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New Program Day 17: Leaning in to Your Feelings

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Alan Gordon LCSW, Jul 31, 2017.

  1. kkcarlton

    kkcarlton Peer Supporter

    Hi Forest,

    I did get diagnosed by Dr. Schubiner this past Tuesday and he said it is TMS. I am also starting to work with a therapist tomorrow.

    I do believe I have TMS for the most part. There is a little bit of doubt but I am working on that. The reason I took the supplements is because I could not stay awake, which is a problem. When I first came to the forum I asked about taking pain medications and people said they still take them if the pain is bad and that this is self-care. In my case, I couldn't drive because I couldn't stay awake and I can't sit at home all day. I was fighting sleep in meetings, church, etc. Thursday I am driving to Chicago which is a 3-hour drive and I have to be able to stay awake. So I was viewing the supplements as self-care, or maybe a bridge to help with symptoms, while I am working on the mindbody program.

    So while there was some concern about symptoms, I was working on addressing those using the program. I was trying to focus on regulating the fear or anxiety around the symptoms but fell asleep each time I tried to do so. I ignore the heel pain even when it is horrible, but I am still able to function despite the heel pain. I was ignoring the back pain as much as possible and kept walking, riding my bike, etc. but I am not able to function while I am asleep.

    Not sure if that makes sense. I really don't want to take this supplement but am not sure what else to do.

  2. kkcarlton

    kkcarlton Peer Supporter

    Thanks for the feedback. Very good points. I am not on any meds regularly. I may take something for the pain if it gets bad. As I said above, I started the supplement so I could stay awake and function. I can't just sleep the day away and also sleeping all afternoon was messing with night time sleeping.
  3. BOP

    BOP Newcomer

    I'll just say, "Oh boy I have a lot of coping mechanisms that have kept me sick and kept me sane". And I say that tongue in cheek.
  4. shira

    shira New Member

  5. shira

    shira New Member

    I agree with you totally. Anxiety is a biggie for me, and somatic tracking is an excellent way
    of trying to deal with it.
    I am currently using somatic tracking for a lot of pain that has arisen during this last week (due to current stressful family circumstances), and it is really working well. :) I can highly recommend doing it.
    thank you.
  6. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    @Alan Gordon LCSW , my question was related to Ned's perspective. Sorry if I didn't make that clear.

    Using the example of the Simpsons clip, rather than avoiding conflict, could Ned have been choosing peace of mind instead? Why provoke a conflict over a few borrowed used items? To Ned, his peace of mind may be more important than getting back his stuff. Perhaps he's been working on non-attachment and letting go ;)

    Have I come up with a spiritual sounding way to rationalize avoidance? Is the difference between avoiding conflict and letting go of unimportant attachments, in how authentic the letting go or non-attachment truly is? Obviously, if the issue keeps coming up and upsetting your peace of mind, then you haven't truly let it go.
    suky likes this.
  7. Plumcrazy

    Plumcrazy Peer Supporter

    Avoiding conflict, I get. Sometimes, though, the conflict could be with a toxic person, and I would rather distance myself. Sometimes, though, keeping my distance jeopardizes family relationships. Ach, the vicious cycle!
  8. Alan Gordon LCSW

    Alan Gordon LCSW TMS Therapist

    I don't think it's about getting material items, it's more about owning your own needs. Why wouldn't Ned be able to confront Homer and have peace of mind?

    Conflict only disrupts one's piece of mind if it's something the mind interprets as dangerous.

    Incidentally, in a future episode, Ned had a rage attack because he'd been holding in his feelings for so many years. Google Flanders and rage. It's pretty intense!
    HeidiF, suky and Ellen like this.
  9. itmsw

    itmsw Peer Supporter

    Thank you Alan and Ellen for asking the question- because I do that- ask myself if it is worth it because I am uncomfortable with conflict. I never thought about a person being able to confront someone and have peace of mind- that would be awesome and Id love to get to that place! - So I guess Im one of those who has been interpreting conflict as dangerous- ugh
    Bodhigirl and Ellen like this.
  10. grateful_mama

