1. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this updated link: https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/painrecovery/
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New Program Day 11: Pain Reprocessing

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Alan Gordon LCSW, Jul 28, 2017.

  1. Lunarlass66

    Lunarlass66 Well known member

    You're so positive and full of enthusiasm.. I wish I felt as confident as you do. I'm still (though ashamed and unsure) hung up on the physical diagnosis and have turned away from my PCP, Ortho, ER drs and basically all mainstream medical care due to their scaring me to death.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2017
  2. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Sweetheart, I know well the hell you are in and more than anything I wish I could love you out of it. Because I have recovered from where you are now, my best advice is that you start to be a million times more compassionate with yourself. The medical profession just don't really understand the nervous system and many of them have appalling social skills. I know how terrifying their diagnosis can be but honestly angel, they don't know what they don't know. Their prognosis is just an opinion. It's not truth.

    I had to spent time calming down my body and mind, and releasing tension before I started getting anywhere in terms of healing. The reason you feel so wretched is because you are trying so hard, fighting so hard, and taking all that intensity into trying to heal. It's that goddam intensity that causes the problem. Give yourself a break. You don't need to figure anything out, believe in anything or anyone, and you certainly have nothing to be ashamed of.

    Lovely soul, may you find some peace and surety in the knowledge and care so many people have for you.

    Big hugs,

    Plum x
  3. Christie Uipi MSW

    Christie Uipi MSW TMS Therapist

    Today's post seems to have stirred up a mix of things: some clarity, some confusion, some hope, and a good dose of fear. I want to start off by saying that this process is messy by nature, and we are all learning to sit with that uncertainty. For anyone feeling overwhelmed, please give yourself the grace of working through all of this new information and know that you have lots of support here as you do so.

    To help break all of this down in a simple way, I'd like everyone to conceptualize two prongs of this program: 1). Helping you feel fundamentally safer, and 2). Helping you feel safer in response to, or in the face of, the pain symptoms themselves.

    Let me start with the big one first: Helping you feel fundamentally safer. To elaborate on this, I'd like to take a moment to to address how Alan's program (which focuses largely on safety versus danger) differs from or converges with Sarno's work (which focuses largely on feeling your feelings versus repressing them). One does not dispute the other, so I'd like to help integrate the two. I think we can all agree that we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Dr. John Sarno. I'd like to think of what we are doing as as taking the gift that he gave us and adding in everything else we have learned about the mechanisms of pain/anxiety and the brain since he wrote his books to create a clearer picture of what's going on.

    Sarno talks a lot about the connection between repressed rage and chronic pain. When I read his books, I saw myself on every page, but found myself asking: But why does one cause the other? Why does my repressed rage cause pain? The answer comes back to the idea that pain is a danger signal (See Day 2). We feel pain when we perceive something to be dangerous to us. For many people, emotions themselves (including rage, but not limited to rage) can be interpreted as dangerous. There are lots of ways our brains can learn to perceive emotions as dangerous. Maybe we got in trouble when we cried growing up. Maybe one of our parents expressed anger in a scary way. Or maybe our parents never expressed any emotion at all. There are lots of ways we could have gotten the message that emotions are scary. This is how repressing emotions can lead to chronic pain. If your brain is constantly sending emotions away because they feel threatening, your "danger switch" will be turned "ON", and the result will be pain or anxiety. Watch this short video from Day 2 to review this idea.

    This is a huge concept, so please take it in slowly. There is no right way to learn to feel your feelings. This program can help, journaling can help, working with a therapist can help.

    As reviewed throughout this program, emotions aren't the only things that we can be fearful of and perceive as dangerous. We could have a fear of confrontation, or of intimacy, or of loss. We could scare ourselves through pressure and criticism (See Day 7). Again, this program will provide as many tools as it can to help you tackle these fears (i.e. cognitive soothing, overcoming uncertainty, fostering empowerment), but change requires lots of reflection, support, patience, falling down, and getting back up. It takes time to learn to feel fundamentally safer in the world.

    Lastly, of course, we all have fear around our pain (See Day 5 and Day 6).

    That's why the second prong of this program is meant to help you feel safer in response to, or in the face of, your pain symptoms. I'll make another post about that in a moment :)
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2017
    fredb, Hayley, bonsaikitten and 15 others like this.
  4. Lunarlass66

    Lunarlass66 Well known member

    This may sound stupid but.. I love you Plum.. You helped me a couple of months ago and again today, your compassionate words are like a real hug. I even went downstairs to share your post with my boyfriend (who tends to be harsh and rather indifferent to my situation).. Maybe he'll be moved to open his own heart a little bit more...
  5. Celayne

    Celayne Well known member

    However, I've found that once you're years into the pain cycle, these newer tools we're learning will be the ones that help the most.

