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Day 1: accepting the diagnosis

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by walllc643, Oct 23, 2014.

  1. walllc643

    walllc643 New Member

    For the past 4 years, I have struggled with increasingly persistent muscular pain throughout the right side of my body. It began in my knee and foot. Over time it slowly worked its way up into the muscles of my mid back and trunk, occasionally straying into my right arm, even my face. It became more and more constant and intense, making it very difficult to focus or get any sleep. I labelled the pain as some sort of mysterious chronic overuse “injury” resulting from my rigorous workout regimen. I finally came to the conclusion that I would have to take an extended break from exercise. However, once I did this and the pain didn’t disappear, I quickly became obsessed with it. What’s the cause? Will it ever get better? Why is this happening? And on and on…

    The more I feared and dreaded and was baffled by the pain, the worse it got. In the past year, I have tried everything - acupuncture, chiropractic, injections, medication for nerve pain, massage, osteopathy, physical therapy, stretching etc. Every doctor I went to pointed to a different culprit - short leg, flat foot, poor posture, herniated discs, misalignment of the spine/pelvis, muscle imbalances etc.

    With each conflicting diagnosis and each failed treatment, I became more hopeless, more afraid, more overwhelmed. And as I crumbled psychologically, withdrawing into myself, cutting myself off from the world, the pain flourished and spread like a virus. My entire identity was wrapped up in the pain. I WAS the pain. I spent each day having panic attacks, sobbing uncontrollably, projecting catastrophe into the future. I would never be able to work, go on a date, move out of my mother’s house, have a family. Each day I became more despondent, more inconsolable. I began to imagine death as my only way out.

    Finally about 10 days ago, I happened upon John Sarno’s Mind Over Back Pain. I opened it up and immediately saw myself on every page. I tore through it like man possessed. So much of it applied to me personally, to my life, and to the behavior and evolution of my pain.

    I have nearly all the risk factors and personality traits of someone prone to TMS - early childhood sexual abuse, need to be perfect, awful self esteem etc. I can also trace the onset of my pain to a very specific and stressful period of my life - my last semester of college before entering the workforce. From that moment on, the stress has only built. I’ve hopped from one job to the next - all of them in sales, an inherently stressful line of work to begin with. Every step of the way I’ve felt as though I’ve been running away from all my responsibilities, doing barely enough not to be fired and constantly afraid of being found out and labelled a fraud. Running from job to job, from one location to another, running from the terrifying prospect of finding my purpose in life, running from adulthood. At every turn I projected an image of confidence, drive, capability - all the while feeling like a scared child, waiting for the entire charade to come crashing down on top of me. I alone bore this terrible truth - that I’m terrified all the time, that I know deep down I can’t take care of myself. I’m scared, and ashamed, and sad, and absolutely furious with myself. I’ve been this way my whole life. As the pressure built and I continued to run away, the physical pain built and built. Spreading, intensifying, morphing, constantly flowing from one area of my body to another.

    The funny thing about my pain is that it really is a terrible liar. The pain insists at every turn that it is the result of some structural defect, and yet the story it tells is laughably inconsistent. Okay so sitting hurts terribly, but only when my attention isn’t occupied? Same with standing and walking? Please explain why. How come bending, twisting and lifting don’t cause pain? Don’t I have a herniated disc? Sometimes exercise causes terrible pain afterward, except when it doesn’t? My pain goes from a 5 out of 10 to a 1 out of 10 over the course of coffee with a friend, all the while I’m sitting in the same position? Despite these and many other inconsistencies, I’ve bought in enthusiastically to the lie at every turn. All our lives we are conditioned to attribute physical pain solely to some organic process, and old habits die hard.

    It has been 10 days since I was first introduced to John Sarno. Since then I have consumed as much literature on the subject as possible. Each day has been a whirlwind of self-exploration and discovery. Of hope and elation and understanding, and reduced pain! And then somehow doubt - not intellectual doubt, but emotional. What if my pain won’t go away? What if I can’t buy in? What if my pain is somehow unique? The fear is real just like the pain, but neither serves a purpose and both must be methodically suffocated.

    I know that my pain is TMS, but now I must teach myself to believe it. I’m building my case against the pain, compiling evidence, presenting it over and over and over. Eventually, the truth will be undeniable - that this pain is entirely psychosomatic. Much like the alcoholic who must first admit he has a problem, accepting my diagnosis is the first and most vital step to recovery.
  2. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, wllc643. I'm so glad you posted about your pain and also that you read Dr. Sarno.
    Your medical checkups found only typical cases of this and that, and since nothing helped,
    you found TMS which is very likely the cause of your pain. It does move around, or get
    more intense at times. That is your subconscious giving you pain so that you spend some time
    discovering your repressed emotions and personality traits. Your childhood of abuse would be
    enough to cause TMS pain.