    grateful_mama Peer Supporter

    @Bodhigirl I know this is several days behind, but I lost a few days, and figured I'd post anyway...
    I was reading your post and was going to say exactly this, and then you said it yourself. Get it on paper! (I'm telling myself this, too). I was doing some journaling exercises at one point, and had a TON of anxiety and fears around selling some of my artwork (among other things). It was very helpful/important to first get ALL the fears down on paper, so I started writing and before I knew it I had like 3 pages of fears...some big, some totally stupid and small. And that act of writing them all down made them less scary (as many as I could think of). I actually looked at those three pages and was astonished at all the things that had been swirling around in my head. I had NO IDEA I was so afraid. And I was able to laugh at how stupid some of them were. Seriously? I'm letting my brain be filled up with all this crap? So then, the exercise was to start addressing them, one-by-one. So..."I'm afraid people won't like it" might be addressed with "Many people in the past have shown an interest in my work...And if SOME people don't like it, so what!?" Yours might look different. "I'm afraid my bed is in an unsafe spot. I'm afraid the windows won't lock" You might list all the fears and then go back and address them in as positive a light as you can: "I can easily move the bed. I am safe right now. I can buy locks for the windows. I can breathe deeply."

    You may already do (or have done) something like this. It just was so helpful and I should do it again....and since you said yourself that getting it on paper works...don't forget it!

    Deepak Chopra also said something so simple that struck me recently: (something to the effect of:) The unknown might be positive, rather than negative. There's no reason to assume it will be negative.

    Good luck on the house bid!
    Bodhigirl likes this.
  11. Bodhigirl

    Bodhigirl Well known member

    I have written all my life and I have always found it useful. My favorite quote for fear is Mark Twain: "The worst things in my life never happened." Taking inventory of all the fears that haven't actualized is very comforting.
    grateful_mama likes this.
  12. grateful_mama

    grateful_mama Peer Supporter

    Love this.
    Bodhigirl likes this.
  13. Jax92

    Jax92 New Member

    how do you know when the anxiety is helping you or when it’s just more anxiety.
    How do you know you’re leaning into it in a good way?
  14. joe12stories

    joe12stories Peer Supporter

    To be specific, the anxiety isn't actually helping you (after all, it's anxiety), but your brain thinks it is by taking your mind off of some other repressed emotion. If you happen to know it's TMS (usually you can once you expose the brain's tricks), you have a head start because you can tell your brain "Knock it off. I know what you're doing, but I don't need your help. I got this", and then you think of some unpleasant emotional issue to show it you're serious. At that point you lean into the anxiety (I'll explain this in a bit), and it will fade away on its own, without your effort. If, on the other hand, it's non-TMS anxiety, you can skip the first part (telling your brain you know what it's doing), and still do the second part: lean into it. "Slouch" into it might be a better way of putting it. Here's what I mean.

    First of all, I didn't invent this. I discovered it from Dr. Claire Weekes' book "Hope and Help For Your Nerves". Okay: identify the particular symptoms you feel when you're having anxiety. Accelerated heart beats; skipped heart beats; cold sweats; churning stomach; the urge to go the bathroom; the feeling like you're going to die; etc etc. Any of these sound familiar? There's only a limited number of symptoms, but they're all caused by adrenaline and will not hurt your body.

    Once you've identified the symptom or symptoms, try to make the symptom(s) worse.

    You read that right! Try to make your heart beat faster. Or your legs shake harder. Or your stomach churn harder. Why? Because - and here's the magic - you'll find that you cannot do it! It's physically impossible! It's like trying to make your knee jerk when the doctor hits it with the hammer. You cannot make an involuntary thing better or worse on purpose (otherwise it wouldn't be involuntary!). This is a very important message to send to your brain: "I cannot make the symptoms worse, so go ahead and give me your best shot." Once you do this (and you really have to experience it for yourself), the monster loses its fangs and is ready to be tamed. Here's the second part.

    Although you cannot control the initial involuntary symptoms, you CAN control what follows, which is the second fear: fear of the symptoms themselves. Let your body slouch and let the symptom (whatever it is) get as bad as it can on its own instead of resisting it. (Remember, it cannot get worse even if you tried). I know this is like the equivalent of asking you to let your body get swept right into a whirlpool without trying to swim away from it. But that's exactly what I'm asking. But I promise: it won't get worse. It will stay the same. Then before you know it (literally minutes, sometimes seconds) - the miracle takes place: the anxiety and its symptoms are gone and you're back to normal!

