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Evidence Sheet - strenghtening knowledge

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by DavidStrindberg, Jan 3, 2024.

  1. DavidStrindberg

    DavidStrindberg Newcomer

    Hello everybody and thank you for thr help that is being offered here!

    I realized in the last couple of days that while I've been telling all my friends and myself that I suffer from psychosomatic pain for some while now and am also seeing a therapist for that reason there is still some deeper doubt.
    The palpable physicality of the sensations and the clear feeling of their locatedness just on a gut level gives me the feeling that the reason for the sensations is in my face and throat, not in my soul or psyche.
    It's weird. Like I truly am sure that the onset and maintenance of the pain is due to anxiety and stress. But somehow it just feels sooo physical and local. Which of course it does.

    I felt it would be good for me to post some of the evidence I have for the psychosomatic origin of my pain on this forum, just to get it out there and make it more 'official'. And to be honest, I would also love gettting some comments or ideas of you good people about it.

    So here I go:

    1. Pain started without any physical reason or accident.

    2. Symptoms started
    a) after I had done a 3 month meditation retreat and was incredibly sensitized and introspective
    b) after I had met a new partner there whom I wanted to marry and move to the US for
    c) my dad was diagnosed with stomach-cancer (before I developed physical symptoms, I had a tremendous rush of insomnia and anxiety about my dad for two good months)
    d) felt torn between my new love/life in the US and love and solidarity with my dad for some incredibly intense months
    e) worked in two schools plus on publishing two books while taking care of my dad during chemo, skyping with my new partner everyday, selling all my belongings in Germany and never gave myself any rest in that time. Just kept on running in order not to feel.
    f) my dad died two weeks after what they had told us was an difficult but standard surgery under extreme (for me) circumstances in the ER.
    g) while learning that my new big love actually was way more ambiguous about our relationship and her ability to be in it than our romantic beginnings had entailed.

    3. Symptoms don't react im any way to
    a) many forms of physical treatment
    b) strong prescribed pain meds and muscle relaxants
    c) stretching and selfmassage

    4. Symptoms used to have a strong jumping around kind of quality on my upper left body. They only settled more permanently in my TMJ after a dentist told me he believes the reasons for the pain might be clenching. Which doesn't make much sense to me because the symptoms are as high in the evening as in the morning and I don't clench unconsciously during the day. I ve heard from a ton of people who have severe grinding going on without any pain or with only ten mins of pain in the morning. (this one is a tricky one for me and I appreciate any comments!)

    5. MRIs of face and spine are fine. I do have a strong scoliosis and there is some theory linking TMJ to scoliosis but whatever. (shit, that s another one where it creeps in!)

    6. Everybody who hears my story is like, yeah, that sounds like psychosomatic pain.

    7. I obsess about the pain wildly.

    8. The pain is there 24/7 which I don't think is how any structural pain would behave.

    9. The pain just feels kinda weird and, well, in a sense different.

    Well, that is that for now. After writing all of that, i feel quite convinced again. Still feels like something weird is going on with the muscles in my throat. Maybe another osteopath could help?? (...)
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    You're doing good work, David. To address a couple of things you mentioned:
    It's not weird at all! This is how the primitive TMS mechanism was designed to perform. Its purpose is to keep the human brain in a constant state of fear and alertness in order to survive. This is simply your brain on TMS, and all you have to do is literally talk back to it and gently reject the fear as being unnecessary. Easy to say, harder to do, but it literally was (and still is) one of the most powerful tools in my personal TMS kit. "Hey, brain - I see what you're doing, and I thank you, but it's actually not necessary to give me this symptom, because I'm really perfectly safe to get on with my life".

    And it will try to do at some point, I can practically guarantee it! So for you and anyone else who is worried about back issues, if you'd like to hear about someone who totally recovered from severe spinal problems and abnormalities in childhood, check out Nicole Sachs' back story. I recommend her work and resources all the time. She's got her book (The Meaning of Truth, written quite a number of years ago, now), her website at https://www.thecureforchronicpain.com/ (The Cure for Chronic Pain) with a ton of resources, free and paid, and the weekly podcast which she started in the fall of 2018, which I recommend so often because it's like receiving individual therapy from Nicole (she no longer provides individual therapy, having chosen this much more difficult path to make a living in order to spread the work to more people). You have to find the first couple of episodes from five years ago to get her full story, including how she met Dr. Sarno, recovered from her symptoms and went on to work with him. I was trying to remember what her back diagnosis is and found this great (and short!) 2020 article at Medium. It does a terrific job of briefly explaining Nicole's history and why her work is so powerful: Can Chronic Pain Be Relieved by Releasing Difficult Emotions? | by MedTruth | Medium

