pain. And it's free.
  9. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Fatigue has been my most intractable TMS equivalent. Howard Schubiner does mention chronic fatigue in his writings. In the ebook Unlearn Your Anxiety and Depression, he discusses that there are four primitive responses to danger--the three I was familiar with: fight, flight, freeze, and a fourth I didn't know about: submit. He theorizes that pain and anxiety are part of the fight and flight response; depression is the freeze response; and fatigue is due to the submit response. This resonates with me and my own experience of fatigue (which is not the kind of tired that is relieved by a nap or a good night's sleep btw). It feels like something on a very deep, existential level. If rest and sleep could get rid of it, I would have been done with it long ago. It is clearly a mindbody syndrome, but so far, I haven't made much progress using the techniques that have been so helpful with my other TMS symptoms. I have the Gupta program and haven't worked with it for a few years, and will look at it again. I do use one of his meditations frequently called Soften and Flow.

    I attended a training on Somatic Experiencing by Peter Levine where he showed a video of a rabbit being chased by a lion. In one segment the lion catches the rabbit, and the rabbit gives in and submits to the lion, going limp. Then when the lion is distracted, the rabbit comes to life and runs away. So in this case there is a happy ending, and perhaps, I too, will wake up and get back to my life with full energy restored, when I can convince myself that I can get away from the lion.
  10. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I couldn't sleep two nights ago, thinking of what I needed to do the next day.
    I was living in the future, not the present, so I told myself "I'll worry about all that tomorrow.
    Right now, I will get to sleep." It worked and I fell asleep. The next morning I did what I was worrying about and felt great.
    North Star likes this.
  11. Laudisco

    Laudisco Well known member

    I would be really keen to understand the options for treating chronic fatigue, as I have been experience strong fatigue in the last few weeks. It's not as extreme as classic CFS, but it's making a big impact on my life. I'm sure it's just another TMS symptom, although I have to admit I find my job quite tiring and have not taken a holiday for months. I am taking two weeks off which should help me to relax.

    I'm curious about the Gupta program, but it does seem pricey - I might try it once I finished the Structured Education Program. I don't want to overwhelm myself with too many different ideas at once!
  12. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Laudisco,

    Looks like you stumbled into the right place, the small off the beaten path of TMS'ville. Since this has only been going on for a few weeks for you MAYBE you are just plain old FATIGUED and need a vacation and it's good that it's coming up. I find that more and more folks are being labeled by the culture or themselves with a condition like cf, fibro, bad back, etc. dyslexia. etc. when they only have a twinge and passing symptom of the rare form of a condition and get permanently compartmentalized into it either by white-coat mis-diagnosis or by themselves trying to find answers.

    It's GOOD that you found TMS early on and you can now view symptoms with the aid of the Good Doctor's theory. He includes the entire MINDBODY into the dx, rather the just the structural or affective outward symptom to the world. 80% of the time these superficial symptoms are our sub-c's random manifestation telling us to stop and look inward for what's going on in the emotional world. (If you're having trouble id'ing these stress filled life situations see the Rahe-Holmes list--if you can't find that ask and ye' shall receive it.)

    I don't know anything about art, but your's looks very pretty! How much do your works cost generally? In your work in opticals, have you heard of the Bates method, taught today by Dr. Michael Roberto Kaplan? It's a complementary treatment/philosophy for vision/VISION. Your having faith will help you more quickly to accept TMS theory since much of it is based on the belief that we are our own best doctors and that the body is strong--it's the mind that's weak--but int a couple of weeks you can fix that--with a holiday--I could use one too, waiting or the desert to cool down then it's off to the grass courts.

    Cheers & G'luck!
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2014
  13. Laudisco

    Laudisco Well known member

    Thanks so much for sharing Tennis Tom! I really appreciate it, and it's good to get another perspective on the fatigue issue. I don't want to label myself with something like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, because it makes it sound like a permanent condition when in actual fact it is a passing phase due to TMS.

    I haven't heard of the Bates method, but it sounds intriguing. I don't need glasses myself, but thanks for passing on that information. I'm an optical assistant but some of the optometrists may find it worthwhile learning about. Unfortunately I feel the place where I work is quite profit-driven, so I'm not sure if they would take it seriously.