    Once you experience this a few times, you gain confidence, knowing you can't control the involuntary first fear, but you can control the second fear (by "floating" into the symptoms). It's scary as hell the first time or two. Then you actually welcome it, knowing it won't get the best of you! Then it gets bored and leaves you alone, sometimes for a few minutes, but eventually for a few hours, then a few days, then weeks, then months. I went 6 years without anxiety until TMS reintroduced it. But now that I know they're totally related, they've both lost their fangs, and I'm in the process of slaying 20 years of chronic pain!

    I'm truly sorry for this longwinded response. But once you learn to deal with TMS and anxiety (especially after suffering from them for so many years), how can you not shout it from the rooftops? IT WORKS!
    Charles, momx2 and Lizzy like this.
  15. Jax92

    Jax92 New Member

    No that was great.

    About your original post: you mention that the brain redirects our anxiety into pain, but Alan says that pain and anxiety are both danger signals in the brain.
    I’m confused as to whether they’re equals or if anxiety is distracting us from pain.
    Because I don’t have pain, I have anxiety/concentration issues/fatigue/brain fog etc, no pain, but actually I have numbness in the genitals which is very bothersome and causes worrying.

    As for your leaning/slouching into pain, is it how I’ve been doing it as I’ll describe here? - When I feel anxiety come on, I just sit and take it and feel it take over me and avoid freaking out. I talk to myself saying “okay, this is anxiety, it’s trying to trick me into making my other symptoms worse, but it’s not a big deal, i know if I let it take it’s course that I’ll be fine.” I almost view it like an illusion or trick. I feel all the heart racing, speedy thoughts, sweaty palms, etc sensations and just let them do their thing without losing my mind, and let it dissipate.
    -So that’s how I approach it. The only thing is that it’s never completely gone. I’ve done this quite a bit and it never gets rid of or really lowers the numbness I have, I never uncover the anger or sadness beneath, and it seemingly continues to cause the anxiety. The monster doesnt seem to lose his fangs. He just comes back at another time and I continue doing his approach.
    Sometimes this works with anxiety about a specific issue that I’m worried about, and the anxiety of that goes away, but the baseline general anxiety and tension is pretty much always left behind.
    I don’t know what to do about the general anxiety that’s there so often just exhausting me and keeping me from thinking straight and being able to normally converse with people or read without distraction. It’s as if it’s pulling me out into a constant daydream that I can’t get away from.

    I have anxiety pretty much 24/7 and it causes tons of fatigue and concentration issues. I don’t know how often I should be leaning into the anxiety because when I do it, it doesn’t really go away too much and if it does, it doesn’t for very long.
    How do I get things done if this is happening and I’m supposed to be leaning in or tracking it?

    It’s very difficult to just function with so much anxiety, I don’t understand what to do about that.
    This is where I seem to think about outcome independence.
    Do I begin to say “meh, if it goes it goes, but if it doesn’t then it doesn’t” and just not worry about it?
    That seems outcome independence oriented, but it also seems like I’m avoiding the anxiety and just sort of avoiding it.

    It’s tough for me to know if I’m overthinking these things or doing positive things when it’s comes to somatic tracking and reading about tms.
    On one hand it’s new knowledge and I could possibly be helping myself but on the other hand it could be that I’m just thinking too much and need to just live my life.

    This was super long but you’ve had great descriptions. The better I understand this the easier it’ll be for me. Thanks for helping man. I’ll listen to all you have to offer.
  16. joe12stories

    joe12stories Peer Supporter

    I'm happy to converse about this constructively, and thankful that a forum like this exists to enable that! First, I honestly don't recall saying the brain redirects our anxiety into pain, and I'm with Alan on what he said. What I may have said, or at least meant to say, is that the brain will switch things up. If we manage our pain, it will try anxiety. If we manage our anxiety, it will try pain. That's classic TMS symptom substitution. Occasionally (like me), you'll even get the double-whammy - both pain and anxiety. Incidentally if I ever unknowingly contradict something Alan says, please call me on it, and know that I would always defer to Alan. I'm not a therapist, just a very long time sufferer and relatively new but winning fighter against TMS (3 months to the day!). Incidentally the numbness sounds 100% like TMS to me, but I would confirm with a urologist that there isn't anything physiological going on. Once you get the all-clear, have confidence that it's psychosomatic and can be treated correctly.

