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Derek Sapico Confused..

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Max2094, Aug 19, 2012.

  1. Max2094

    Max2094 New Member

    Bit lost at the moment and looking for some words of advice/Encouragement.
    Iv'e been at the TMS work for about 6 months and have seen some improvement for my chronic back pain however it has now increased dramatically despite me knowing the pain is not from a structural issue.

    The pain increased around a month ago only days before speaking with a TMS doctor and having him diagnose me with TMS. Deep down i already knew that would be my diagnosis as my MRI and Xray showed nothing that was of concern however the pain level is now the worst is has ever been.

    My back problem started at age 18 (im 32 now) and after recovering from that spasm the next 10 years were pretty much pain free apart from a bad spasm every year or so. Like allot of back pain sufferers i lived in constant fear of a recurrence as the pain is so severe and frightening compared to 'normal' injuries or pain i'd experienced. I would rate a major low back spasm as much worse than when i have broken bones playing sport in my teenage years.

    So where i am now is i have been living with chronic back pain for about 3 years and the pattern is after every bad spasm i have, The remaining chronic pain level is always much worse once the spasm settles and now im at the point where even bending slightly causes waves of excrutiating pain and im as fragile as glass.

    My TMS doctor does not think i need therapy to get better but i can't stand the pain any more and it's hard not to fear it when it's this bad. Every spasm leaves more chronic pain and my recovery is going backwards. The pain just feels so stubborn and relentless.

    I have had a host of other TMS equivalents such as Dizziness, Severe neck spasm with pain down the arm and upper back pain. These are easy to ignore and always go away but the low back pain is a different story. At its current level there is no way i can ignore it or just get on with life.

    I understand TMS and have faith that the pain is psychological but am so disheartened now that the pain has been increased this much??

    Any advice would be helpful.
    Thanks for listening.
  2. crimslock

    crimslock Peer Supporter

    Mate i am really feeling for you. I can hear your pain and distress jumping of the page. I am so sorry to hear things are really tuff at the moment. I wish i could take all the pain away for you. I am still new to TMS, about 3months now for me... 2 thoughts popped in my head when reading your post. 1> Maybe take some pain killers, I know Sarno is ok with it, he writes in his book to take pain killers early on in the treatment 2>Symptom imperative: "The closer you get to beating TMS, more likely it is that your symptoms may increase. Right now, your unconscious knows that you are figuring out its trick and it wants to distract you by increasing your symptoms." Forest had posted that as a reply to my post....
    Keep up the good work mate, i am sure we will both be 100% better very soon>>>
    Forest likes this.
  3. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hey Max,

    As Crimslock mentioned (quoting myself I believe:cool:) it sounds like the symptom imperative is as play. Most of the time when symptoms increase, change, or move around it is because you are getting close to beating it. Your unconscious is trying to get you to focus on your symptoms, but don't give in to it. Continue to think psychological and the pain will begin to fade away.

    It does sound like you are going about everything in the right manner. Being checked out and diagnosed with TMS by a physician is an excellent move. Try to use this as a confidence builder in the approach and in your own body. Take this diagnosis and tell yourself that you don't have a structural problem. Remember, most people don't need in depth psychological work to get better. It is not entirely necessary to fully resolve all of our emotional issues. Sometimes simply understanding what they are and that we have these strong repressed emotions is enough to recover.

    Another question to ask yourself is if you have any doubt. By analyzing your doubt you will be able to see some areas where you may need to work on or address. It is common to have some doubts about the approach. It is just a matter of understanding these doubts and overcoming them.

    Lastly, don't worry about how long it has been. Remind yourself that you will recover, when you recover. Us TMSers have trouble being patient and kind to ourselves. It is one of the reasons we have TMS in the first place. If you stay positive and continue to think psychological, you will get better.
  4. Max2094

    Max2094 New Member

    Thanks to both of you for the replies. I took your advice Forest and asked myself if i have any doubt and i must admit prior to speaking to my TMS doctor i was probably at 80% belief from reading the books and the doctor told me 99% belief is not enough and the pain will continue unless 100% acceptance takes place.