    Also, thanks for the feedback on my art! I have a couple of online stores with the pricing listed:

    Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/comethirsty

    Art of Where: http://www.artofwhere.com/shop/artist/lauren-westcombe
  14. hellokitty

    hellokitty New Member

    Hi Wavy Soul,
    Have you recovered completely using the Gupta Programme? I purchased the DVD program a while ago but haven't been consistent with it. However, I love and use his different meditations a lot and have found them to be very helpful. Did you do it everyday?
    Compared to other programs for CFS, I think it's pretty inexpensive, and you get a lot for the money, including 12 live webinars. There's also a money back guarantee.
    Wavy Soul, would you possibly read my question in the Ask a TMS Therapist forum and maybe comment on it? The title is "Confusion Over Different Programs". I initially thought that the TMS treatment conflicted with the Gupta Programme.
  15. David Billi

    David Billi Newcomer

    The first thing to know about it chronic fatigue syndrome is that it’s an illness. The Institute of Medicine classifies it as a disease as it is characterized by abnormally low levels of energy deficit and they say that people should take it seriously. Apart from physical exhaustion, cognitive issues are also impaired and to such an extent that you may have difficulty putting a sentence together or reading something out of a book.

    The causes of chronic fatigue are yet unknown, although there are theories on how and why it happens. One of the common theories is that it is caused by viral infections. Experts say that mononucleosis (an abnormally high count of white blood cells in the body) may trigger the disease. It starts with flu like symptoms that keep growing worse over time.

    Inflammation has also been known to trigger chronic fatigue and simply walking for a few minutes can cause unusually high inflammation although, again it is unknown where this inflammatory response originates from.

    Chronic fatigue comes and goes as it wills. Experts say that people first develop it in their 20s or 30s. After a few months or years it disappears only to unfortunately resurface later in life, especially menopause seems to recur another phase of chronic fatigue.

    The problem is that most doctors don’t know much about it because the disease is not included in the medical curriculum so it goes unfamiliar with many doctors and this makes it difficult for them to find answers. But some experts have blamed it on poor nutrition, especially junk food, and the commonly observed sedentary lifestyle of nearly every person.

    Again, what is unfortunate is that there are treatments for it but none are FDA approved because proper certified studies and clinical trials have not been conducted and ultimately doctors are forced to provide medications for pain and fatigue which are not specifically for chronic fatigue.

    Reference : http://bit.ly/2f9bC1e (Is It Fatigue? Why Am i always Tired)
  16. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    Welcome to the TMS Wiki Billi, you may have come to the right place to "cure" CFS. We take a different slant on chronic illness here, that about 80% of what afflicts wo&mankind is TMS/psychosmatic. This site honors a Dr. Sarno, who's written four books on the TMS/epidemic. CFS is mentioned in his books and I recommend you look in them for some new insights and a possible "cure" for this dis-ease. I believe the first popularly known out-break of CFS was at Incline Village, Nevada. I've played tennis there and I can see why that would be a hot-bed for it.
  17. pspa

    pspa Well known member

  18. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    I didn't read all of the article David Billi left here, it laid out many possible causes of CFS, including one by our Good Doctor. The problem is it takes years, forever, or never for most sufferers to discover the TMS cause--which, if it's the cause, would be the simplest answer--but not necessarily the easiest to institute, since it involves personal internalized mental changes, and not external interventions like pills and physical therapies.

    "Muscle Tension Syndrome

    Muscle Tension Syndrome (MTS) or Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS) is another musculoskeletal disorder that most often causes pain in back, neck, knee, arms and wrists.

    TMS occurs as a result of psychological stress. It stems from repressed emotions – anger, guilt, or rage –which ultimately build up stress in your body and lead to a myriad of conditions including TMS, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), plantar fasciitis, depression, anxiety, acid and reflux etc.


    TMS develops when you are unable to accept or process your emotions.

    Symptoms: Pain and stiffness in the back, fatigue, weakness, tingling, numbness

    Tests: Physical examination of tender points and imaging studies.'"

  19. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hopefully David Billi will read this article and he saw the citation about TMS in the article he left here. I've had what could have been dx'ed allopathically as "CFS", fibro, or "clinical depression", but when I realized it was TMS, I had immediate improvement!
  20. Wavy Soul

    Wavy Soul Peer Supporter

    Hi David,
    If you are still here, please don't run away! I have had a lot of experience with CFS, both in my own experience and that of people I have worked with as a therapist for 35 years. I'm glad to see you are familiar with Sarno's work, enough to post here. I understand that it really does seem to be a "real" illness. When I first came down with it, in the 1980s, nobody had heard of it. My family, who were academics, shamed me and quite literally rejected me, saying it was "all in my head," since at that time the phenomenon didn't even have a name. I was also shamed and more or less ostracized by a spiritual group I was in at that time. Yet I was disabled, unable to get out of bed for long each day, for several years: I wasn't particularly depressed -- no more so than many other people, and I continued to be skilled at working with other people who were depressed.