    Don't overthink it, and really, STOP comparing yourself to others. That's your TMS brain again, just trying to distract you with meaningless chatter masquerading as important information. It's not. As for the clenching, I had a nightguard for a number of years (probably got it in the nineties?) due to clenching my teeth (not grinding) which resulted in little cracks in my teeth as they aged, necessitating a bunch of crowns. The nightguard slowed that down, but a couple of years into this work (maybe 2013 or so) I decided to talk my brain into not clenching my teeth at night. All it took was a week with a short bedtime meditation/visualization/affirmation, and it worked - and it still does. I won't say that I don't still sometimes clench my jaw, but whenever I do, my teeth are separated, even at night when I wake up - and my dentist has been perfectly happy. When I finally admitted after a few years that I wasn't using the night guard anymore and told him why, he had no problem accepting that I'd done this with visualization and self-talk. Turns out he was totally into the mindbody connection and it's quite unfortunate that the nature of the profession doesn't allow for a two-sided conversation, because I think we could have had some interesting ones! He retired last year, but my new younger dentist is also on board, are her assitant and hygienist. The hygienist was interested in my resources, so I steered her to Drs. Sarno and Mate. It really makes me wonder how much the stress connection makes itself obvious in their line of work...
  3. DavidStrindberg

    DavidStrindberg Newcomer

    Thank you again, Jan!

    It is meaningful to me that you see me doing good work! It really strenghtens my belief in my ability to fully recover and go back to living life fully and deeply!

    Inspired from what you wrote, I did some very convinced talking back to my brain before when the symptoms started to flare from being a weird and not really uncomfortable tingling (getting more of this lately) to stromg pain. What can I say, it actually worked. Not in any mindblowing way, just the pain didn't explode as I had anticipated. Good.
    Milimeter by milimeter. (Using some metric system analogies here...)

    Concerning Nicole Sachs:

    I like her a lot. She kind of started me om really getting on bord of doing this again two weeks ago. (after reading Sarno some months ago but retreating to googling stuff about silent reflux and TMJ for some months...)
    Her concept and way of presenting just make a ton of sense to me. And it was her analogy of unacceptable feelings to predators that finally gave me some picture of how this healing myseld might look like. Obviously her sucess-stories are hugely important for me to establish hopefulness and belief.
    Weirdly enough (and again, not weird at all) while I feel I would basically do anything to get back to chronicsymptomfree living, I find myself avoiding the Journalspeak (even though I am a writer and it feels quite natural to sit down with pen and paper).
    Just had 3 days of having a ton of time and just not doing it. Rather checking out a ton of posts on this forum.
    I like your phrase of 'your brain on TMS'.
    It's shocking for me as somebody who was always seen as really smart and brilliant that intellect is not of much help in all of this. Rather to the contrary.
    (my therapist jokes about this a lot.)
    And then, to be fair, I do remember being much more im contact with my feeling self before the pain set in. So in a sense it is not a fixed given that I avoid and repress emotions. It also is situational.
    One question:
    In journalling I keep on coming back to the events of last year and the complicated, intertwined and twisted feelings of love, hatred, fear, anger, jealousy and despair that my dad's sickness and dying as well as the collapse of my relationship and life-plans generated. While there has been other stuff going on in my life, there was never anything this intense in such a short time. I feel I could just journal about that for days on end. And it is very repetitive. From what you've observed and experienced, how important is it to link all of that to childhood and earlier memories? My childhood was really free of ACEs and I felt loved a lot, was super popular im highschool and really felt blessed by life until one year ago... AND my parents had horrible and loud fights a lot which totally made me feel that expressing anger is super-dangerous.

    I like your talking your brain out of clenching. Will do that.
    My dentist even told me that he believes psychotherapy and exercise are much more important for me than the nightguard he made me.
    It feels as though most of the doctors i spoke to are very aware of the mindbody-connection. This really isn't some fringe hippy-dippy-thing (as Nicole says) but established and ancient knowldege.
    I will meditate now with my mum and then I will actually sit down and let some feelings and words flow up.

    I have another question around expressing feelings that I have, but I will save that for another day.

    Again, thank you! I appreciate your help and while I never was a fan of social media, this forum is a good thing.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  4. DavidStrindberg

    DavidStrindberg Newcomer

    BTW, I love this:
    'That's your TMS brain again, just trying to distract you with meaningless chatter masquerading as important information.'

