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Concerned about addiction recovery and TMS recovery

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Guest1, Jan 25, 2017.

  1. Guest1

    Guest1 Newcomer

    Day 6 asks us to consider any doubts we still have about the TMS diagnosis. Maybe this is a weird one, but it keeps coming to mind -

    I guess it actually shows that I have high confidence in the TMS diagnosis. But my concern is about my ability to recover.

    I've struggled with pornography addiction since my 20s (I'm in my forties now). Over time, I realized it's not the porn itself I'm interested in. It's the rush of dopamine and other chemicals porn gives me to wash over anything remotely painful, inconvenient, boring. I use porn to self-medicate. It's a perfect counterpart for my goodist personality - practically perfect on the outside with a secret very imperfect way to deal with the stress of perfection.

    For years I have considered myself "almost cured", meaning for 29 out of 30 days a month I have no interest in (and in fact I'm disgusted by) pornography. But about once every 4-6 weeks I find myself irresistibly drawn back. It's like the buildup of emotion takes about a month and then my brain takes over and gives me another "therapy session" of porn. And then I'm good for another 30 days or so.

    As I research TMS, I'm becoming increasingly convinced that my brain has swapped out my addiction for back pain. (The pain started about 14 months ago, which is when I was having unusual success avoiding pornography -- I think I was "clean" for several months by then.) In other words, as I've reduced my reliance on porn to avoid emotional pain, my brain is now using TMS to help me continue to avoid it.

    If that's true, here's my concern: I've tried for 20+ years to stop using porn and I haven't been fully successful. (My last slip was 3 or 4 weeks ago.) If the root cause for my addiction and TMS are the same, what confidence can I have that I will be able to fully address it this time around? I've failed literally hundreds of times -- been through a half-dozen recovery programs. And made a huge number of promises to myself and others. And broken them all.

    Having said that, I have a lot of hope that this time is different. I have renewed energy in the effort. I have new resources in this site and books and videos and friends. But I've had similar hope before. I've already felt the pain decline and maybe that positive feedback will make something click for me that hasn't before.

    If anyone out there has had a similar experience or other thoughts, I'd love to hear them.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 26, 2017
    Tirian, Secret Habit and cuddlepants like this.
  2. Alibumbayay

    Alibumbayay New Member

    I don't have any experience with addiction, but I feel like I've heard this topic (or something similar) addressed on Howard Stern who, you may know, is a Dr. Sarno evangelist. That said, Stern isn't exactly a trusted source of information and he talks out of his ass most of the time. But I've also seen the subject of addiction on here before in relation to TMS and perhaps you can find answers there.
  3. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Guest,

    I get that you have fears that you won't be successful, based on your "failings" with addiction. I also see how you're thinking that you've transitioned from porn to pain.

    Moving from porn to pain, first of all, if true, is a great piece to contemplate, because this re-enforces your understanding that the pain is a distraction from your deeper emotional experiences. This connection is helpful for you to see, and it makes sense with regards to "avoidance."

    About your fear that you won't "make it," is just that: a fear. I would suggest you see this fear of failure is another way to not feel the stuff that does not want to be felt. Try to treat the fear as another TMS symptom. I think, based on my experience, and reading many stories and outcomes here, that this is only a fear, not a fact-based fear.

    While I see your parallels between porn and psychogenic pain, I don't think these parallels go as deep as you might imagine. Dr. Sarno's method is to educate the deeper layers. It is not an all or nothing proposition. If you pursue your work, the message eventually goes deep enough to stop the pain. It is not like "falling off the wagon." Your work is to see behind the curtain, and then the TMS isn't effective any more. Knowing and seeing behaviors that you have which are clearly a distraction is very helpful. Also, knowing that those other behaviors are not easy to let go of is helpful for you too: you'll appreciate that when the pain arises, that there is a deep "need which does not want to let go." The tenacity you see in porn addiction will help you see more re Sarno's work. Just seeing the tenacity is the key, not willfully breaking the tenacity. If your pain lingers, you have more evidence that it is TMS, based on your experience with porn.

