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Confused...Please help...

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by VKA, Jul 27, 2012.

  1. VKA

    VKA New Member

    I am very new to this forum and have very basic questions. I have read Dr Sarno's book and several postings on this site. I have pain in my lower back (SI joint), Hips, Glutes, Thighs and sometimes lower part of legs as well. So far other than bulged L4-L5 disc without nerve pinching, nothing has come up. So my questions are.
    1. When the pain sets in on account of continuous sitting, what actions should I take? Should I ignore the pain and continue to sit in which case it keeps getting worse. Should I get up and walk? How do I divert my mind into focusing psychological as sometimes I am not even thinking anything or I am not excited, worried. At other times I am and I try to tell my mind that I can handle myself and do not need it to divert my attention.
    2. How should I not think about pain 24/7
    3. How often should I meditate/relaxing the body in parts and focus on breathing?
    4. Should I do any stretching at all?
  2. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hiya VKA and Welcome to the Peer Network!

    The first thing to understand is that in order to get better you need to accept the diagnosis 100%. This approach isn't simply taking a pill once a day. It involves you actively taking steps to overcome your symptoms. The good part is that you are fully capable of doing this. No matter how bad your symptoms are, you have the power to overcome them by recognizing what your repressed emotions are. If you fully believe this, you will recover.

    A major part of accepting the diagnosis is understanding that sitting in the chair DOES NOT cause you pain. A comfortable chair cannot damage you. The cause of your symptoms is not the chair. You think it is due to faulty medical advice and misconceptions about pain. Remember, the medical industry approaches the treatment of pain by focusing on the body, which is not the cause of the symptoms. In the thread Burning so so Bad, Crimslock posted a quote from Alan Gordon where Alan said: It isn’t the sitting that’s causing my back pain, it’s the belief that sitting is causing my back pain that’s causing my back pain. In your case, you are getting pain when you sit because you are conditioned to do so, and then when you notice it you think to yourself, this chair is causing me pain, which just leads to more pain.

    The difficult part for everyone at the beginning is of course how to change their thoughts from their symptoms, i.e. the physical, to their emotions or psychological. Once you accept the diagnosis and understand that you don't have a physical problem then you no longer have to worry if a certain activity, such as sitting, is going to hurt you or worsen your symptoms, because you understand that that activity is not behind your symptoms. This understanding allows you to let the pain be there without fearing it or worrying about it.

    MatthewNJ always used to say: what you resist persists. This simply means that you can overcome your chronic pain by allowing it to be, and not worrying about what will happen.

    The other part of this is to simply start to think psychologically. When you experience symptoms, ask yourself what am I feeling right now. You are in control of your thoughts, and can change them from being pain-focused to being emotionally focused. You need to understand how powerful you are.

    Doing daily TMS work can help you begin to identify your emotions and better access them when you feel your symptoms coming on. Meditation and relaxation techniques can be part of this daily work, but you can also journal or do something as simple as reading a TMS book or reading forum posts. I would also recommend being active again. No activity will force your unconscious mind to accept the TMS diagnosis and stop creating these symptoms as effectively as exercising. It is a shock to your unconscious that says, I am strong and do not have a structural problem. You can stretch beforehand if you want to, but don't do it as a way to prevent having chronic pain.

    Remember you are strong and if you continue to gain knowledge and explore your emotions your symptoms will quickly fade away. Keep us posted on how you are doing. Hopefully you can go from confused to enlightened :cool:.
    MorComm likes this.
  3. VKA

    VKA New Member

    Thank you Forest for taking time to respond. It helped. But when you say "recognizing what your repressed emotions", does it mean acknowledging that you have repressed anger that you cannot express for various reasons, or does it mean trying to see in your mind an unpleasant event or does it mean talking to your mind that you will change and no longer be angry.

    Also when you say "When you experience symptoms, ask yourself what am I feeling right now"? Most of the time, I am thinking/feeling pain so is it possible to elaborate a little so I can visualize.

    I think I am going to try and start playing shuttle badminton with my son. I have been holding off on that.