    This is an excellent point, @bluesboy63. When I first discovered TMS healing information, I thought, '"okay, I'm angry about this and that, and repressed the anger and I'm in pain. Now that I get it, I should be cured NOW." Easy-peasy, right? But it doesn't work that way. I've got decades of neural pathways to rewire, and I know it's not gonna happen overnight.
  6. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    It doesn't sound stupid at all my darling. I love you too. This forum is a rare place and many of us have found kindred spirits here; people who will listen when we scream, soothe us when we fear, laugh with us when we are silly.

    One of my favourite Winnie the Pooh quotes is "I'm so tired my tired is tired."

    How many of us could say 'I'm in so much pain my pain has pain." :(

    To see another person in pain and suffering can be incredibly challenging and frustrating. Oftentimes it is because they have no comparable experience, they don't get it. Perhaps the best way to foster the loving support you want and need is to begin by giving it to yourself. It is said others learn how to love and treat us by how they see us love and treat ourselves.

    There is much love in you. Love yourself, nurture yourself in ways that bring comfort. Give it time. Let it become natural to do this. Your man will respond. Men have a tremendous capacity to hold us safe and offer their protective love if we let them. I have seen this bloom in my life.
  7. shmps

    shmps Peer Supporter

    Hi Christie.. I wait for your posts as they are just add more meaning and bind everything together.

    I have asked this before and simply want to re-confirm. Somatic Tracking means observing the bodliy sensations with no objective just curiosity. In Alan's post for somatic tracking, it was mostly geared around fear/anxiety.

    Can we say, feel your feelings (which is also bodily sensation when sad, happy, angry, scared. etc) is nothing but achievable by same way, i.e Somatic Tracking?

    nele and Christie Uipi MSW like this.
  8. bman

    bman Peer Supporter

    I think that one of the most frustrating things about TMS is inconsistency. Yesterday was a really good day for me - had lunch with my sons and went for a 6 mile bike ride. Most of my symptoms were fine and my biggest problem, neuropathy was manageable. I have been taking Ambien at night for three weeks because I usually have pain in my feet most of the night. I woke this morning with symptoms (little anxiety, some tingling in hands, and feet hurting). Things really went downhill this afternoon when I got stressed out over having to babysit my granddaughter for a week because my wife wants to do it. I am concerned that the pain will limit my ability to help out, yet I feel guilty for not wanting to do it. I am angry because the decision is not really mine to make. Tried meditation and ended up taking a gabapentin. I did Alan's "safe meditation" and read the section plus the comments. My feet feel better! To answer an earlier comment - although stresses can trigger symptoms, its probably tied to some repressed emotion. Patience is hard when you've had symptoms for months or years, yet I know that after 66 years I need to give it time to change my pathways.
    TrustIt, Click#7, nele and 1 other person like this.
  9. Celayne

    Celayne Well known member

    Ooooh don't the doctors just scare the soup out of you (as my Nana would say)? I went in once with what I later found out on my own was an allergic reaction to something and my esophagus was spastic. It was like hiccups that didn't make it to my mouth. The dr asked how long I'd been having heart palpitations. I said, I'm not, it's my esophagus and she said, no it's your heart. Did an EKG, which was normal "except for one skipped beat", which would maybe be explained by my now being in a full blown panic attack, which I did my best to hide, like a true dyed-in-the-wool TMSer. They said because of this 'abnormal' EKG, i needed to wear a heart halter for 96 hours. All they came back with was something I can't remember the name of but it was basically that sometimes my heart rate would race. Hello? I'm now terrified because you said there is something the matter with my heart.

    All I remembered from the whole thing is that I had a racing heart and was prescribed a beta-blocker for it. It was just the other day when I was dumping all my old medical records because they were mostly filled with bogus information, that I came across the report from that day and noticed the 'EKG normal except for one skipped beat'. It was just that one little thing, that I didn't see and just focused on their concern that I might have real problems... For 4-5 years, I had been terrified that my heart was questionable enough to have to have the stupid heart monitor that time.

