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Day 1 - My Story

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by DoughLady, May 8, 2013.

  1. DoughLady

    DoughLady New Member

    Day 1 - My Story

    I am 34, married to the love-of-my-life, and we are closing on our first home in June. We hope to have children in the next few years and anticipate a happy, long life ahead of us.

    I'd say my TMS journey began when I was in high school. I was singing in a highly regarded church choir, at the dedication concert paying tribute to the new organ they had just raised money for and had installed. I stood a few feet from the choir director, who was very active as he conducted us, waving his arms, jumping at times, and making eye contact as he nodded that we were right on pitch, tempo, etc. Everything was going great.

    Without warning, my hearing and peripheral vision cut out. I could see a tunnel ahead of me, hear nothing but my own breathing. I turned to my close friend who was singing next to me and saw her mouth my name and the words "are you okay?!" I made my way to the staircase and took a step in the darkness, then fell down a flight of twisty stairs, since no matter how I turned my head I could only see this small box directly in front of my eyes. A woman in the vestibule at the bottom of the stairs looked at me as I fumbled to my feet and made it to the bathroom. My heart pounded and I laid on the cool floor in the bathroom in the one stall by the toilet, waiting for my hearing and sight to return. I heard my name being called as my friend told me our part in the concert had ended and the conductor was asking if I was all right. She told me I was pale and clammy, and I felt hot and sweaty. I had no idea why this had happened.

    A similar version of this happened at several small a capella performances in a local French restaurant where my high school audition-to-be-in singing group performed to raise money for our spring trip abroad. It got to the point that I just "called out" prior to the performance because going through this type of thing at the performances was too stressful. My membership in the group became uncertain and I finally dropped out.

    The church choir director called me in and told me he felt that I had stage fright. He offerred to arrange a phone conversation about the topic with a famous opera singer in Philadelphia with whom he had worked. I was getting increasingly anxious in all sorts of situations and never took him up on it.

    In college, I began to black out on the free campus buses. After a few months of this, I dropped out of school and returned to live with my parents.

    I saw therapists and a psychiatrist, but no one - and no medication - seemed particularly helpful to me at the time.

    Over the years I had bouts of IBS, carpal tunnel syndrome, severe headaches, tooth pain that lasted much longer than it "should have" following impacted wisdom tooth removal, pelvic/abdominal pain which lasted much longer than it "should have" and was much more severe than it "should have been" following the removal of a tiny dermoid cyst from my right ovary.

    Then in December 2010, I began to have headaches that would not go away. I found a job that generated significantly less stress than the one I had at the time the headaches came on, but the headaches continued. My primary care doctor tried me on several medications with no luck. I went to a pain clinic and tried all the migraine drugs on the market with no luck. I had a migraine that lasted over three months and was hospitalized for a DHE treatment. The treatment "broke" the headache and kept me headache free for a few months. I had another hospital stay and they did a spinal tap. An argument could be made that my cerebro-spinal fluid pressure was abnormally high and that I had a diagnosis of pseudo-tumor cerebri, or Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension. Some new medications, but I continued to have chronic migraines.

    At some point I started reading Sarno, and it clicked. But I had (and still have) a hard time letting go of access to the pain medication, which, while it did not "work" in that I still had pain, it certainly made it easier to cope with it.

    I had read, re-read, listened to audiobook versions, of several of Dr. Sarno's books. At one point I attempted to get an appointment with him but learned that he had just retired from seeing patients. I am now re-starting the structured program and hope to be able to fully go with it. My husband is a psychiatrist and we discuss what we now refer to as "Sarnosis" often; it makes sense to us and we can tell when one of us or the other is experiencing "acute Sarnosis" as we say. But what I need is to really believe that there is nothing structurally wrong with me, that I can give up looking for a medical explanation for my headaches (or low back back, or shoulder pain, or foot pain, or stomachaches, and so on!) and just be okay with my brain looking for a physical outlet for my unexpressed emotions.

    Here I go.
  2. DoughLady

    DoughLady New Member

    Oh - and some fun facts: I was laid off from my current position (which has been a dream job for me) after being out for a whole month with non-stop migraine symptoms. So I am angry because they are obviously getting rid of me because I was sick. I'm trying to just accept it, but that may contribute to symptoms. I will be out of work as of May 17th, and I am most likely going to have to do temporary work at a much lower rate just to keep us afloat as we move forward with our new house.
  3. Leslie

    Leslie Well known member

    I can't tell you for certain that you have TMS, but from your description of your life it sure sounds like you could easily be a candidate. You can't force the belief that there is nothing structurally wrong with you, but you can take comfort in knowing that it will come, incrementally. Maybe it would help if you started out doing the SEP with a primary focus on your stomachaches. I'm sure with your performance background you're quite familiar with all the metaphors pertaining to stress and the stomach. As you make more and more progress loosing focus on the symptoms in that area, you likely will be very pleasantly surprised to find symptoms in other areas following suit.

