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Conflicting TMS Information

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

  1. birdsetfree

    birdsetfree Well known member

    As Plum says above self soothing is a key tool I have used through the worst of it. Also it may be helpful to recognise any conditioning you may be experiencing and whether you are bargaining with the pain instead of expecting it to be there. The latter is more helpful as this is where acceptance lies, and then go ahead knowing you have the tools to deal with the pain. The tools are self soothing, somatic tracking, breathing mindfully etc. Find the ones that work for you.

    Repressed emotions will cause pain too so this is where reflecting on relationship issues and personal boundaries, self care and self love comes into play. Remember pressure is the direct route to TMS symptoms. So yes this is a lot of information to absorb and I think it is great that there is so much we can do to help ourselves through this to a cure. It is not that the ideas are split or that there are conflicting treatments, but that there are many tools to use to quieten down the fear of the pain, and eventually the pain itself.
    JanAtheCPA, BinLA and plum like this.
  2. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    @birdsetfree you are so on the money!

    @BinLA @Viridian

    This has been a huge and horrible emotional battleground for me. It took me a long time to see that I had no boundaries at all and the re-grouping of my energies and setting of healthy boundaries took me a long time to figure out. This is why setting aside regular time for myself is vital. If I don’t do this I risk sliding back into self-sacrifice and god help me, martyrdom. There is a HUGE difference between genuine kindness and authenticity and people-pleasing.

    Here are a couple of articles I found helpful:

    https://tinybuddha.com/blog/how-to-set-better-boundaries-9-tips-for-people-pleasers/ (How to Set Better Boundaries: 9 Tips for People-Pleasers - Tiny Buddha)

    https://tinybuddha.com/blog/my-needs-matter-too-how-i-started-speaking-up-and-setting-boundaries/ (My Needs Matter Too: How I Started Speaking Up and Setting Boundaries - Tiny Buddha)

    There are a few other pieces on this theme on the site. It’s actually a pretty good resource in general.

    Plum x
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  3. Marls

    Marls Well known member

    As BinLA says This is a great thread ....... “This too shall pass”, “self soothing” AND especially “set boundaries”. All answering so much. So very relative to where I am at the moment but hadn’t realised. Feel privileged to be a member of this forum. marls
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  4. BinLA

    BinLA Peer Supporter

    I can only speak for myself in this sense but a lot of my struggle with mindbody issues are almost embarrassingly simple. It’s either an anxiety of where it’s doing when the pain spikes... or a plain old fear of the strong pain once it’s here. I’m sure the reasoning for it all is much more complex and we are working through that... but at the end of the day this gastritis (lately) pain seems to be the new panic disorder for me... something that comes and puts/keeps me in a high state of primal fear or anxiety.

    So... my “process” as it comes on can be good at times, sloppy and downright fearful at others.
    Again... this takes us back to some of that conflict this thread speaks of.

    Do I “soothe” my system and tend to my struggles... or try to simply recognize but pay no special attention to it and keep moving.
    (With the intensity of the pain I generally need a little physical help like food or medicine to calm the stomach to do that)

    Because I feel like those onset times... when it first grabs the attention and creates that strong fear... are such important times and much may be determined on how we navigate those early onset moments.

    Again... solid gold stuff in this thread. Thanks to all for starting it.
    plum likes this.
  5. grapefruit

    grapefruit Peer Supporter

    I think as others have already more or less said, it's the kind of attention you give the pain. I think more negative emotions, such as fear, stress, and frustration can fuel the pain, whereas positive reactions (when you're not able to ignore it because it is too strong or interfering) retrain the brain. Positive emotions include curiosity, welcoming, gratefulness (because your body is communicating to you about a need in your soul).

    I have given birth two times, and the first time (as happens to many first-time mothers), I let fear get the best of me and the pain went through the roof. I utterly panicked and as a result the pain was so bad I would have jumped out of a window if I could have. However, in preparing for my second birth, I refused to go through that again and read a book about pain-coping techniques during labour. Some of them included being really curious about the pain, leaning into the pain and welcoming it. I practiced these ahead of time (with ice cubes in my hand) and put them into practice in childbirth and let me tell you the difference was night and day and I even got by without an epidural this time. All that to say, since childbirth is some of the worst pain out there, the kind of reaction you have to pain matters, no matter how "real" the pain.

    In short, ignore or distract yourself from the pain when able, but if it's too strong and impossible to ignore, try to make conscious decisions about you react to it. Eventually the severity should go down so that you CAN more easily ignore it.

    That said I also did get really, really mad at my TMS too, but I think that demonstrates a sense of control, where as fear and anxiety indicates the opposite.
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  6. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    You are quite right. This is the point where you need to catch yourself before you fall into the pain and the fear. This is where having a strong and consistent soothing practice comes into it’s own because it gives you something safe to fall back onto, and let’s face it, in the face of panic you really need that soft embrace.

    @grapefruit writes beautifully about the power of this in her post on giving birth.