    I am doing some basic breathing exercises and relaxation using a book "Self Hypnosis" by Elaine Sheehan. It helps for a while and then the pain sets in again.
  4. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    @VKA: What Forest means, I think, is that you don't have to know what your repressed emotions are specifically (rage? sorrow? anxiety?). Rather you have to acknowledge that your pain is due to repressed emotions, instead of something structural like your bulging disk between L4-L5. The meditation work you are doing will help you do this ultimately because it will allow you to refocus your attention away from your lower back to other parts of your body that are not painful. This is what Dr. Sarno means by "thinking psychological" I think. Besides Elaine Sheehan's book on "Self Hypnosis", you might begin by reading Dr. Sarno's Healing Back Pain because he details the typical personality traits of back pain patients (like perfectionism, low-self esteem and goodism), which you may recognize in yourself. Bet you do! That's where you can start putting the pieces together and applying TMS theory to your own situation. Your list of symptoms, incidentally, sound very typical of TMS and are very much like my own. So don't think your own case is exceptional. Many, many patients have recovered from exactly the set of symptoms you describe. The recovery process varies from person to person, but nearly all of them get better if they work at the program diligently and patiently. You just have to avoid clock watching, because that's another trait associated with a perfectionist personality type characteristic of TMS patients. Hate to say it because it sounds so trite but you have to chill out, go with the flow, and pay attention to what your intuition tells you.
    veronica73 likes this.
  5. Susan

    Susan Peer Supporter


    Hi and welcome. Have you begun to do any of the Structured Educational Activities found on the home page, left side. They are full of both advice from experts on various topics related to TMS and Activities like journaling that will help you begin to access repressed emotions.


  6. VKA

    VKA New Member

    @MorComm, Thanks for your time. You are right about the personality traits on all three counts. Not sure how to overcome them. Also I have read Dr Sarno's book and that is how I started researching more and luckily found this great site. Dr Sarno in his book under the treatment strategies mentions
    "I suggest to patients that when they find themselves being aware of the pain they must consciously and forcefully shift their attention to something psychological, like something they are worried about, a chronic family or financial problem, a recurrent source of irritation, anything in the psychological realm, for that sends a message to the brain that they're no longer deceived by the pain. When that message reaches the depths of the mind, the subconscious mind, the pain ceases."
    So I guess this is where I am confused. If I focus my mind on these issues, will it not cause more anxiety, tension, nervousness? Should the focus not be toward positives? Please excuse my ignorance as I am just starting to learn.
    Susan likes this.
  7. VKA

    VKA New Member

    Thanks so much for the pointer. I'll start reading the structured educational activities section.
  8. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    I had this question too when I first learned about TMS. In The Mindbody Prescription, Dr. Sarno says:

    For me the key has been to notice what's bothering me, let myself really feel the feeling in my body and emotionally, and then only after that begin to re-frame into more positive thoughts.
  9. VKA

    VKA New Member

    Thanks all for your help, advice and direction. I have been reading this site for the past couple of days and strongly believe I have TMS. Infact I have forced myself to sit for an extended period of time and the pain subsides. I have been able to sit on different chairs (with some initial discomfort). I have started talking to my mind and reinforcing that "I have TMS and I have no physical issues". I have been able to ignore pain and do some light work. I have also started meditating. I have the following questions though.

    1. I have a very stiff/tight lower back. I am not an outdoor person and only enjoy walking (started 1 mile walks), short bike rides (I have'nt started yet) and playing shuttle badminton (haven't started yet). Are there any suggestions? I do not want to apply any hot pad or pain relieving creams which probably are considered as paying attention to pain? For bike ride I have to overcome my fear as last time with an excercise bike, I developed pain in glutes/piriformis.
    2. If I have to deal with unpleasant situation some days where in I have to repress my emotion and I know that I am repressing my anger and/or sorrow but I don't have much control over the situation and cannot shy away from it either, what can be done to not let that further affect oneself?
    3. How should I avoid reading Dr Sarno's daily reminders mechanically.

    Thanks all for sharing and taking time to reply.
  10. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    "If I focus my mind on these issues, will it not cause more anxiety, tension, nervousness?"

    I think what Dr Sarno means by focusing your attention on the underlying psychological reasons for your pain is that by shifting your attention, VKA, from the unconscious to the conscious region of your brain you will gain a rational analytical understanding of the emotional reasons behind your symptoms. This also changes the biochemistry of your brain in such a way that it no longer produces painful symptoms to distract you from emotions and feelings you don't want to confront directly like rage, sorrow and anxiety.