    I'm certain that your recent work situation and all it's subsequent implications is contributing to your symptoms - it definitely would be contributing to mine.
  4. danoo

    danoo New Member

    good luck dough - you said something that i think is very relevant to what i think is a "huge" discovery i think i made today - you said " Everything was going great" - i am on day 8 and have started analysing all the "issues" i have had that i believe now are TSM - based - i have expanded these from migraines (food induced i used to believe) to IBS to tension depression and now to UPSETTING EVENTS - i see a pattern i think that when things are going well - good food , company , events , family gatherings etc- thats the time that all the "bad" tms symptoms seem to rear their heads - its almost (in tms terms) that my subconscious is "uncomfortable" with these positive emotions and seeks to "distract" them with negative painful ones - but even more amazing is it seems to even be able to initiate painful events !! - i am thankfully already starting to see results - no migraine for a week - and some positive things and attitudes seem to be coming through - i do a lot of "pep-talking" to my subconscious - anyway good luck to you and to all of us...thankyou Dr Sarno for setting all of this in motion....
  5. gailnyc

    gailnyc Well known member

    Danoo, is it possible that subconsciously you don't believe you deserve these good things happening to you? I think this might be a problem for me as well.
  6. Leslie

    Leslie Well known member

    Danoo, would you be able to elaborate on what you mean by your subconscious being able to initiate painful events? I'm curious about this and I may have some thoughts on it but I want to make sure I understand what types of "events" you're actually referring to.
  7. danoo

    danoo New Member

    yes i think you may be right that i somehow and for some reason am uncomfortable with things going well and whenever they are going well then ...boom !! eg if i say something clever and am expecting some form of recognition usually what happens is - boom - someone else seems to step in to take the limelight - thats a small example of a common pattern that i seem to discern - and yes it may be due to my own will or belief that i shouldnt be so privileged to merit that "golden moment" - maybe somewhere in my childhood i was encouraged in this belief - not obvious to me yet where - my father was somewhat of a pessimist/fatalist whose belief and mission were to drag himself out of his perceived poverty - anyway i am working now at saying and believing that all is good and i deserve all to be good and maybe just my subconscious is somewhat uncomfortable with that but that i am instructing "him" that its ok and he should allow/encourage all to be good....thanks for listening
    gailnyc likes this.
  8. danoo

    danoo New Member

    leslie - by events i literally meant events of any type - there is a famous book i think called unleashing your subconscious where he seemed to make the same point that out subconscious is all powerful and can change and influence our events and circumstances - i'll re-quote a small example i just mentioned in the last post: eg if i say something clever and am expecting some form of recognition usually what happens is - boom - someone else seems to step in to take the limelight - thats a small example of a common pattern that i seem to discern - in my theory thats the subconscious actually influencing the event - somehow he causes that reaction just like he can cause pain in my body so too regarding others - obviously scientifically thats problematic but so are many things in life....
  9. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is key for all of us, but, as Leslie mentioned, acceptance builds up incrementally. For me, the more I became active and the more I did the work, the more I accepted the diagnosis. It is something that builds up as you make progress.

    It sounds like both of you (danoo and DoughLady) have a pretty good idea of what triggers your symptoms. This is huge in that it will allow you to begin to know when you really need to think psychologically. Keep it up, and you will see the progress.
  10. Leslie

    Leslie Well known member

    I think what you are describing could very likely be the work of automatic negative thoughts coupled with self-fulfilling prophecy. Wherever they are rooted, you've probably got so much practice with them that you don't even know the thought are happening (this is very true for me). I've found it very helpful to focus on the physiological responses happening in my body when I'm feeling anxious or upset. What I've realized is that those same responses happen, in varying degrees, every time I have a negative thought. This is helpful to me because I was focusing a lot lately (unsuccessfully) on "what" thoughts were making me feel "bad". I would find that when I was really feeling badly I could not identify a single thought that triggered the feelings. The thoughts are so automatic that I don't even know I'm having them - and the subconscious believes everything we tell it as true - so those automatic thoughts can easily become self-fulfilling prophecies and do you in. I've found lately that it doesn't matter so much "what" thought caused the trouble. If the physiological responses are there at any level, that's enough - there is "some" thought that's causing a disturbance. That's when I have to step in and tell myself (I have to do it out loud for it to be effective) all these wonderful things that you're telling yourself too.

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