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Conflicting TMS Information

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Viridian, Jul 19, 2019.

  1. Viridian

    Viridian Peer Supporter

    Hello all, hope you're on the right path...

    So I've grown increasingly frustrated and confused by the amount of conflicting TMS info out there and it has really thrown a roadblock in my path of healing.

    For instance, Alan Gordon says that 'attention is fuel for your pain' whereas Katelyn Michals contradicts this by saying we should not ignore our pain and should 'lean into it'.

    So, how do you respond to pain? How do you keep it from upsetting you? Are we not repressing emotion by doing just that and keeping the circle going? All the information seems contradictory to me.

    Also, if I'm telling myself - 'It's just TMS, the pain is psychosomatic' as a response to pain every 5 minutes, am I not CREATING ANXIETY and internal disquiet by arguing with my body? As I understand, chronic anxiety and worry are best served by a counter-intuitive approach - to quote 'The Worry Trick', 'You are putting out fires with gasoline'.

    Thank you in advance.
    BinLA likes this.
  2. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi sweetheart,

    Don’t worry, most of us pass through a phase like this. Separating the wheat from the chaff can feel completely overwhelming so my best advice is find what works for you and stick with that. You may need to try a few different techniques in order to figure it out and it’s best to do this with a light spirit, a dash of curiosity and a touch of playfulness.

    Do your best not to get caught up in thoughts of what is right or wrong. Truth is there are many ways of healing and we each need to find our own unique way. For example I have never fared well with journaling which is odd because I love writing. None of the psychological approaches really worked for me. What did work were body-centred methods such as yin yoga and swimming which serve to bring my tension levels down and this reduces my pain. Sleep was another major factor for me. Have a look at ‘my story’ for an idea of the struggles I went through before hitting on a solution that worked.

    Plum x
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  3. JoeHealingTms

    JoeHealingTms Peer Supporter

    I think that the best source is still Dr. Sarno books, but there are times to pay attention to your pain and other times to ignore it. When you first got your pain, you should go to a doctor and make sure that there is nothing more going on. We should never just convince us that this is TMS, and ignore something that might really have another cause. Once we are 100 percent sure it is not from other causes, then we can start working with it mentally and ignore NOT the reason for the pain, but the pain itself. Like sitting back on your mind, contemplate the pain while you do breathing exercises and at the same time "observe" how it moves and evolves according to our feelings and thougths. That is the moment in which you might appreciate if the pain is coming from a conflict that you have already identified. It is also this observation which gives you the information cure. Knowing what is exactly going on with you at each step, takes the fear and anxiety away, which brings the pain to a lower level and finally to the point of being able to "ignore " it. So, it is more of a preocess (for me) rather than just ignore. We should not completely ignore pains without knowing first the mechanism that is bringing them up. When we are sure it is TMS, we are able to control them into dissapearing or lowering the pain.
  4. Viridian

    Viridian Peer Supporter

    Thank you for the kind words, I will do my best to follow this path.

    At first, the realisation that I had TMS brought a surge of positivity and I felt like I was surging towards wellness for the first time. Now, 8 months later along with the pain I feel depression and anxiety like never before. I'm quite simply at the end of my tether and don't know if I can carry on...I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired, confused and massively overwhelmed by it all - It's all just turned into a puzzle I can't crack. I was way happier with plain old RSI unfortunately. Every day is a mammoth struggle to remain some kind of positivity for healing. I feel as though I could be dying - it sounds dramatic but it's how I've felt every day for the last month.

    Thank you for your reply. I've seen many doctors and had all the relevant tests, MRI's etc. I was diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel, numerous RSI's etc but nothing came up on the nerve conduction test. I've managed to reduce my pain to almost nothing for spells with TMS techniques.
  5. birdsetfree

    birdsetfree Well known member

    My interpretation of 'attention is fuel for your pain' is fearful preoccupation with the pain, so that it is your main focus, keeps it going. If you know that your mind is creating the pain for psychological reasons then you can learn to not fear it when it comes. It is not harming you. Develop a new neural pathway that is existing calmly with the pain and it will simply go away which is, in my opinion, in line with 'lean into it'.

