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Day 1 Day I

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by Gin144, Jun 24, 2016.

  1. Gin144

    Gin144 Newcomer

    I started working with Dr. Holt of TurnPoint Health and he turned me on to Dr John Sarno’s work two weeks ago today. Being the impatient perfectionist I am, I jumped in and bought / read all Sarno’s books and watched two video presentations. In one of the video presentations it talks about working with a work book which I wasn’t given. So, I went in search of the work book online and found this website instead! What a gift! Already I have done the Week 0 lessons so I could start the SEP.

    I have had back pain off and on for years but last year my back pain escalated into what I call ‘stinging needles’ which then morphed into a hiatal hernia, which I mistook for a heart condition which then went into anxiety and panic attacks combined with a low-grade brain fog dizziness that feels like I have a permanent, very mild hangover. And, of course, back and hip pain through the entirety of the last year+. I’ve just never experienced anything like this in my life. I have been a spiritual leader and life coach for many years and have done and recommended many alternative practices for people to manage their emotions and pain. Currently, I work with a naturopath who prescribes emotional release techniques as part of her treatments so I have been very aware of the role of emotions in the body – but I have not prescribed an exclusive role to the emotions in my pain and symptoms until two weeks ago.

    Initially I was having quite a bit of success watching the symptoms subside – heartburn reduced immediately, pain subsided, hiatal hernia calmed right down - but tonight I had a panic attack again – something I haven’t experienced in about 4 or 5 weeks – and it shocked me right back into the pattern of suspecting there is something legitimately wrong with my body and thinking I was going to die or that my brain would explode in an aneurism or something to that effect. Now as I reflect on that it always seems that whatever is causing me to panic is related to some exploding event – like for several weeks I thought I was going to have a heart attack and my chest would just explode wide open and the earth would swallow me up and I would be gone…just like that. Maybe that is what Dr. Sarno is talking about – the rage is so strong that it is explosive – something like that?

    So, anyway, mid panic attack I jumped on the computer, pulled out my lessons and decided to start the SEP at 4am – to get my brain focused on something other than my impending death.

    To answer the question what would a life without TMS mean to me – it would be pure joy again. I guess I had no choice but to create these circumstances for myself so I could become aware of the patterns of emotional repression and pain that I have intermittently tolerated for months at a time for the last 35 years. In times past, I would just say to myself- well, I got better before so I guess I will go back to the chiropractor and therapies and get better again. But this time, it rolled into so much other stuff –and so dramatic – that I had to accelerate my search for solutions which put me here.

    Also, what a life without TMS would mean to me is a level of self-awareness that I have in many other aspects of my life – but not my body. It has always seemed to be – before TMS – that my body was on it’s own program and taking me along for a ride. Now, I know I can use the techniques that have been presented here to recognize and release repressed emotions that have been causing all these terrifying and painful symptoms and enjoy life in my body to the fullest. Being a impatient perfectionist the biggest challenge will be supporting myself as I go along and so the SEP is perfect for me. Grateful for all involved.
  2. Ines

    Ines Well known member

    Hi Gin144,

    Welcome.. I bet you will have some interesting insight since you are a spiritual leader and life coach.
    I look forward to your posts.

  3. Gigi

    Gigi Well known member

    Welcome Gin. Some people have recovered from TMS just by reading Dr.
    Sarno's books. I did, during my first bout of TMS a couple of decades ago. But when TMS struck again just 5 years ago, I found this wiki and the SEP, and am extremely grateful for both.
    Blessings on your journey.
  4. Gin144

    Gin144 Newcomer

    Hello, Ines and Gigi - thank you for your comments. I am enjoying the exercises - getting great insights. Doing the work has prompted two very aggressive panic attacks so I must imagine I am on the right track - LOL!

    I will keep you 'posted'.
  5. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I had a few panic attacks before I learned about TMS. Since then, I know how to handle them.
    Many of us get TMS because we are worriers. We think the worst is going to happen, when it rarely if ever does.

    The following article helped me and many others. It can help you, too.

    The Key to
    Overcoming Panic Attacks

    The surest path to overcoming panic attacks is to train yourself to respond to panic in accepting and calming ways.

    This article will show you a specific, simple, and powerful set of tips for overcoming panic attacks. You can also listen to aradio interviewin which I discuss these steps.