    You're sending a signal to your psyche that you're no longer fooled by the pain charade.

    I'm sure there are other people on this forum that can put this more succinctly and with greater scientific precision, but that's my take on it in a long-winded sort of way. Michael Brown and Steve Ray Ozanich have had to figure these things out the hard way simply because their symptoms were so overwhelming. You'll find lots of parallels between their experiences and your own.
  11. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hey VKA - I'm glad you found my previous post helpful. I have a couple thoughts on your most recent questions, but first I will try to clear up some of the confusion in the previous one.

    First, when I mentioned asking yourself what you are feeling whenever you experience your symptoms, I was really talking about doing something similar to the Sarno quote in Veronica's previous post, which is commonly referred to as Think Psychologically. Remember the cause of your symptoms are repressed emotions, so if you think psychologically, and investigate your emotions, you will begin to eliminate the reason for the symptoms.

    This doesn't necessarily mean you need to fully overcome the symptom or understand it. For a lot of TMSers, we just don't recognize that we have these powerful emotions such as anger or rage, and so part of our recovery invovles recognizing that these emotions exist and becoming okay with having them. Part of this touches upon your previous question of If I focus my mind on these issues, will it not cause more anxiety, tension, nervousness. Sure the first time you start feeling some of these emotions you may notice a rise in anxiety, but that is simply because your unconscious mind still wants to repress these emotions, because it finds them to be unacceptable. The key is to understand that emotions such as anger or rage are simply normal parts of the human experience that everyone has, and you are not a bad person for having these emotions. Of course, if you notice a serious rise in anxiety (which is an equivalent of TMS) you may want to consider working through the program under the guidance of a therapist, who will help you process these emotions

    This sort of is in line with your 2nd question. One of the biggest steps you can take is to begin to recognize and feel your emotions. Just because you feel angry or have rage does not mean you will act on it. If you are in an unpleasent situation, tell yourself what you don't like about it and allow yourself to be angry. This doesn't mean act on your anger or yell at someone. It simply means admitting, if only to yourself, that a certain situation makes you angry. This is something that TMSers don't regularly do. We try so much to repress our anger in certain sitatuions and think of everything as positive as possible, which only infuritaes our unconscious mind. After the situation is over, you could even journal about it to release those pent up emotions you had.

    You also asked about the need to think positive. To me, thinking positive doesn't refer to focusing on only the positve aspects of things such as, thinking your boss means well when they blame you for other people's mistakes. It infuriates your unconcsious when you only focus on the positive aspects of things, and is the fundamental reason you have symptoms to begin with.

    In TMS, thinking positve, simply means that you believe you have the power to overcome your chronic pain by doing the approach. It invovles having positive thoughts about the final outcome, and truly believing you will get better. It is about changing your negative thoughts of, I can't do that or I am a terrible person to positive ones such as I have the power of healing myself and I am a great person. If you have any questions about this I would suggest checking out the threads by Dr. Zafirides and Alan Gordon.

    With that said, I'm not really sure what you mean by "How should I avoid reading Dr Sarno's daily reminders mechanically."

    I would advise anyone to continue to read the daily reminders. The more you do the more the information will sink into your unconscious.
    MorComm likes this.
  12. Susan

    Susan Peer Supporter

    What Sarno says about the Daily Reminders is to not to make them a ritual. I interpret that to mean that they are to be read or spoken aloud to remind you that you are physically well and want to begin getting back to your real life of physical activity as soon as you can. I am not sure where you got the word "mechanically". I copied them out of his book and have them by my bed. I say them aloud to myself not every day now 30 some days into the program, but do say them most days to reinforce into my consciousness the facts of TMS. From there these reminders will eventually get to the unconscious. Saying them with feeling and belief is key for me and I would bet they are used differently by different members.

    If you know from having had your back checked out that there is nothing structurally wrong with it, this can be one of the most important statements you can make. Reading Sarno the first time and knowing that the doctor could find nothing specific about my spine from the MRI yet gave me a menu of injections, exercises, follow up possible procedures, gave me the confidence I needed to just follow his program. If you can really believe there is no physical reason for your stiffness and pain, it can take away the fear. You then can ease back into physical activity. Lots of posts in the Forum on this. This reality of having TMS was major for me and changed my whole perspective about what was really going on.