    I hope this helps!

    Andy B
  4. cuddlepants

    cuddlepants New Member

    I am very interested in your post about pornography addiction.
    I am 31 now and have battled pornography addiction throughout my adult life - think it started in my early teens. I have never thought of it in relation to my TMS but looking at it now it certainly could have been used as a distraction technique by myself. Like yourself I have attempted to break the cycle on many occasions usually not lasting more than a few weeks.
    It seems to give me very brief relief from my symptoms - evidence of the distraction theory but then I feel guilty/angry at myself for giving in and of course my symptoms are always waiting to come back.
    I hope reading someone elses similar story will help you make sense of your own.
    It is certainly helping my understanding.
    Secret Habit likes this.
  5. Guest1

    Guest1 Newcomer

    @Andy B - thank you for that. Your post actually made me feel some welling emotions (which I habitually try to push back - lately I'm trying to let them flow). The further I am from my addiction, the rawer my emotions get - positive or negative ones. I have to be careful in my choice of movies so I don't end up bawling through it. :) So, it makes sense that my brain would be scrambling for another strategy to avoid those increasingly raw feelings.
  6. Guest1

    Guest1 Newcomer

    @cuddlepants - Isn't it frustrating? For years I thought all I had to do was hate porn enough and I would no longer be drawn to it. But to part of my brain, it's like an old friend whose company has always been soothing and entertaining, even though I'm filled with regret after each visit.

    I think going through this TMS education program will actually be really helpful in addiction recovery - it's addressing the same underlying issues. I also found a book that uses Dr. Sarno's findings to help overcome alcohol addiction -- I'm only a chapter into it, but it's interesting so far and the concepts seem to apply equally well to any other addiction. The Naked Mind by Annie Grace. And if you're not already familiar with it, the porn addiction recovery program I've found the most helpful so far is fortifyprogram.org.
    Secret Habit likes this.
  7. cuddlepants

    cuddlepants New Member

    Guest - it really is frustrating to think of all theses years fighting my addiction without truly understanding it.
    Things are starting to piece together in my mind now and although I don't have all the answers yet I truly believe I can see where I want to go now.
    Thanks for the info and I will certainly check out the book - sounds like it could be beneficial for me.
    Keep positive and keep believing - it sounds like your on the right track and keep me posted on your progress.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 26, 2017
  8. Ryan

    Ryan Well known member

    I know the feeling your going through, as a male its a natural primitive impulse to want sex, nothing wrong with that. The yin chases the yang. So many people repress this side as a shadow which only enforces it more. As Jung said what you resists persist. But porn is also skewing sex to a fantasy world, far from what reality is.

    Any preoccupation or obsession is tms. Is driven mostly by fear, to hide emotions. Its like you get scared by the addiction and you run from things. All addiction are a form of tms, some use porn as a way of running to pleasure cause they can't handle the pain of life. They want the bliss feeling all the time which is not reality. But we also create more pain for ourselves than needed, a lot of times were battling ourselves when in the end its funny.

    Hang in there your on the right track, good luck. We are what we believe.

    Secret Habit and Tennis Tom like this.
  9. YYZed

    YYZed New Member

    Greetings OP! Fellow addict here. I've had a porn/sex/masturbation addiction for 17 years. As of today I am 31 days porn free. I believe addiction a huge component in my TMS which is why I've been making recovery a priority. I don't have much time right now to post, but quitting porn has opened up a whole slew of negative side effects, probably because all this repressed anger and emotions are surfacing. It's very scary, but I'm glad I saw your post. Keep up the good fight.
    Secret Habit likes this.
  10. EricFeelsThisWay

