Hello friends! Good to be posting again. Some of you may know me, I was quite active for a while when I first came aboard, then I went "radio silent" for a bit, though I peek in here and there. I'm very honored to be a peer supporter and I hope my posts help others. I've generally been doing better and making steady but slow improvements. I'm very lucky, I had my first TMS consultation with Dr. David Schechter in Beverly Hills for a full TMS consult. He's wonderful. He gave me a thorough physical exam, we spoke at length, he reviewed my neck X-Ray, I told him my history (TMS on steroids, see my bio) and after hearing my story, examining me and looking at the X-Ray (he deemed it 'normal') he said, "You definitely have TMS". When I said, "Are you sure?". He said, "107%". LOL. He's not only a kind, compassionate, incredibly knowledgeable doctor, he's very down to earth and he's got a GREAT sense of humor. Which, as we all know, is TMS's worst enemy. TMS just loves to steal joy from us, and when we bring our happiness into the ring, TMS cowers in the corner. But I digress. I've seen Dr. Schechter a couple more times since the initial meeting, for shorter follow-ups and he's been great. I am scheduled to see him again soon. I'm on several medications, Klonipin (fairly low dose daily for anxiety, been on it over a year, my Psychiatrist says he will SLOWLY taper me off when the time is right, as that is how to come off a Benzo, Schechter said he didn't think it was anything to fear)...and I started a low dose of an SSRI, Lexapro (at Dr. Schechter's suggestion, for OCD, which he believes is making my TMS worse). Since I started the Lexapro a week and a half ago, despite some initial GI discomfort, I'm already doing better. My mind is calmer and I feel more upbeat. I've been seeing a non-tms psychotherapist who is very understanding, curious and open to the idea of TMS, it's challenging to meet my feelings head on, but she's wonderful. When I first started seeing her, my TMS would go to a 9, the moment I sat in her chair. Now I can sit with almost no pain during our sessions. I've been slowly doing Dr. Schechter's workbook, which is fantastic. I never realized how much journaling and getting my feelings DOWN and OUT of me onto paper would help. I'm feeling fairly optimistic. I say, "fairly" because I've had a bit of a setback. Three things are big stressors for me right now. My day job is miserable, brings me zero joy. I've been in and out of a very stressful and tumultuous love relationship for the last 6 months (currently out, though amicable and we are working on a friendship) and I've also had some ongoing financial troubles. I'm working on making a better living. Which brings me to my last point. My day job stinks. To quote Dr. Schechter, it's a "TMS Petrie Dish". I am a photographer as my "dream job". I had to give it up when TMS struck in 2013. Thanks to my therapist and the kind encouragement of Dr. Schechter, I have picked it back up again, full force. Two years ago, I couldn't pick up my camera without my shoulders and neck going into spasm. Now, I can shoot with just mild to moderate discomfort, sometimes none at all, if I stay calm during the shoot and don't put too much pressure on myself. I'm doing more and more shooting, trying to "un-condition" myself that the camera is causing me pain. Dr. Schechter told me no way. That's my mind telling me that. I shot for 20 years with ZERO problems. Once I got TMS, I was convinced by the Physical Therapist and Chiropractor that my camera caused my shoulder pain. Baloney. For a LONG while, sitting at my computer would bring on neck pain. Didn't matter if I was on my laptop in bed, or at my desk. If I did retouching in PhotoShop (a fun, but tedious job of a photographer) my neck would hurt like hell. I gave up photography. It was like losing my best friend. Now, I've decided, no matter what, I'm a photographer and I am not going to let TMS bully me into giving up the thing I love. Dr. Schechter set me straight. I was thinking that I would heal from TMS, then I would take up photography again. But that is all wrong. Photography is my biggest joy. So I have to do something very brave. I have to "play hurt" as they say in athletics and power through. I sat at my desk the other day, and did six hours of PhotoShop. For the first half hour, it was hell. My shoulder hurt, my neck ached, my wrist hurt. I tried to be very easy on myself, baby myself. It just got worse. So I just told my body, "You won't win this. I'm sitting here, doing what I love. You can stop my right hand from working, I'll just use my left hand to mouse". And sure enough, my right hand got instant carpal tunnel. So I used my left. And then THAT HAND (never had pain in it before) started hurting. My neck felt like it was in a vice. My right shoulder blade felt like a knife was in it. I panicked, became very sad, almost gave up. Then I got furious. I started to become so irritated, that the tears came, and as they did, the pain eased. I got up, did ten push ups (I would NEVER have done this a year ago for fear of hurting my shoulder), put on some loud music and did a bunch of karate punches into the air. I started dancing around, doing everything I was afraid of, moving my shoulders like crazy, dancing till I worked up a sweat, punching the pillows on the bed, kicking into the air. It was like a cross between a bad martial arts film, an 80's music video and a stand-up comedy routine. I started to laugh, I started to cry, I told myself, "TMS, you're losing. I'm going to sit at that chair and you are going to LET ME DO MY WORK and STOP HURTING." TMS has put me through hell, so I'm fighting back. I sat back down and I was fine! The pain went from a 9 to a 4. Then a 3. Then I forgot about it all together. The next day, I was sore all over, like I'd worked out. I suppose I had worked out! I will try to wrap up here. Forgive my long-windedness. So, despite Dr. Schechter saying "You have TMS 107%", despite my therapist telling me the same, my other doctors agreeing, and despite my push ups, flailing dance moves and air karate chops HELPING the pain (I see this as impossible if something was truly structurally wrong) there is still a part of me that thinks it's GOT to be RSI. And just saying it sounds silly. So the next day, when I felt sore from working out, instead of journaling, just relaxing and "thinking psychologically", instead of looking back on how great I did, I got hard on myself in the wrong way. I began to doubt the TMS, I got back on my old foam roller, rolled on some soft rubber balls, did a lot of stretching, tried to maintain good posture, thought all structural and basically went back to my old PT's homework routine for my "shoulder and neck". And lo and behold, my TMS FLARED BIG TIME. It was like I was back to square one again. So, this is my question. I feel like I have this thing on the ropes. It's losing. But as it is taking it's last gasps (god, I hope so), I feel like it is giving me HELL. It's as if it knows it's lost the match, so it's hitting me with all it's got, below the belt. I want to BEAT THIS and I would appreciate any advice. Everyone on here is a miracle in progress and I trust you guys. Is it normal that as I get better and better, TMS gives me setbacks? Dr. Schechter even said this, "Healing from TMS is a non-linear healing, ups and downs, good days and bad days, don't worry, focus on the POSITIVE and keep doing what makes you HAPPY.", but I feel like every time I get it to go away and think, "Oh, my god! It's gone! It's finally gone!!!! Yippeee, I beat it!!!!", it comes back rearing it's ugly head, like a scary monster with 1,000 heads that just won't die. How do I slay the dragon for GOOD? How do I get back to doing what I love without pain? I know I'm being hard on myself but I want to be easy on "me" and "hard" on my TMS. As Sarno said, "Give it hell". I'm going Ozanich style here, does that make sense? Thanks in advance for any advice, guys, I appreciate it. I feel like I'm so CLOSE yet still SO far...thoughts?