    As you read the steps described below, think about how they compare to what you usually do during a panic attack. The Panic Trick tells us that your gut instinct of how to respond to a panic attack will likely be to do something that makes the problem worse rather than better. The path to overcoming panic attacks requires responses that are quite different from what you usually do. If you keep doing the same thing, you'll probably keep getting the same result. If you seek anxiety relief, you need to look for different methods.

    Here's a five step process you can use to guide your responses during a panic attack. The regular use of this approach will go a long way towards your goal of overcoming panic attacks. I have adapted this, with some modifications of my own, fromAnxiety Disorders and Phobias: A Cognitive Perspective, an excellent professional text by Beck, Greenberg, and Emery.

    The Five Steps of AWARE
    The five steps to overcoming panic attacks are:

    Acknowledge & Accept

    Wait & Watch (and maybe, Work)

    Actions (to make myself more comfortable)



    Let's take a look at what each step entails.

    Acknowledge & Accept
    All progress starts here. This is the most important single step to overcoming panic attacks.

    Here I acknowledge the present reality, that I'm afraid and starting to panic. I won't try to ignore it, or pretend it's not there. I won't struggle to distract myself, tell myself to "stop thinking about it!", or snap any rubber bands on my wrist.

    I'm acknowledging simply that I am afraid, not that I am in danger. The thought that I am in danger is just another symptom of panic, not an important or useful thought.

    Here I accept the fact that I'm afraid at this moment. I don't fight the feeling; ask God to take it away; blame myself, or anybody else. I accept, as best I can, that I'm afraid in the same way I would accept a headache. I don't like headaches, but I don't bang my head against the wall in an effort to get rid of them, because that makes them worse. Overcoming panic attacks begins with working with, not against, my panic and anxiety symptoms.

    How Can I Accept a Panic Attack?
    What makes a panic attack acceptable (not desirable, but acceptable) is that, while it feels awful and fills me with dread, it isn't dangerous. It won't kill me or make me crazy. Someone pointing a gun at me, that's not acceptable. I might get hurt or killed. If someone points a gun at me, I have to do whatever I can to change that: run, hide, fight, yell, bribe, or beg, because the consequence of being shot is so terrible that I must try to avoid it.

    On the other hand - a policeman giving me a ticket, even if I don't deserve it, I can live with that, and can hopefully keep my temper in check so I don't make things worse for myself.

    Accepting the symptoms, not resisting, is a powerful step to overcoming panic attacks.

    What Can a Panic Attack Do to Me?
    It makes me feel afraid, that's what a panic attack does. And, if I'm having a panic attack, I'm already there! I'm already experiencing the worst that will happen. I just need to ride it out. That's the surest path to overcoming panic attacks.

    Why should I accept a panic attack? Because the more I resist panic, the worse it gets. The more I develop the habit of acceptance, the more progress I make toward my goal of overcoming panic attacks.

    That's Acknowledge & Accept. How does that compare to what you usually do during a panic attack?

    Wait & Watch (and maybe, Work)
    What I mean by "Wait" is this: don't just do something, stand there. It's similar to the suggestion "count to ten before you get mad".

    One of the hallmarks of a panic attack is that it temporarily robs you of your ability to think, remember, and concentrate. This step will buy you a little time to regain those abilities before you take any action.

    When you react before you have a chance to think straight, what do you do? If you're like most people, you probably flee, or struggle. You do things that actually make it worse. This is what people mean when they say things like "I know I'm doing it to myself" and the harder I try, the worse it gets.

    Jumping into action too quickly is a big obstacle to overcoming panic attacks.

    So, even though you have a powerful urge to leave, postpone that decision for a little bit. Don't tell yourself you CAN'T leave - keep that option open so you don't feel trapped - but put off the decision about whether or not to leave. Stay in the situation. You don't need to run away to get relief. Let relief come to you.

    Use the occasion to observe how the panic works, and how you respond to it. The best way to do this is to fill out apanic diary. The diary is a questionnaire which helps you notice important aspects of a panic attack, so you can respond more effectively over time. Feel free to download and reproduce it for your own personal use. You can also download a set of instructions.