    EricFeelsThisWay Peer Supporter

    @Guest1 , I struggle with porn-related compulsions as well and can definitely relate to the idea of dopamine to the brain. It's an incredible rush. I have been in a recovery program and it's worked on-and-off for a couple years. But what I find to be the biggest setback in recovery is viewing porn (or drugs, or alcohol, or gambling, or even back pain!) as the enemy. Once you make it the enemy, you want to get as far away from it as possible. But in reality, you will only heal from that which causes you suffering by bringing it very very close to you. You need to make it like a friend so that you can understand how it has helped you (albeit destructively) all these years. It has protected you from things that it thought would have been even more damaging. Which is exactly what physical pain does. Whenever I label myself as a weak, disgusting person because of my porn use, I know I am one step closer to having it control my life. But if I give myself a break and focus on the things that I love doing (in recovery they call them Third Column activities), then the need for the dopamine rush lowers. It's one thing to see images and say "They repulse me," and it's quite another to say, "I am no longer interested in them." Because otherwise you will teeter-totter between a repulsion and a compulsion! In any case, I definitely see my compulsions and my TMS symptoms as one-and-the-same.
    Secret Habit likes this.
  11. riv44

    riv44 Well known member

    For what it's worth, getting better doesn't have to be 100%. Sometimes it's about Harm Reduction, living with greater ease and self-acceptance.
  12. Secret Habit

    Secret Habit Peer Supporter

    Thanks for the honesty on this post... I can relate to so much of it

    How are things going for you these days regarding porn addiction and any pain you may still have?
  13. Secret Habit

    Secret Habit Peer Supporter

    How are things going with the TMs journey and fighting the porn addiction?

    Im so glad to see this openness on this thread, amazing... I struggled for 14 years myself so I am very curious to hear updates
  14. Secret Habit

    Secret Habit Peer Supporter

    Great help there Ryan, thanks for this post -so true!
  15. Secret Habit

    Secret Habit Peer Supporter

    How did and how is the journey to quitting go(ing)? I am now 15 months free and am so encouraged by people taking a stand to quit or who are honest about their struggles!

    Thanks for posting
  16. Secret Habit

    Secret Habit Peer Supporter

    Great post Eric! How is the journey going man?

    You add some great value in this post and I am grateful to find that

    This is good:

    It's one thing to see images and say "They repulse me," and it's quite another to say, "I am no longer interested in them."
  17. hopeful_guitarist

    hopeful_guitarist Peer Supporter

    Hi @Secret Habit. I'm the original poster - I had the admin change my name to Guest1 way back when because I was inviting friends and family to the forum and didn't want them connecting the dots.

    I'm happy to report that my back/leg pain is totally gone. I've even been able to return to weekly basketball - I'm the oldest guy there at 45 and I look forward to it every week. I've learned a lot about processing emotion in a more healthy way, but it's still a work in progress. I've noticed recently that my right knee occasionally acts up in the same way my back and leg used to.

    My addictive behavior is still a struggle. It's still about once a month that my brain wants to drag me down old pathways that have successfully numbed the pain so many times before - even if it's just everyday irritations and nothing dramatic. I can relate to Eric's comments about repulsion vs. disinterest and the power I give my drug of choice when I make it the enemy. I feel I've made some progress in that area.
    Tirian likes this.
  18. Dorado

    Dorado Beloved Grand Eagle

    I can't personally speak to porn addiction or any true addiction as I haven't dealt with it firsthand, but Gabor Maté apparently has some really great information on addiction. Steve Ozanich has also spoken about addiction and how it relates to the mind-body connection, although not in the context of porn. Perhaps it's worth looking at?

    Secret Habit likes this.
  19. Secret Habit

    Secret Habit Peer Supporter

    Thanks for the update! Amazing to hear the news on the body - Isn't it such a great feeling when you can take ownership of this stuff

    I think its great to remember this at all times - glad you have made progress to become disinterested. What is the common situation when you feel "dragged down old pathways"?
  20. hopeful_guitarist

    hopeful_guitarist Peer Supporter

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