    Practice being with the pain by controlling your breathing while experiencing it. Also use reassuring, soothing words to yourself about what is actually going on and remind yourself of the evidence you have for its harmless nature.
    HattieNC, BinLA, JanAtheCPA and 2 others like this.
  6. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    @Viridian this is the best advice of all. A massive part of healing is learning to self-soothe. This is exactly what Alan Gordon means when he talks about somatic tracking and cognitive soothing. We learn to smooth our ruffled feathers and metaphorically frayed nerves.

    There’s quite a lot on this subject scattered all over the forum so do have a look under self care and self soothing. @HattieNC wrote a great post about it:

    https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/hope-for-those-that-take-a-long-time-to-heal.18332/#post-97406 (Hope-for those that take a long time to heal)
    JanAtheCPA and Viridian like this.
  7. zclesa

    zclesa Well known member

    @Viridian Are you someone who needs to have all the answers? I sure was - until about 4 days ago. Constantly searching for answers in just another distraction.

    What makes you no longer care about having pain, anxiety, or depression, but just allows you to live? Whatever it is, do that.

    For me, it was first dissolving my fear using music that makes me feel passionate and excited. That made me able to start doing more activity, as I could pull on another feeling at the same time as feeling dreadful. Then, I realised that it really doesn't matter how I feel or look when I am ill - that is just a distraction that keep me from actually living. And so, I am just living now.

    This got me from having a migraine and periods of depression for 5 years, then my body and brain having a constant panic attack for the past 2 months after realising what my illness was. I am ot fully "cured" yet, but I have started living again these past 4 days. No doubt, the rest will follow.
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  8. Viridian

    Viridian Peer Supporter

    Thank you for your reply. I'm amazed at your comment as you've just summed much of my struggle up in a couple of sentences.

    Yes, I need all the answers - it's an endless feedback loop of 'Why? Why? Why?'. My life is a day to day pattern of ferocious striving to be better person, someone I'm not - a clear-headed lighthearted well person who just enjoys life.

    I suppose music is the only pursuit I truly deeply love and it infuriates me that this stress illness is distracting me from that.

    I think my next step is to just say fuck it to all this shit and busy myself doing something I love rather than learning crap about TMS all day.
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  9. Viridian

    Viridian Peer Supporter

    My body seems to be having a visceral reaction to me striving so hard to improve and get better everyday. I've never felt anything like it, this deep deep revulsion in my soul.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 19, 2019
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  10. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Exactly! It's important to understand that depression and anxiety are just more forms of TMS. They are evil forms of TMS, perhaps the most evil ones of all, but they are TMS.
    So what you are experiencing is the symptom imperative. You are successful, believe it or not! You have banished your pain to the point where your brain is fighting back with anxiety and depression.

    For anxiety, there is no one better than Claire Weekes. Her little book, Hope and Help For Your Nerves, has saved I don't know how many thousands of people over almost 50 years, from crippling anxiety. Including me, back in 2011. Her work, which teaches you specific techniques for self-soothing, goes hand in hand with TMS.

    Claire Weekes also talks about depression. When it comes to depression, thats when I found that we have to get angry and really fight back. Our brains are wired by survival to keep us negative and fearful, but depression seems to be this wiring gone completely haywire and out of control, which is how I define TMS anyway.

    Here is a post where I describe the last time I experienced TMS-related depression. I call it TMS related, because until I was 60, in 2011, I had never really experienced the evil darkness of true depression. 2011 is when my TMS reached a crisis point, before I discovered doctor Sarno. This incident occurred a couple months into my TMS journey, and perhaps you will find it helpful.
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  11. NicoleB34