    My patients often report that just filling out a diary helps them to calm down. How does this work? It's not that they're distracted from the subject of panic, because the diary questions are all about panic. It helps you get a little distance from your emotions. It works because, while you complete a diary, you're in the role of an observer, rather than feeling like a victim.

    The best way to use the diary is to fill it out during the attack, rather than after. If you're in a situation where writing is impractical, perhaps while driving a car, you can: use a digital recorder; have your support person read the questions to you and record your answers; or pull over for a few minutes to write.

    What About "Work"?
    If you're in a relatively passive situation during the panic attack - a passenger in a vehicle, getting your hair cut, or waiting in a waiting room - "Wait & Watch" is all you need. If you're in a more active role - driving a car or giving a presentation - then you also need to attend to the "Work" of conducting that activity. Do "Wait & Watch", but also remain engaged in your task.

    That's "Wait & Watch (and maybe, Work)". How does that compare to what you usually do during a panic attack?

    Actions (to make myself more comfortable)
    At this point, you've already gone through the two most important steps to overcoming panic attacks.

    These steps, and all the steps necessary to overcome panic disorder and phobia, are covered in much more detail in myPanic Attacks Workbook.

    What's Your Job During an Attack?
    It's not your job to bring the panic attack to an end; that will happen no matter what you do.

    Your job now is to see if you can make yourself a little more comfortable, while you wait for the attack to end.

    Here are a few techniques that my patients have found particularly useful in overcoming panic attacks.

    Belly Breathing
    Regardless of what else you do, do belly breathing. It's also known as diaphragmatic breathing, but I think "belly breathing" is more descriptive. Many people think they know how to do deep breathing, but don't do it correctly, so they don't get good results. A good belly breathing technique is a very powerful tool in the work of overcoming panic attacks!

    How to Talk to Yourself
    Talk to yourself (silently!) about what is happening, and what you need to do. One question my patients find very helpful is this: is it Danger or Discomfort?. Some of the other responses my patients like include the following:

    1. Fine, let's have an attack! It's a good chance to practice my coping techniques.

    2. Answer your "what if...?" fears by saying "So what? I'll get afraid, then calm down again."

    3. It's okay to be afraid.

    Get Involved in the Present
    People don't panic in the present. People panic when they imagine something bad happening to them in the future or in the past. This is why your panic attacks are almost always accompanied by some "what if...?" thought. If a dog just bit my leg, I don't say "what if a dog bite?". The reason you say "what if...?" is because what you fear is not actually happening!

    Get back into the activity you were engaged in prior to the attack, and become involved with the people and objects around you. If you're in a store, resume shopping, reading labels, comparing prices, asking questions, etc. It will move you closer to your goal of overcoming panic attacks when you bring your focus and energy back to the present environment. By this I mean, work with what is around you.

    Work with Your Body
    Identify, and relax, the parts of your body that get most tense during a panic attack. This typically involves first tensing, and then relaxing, the muscles of your jaw, neck, shoulders, back and legs. Do not allow yourself to stand rigid, muscles tensed, and holding your breath. That just makes you feel worse! If you feel like you "can't move a muscle", start with just one finger!

    That's "Actions (to make myself more comfortable)". How does that compare with what you usually do during a panic attack?

    This step is here because you might start feeling better, then feel another wave of panic. Your first reaction might then be to think "Oh No, it didn't work!". The Repeat step is here to remind you that it's OK if that happens. Just take it from the top again. It's not unusual or dangerous. You may go through several cycles, and you just need to repeat the AWARE steps again, as often as you need.

    How does that compare with what you usually do?

    This is here to remind you that your panic attack will end; that all panic attacks end; that they end regardless of how you respond; that it's not your job to make the attack end; and that your only job is to make yourself as comfortable as possible while waiting for the attack to end.

    Have these statements been true for you? Don't take my word for it. Review your own history of panic attacks and see.

    And maybe the next time you panic, when you notice yourself thinking, once again, "Will this ever end?", you'll find yourself answering, "YES!"
  6. Gin144

    Gin144 Newcomer

    Hello, Walt - thank you for sharing this - I did get several take aways - one is that while I might be afraid I am not in danger - which is the exact opposite of how I feel - I feel that I am teetering on the edge of death so that will be a helpful affirmation. Thank you.

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