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Day 2 Evidence

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by wintermute, Jul 16, 2013.

  1. wintermute

    wintermute New Member

    In order to get my mind to accept that I might have TMS instead of RSI or CANS I'm looking for evidence.

    1. Running/biking/swimming/pushups all temporarily decrease the symptoms, and on good days even makes them disappear for a while (until I cool down again). In other words, increase the blood flow and the pain goes away.
    2. I have the personality traits: I'm perfectionist, legalist and insanely anxious. I also have low self-esteem.
    3. I've had so many experiences where a physical symptom turned out to be caused by anxiety or constant high stress levels, it should not surprise me if this too turns out to have a cause in the mind rather than the body.
    4. RSI showed up after I stopped letting my lower back pain get in the way of my life (albeit months later). I always seem to have one main issue that is supposedly stopping me from living my life, for as long as I can remember. When it does resolve and I feel there is nothing standing in my way anymore I feel very vulnerable, as if I'm balancing on the edge of a cliff. Usually a new symptom appears within a month and I'm back to square one.

    While looking for evidence I'm now wondering if I'm not simply attempting to distort my memories in such a way that they fit the TMS profile, just because I want it to be TMS. Wanting it doesn't make it true. Strange thing though: imagining that the pain is caused by TMS makes it seem less intense than imagining it is caused by RSI. I remember the words on a random RSI webpage that went something like "a couple of bad hours at the computer can set your recovery back for weeks or months". These words have shaped my behaviour for the last couple of weeks. Whatever, I'm going to continue typing now anyway. If it's TMS and not RSI this cannot be true.

    I'd like to share a story about how the perception of pain can be strongly influenced by what you believe to be the cause of it. 2 years ago I got a weird pain in my head and I thought it was caused by a sinus infection. It didn't resolve after 2 weeks so I went to the doctor stating I probably have sinusitis. She did some testing, asked some questions, and agreed it was probably sinusitis. It should resolve on its own though and I was sent home.

    After 2 more weeks there was no improvement, so I went back to the doctor. Her advice was to rinse with salt water and wait a bit more to see if it resolves. Still no improvement after another 2 weeks. Meanwhile I was looking up chronic sinusitis on the internet and already got a bit scared about endoscopies and maybe even needing surgery.

    I went back to the doctor, got a steroid nasal spray to see if that helps. It didn't. My anxiety was going through the roof. The pain was so bad I didn't want to do anything anymore. Just lie on the couch. I spent many hours each day pondering the worst case scenarios and visualizing getting surgery, trying to find a way to mentally prepare myself for it. It only made me more anxious. I went back to the doctor and we decided to try a course of antibiotics. It did not help. At this point the anxiety completely took over my life.

    Then, the doctor finally referred me to an ENT specialist. After a two month waiting list I got there and the specialist said: "I don't think this is sinusitis, but we'll do a CT scan to make sure". The scan turned out completely clean. Definitely not sinusitis. Enormous mental relief followed. It's hard to describe the high you get from relieving anxiety that's been building up for months. It's as if a toxic cloud dissipates from your consciousness, allowing you to finally think and feel normal things again.

    But then I started thinking... if the pain is not caused by sinusitis, then what is causing it? My hypochondria suggested brain tumor as a likely possibility. Fortunately that made the doctor laugh so I was able to discard that idea rather quickly. After a couple of massages for tension headache at the physical therapist my pain slowly decreased and I quickly ramped up activity to normal levels. End of story.

    When I believed the pain was caused by infection that needed surgery it was so bad I felt like I couldn't do anything. When I believed it was caused by tensed muscles it was annoying but bearable. It was the same pain though, only the way I experienced it changed. I still get angry at myself for throwing away ~4 months over this. Unfortunately, this is just one of the many hypochondria episodes I've had.

    Back to today. If I think about what my life would look like without pain, there is joy and excitement of course, but also anxiety. Without pain I will have to go out and succeed at life (with this I mostly mean succeed at work, though I understand there is much more to life than work). With pain, well, I can just blame the pain. I don't understand why I'm scared of trying to succeed though. Even trying and failing completely is better then sitting at home with pain not even trying.

    Time to stop typing for today. My rant became even lengthier than yesterdays one, and I'm not sure if these forums are even meant for this. Hopefully my copy of The Divided Mind will arrive soon. Meanwhile I'll just read some more on the wiki and the forums.
  2. Becca

    Becca Well known member

    I love this!!

    Try not to be angry at yourself for those four months. (I know, easier said than done, but hear me out!) It sounds like your anxiety was mostly a reaction to the doctors, misdiagnoses, multiple treatments that didn't work, and general uncertainty around what was going on. I think that would make anyone anxious, perhaps enough to turn to Google or WebMD for answers, because, it's frustrating, and terrifying, when the professionals we turn to for help aren't able to help (there's a TMS book called They Can't Find Anything Wrong -- I haven't read it, but the title is spot on!). Luckily, you've found this community, and discovered Dr. Sarno's work. He'll tell you over and over again to think psychological, not physical. That one-sentence insight you have that I quoted above is a great step towards letting go of the idea that there's something structurally wrong, and accepting the real cause of your symptoms.
  3. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hey sweetness, don't worry about ranting. I think having a safe place to blow off steam or air concerns is really important, and the great thing about your posts is the stream-of-conscious honesty. I believe I can safely say, we've all been there, in one way or another.

    Recently I had a wonderful experience, along the lines you describe and can attest to the relief. I was on cloud nine. Softly I trade that giddy state for calmness, which will endure and deepen. The trick is not to fall down the rabbit hole again.

    The Divided Mind is a cracking read. Hope your copy arrives soon.
  4. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

  5. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Creating an evidence sheet like this is a wonderful idea. I actually wrote a thread about it the other day at http://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/the-benefit-of-an-evidence-sheet.2292/ . This approach is such a radically different way of viewing our symptoms that it is only natural for us to have some doubt creep in from time to time. Having a reminder of the reasons you have TMS can help calm yourself in these moments.

    Hopefully my success story Plum mentioned will be helpful. If you have any questions about it at all please let me know.
  6. wintermute

    wintermute New Member

    @Becca: actually, I've ordered that book at the same time I ordered The Divided Mind! Should arrive soon. As a major hypochondriac it immediately caught my eye.

    Wow, I hadn't seen the success story of Forest yet, but I'm going to read and view it today.

    I sent the evidence list (which is now quite a bit longer) to the printer and put it on the wall so I can easily view it whenever I want.

    Thanks all!
  7. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Think I'll print my evidence sheet out too. I have other stuff tacked to the wall and this would be a great addition. Thanks for the inspiration.

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