    Somebody I worked with in the kitchen of Tassajara Zen Mountain Center some years ago once interrupted my attempts at small-talk with a very sweetly delivered:
    ' Listen, David, we can talk about the food and comment on that. Everything else - as Krishnamurti said - is idle chatter leading nowhere.'
    I could start telling that myself when my mind goes TMSing.
    'Idle chatter - leading nowhere.'
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  5. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Awesome response @DavidStrindberg! That's a lot to unpack, although several things resonated with me.

    You raise an interesting question about relating current stressors to childhood. We know they're both important, and I'm sure there always is a connection, but I wonder if it's essential to analyze the connection? Does it matter?

    One thing that resonated with me is from the ACEs questions. I decided that I have an ACEs score of about 0.2, because doing this work back in 2011, I uncovered a period of time, probably somewhere between age 4 and 8, when our house was basically overrun with very young children: my three younger siblings. I was undoubtedly left to myself fairly often! This was a pretty stunning realization that I discovered when I was doing the SEP. What I recalled was feeling pretty lonely, isolated and awkward during those years. My parents actually made it up to me later, giving me special attention, taking me out by myself and so on. It's not much of an ACE because of the short duration, but added to the lifelong anxiety that I also figured out that I was born with, due to my mother's inexperience, older age, and a miscarriage, it was enough to set me on a lifetime of mild TMS for many decades, until it reached a crisis point when I hit 60. The trigger for that was, of course, aging! The inevitability of Mortality. So there's that.

    In your case, you've got the isolation and insecurity of your parents fighting. Definitely something that's worth an ACE, especially if it continued throughout your time living at home. If it continued until your father's death, that's just another layer of never ending distress. There might even be guilt involved.

    NOW come the adult stressors, and one of those is loss, which is also related to isolation and particularly Abandonment, with a capital A. The issue for our primitive brains is the same as childhood isolation , but the circumstances are totally different, and in the case of both you and me, the loss of a parent is devastating - it's the ultimate abandonment, and it leaves us feeling rootless, really. I lost my cherished father to lymphoma when I was only 30, so I get it. That was 30 years before I did this work, and I didn't understand the concept of feeling abandoned, although my inner child certainly was feeling it. But it was so hard to process. When I lost three people in a row from 2012 to 2014, including my 93-year-old mother and my beloved youngest brother as well as a dear friend, that was pretty f****** devastating. It really was thanks to this work, and my ability to acknowledge that I felt abandoned, that helped me get through that period of time with some amount of equanimity and self compassion.

    So, I guess my recommendation is to not worry about analyzing every connection to childhood. We acknowledge the truth of what we experienced as children, and we have compassion for that experience.. Then we go on to view our current stressors, and understand that part of our reaction is still from the point of view of the small child, but all we need to do is have compassion once again for that small child along with our adult selves.
  6. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    I know, right? "Writing shit down" (my description of it) is something I still do when symptoms bother me for more than a few days, and it still totally works, but the thing I'm resistant about is meditation, which I know would be incredibly beneficial, especially for my rheumatoid arthritis. I think I could achieve remission if I meditated significantly with commitment every single day. And everyday I have such good intentions. And every day I don't do it. So there you go.

    OMG, what did I say about dental professionals? They get it!

    I was really apprehensive when I made my first post on the Forum in 2011, but I was made to feel so welcome by this community and it turned into a passion. My continued participation is undoubtedly a reflection of my desire to be of service to people. For a while, after getting my Bachelor's degree in liberal arts I contemplated counseling, which I did not go into, and I ended up getting an MBA and becoming an accountant - but in fact public accountants do serve people, and the big firm I apprenticed with was only interested in recruits who could communicate with their clients. As a tax preparer later on, I developed c very close and quite personal relationships with many of my clients and really was a counselor and advisor. One of my colleagues shared a newspaper article years ago which I remember had a title somewhere along the lines of "Your CPA is Really Your Therapist". :hilarious:

    PS, thank you for your kind words :)
    TG957 likes this.
  7. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    In my personal experience, the onset of especially severe chronic pain happened when I learned to suppress my emotions to the point that I felt nothing. It took me years to unfreeze my emotions. My TMS is long gone, but my process of getting my emotions back is still going on, almost 8 years since I first read Dr. Sarno's book. Remember, your pain and your emotions are connected vessels. Until you learn how to safely manage your emotions, your pain is likely to continue.
    backhand likes this.

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