  13. MatthewNJ

    MatthewNJ Well known member


    Sorry if I am long winded here. I am in competition with Forest and Morcom (both of whom are my friends and peers) to see which one of us can give you an LONGER response. Kidding, just kidding.

    Wow, I feel for you. Ouch! I have been there done that! Pain is a great distraction. You are here though and that is really positive. You have read Dr. Sarno, and THAT is really positive. You WILL get better!

    Have you ruled out the physical? EG: have you seen your doctor and made sure you do not have something that will truly hurt you if not addressed by the western medical community? You don’t want to miss anything serious!

    The Buddha said “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”

    That said, I will try to help too.

    My first suggestion is, if you are comfortable with MBP, stick with it for now. Give it good college try before moving onto the structured program. EG: use the Jim Campobello method as described in the book.
    --Don’t try multiple modalities at once.— You will just stress yourself and not succeed. If after you are done with MBP, or if you don’t like it, then I recommend trying the structured approach. If that doesn’t work, no worries we have lots more to offer. Different stokes so to speak. Next, join us on Saturdays 3:00 PM EST for our Peer Chat group. You will get lots of support and ideas there.

    As far as stretching and meditation, I use both, regularly. They are both excellent ways to release excess energy. This excess energy (fight or flight) IS causing your pain. It will take some time to get to what is causing that release of excess energy. Be patient. Sorry, easier said than done eh?

    You said that “I am doing some basic breathing exercises and relaxation… It helps for a while and then the pain sets in again”. That in itself is telling you that you ARE being successful at releasing energy. Pat your self on the back! And then do it again

    Now onto your latest questions:

    1. I have a very stiff/tight lower back. I am not an outdoor person and only enjoy walking (started 1 mile walks), short bike rides (I have'nt started yet) and playing shuttle badminton (haven't started yet). Are there any suggestions? I do not want to apply any hot pad or pain relieving creams which probably are considered as paying attention to pain? For bike ride I have to overcome my fear as last time with an excercise bike, I developed pain in glutes/piriformis.

    If you want to exercise, do so. Start gradually. Listen to your body. I have taken pain medication in the past. If you can’t think about anything but the pain, you can’t solve the problem. If you do use creams or pain killers, Try this. Say to yourself, outloud, that these medications are for the symptom, I am reading Dr. Sarno and accessing the PPD/TMS wiki to solve the real cause”. And MEAN it!

    2. If I have to deal with unpleasant situation some days where in I have to repress my emotion and I know that I am repressing my anger and/or sorrow but I don't have much control over the situation and cannot shy away from it either, what can be done to not let that further affect oneself?

    The fact that you know you are repressing is a major accomplishment! BRAVO. Try to avoid these situations if you can.If not, as soon as you get out of the situation, go journal about it. And then be with your feelings, and be angry and be sad. Let it go. again, easier said.... practice, practice , practice, you can and will change if you decide to do so.

    3. How should I avoid reading Dr Sarno's daily reminders mechanically.

    Set some time aside when you won’t be bothered. Try getting into a meditative stare first. Relaxed and open to suggestions.Then say them with FEELING. Say them with meaning!

    Good luck,

  14. VKA

    VKA New Member

    Thanks all again. Every bit helps. This community is great.

    Matthew, thanks for "If not, as soon as you get out of the situation, go journal about it. " I am in unpleasant situation several times every day and it is probably on account of my excessive anger/irritation/anxiety/worry etc. Most of times I express it and that makes the situation even more volatile, of course equal number of times I repress as well and know that VERY WELL. So I'll start journalling the emotions and see how that goes. Does it help if you journal even when I express a strong emotion and have not repressed it? Also how important is it to journal the past events that are from adult life and not from childhood? The structured program says to write about 3 past events.

    Yesterday I did a lot of physical work and rearranged a room completely. That was a big thing for me. Of course I kept feeling the pain all along and could not completely take my mind off it. Is that normal? But that increased pain in my hips and heaviness in my thighs and slight pain/burning on my right leg (calf).

    Today I went for a very short bike ride (1/2 mile) in the morning. Since evening I am experiencing mild pain in my pelvic area with mild spasm along with hip pain. Is this my mind's way of confusing me to dissuade me from riding bike? Or I am over analyzing? The past (3 months back) xray of pelvic bone was normal. This could also be from doing hamstring strech? Should I just rest? All my pains are right now more of annoyance/fear and not chronic. For my tolerance (which is very small) the pain is at 4 or 5.