    Extra pain is always going to create extra doubt, Particuarly when 100% acceptance has not yet taken place.
    I also have not really done much besides read the books and use some positive affirmations and for a while this helped me get back into activies i had previously stopped but the progress stopped and now obviously i have gone backwards. The fear was still there and to some extent still is.

    The TMS Doctor looked over all my reports and said i was really a 'classic' case and could be a TMS poster boy.:) I believe him and it's all that makes sense as iv'e done the PT and physical route to death with zero results.

    I can see now more effort is required and i have purchased a workbook , Book and DVD to try and get some results as so far i can honestly say all i have had is a conscious appreciation of what TMS is rather than a deep acceptance..

    Fingers crossed i need some relief soon.
  5. Peter Zafirides

    Peter Zafirides Physician


    I would have to echo Forest's thoughts. They are spot on as it relates to the flare of pain and what it means. This happens.

    You are in a great place in your understanding of the TMS process. Don't doubt yourself. I would argue your actions prove you have much more acceptance and belief in TMS than you think. I say this because:

    1. You have a TMS doctor.
    2. You are reviewing multiple TMS books, DVD's and workbooks.
    3. You are committed to the process.

    I don't think you need any fingers crossed. I really believe you have what it takes to get better.

    You will see. Please let us know!!

    -Dr. Z
    Beach-Girl and Forest like this.
  6. Lori

    Lori Well known member

    Yikes, you are NOT fragile as glass. Our bodies are very strong, In fact, the back is the strongest set of bones in the body. Look at all it supports!

    You need to believe in the diagnosis and perhaps continue on "the program" Dr. Sarno outlines. I think therapy or at least journaling about things is important.

    Do you think some particular thought or event trigger the pain becoming worse? It's worth exploring.

    Also I recall Dr Sarno telling me, as I laid in pain on his floor, cancer would not hurt as badly as the TMS pain! It's heavy duty stuff! But when I took vicodin it didn't help; I now realize why.
  7. Susan

    Susan Peer Supporter


    Our bodies are built to fulfill a hunter/gatherer imperative. When my adult daughter asked me if I thought my body would break, that was a wake up call as I experienced so many back symptoms.

    As a newmember of our group, are you engaged in the Structured Ed Program on the home page of this site? It has been life changing for me as a way to commit to Sarno's Daily Reminders. I had an "aha" moment today when I decided to review the Ed Program from Day 1. I had done the work "I thought", yet, when I reviewed the assignments on Day 2, I had denied I could think of anything that made me and angry. I wrote in my journal, "I can't think of anything". Well, two months into the program I am now able to think of lots of things that make me angry from childhood to present stressors. The Program works!

    I am a senior TMSer and so I have years of repressed emotional material to process but, luckily, I am now able to access my emotional life, past and present. Trust and do the work.
  8. Max2094

    Max2094 New Member

    Thanks for the replies everyone they're much appreciated!
    I normally just have 24/7 dull chronic pain and i can handle that. I push my body physically and when this recent spasm happened i was drying myself off with a towel after just swimming 5 km's.

    A month on and the spasm has slightly settled but the remaining chronic pain is way worse than before and just wont let up.
    Im kinda at a loss on where to go as when this happened i spent ages just laying there thinking about what was happening in my life, What might be frustrating me etc and i just keep coming up with 'If my back didnt hurt i would be fine'. My high pain level is whats bothering me. Not something trivial from work or anything like that.

    When i was 18 and had my first severe spasm episode there were things going on that were upsetting me and making me angry. Looking back i can see that now. Now im in a better place in life and feel the only thing holding me back from true happiness and a wonderful life is the back pain. I just dont know where to look for answers as to whats contributing to the pain level getting higher and higher. I would love to go to therapy and heck would go 5 times a week if it would help me solve this but i live in Sydney Australia and there is just no TMS support here whatsoever.