    You will find a lot of good help in the Structured Education Program that will lead you to
    journaling so you discover your repressed emotions and modify your goodist personality.
    Dr. Sarno says you don't even have to solve any repressed emotional problems, it is enough
    for you to acknowledge them. Then your subconscious stops the pain.

    Believing 100 percent that your pain is psychological and not structural is essential in
    TMS healing. It may take a while to achieve that, but meanwhile as you achieve more TMS belief,
    your pain will lessen. It happens fast for some people, but takes more time for others. I found
    that journaling was very helpful to me in healing from TMS back pain. I came to realize I was
    holding repressed anger from my childhood. It led me to better understanding my parents and
    older brother and that they probably had their own pain, from repressed emotions. This all led me
    to forgiving them, and forgiveness is another essential to healing. Discover the past, make peace with it,
    then let it go.
  3. aziemski

    aziemski New Member

    I have been working on accepting the TMS diagnosis for a couple months now. At first i accepted it readily for the episodes of extreme low back pain that i had been experiencing about once a month, and now, it seems like those have gone away. However, they have been replaced with more sciatica pain in my left leg. I had surgery for this over a year ago and haven't felt the nerve pain since. So when the leg pain returned it really grabbed my attention and sent me into a fear cycle about reherniation, scar tissue, and the possibility of another surgery. I immediately went back to the old diagnosis of a herniated disc because the pain is exactly how it was before. It was just too easy to think that this was the "old injury" again. The fear and anxiety were one thing but this immediate loss of faith in the TMS diagnosis was troubling. I admit that there are inconsistencies in the pain. When i am busy and otherwise engaged i tend not to notice it as i dont have time to be distracted by it. but when I'm alone and have time to think it gets worse. However, i think my biggest doubts arrive when i try to be physically active. It inevitably hurts more after i work out. Not necessarily WHILE I'm exercising, but afterward or later that day. I think this creates a lot of doubt for me. If I'm not injured, and physical activity is not dangerous, then why does it hurt so much after my workouts?
    walllc643 likes this.
  4. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, aziemski. Dr. Sarno writes in THE MINDBODY PRESCRIPTION,
    "If you are fearful of physical activity, recurrent pain, injury, and progressive degeneration of spinal conditions,
    the battle has not yet been won. The pain will return unless you overcome those fears. Patients are advised to
    resume normal, unrestricted physical activity once the pain is gone, or nearly so, and when they feel confidence
    in the diagnosis. Patients have reported that becoming active may take months, which is not difficult to understand
    considering their years of exposure to misconceptions about the presumed fragility of the back.

    "The path to resumption of full physical activity, without fear, may be slow and uneven. Don't worry if you begin
    to exercise too soon and experience some pain. You cannot hurt yourself. TMS is a benign process. Continuing pain
    with activity means the brain is still in the process of changing its programming. You must bide your time,
    try and try again, and stay secure in the knowledge that you will prevail in the end. This has proven to be the case
    for thousands of patients.

    "I recommend waiting a few weeks after you accept
  5. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    (more) the TMS diagnosis, so the pain can diminish, confidence can be strengthened, and the brain
    will have time to be reprogrammed."

    I hope you find Dr. Sarno's advice helpful.
  6. walllc643

    walllc643 New Member

    Thanks for the response, azlemski! I identify wholeheartedly with many of the struggles you're dealing with. Before I go into specifics, you HAVE to watch the video presentation by Alan Gordon on accepting the diagnosis. Here is the link to watch it on Youtube:

    In that video, he gives a very logical and satisfying answer to the question you posed at the end of your reply above. It isn't the physical activity itself that is directly causing your pain, it is the FEAR that physical activity is hurting you, that is in fact causing your pain. You have conditioned yourself to believe that pain follows physical activity, which creates fear, which naturally leads to pain. This pain then further validates your own belief that the physical activity does in fact cause pain, and thus the cycle is perpetuated. I experience the exact same phenomenon occasionally after exercising.

    I too can relate to your overall fear and doubt in the validity of the TMS diagnosis. That fear is often at its most debilitating when I'm alone, which of course is also when I tend to experience the most pain. TAKE A MOMENT TO APPRECIATE THE IRONY OF THAT STATEMENT! If the pain really were structurally caused (which is what we're afraid of), then it wouldn't be so drastically affected by our fear.

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