    Okay. On to your leaning in: Yes, you sound like you're doing it right, but setting yourself up for prolonged repeats. Let me explain. Of course it's never completely gone. But it can be after a few months. Believe me. I had anxiety for about 4 months straight - and debilitating chronic back pain for about 20 months (and about 12 years of on and off back pain prior to that). This isn't an overnight thing. But don't despair. You can kill a good 80% of the anxiety if you stick to exactly what you're doing. To kill the remaining 20%, you know, that annoying, draining, life-sucking baseline anxiety, you have to be willing to just accept it for now and let that time pass. What you called outcome independence:

    You asked "Do I begin to say “meh, if it goes it goes, but if it doesn’t then it doesn’t” and just not worry about it?" And I want to jump up and down and say "ding ding ding!!!" That's EXACTLY right! If you don't, you can bet the baseline anxiety will not go away, because you're literally feeding it by waiting for it to go away. How do you force yourself to not think about it? You don't! It's not about not thinking about it. It's about accepting it. This is where Claire Weekes' book really drives the point home. She identified a 4 phase approach to anxiety: Face, Accept. Float, Let time pass.

    The first 3 you're already doing. You're facing the anxiety, accepting the symptoms as they rush over you until they subside, and you're floating (i.e., leaning in / slouching / not resisting the symptoms). It's the last one you need to round out your total cure. LET TIME PASS. Time with what you called "outcome independence". How much time? Wrong question! Could be months, years, or never. But if you don't care, it won't be never, I promise you that. Personally (and please don't use my experience as a yardstick since everyone is different) it took me a good 3 to 4 months of what you called outcome independence.

    Lastly, give yourself credit! What I call fangs were my panic attacks, not what you're calling the 24/7 baseline anxiety. Sorry about the confusion. Your monster doesn't have the fangs of a panic attack. Trust me. Unless you've had them (in which case you would know exactly what I'm talking about), you'll know that the baseline anxiety sucks, but panic attacks suck infinitely more! They're literally the "I'm going to die right now" feeling that land you on the floor unable to breathe. But you ask a good question: how are you supposed to function with that annoying baseline anxiety? In a word: slowly. But don't stop. This is where Claire Weekes' book can really help. Your brain is not operating at full speed with the baseline anxiety, BUT IT'S STILL OPERATING. So if you have to fold those socks, put away the garbage can, finish off that task you do at work, or whatever the case may be, do them slowly if your brain is tired, but do them. As the baseline begins to fade (remember - months!), the speed will return to normal.

    Quick word of warning: don't be fooled by those spurts of normal-ness. You may find yourself anxiety-free, or at least with only that low baseline anxiety feeling a wee bit lower, for minutes, hours, or even days at a time. Don't be fooled! The anxiety will return, often with a vengeance, but the difference is: you now know what to do. You have a plan :)

    One last note: if you're not in therapy, you're only eating candy (i.e., reading stuff here, sharing stuff there - both good delicious medicine for anxiety, but!) you need the solid meat and potatoes of a real therapist. If you're not doing that, that's your first order of business! If you are doing that, then make outcome independence your new motto, stop waiting for the anxiety to go away, then post your success story here next year or whenever you notice that the anxiety - and that numbness - are something you completely forgot about... because they're not there! ;-)

    Good luck!
    Jax92 likes this.
  17. shmps

    shmps Peer Supporter

    So well said, joe12stories.

    Can I replace the word with Pain in your post and say, just lean into the pain and FACE, ACCEPT, FLOAT, LET TIME PASS.. basically all that you said to for anxiety, can it be applied to Pain symptoms ?
  18. joe12stories

    joe12stories Peer Supporter

    Yes! Absolutely! 100%! I was flabbergasted to learn how similar the treatment for chronic TMS pain was to anxiety after reading Dr. Sarno's books.
  19. shmps

    shmps Peer Supporter

    So true.. I just accept and let it pass, what ever pain symptom I am having - this is equivalent tobreaking the fear cycle and being outcome independent. Two main ingredients of recovery. And all the rest like somatic tracking, CBT, mindful meditation, loving yourself, checking in etc are just to keep your sensitized nervous system in check and making it calm so that the pain symtoms dont even start.
  20. joe12stories

    joe12stories Peer Supporter

    Yep. I surprised myself when I could actually use the method to make a sudden back pain go away. I thought "it works for anxiety, but surely not for one of those back pulls!". I was wrong (and happily so!). I'm not saying there aren't setbacks, but they are so few and far in-between that my life is becoming once again - dare I say - normal?! LOL.

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