    When the pain lessens or goes away enough to let me go for a surf or do some exercise my mood is like im the happiest guy in the world. All the worry about a future of pain and misery goes away and im on cloud nine. When the pain is bad naturally im depressed and so frustrated that my life is now on hold and for god knows how long. A bad spasm for me lasts for weeks if not months and although i believe it's created from my mind i still fear it as it hurts so much.

    Susan i have started to use the program and plan on sticking to it. If i were to fault anything on my approach it would be that i really have'nt given journalling or daily reminders etc a real go. All iv'e done is read the books and get on with life. It helped with the pain for a while but obviously isnt enough to permanently fix me.

    Thanks again for the replies guys, See ya.
  9. Derek Sapico MFT

    Derek Sapico MFT TMS Therapist

    Hi Max,

    I'm sorry that you have been suffering so profoundly with your back pain. I am going to gently and non-judgmentally nudge you towards taking a more active role in getting rid of your pain. There is a wide spectrum of effort and dedication that TMS'ers find themselves having to engage in to eliminate their symptoms. You mentioned that you read the books and are currently seeing a TMS Dr. which is fantastic. There may be more in-depth self-exploration that you can engage in yourself and for which you do not necessarily need a therapist who is a TMS specialist.

    Here are some simple suggestions to get you started:

    1) Use self-talk and daily reminders consistently and often. Be mindful of your thoughts and try to discover what messages you are giving to yourself that you may not be aware of yet. Do you tend to self-criticize? Do you tend to lack compassion when it comes to yourself? Do you get caught up in the spiraling negative thought patterns that can be REALLY hard to change? If so, try to take these negative messages you may be sending yourself and replace them with something more positive and productive.

    2) It seems as if you are "thinking psychological" which is great. I would suggest that you take this a step further and begin to explore your emotional tendencies. Are you carrying around a lot of rage, guilt, regret, sorrow, anxiety, or fear? What, beyond the pain, is lurking beneath these emotions (assuming they are present)? If you are carrying any of this stuff around then.........

    3) Express yourself!!! However you want to do this, it is a good idea to have a forum in which you are able to safely express your feelings. If you are feeling any of the emotions listed above, chances are you may have a tendency to bury some of them. We all suppress emotions just to get by every day, but what are the biggies that resonate with you? Journaling is a wonderful way of doing this, as is any kind of talk therapy (even if not with a TMS specialist). I know you have read some workbooks, now is the time to do them.

    4) Find moments of stillness and peace each day. I know you're a surfer, and what more peaceful thing that bobbing around on your board while waiting for a wave. Practice mindfulness and research it. Work on being present and in the moment as much as you can and strive for emotional honesty without judgment. This is something that takes practice and patience but is extremely rewarding and has been an invaluable tool for me as a clinician and for my clients. That sunrise/sunset while you're out on the water will become even MORE beautiful if you are able to be fully present in that moment.

    The structured program here on the Wiki is a fantastic way of guiding you through the journey. As I mentioned above, there are many different paths to healing TMS and some are more difficult than others. It seems as if you've proven to yourself that awareness and diagnosis isn't quite enough for you so you know that it is time to take that next step. This journey may be a short one or it may be a long one, but never give up on yourself and continue to believe that you WILL get better. Continue to seek support from your peers, especially during the dark times, and be tenacious in your desire to heal.

    Good luck with your recovery and take care!


    JanAtheCPA, veronica73 and Forest like this.
  10. kevinj

    kevinj New Member

    Wow, Dr. Sapico, that was very thorough! I totally agree, emotional exploration, quieting the mind, and self talk are exactly what I used to help me finally get out of pain.
    JanAtheCPA and Derek Sapico MFT like this.
  11. Max2094

    Max2094 New Member

    Thanks so much for the insightful post Dr Sapico!
    I have had a better day today and have started putting some of your ideas into practice already. I'll let you know my progress as I continue.
    It's wonderful to be able to come here on a bad day and get such positive and helpful info so thanks again!
  12. quasar731

    quasar731 Well known member

    Hi Max,

    I won't add much more to the already highly informative and useful tips from various members of this community. Rather I will empathize with you on the topic of feeling at a loss when symptoms strike our bodies with impunity. It is normal to feel confused when pain is so insistent.