    NicoleB34 Well known member

    i think it's true that there are too many mental exercises that you need to pick. You may have to find the one that works for you. For instance, i'm not convinced feeling my emotions is the biggest factor in my pain, nor did i have a bad childhood full of trauma. What i DO have though, is a tendency towards fear and getting myself worked up. We are all unique, and for me, the "do something even if it hurts" approach was better than focusing on the pain and trying to analyze it. It's also a difficult skill to notice pain, but not care about it. I think it's nearly impossible for most people not to be upset by pain. Pain sucks. I have learned though, that it's possible to recognize pain as being present, but not attach it to obsessive thinking. We naturally like to dissect the pain with questions like "why is it worse today? what did i do? will i be able to go out with friends tomorrow? did i physically overwork myself? etc. I used to do this constantly, because that's the natural thing to do. Now when i have a flareup, despite being miserable and annoyed, i try to tell myself "ok, you're flaring. the possibilities on why it's flaring are endless, so dont waste time trying to figure out why. i'ts just your brain hypersensitizing you. you've had flares before, and they've all calmed down. ALL of them. The pain will be there whether you obsess or not, but you might as well acknowledge it's existence, but still move on with your life. TMS pain is a glitch in your brain's protective mechanism. it's hard to separate the injury and pain connection. I am not pain free, and i still struggle. However, after reading Steve O's book "the great pain deception", i was inspired to get back into the activities i loved with out fear. It hurt a lot at first, but then things started changing. I broke the association that "riding a bike equals pain" with about 80% success. I still flare occasionally while biking, but i tell myself that the fact that it's no longer a given that i'll flare, means that it's not a structural damage issue. blocked emotions and fear are all things that eventually point to a primitive part of the brain misinterpreting danger. I know some people are leery of the term Central Sensitization, because it seems too clinical and physical, but some doctors have suggested TMS and CS are the same phenomenon, and that CS is just the more medicalized term for it. You're still dealing with a brain that is overriding logic. This article was very helpful for me to understand the nature of brain-pain, but read at your own risk, because some of it sort of goes against the TMS idea, and yet, i can still see so many similarities. I seem to fit the CS model more than TMS model, but that's because i had the classic repetitive stress injury that eventually confused my brain. At the same time, doctors speak of CS as something very permanent and dire, while TMS is more fluid and changing. The end goal is the same though, sooth the nervous system any way that helps you.
    https://www.painscience.com/articles/central-sensitization.php (Sensitization in Chronic Pain)
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  12. Viridian

    Viridian Peer Supporter

    Thank you so much, I will look at this soon! I fear my current techniques could be quite limited - mostly breathing and ‘it’s ok!’ kind of stuff! x
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2019
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  13. Viridian

    Viridian Peer Supporter

    Thank you Jan, I empathise truly with your description of the kind of depression you mention. It’s a deep and dirty physical depression I have not encountered before which make previous depressions seem rather quaint and melancholy by comparison!

    I’ve read some Claire Weekes and the concept of floating is something I would love to master. However, I’m a terrible over analyser and have many questions surrounding most simple, clear concepts - my mind will find a way to circumvent the technique and add an extra layer, watching myself float and critique!
  14. Viridian

    Viridian Peer Supporter

    Huge thanks for your thoughtful reply, I hugely empathise with a lot of what you’re saying here!

    I’m a skinny stressed man and my Chronic Pain symptoms first came on when I was working out a lot (daily) during a time when various family members were doing their best to kill themselves using alcohol and substances.

    Two years later and I’m challenging my fear by going back to weights, and it’s a real test. Most of the time it helps but It DOES bring the pain back sometimes, and I then have to deal with that at work or when playing with my baby girl or playing guitar at band practice (but at least it deflects from my tinnitus/hyperacusis ).

    Thank you for the CS info. I read into it and although some of it rings true, I feel like I’m an almost achingly obvious TMS type - a hugely perfectionistic, super-driven individual with little time in their life for stress busting activities such as joy etc...

    However, I’ve started to wonder whether our very human habit of pigeon holing everything into very convenient syndromes and disorders is all a load of nonesence - perhaps we’re all suffering from something similar, rather human in essence but actually very personalised and we all need our own specific answer. Perhaps it’s just the human condition but is much more pronounced in certain, enlightened but damaged individuals.
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  15. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Great description! That's exactly what I experienced, which makes it easy for me to tell you that this is 100% absolutely for sure the Symptom Imperative.

    Look, viridian, I'm a damn CPA, which is the definition of analytical. I was also raised by an English mother who had been raised to abhor intimacy, and by a father whose own mother was kind of a bitch. So I know about emotional constipation.