    I am also worried for my kid who is in high school and needs my help for volunteer programs, but my Hip pain shoots up to 6 or 7 if I have to stand more than 30 Min and of course I get nervous just thinking about it, so I guess I have already conditioned my mind. But how do I decondition it? Simply by continuing to stand which is tough for me?

    I have started doing a lot of "brain talk" during my morning walk.

    I have lots of back pain/hip pain books that show various exercises, but when I was in physical therapy and also doing my own stretching they were not helping much and the pain kept shifting.

    As always appreciate your responses!!!
  15. VKA

    VKA New Member

    I have started getting neck pain sitting in front of computer (that's my job) since last 2 days. Its causing distraction from work...
  16. VKA

    VKA New Member

    I am planning to visit Dr David Schechter MD who participated in Dr Sarno's program. Not sure if it is a good idea. Any thoughts?
  17. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    I think seeing Dr. Schechter would be a great idea. Unfortunately, most of us don't have a TMS doctor nearby. I was lucky enough to be able to see one and getting an "official" diagnosis from him really helped me. I already was pretty certain I had TMS, but it helped to remove any doubt.

    Good luck!
  18. VKA

    VKA New Member

    I feel the pain in my SI Joint has increased. Is it OK for me to sit for hours at a stretch even when the pain is building up. Is it not advisable to stretch/excercise?
  19. MatthewNJ

    MatthewNJ Well known member


    Sorry about being long winded here. Agreed, expressing your anger in a volatile situation will make it worse.
    You KNOW you are repressing, another very positive step! For now, I suggest not sweating too much what you journal about. Just journal. I feel you are getting too detailed. A little bit obsessed eh? Not to worry, you are just NORMAL! Just do your best!

    Pat yourself on the back for rearranging the room. Bravo! It is totally ok to no have gotten your mind off the pain completely. Enjoy the fact that you succeeded in something that was “big” for you.

    I would re-word the bike ride comment. How about “I succeeded in riding my bike ½ a mile today. I think I will ride a ½ a mile tomorrow too.” Any symptom that is TMS can be thought of as a distraction. It can also be viewed as a message. When we understand the message, we start to see why we have the pain. A normal pelvic xray, is another positive sign. WOW, you have a list of positive things in everything you write! Do you get that?

    The pain while standing is a typical PPD/TMS symptom. But I think you have some good clues here. The pain seems to be related to your son’s need for your help. What about that is a creating pain? Did YOU not get help when you were his age when you needed it? The next time you are having pain related to this situation, try this: sit back a moment and observe the pain. Don’t try to fix it, or judge it, just observe. See what comes to you. Mom? Dad? Sister? Brother? An event when you were a child? Does that help you understand why you are “hurting”

    Does your “brain talk” include loving the little kid in you? Praising him? Protecting him? Giving him a hug? I like that approach instead of “talking to” or “yelling at” my brain. Love is much more powerful.

    You are a bit scattered in your approach. That in un itself is a distraction. IMO, put away all the books. Stick with EITHER MBP or the structured program and telling us how you are doing. Forget about everything else for right now. It is not serving you!

    If you are having pain sitting at your computer, then stand. I stood at my work computer for the better part of six months. A shelf in my cube for the monitor and an empty paper box to bring the keyboard up high enough!

    Seeing Dr David Schechter MD is a fabulous idea.

    Forest likes this.
  20. VKA

    VKA New Member

    Thanks Matthew. Actually regarding brain talk, believe it or not I did exactly that today. While I was relaxing with a meditation music on a picture of a small child that was scared and frightened and trying to protect itself by spreading pain in differerent parts came to my mind. The child looked like it was bearing so much emotional pain over the years. I tried to cajole, love, hug and explain things....
    However in regards to sitting continuously in front of computer, is it not a good idea to stretch just a little that as a normal person you would do?
    I started on the journal exercise for the first time in my life and it was quite emotional.
    Standing gives more pain in my hips than sitting. It was not so when the pain had just started. I made it worse by fear and worrying about it 24/7. It kept getting worse and spreading to different areas. I still am fearful...may be a little less...
    Today I am having hip/shoulder/neck pain...not sure if I can apply some pain medicine or will it make the inner child more stubborn?

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