    It is good that you had an opportunity to be assessed for TMS and you now know what you are dealing with. I also agree with the advice above that 'sometimes' when the going gets tough and you feel overwhelmed with pain, and until you become strong and more acquainted with the pain strategy, that you may consider pain management in the form of analgesics. Taking great care of course and if all possible under medical monitoring. One day you will be able to handle the TMS strikes with the power acquired through knowledge, practice and the support and energy from this community. Until then, be kind and loving to yourself.

    I wish you health and happiness!
    Derek Sapico MFT likes this.
  13. Derek Sapico MFT

    Derek Sapico MFT TMS Therapist

    It is absolutely my pleasure, Max. I will just echo quasar's comment to "be kind and loving to yourself." You'll get there and we'll be here for you every step of the way.

  14. quasar731

    quasar731 Well known member

    Thank you Derek, it was good to be reminded of such pearls of wisdom!

    Derek Sapico MFT likes this.
  15. Victoria

    Victoria New Member

    Max I am also a new here, I am absolutely in the same situation, absolutely! after a week of doing the program Unlearn your pain I am in bed with lower back pain, it's difficult.... but I am keeping positive, I try, can't tell you any advice at the moment:( , just that you are not alone:)
  16. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    And the good news, Victoria, is that you must be making progress - because your brain is fighting back! Crazy, isn't it?!!

    Derek, I've been out of the loop for a while - I'm really enjoying catching up and reading all of your posts! I'm going to print what you said above, and take it home and read it again. And again. I'm in need of these reminders right now.

    Keep the faith, everyone, we're here for you and for each other.

    Derek Sapico MFT likes this.
  17. Derek Sapico MFT

    Derek Sapico MFT TMS Therapist

    Thank you, Jan. It is an honor for me to be a part of this incredible community. I have been enjoying it immensely and find myself learning so much from all of the compassionate and insightful posts each new day.

    Forest likes this.
  18. Beach-Girl

    Beach-Girl Well known member


    I hope this finds you feeling better. I too get stuck in the pain and down about it. But I know there is a way through this. I think my toughest "assignment" is to be kind to me. I have noticed since starting this program that I tend to beat myself up pretty well. Now to "unlearn" that behavior. I also have back pain and it seems to simply consume me on some days. Other days I do pretty well. But I've been so busy I haven't figured out what the correlation between good and bad days are.

    Except I'm a classic "goodist" and also try very hard to please others. I know that somewhere in that last sentence lies the key for me. And I finally have the time to explore it. Derek's post was a good reminder for me and a way to start the work again.

    Be kind to yourself today - and I'll take my own advice

    Derek Sapico MFT likes this.
  19. Max2094

    Max2094 New Member

    Well I had basically come good and had improved a great deal from where i was a month ago.
    On Saturday morning I went for about a 5km walk and ran some of the way too. I felt good afterwards and then went surfing with no pain at all while doing this.

    I was pain free for hours after all this activity and felt great. Later in the evening while at a friends place I had a similar spasm to the one I had a month ago and it's still very painful now days later. Conditioning plays a part with any activity that has caused pain before but I didnt expect pain at all doing the activity/exercise and the fact that the spasm occurred many hours after the activity is just more confirmation the pain is not coming from a physical issue.

    Still really hurts though and it is tiring having to continually pick myself up and start all over again once I feel a little better.
    The relapses of pain are seeming to become more frequent then last longer once they're here.
    Thanks to everyone for all the great input in this thread.
  20. Eddie

    Eddie Peer Supporter

    Hi Max

    I'm know exactly what you're going through.

    I'm also a surfer and it pains me deeply to think I cannot surf due to how intense my pain is. Just trying to pop up onto my board causes intense pain.

    I'm recovering from my TMS slowly and recommend the structured education program as well as the 'Outcome Independence' strategy of trying 100% to ignore the pain and not respond badly to it.

    I also feel it would be great to speak to a TMS practitioner or Psychologist etc but in Sydney there doesn't seem to be anyone!

    Hope your recovery is on track!

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