    The more grounded you become, the more peaceful and less volatile, the easier these swells are to navigate. And in the moment it is perfectly ok to use anything that helps you get through, be that meds, hot water bottles, big glasses of wine...it doesn’t matter. Do what you need. Let yourself calm. Rest back into a daily practice that nurtures you. Don’t lose yourself in fretting about what is or is not permissible, if it works for you, do it.

    Plum x
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  7. Viridian

    Viridian Peer Supporter

    Beautiful, thank you.
    plum likes this.
  8. Viridian

    Viridian Peer Supporter

    It’s a real tonic to here what you say at the end here as I spend so much time fretting about doing ‘’The right thing’’ when trying to self soothe, like is it ok to have this beer/pizza/run or am I cheating myself and repressing an emotion that needs to be felt? Am I just distracting myself!?

    I’ve made a real mess in my mind trying to distinguish between emotions that need to be felt and what is just anxiety.

    I’m naturally an emotional and vulnerable person but being bullied at school turned me into an aggressor. I learned to confront any issues that arise in life head-on, though I find that very uncomfortable. I remember my father’s advice when I was being bullied was ‘If you’re going to have a fight, just hit them first! If you lose at least you’ll have got a punch in!’

    I think that says a lot about how I’ve responded to pain and my emotions. I’m trying to feel stuff, to hunt down anything that could be of future danger to me but there is an aggression behind it rather than a curiosity or love. It’s like I’m pest control looking to blast the place out with chemicals.
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  9. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    ...but the truly beautiful piece of your puzzle is that you have put your finger on the ‘problem’.

    It’s perfectly ok, in fact a beer and pizza sound damn fine, but you can keep the run. :)
    What you’re describing here is the way we tie ourselves in knots trying to heal, and actually all we achieve is the creation of more tension. Do what feels good. It doesn’t matter if it’s a distraction, especially if it’s something you’d do in your-life-without-pain. That’s kinda the goal, to live your life without the Damocles Sword of pain hanging over your head.

    You don’t need to find and feel emotions. They rise and fall naturally in a matter of seconds. Quit looking for trouble and go read this, I’ll be waiting for you when you come back:

    https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/seeking-the-grail.529/ (Steven Ozanich - Seeking the Grail)

    I hear you. I’m naturally a gentle soul too. I also fell prey to predators. Over the past decade of being a carer/caregiver I’ve become way too confrontational. If started with good intentions, a mama bear protecting her hurt man, but it’s become an all too often default. This I am mindfully working on, letting go of. You can too.

    It’s natural to be vigilant when in danger but the negativity bias in the brain can highjack this response and lead us to this point. Again, it can be calmed and soothed. Pleasure is the very best way I have found for dealing with this because it softens the rough edges and eventually reaches a glorious tipping point where a cascade of goodness saturates body, mind and soul.

    Plum x
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  10. BinLA

    BinLA Peer Supporter

    Again, so much great stuff in these responses... thanks to all.

    I think for me the soothe equation is often somewhat dependent on where the system is on a given day, and I'd suspsect many feel the same.
    On a good day, I love getting to the gym and working out hard... pushing myself. Though, I don't suspect that's probably the most physically soothing thing I can do.
    But I enjoy it, it makes me feel strong (of course) and a sense of control, which this condition has taken away from me largely over the past decade.
    Other days, it can be a walk... or just making sure I get good naps, etc.

    I do think I'm discovering I'm more of an introvert than I realized, over time. So... having that alone time, or.. at least low stimulation time with my wife is important.
    Many days though, my symptoms can be so high... a lot of my good soothe options seem to be taken from me. It's hard to concentrate on a good book, or even sit still some days when my panic/anxiety is off the charts.... or gastritis burning my stomach. So, I do what I can on those days... and just try not to beat myself up about it.

    The repressed emotions are a complete mystery to me. Like everyone here, I think the formative habits of coping may be my biggest issue. So I'm trying to look at those, and detangle things a bit so I can more easily navigate things as they arise in day to day life now.

    But also like many, I wonder if some of us just reach a level of CNS stimulation that the body has a hard time coming down from. I've had some great success and good times over the past 10 years, but the crux of why my body stays in this stimulated, fearful state on and off remains a mystery to me.

    So that said... it's great to see people working through their own foundations here.
    Viridian likes this.
  11. zclesa

    zclesa Well known member

    @BinLA High anxiety is a very close state to excitement. So it's actually easier to turn excessive anxiety into excitement than it is to "soothe" or calm it. What I did with high anxiety/panic states is listen to music that makes me feel excited (for me that's heavy metal or hip hop, or anything with a really good bass beat or heavy drums).