    I'm fine, my heart is fine and thanks, Dr. Whomever, you took 4 years of peace of mind away from me but I survived and thrived.
  10. Lunarlass66

    Lunarlass66 Well known member

    Thank you Cricket for sharing that, how incredibly terrified you must've been. It's like you go in for one thing and go out with another or even more than you knew about. I can understand preventive medicine, but even that, thanks to fear mongering and monetary greed has gotten out of hand. Lots of reports in the news of over testing, unnecessary surgical procedures and of course, the ever present pharmaceutical PUSH for drug sales, immediately following by law suits against those drug companies for failing to inform the unsuspecting patients of the potential, even deadly use of prescription medication. It's almost as though the illness is better than the consequences of the treatments. I know some drugs and procedures do indeed save lives, but I don't think trying to preserve one's health should be so risky...
    chemgirl and MentorCoach like this.
  11. Christie Uipi MSW

    Christie Uipi MSW TMS Therapist

    In continuation of my previous comment, the second prong of this program is meant to help you feel safer in response to, or in the face of, your pain symptoms.

    I love what @bluesboy63 and @Cricket313 have to say regarding the pain cycle. The pain may start as a result of fear of [fill in the blank], but the pain perpetuates as you become afraid of the pain itself. This fear increases your pain, which increases your fear, which increases your pain. Onwards and onwards we go! Isn't that fun?

    So how do we stop that cycle? By cutting off the pain's reinforcement: fear. All of the techniques you've learned thus far are meant to help you learn to respond to your pain without fear.

    Hopefully, you are all becoming more aware of the thoughts you're having around your pain. Do your thoughts drift towards fear of structural damage? Towards fear of never getting better? Towards pressure to get rid of the pain? Towards criticizing yourself for not doing the techniques "right"?

    All of these messages serve to reinforce the pain, and keep the cycle going.

    So, what message do we want to give ourselves instead? That the pain, even if it hurts, even if you don't like it, even if it's frustrating...is safe. It's not confusing. We know exactly what it is. It is our brain misinterpreting something as dangerous. But we know now that you are not actually in danger. The pain cannot harm you. It may hurt, but it cannot harm you. The sensation you are feeling is safe. You are okay. You are safe.

    I can see through your comments today that some of you are craving a bit more structure. I will provide a sample breakdown that you could use to get yourself started, but there truly is no one right way to implement these techniques. As long as you are working to treat yourself kindly and respond to your pain without fear, you're getting the swing of things. The following is simply an example of what a day in recovery might look like:

    Start your day off with a brief mindfulness meditation. While we haven't specifically talked about mindfulness in this program, you don't need to know a single thing about it before clicking on this audio and giving it a try. It is simply a tool for watching the activity of your mind, which we learned about in the first few days of this program. This audio allows you to watch your thoughts (fear, pressure, and criticism thoughts) and let them go. This is a great way to start your morning, because it's setting a self-compassionate tone for the day.

    Now, if that ten minutes of meditation is like drinking a tall glass of water, that doesn't mean you shouldn't be hydrating throughout the day. Continue to watch your thoughts and learn to catch the fearful ones, replacing them with more compassionate messages (See Day 11 on Cognitive Soothing). Every so often throughout the day, I'd like for you to simply place a hand on your chest and tell yourself that you are safe. I do this dozens of times per day. You can do this quietly to yourself absolutely anywhere. As you're driving to work, in a PTA meeting, at the grocery store, while you're watching TV...simply come back time and time again throughout your day to this simple and kind message: "You are safe."

    As your day progresses, your pain might, too. In the busyness of your day, you might stop paying attention to how you're responding to it. You might be growing fearful or you might be pressuring yourself to power through it or ignore it. You might need a reminder halfway through the day that you know what the pain is, and that you're not afraid of it. Make it a point on your lunch break and/or halfway through your day to stop and listen to Alan's audio from today. It's an awesome way to practice responding to your pain without fear in real time.

    The afternoon will turn to the evening, and you will notice your pain dozens more times. That's perfectly fine, it's okay to notice it. Every time you notice the pain, there is an opportunity to respond to it in a new way --without fear. These are opportunities to literally re-wire your neural pathways! You may want to continue using calming and soothing messages, or maybe you'll want to try standing up to the pain through empowerment (See Day 13). Both calming and empowering messages neutralize fear, and you can experiment with which category feel best for you.