    I had a lot of early success with TMS, but I didn't really turn the corner which firmly incorporated the many different aspects of it into my life until I learned to soften, open myself to emotions, and admit to the innate need we all have, my need to be nurtured and soothed and protected. This starts with our parents, but it has to be accomplished by ourselves as adults. Journaling and meditating on this was not comfortable for me, but in the end it was very freeing, and I can go to that place of self love now when I need to.

    I've often said that in order to successfully do this work, we have to love ourselves enough to know that we deserve to heal.
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  16. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    I recommend that you go to @plum 's profile and start reading some of her posts. @plum is our resident expert at the soft approach to self-acceptance, self-compassion, and self-love. Resisting self love and emotional openness are the barriers you need to overcome. You, me, and so many of us here.

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  17. BinLA

    BinLA Peer Supporter

    This is a fantastic thread, and a question I have asked for nearly 10 years regarding TMS....

    Do we get allow the pain to be there and simply get on with life? (Sarno'ish approach)


    Do we do somatic tracking, meditation, "sit with the pain"... along with journaling, etc.

    There are great responses on this thread, though at the end it still feels a bit mixed as far as answers. I do agree with the notion that we're all going to have a slightly different reason we arrived here, and hence could all need slightly different approaches overall.

    I'm working with a great therapist right now and he's helping me work through flares as they arise. Nicole touched on this above, but to me it's the biggest question.

    So, I'll ask it here...

    When you are moving through your day, and you first feel your symptom getting harsh... and the fear begins to rise and the narratives start... what is your process as this comes on?
    I'd love to hear step by step how people move through the top ends of these things coming on.... as for me, those are always the most challenging times.

    Any thoughts?
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  18. Viridian

    Viridian Peer Supporter

    Yes, succinctly put - this is a big question for me.

    I do a mixture of both but am in dire need of a more consistent technique! As meditation is such an isolated task that only really has good results when you free of restriction, I find that attempts to sneak off in the work place, to the car or wherever to meditate can have a negative effect and end up in the ‘trying too hard bracket’.
    BinLA likes this.
  19. Viridian

    Viridian Peer Supporter

    I will do this, thank you!
  20. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    For me it boils down to the simple rage:soothe or pain: pleasure. When TMS symptoms rise I know I’m out of kilter and the best thing I can do is begin to turn back towards a semblance of balance. It helps to play the long game at this point, safe in the knowledge that if I embrace the practices that soothe me, this pain will pass. (This too shall pass is an excellent motto).

    While there may be short term things I can and will do to ease the severity, it’s the surety of a steady practice and a life lived in harmony with who I am that works. So I’m an introvert and need downtime, silence and preferably solitude to recharge. If I ignore this then at some point I’ll be overwhelmed, my emotions will crazy-eight (see Tony Robbins description of this cycling through the ‘active and passive’ emotions such as anger, depression, rage, despair...), and then TMS will join the sorry-go-round.

    I think you have to get really good at catching yourself before you start to spiral into negative self talk and fearful thinking. This is essentially where self-soothing comes in, as @JanAtheCPA explains above, this is something we need to learn to do for ourselves. I’ve found EFT or Tapping to be an invaluable tool in this regard. It can stop these negative patterns in their tracks but it is something you need to do regularly. I tap every day as part of routine self-care.

    I’m also a subscriber to the Calm app and use it everyday. The focus is on mindfulness and meditation, both of which I have struggled with but appreciate that the struggle is the problem itself. It’s our inability to be with ourselves and our emotions that are the cause of TMS (and being “too busy” to make time for ourselves). The beauty of committing to a daily practice is I’ve come to understand that this is a discipline, much like brushing your teeth. It’s ongoing self-care not something to be achieved in an instant but rather a skill cultivated over time.

    I know how damn hard it is to do this every day. I have a million and one distractions but I spare ten minutes, usually in bed at night, because I find this preferable to suffering. I’ve lost years to pain so a gentle practice which off-sets it is a blessing not a chore.

    I know you want more of a magic bullet answer but life isn’t like that. We have to learn how to truly look after ourselves and that is a craft. This is reflected in the many ways people heal.

    Keep coming back to the basics.


    Tip the balance towards soothe.
    Find pleasure in life. Simple things like music and books ought be a weave of gold in your day. I know I’m heading for a fall when I can’t recall the last time I sat down with a novel or popped my headphones on.

    Plum x

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