    So, it is not just a simple matter of saying "you have a mind-body syndrome," which might sound the same as "it's all in your head." No one is judging anyone here (hopefully, although it's really, really hard for human beings not to use anything to gain rank and advantage, even "being the ones who understand TMS.") Although Dr. Sarno IS saying that these illnesses are not caused by a physical disease process, the actual message is that they are caused by a brain process, which is a response to certain unconscious emotional activity. He has noticed that there is a personality type that tends to respond to unconscious emotional activity by creating an absolute smorgasbord of symptoms. It is like a special effect in consciousness. An example is that certain religious people develop "stigmata" -- bleeding wounds on their hands, that are believed to mimic Jesus on the cross. Except that they have discovered that in Jesus' day, they used to crucify people with nails through the wrists! The image of nails in the palms has been in our culture for 2000 years, to the point where you might say its in our collective unconscious. So the person's brain creates that extraordinary symptom, and everyone thinks, "how spiritual!" (And the person may, in fact, be very humble and devoted and so on).

    But in chronic fatigue, no one says, "Brilliant!" "How spiritual!" "What a realistic special effect, honey!" Well, I do say that, and encourage patients to say that, and I find it helps a lot to sincerely admire the brain's total control of the body palette of art in its symptomology.

    The thing is, it takes a while in many cases to believe that our "brains" could create these elaborate designs in our flesh––too weird! And also, most of Sarno's work has focused on back pain, and I have to say that it took care of my chronic back pain relatively easily. But there has not been so much experience and emphasis on the fatigue side of things, because most people are too tired to write ;-) And some people claim to have "recovered" from CFS and yet by "chronic" they mean a year or two. In my case, I had decades of miserable experience under my belt before I came across Sarno.

    So it's easy to believe it is an exception to the TMS theory. It must be a "germ," or whatever. But why do we give more power to a germ (or virus, etc.) than to our own brains? Because it is spooky and creepy to believe that our own brains could be acting against us in this way. And yet, from its primitive point of view, our brain is trying to save us, even in chronic fatigue. The careful and brilliant explanation for all this takes a little while to understand and sink in (especially if you are tired and have brain fog.) I HIGHLY recommend reading Schubiner's article quoted above and linked here https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/unlearn-your-pain/201606/explaining-the-unexplainable-chronic-fatigue-syndrome (Explaining the Unexplainable: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) (Unlearn Your Pain) I have extracted a couple of very helpful paragraphs here:

    (From Schubiner's article linked above): "The idea that the brain is powerful enough to create such severe symptoms is simply not part of the common knowledge in our world. Doctors are not trained to understand the power of the brain. They do not look for the brain-body connection to understand symptoms that are not clearly caused by a disease process. Therefore, they never find it and tend to ridicule anyone who suggests that the brain is causing CFS, fibromyalgia, headaches, neck or back pain, irritable bowel or bladder syndrome and other disorders commonly classified as “medically unexplained symptoms.” I spoke to a physician who suffered with chronic pain and fatigue for several years. She works at a university medical center in a large city and saw all of the relevant medical specialists at her institution. None suggested the course of action that Michael took and that I recommend to my patients. After following the program in my book, Unlearn Your Pain, and seeking counseling for TMS, she has recovered fully. Since then, she has gone back to her physicians and while they are happy for her success, they have all shown disbelief, lack of interest, and even ridicule for this approach. And yet, she is not alone in being able to recover from chronic pain and fatigue.

    There is a great stigma attached to the idea that physical symptoms can be caused by psychological reactions. We tend to belittle this idea because it seems as though it blames the person for the illness and makes it seem that the symptoms are not real, i.e., just something “made up” or “all in your head.” However, nothing could be further from the truth. The symptoms of CFS, fibromyalgia and other associated disorders are real, are not made up, and are not the fault of the sufferer. They are due to the incredible power of the brain to create and perpetuate real symptoms. The brain is programmed to respond to stress and the pressures that we put on ourselves by enforcing a rest and recovery mode that is very hard to understand and overcome. However, this is the truth for many people who continue to suffer."
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2016
    AMarie, Durga and pspa like this.

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