    As your evening winds down, take another ten minutes to check in with your body and do some somatic tracking (See Day 9). Go lay down somewhere quiet and spend a little bit of time attending to the physical sensations in your body. Close your eyes and follow whatever sensations you may be feeling - It there tightness if your chest? Is there tension in your shoulders? Is there pain in your back? Whatever it is, just take a few minutes at the end of your day to practice truly attending to the physical sensations of your body --without fear, without judgement.

    Then, right before bed, tell yourself that you did your best for the day, and that your best was enough. No matter if your pain symptoms went up or went down, you did your part. Tomorrow will be another opportunity to tackle your fears and treat yourself kindly.

    There you go, that's a sample day in the life of someone working to re-wire their brains and make themselves feel safer in the world! Those are no easy feats, but they are doable and you are capable. Practice makes progress and consistency creates change. Keep it up!
  12. harmonyvt

    harmonyvt New Member

    I have a practical question with today's post about desensitization. I find focusing on my breath in my body difficult and painful. When I breath in, it exerts pressure where my pain is, all the soft tissues in between my ribs. Focusing on my breath in my nose is also difficult because I am a mouth breather. My therapist suggested alternating between a body part that hurts and one that doesn't. Would that be as effective as the one proposed in the audio? Does anybody have experience with painful breathing and have any suggestions?
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  13. Alan Gordon LCSW

    Alan Gordon LCSW TMS Therapist

    I'm really glad that you brought this up. Given your situation, focusing on your breath isn't neutral. You can focus on any sensation in your body that is neutral: the feeling of your feet on the ground, the feeling of your legs against the chair, etc. The goal is to find a sensation that is not inherently scary.
    winniethepoodle, schnurma and Forest like this.
  14. Kerrj74

    Kerrj74 Well known member

    Thank you Christie for the time you put into your thoughtful and helpful responses. This is great stuff!
    One question.... when I notice the pain (every minute), I'm not responding in fear. I don't fear it. I'm just in agony from it. That's the part I can't figure out. I know it is nothing to fear, so I don't fear it. It is just the suffering I can't get past. Any ideas what I might be missing? Thanks
    Cheryl likes this.
  15. Christie Uipi MSW

    Christie Uipi MSW TMS Therapist

    Hi there! What a great question.

    Usually, somatic tracking is done as a way of attending to our anxiety (which may be felt as pain sensations or more classic physical anxiety sensations). When our anxiety regulates and we are calm, it is much easier for our feelings to come up and be felt by us naturally. Simplified: When our anxiety goes down, our emotions come up.

    It is definitely true that emotions can be felt as bodily sensations (i.e. sadness might feel like a softness in your stomach, rage might feel like heat rising through your chest, etc). and I think that tuning in to those sensations in any way is very healthy. Using somatic tracking to feel the physical sensations of your emotions sounds like it could be great practice, although I consider this a "next level" type of intervention :)
    matamore and shmps like this.
  16. shmps

    shmps Peer Supporter

    Thanks for your response !!!

    What do you mean by""next level" type of intervention" ??
  17. Lainey

    Lainey Well known member

    Blueboy 6 3

    You are an inspiration. Thanks for your calm coaching and clear messages. I'm glad you have worked through much of your pain. Over the last 15 years or so the scientific research on neural pathways and how our brain reacts to continued negative messages and has mushroomed. Alan is giving all of us a good way to begin the reprogramming of our brains. This is also why laughter is good for our overall mindset as well. Norman Cousins used laughter to heal long before there was any research like we have going on now. It took time to create the pathways that are now dominating those of us with seemingly intractable pain, and it will take time to change those neural pathways.
  18. Benjuwa

    Benjuwa New Member

    Good question about meds does anyone know if this will slow down or help with the fear. I have basically stopped all pain meds not sure some times when I get sick or over do it if its TMS/MBS causing the aches and try not to take over the counter, because most the time nothing works.
    Does anyone else have a fear of sleeping or getting enough of it this has been my problem and have had too many sleepless nights over the last 20 years which then makes all my other problems even worse.
  19. Lainey

    Lainey Well known member

    Yeah for you! Dumping the medical records. Made me smile.
    Celayne and caligirlgonegreen like this.
  20. James59

    James59 Well known member

    Yeah, I did all the stuff to confront suppressed emotions, and it felt emotionally satisfying to bring them out and face them. But the process only provided some temporary, marginal relief of my physical symptoms which, by the time I first heard of TMS were already entrenched for several years. Clearly, more is needed and I'm hoping this new program will be that something more.

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