    I do this on the bus when my panic can be overwhelming. I even managed to get my foot tapping along and moving my body a bit. That was a lifesaver for me. so, if you can't calm it, convert it into excitement with whatever makes you feel excited (music, dance, whatever works for you). The excitement burns through and neutralises the anxiety. The more I have done this, the easier it got.
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  12. BinLA

    BinLA Peer Supporter

    I'm a drummer and former gigging musician, and same as you... into the heavier stuff usually. Though... I tend to crank it up when the mood is a bit better, or I'm getting blood going for workout or even housework lol. At peak times of difficulty, I usually do better with human intereaction or tasks... for distraction and allowing the brain to have a purpose for a bit so it stays out of "what if" land. But music is definitely part of good therapy for me in general, too.
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  13. grapefruit

    grapefruit Peer Supporter

    Anxiety set in after I healed from back pain and I just treated it like all my other symptoms - I yelled at it and got mad at it. I think it really helps to picture the anxiety as just another physical symptom and distance yourself by observing it from almost a third-person perspective. Instead of oxygen deprivation to the muscles, it's simply seratonin (or whatever chemical) deprivation in the brain. I would just say to myself, right now, my brain is releasing this chemical in my brain that makes me feel awful, but that's all that's happening, it's not really a big deal, and it won't last. And it worked - it completely went away.
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  14. Viridian

    Viridian Peer Supporter

    It's funny, I've always been someone who falls prey to the 'What if...' worry trick and all it's veiled variations. I started listening to 'The Worry Trick' audiobook recently and a simple way to circumvent the stress these thoughts cause is to simply count them. Now every time a 'What if...' though starts occurring, I gently notice it and just say 'It's just another pretend trick scenario'. The payoff is that although you aren't pushing the thought away, it dissolves the thoughts potency and usually the worry just dissolves, like it can't be bothered to even play out.
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  15. Viridian

    Viridian Peer Supporter

    I've just read the Ozanich post and all I can say is 'Wow'. It answers so many questions for me and this thread in general feels like it's unravelling so many knots. Thank you everyone, I can tell this is something I will come back to again and again - it's been invaluable.

    So this leads me onto my next question - what techniques are people using to self-soothe in the moment?

    Oh, and also for confronting fear when it arises!

    Sorry if these questions seem a bit much!
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2019
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  16. BinLA

    BinLA Peer Supporter

    @birdsetfree Can you elaborate on what you mean here? Pressure in regards to which aspect?
  17. birdsetfree

    birdsetfree Well known member

    Not respecting your own personal boundaries, not paying attention to your gut instinct about situations, anything that creates inner conflict to rise. When we don't listen to our true selves and take care of ourselves in a loving caring way this creates the inner conflict and pressure that can result in symptoms.

    The greater the gap between the ego and the inner child, the greater the pressure created. It is in our best interests to work on closing the gap.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2019
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  18. NicoleB34

    NicoleB34 Well known member

    flareups suck but the biggest thing that helps me is to remind myself that focusing on thoughts like "why is it worse today? what did i do? will it be gone in time for my vacation? i know TMS is real, but is this POSSIBLY physical this time around?" are not helpful and they fuel the pain. Or more appropriately, they fuel the primitive part of our brain that assesses danger (in our case, it's hyper-assessing and misinterpreting threat). Whether you focus on it or fight thru it, you're still going back to that part of the brain that is overreacting to what it believes is a threat. Since TMS sounds like a hokey theory to the common person, i try to explain it to them like this: In autoimmune disease, the immune system is failing to identify germs vs. your own body tissue, and ends up attacking you instead. In chronic "brain pain", your central nervous system is sort of doing the same thing. It's haphazardly throwing out hypersensitized signals to a perceived threat. It likes to pick areas you have had previous trauma with, like an old injury, or old surgical site, or infection, or maybe just an area you have insecurities about. In some ways, autoimmune disease follows a similar pattern. They usually start up after some sort of physical or mental trauma, just like TMS does. Our natural protective mechanisms are wonky and many things can trip them up". Now when i flare, i just tell myself that yeah, it sucks, but it WILL calm down. It always has in the past, and it's never permanently this bad. By adopting this attitude, the flares are shorter and less intense for the most part. it might still take days to calm down, but in the past, it was weeks/months.

    edit, i know some of my response is repetitive, but i was mostly responding to the part where you asked what to do when pain gets harsh.
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  19. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Brilliant explanation @NicoleB34!

    As for feeling like you're having to repeat yourself, welcome to the club :p
  20. NicoleB34

    NicoleB34 Well known member

    i may be wrong, but i feel like there is a genetic component to who will develop TMS (and/or central sensitization) because my mother has it too. Oddly enough though, she's not nearly as anxious as me. We have different personalities and she's fairly level-headed compared to me. We also have heavy autoimmunity on that side of the family. I get strange symptoms where i cant even think of what tripped it up. I have kind of accepted that i have a "spicy" nervous system and it can seem daunting if you're fighting both genes and generally being an anxious person all my life. I cant change who i am, so i'm trying to change how i react to stress and fear. I think i'll always be prone to pain in the sense that my TMS kicks in so easily, but i dont want to give up.

    As for genetics, i use my own family history, but there have been studies where they put people thru simulations, for instance, fake car accidents, and even though there was no actual whipping of the neck back, they simulated it in such a way that it seemed like it happened. The researchers also predicted ahead of time who might develop "whiplash" based on the person's personality type (anxiety, history of chronic pain). A couple people went on to develop whiplash even though their head/neck never moved, and the researchers were able to predict which ones would. Pretty fascinating stuff.
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