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Feeling stuck. Literally and figuratively

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by interstellar, Jan 17, 2015.

  1. interstellar

    interstellar Peer Supporter

    I basically have a couple of questions that seem to trouble me here and there. First I will quickly explain my situation.(I am currently 24 years old and in very good shape. I used to work out and play sports constantly) Roughly three years ago I fell playing basketball and shortly after began having bad sciatic pain. After a year or so of trying to deal with it I had an mri which revealed a bulging and herniated disc which was of course what my pain was attributed to. I was given oral steroids and the pain went away. About 8 months went by without pain until I fell down icy steps and thought "oh no, I bet that wasnt good for my discs" sure enough i started getting a twinge in my low back so i tried steroids again. no help this time. so i found a local chiropractor who does flexion distraction. you may have heard of this but its basically a process of manually stretching the spine to "make room for the discs to heal." I was told "no sitting, bending, lifting, or twisting" during the process which lasted a few months. I was also told there would be some discomfort at first but i went from moderate discomfort in a small area just above my si joint to extreme pain in the whole lower half of my spine which got worse with each appointment. At this point I was becoming very depressed since I couldnt figure out what was going on and why a healthy 24 year old was dealing with back problems. I got to the point where i had to stop going to the chiro as I was spending most of every day standing or laying in bed, unable to really do any type of movement other than slowly walking. This lead to another mri which showed that my discs had actually healed to the point "where i was no longer a candidate for surgery." This was great news but I thought "then why the hell am I in much worse pain now than i was before, and in a completely different area?" I was sure the chiro had done damage by stretching my spine but my doctor just suggested physical therapy. I actually found an amazing therapist who specializes in fascial distortion and she was at least able to get me moving around a little and doing some light swimming.(oddly enough, I also developed pretty bad groin pain shortly after first seeing her. After a couple weeks Id say 30 percent of my pain was gone but after a few more weeks i noticed i wasnt getting any better. I then stumbled upon dr sarnos books and it changed my life. This was two months ago and ive gone from hating my life and laying in bed most of the day (with ice packs applied to my back almost every second I wasnt in bed, as well as pain killers and muscle relaxers every day) to going to the gym 3 or 4 days a week, doing many old exercises and being able to run a mile and a half! I have my life back and i am so grateful for that. BUT, I am a perfectionist and 75% relief isnt what im looking for. I made a lot of progress really quickly but it now seems to be much slower although still noticeable. This leads to my questions.

    1. I read a lot that tms pain moves around a lot and comes and goes for a lot of people. The pain in my spine is more like intense tightness, and I primarily only feel it when bending over. Of course some days are better than others but the pain is pretty much always in the same place and the severity doesnt change much. same with my groin pain. I can run on it but twisting my leg outward causes pain. Is any of this normal with tms?

    2. I have tried constantly focusing on my emotions and what dr sarno says to focus on to heal, but I have also read that focusing on it too much is bad as well. I no longer fear my pain since I know it is harmless and cant get worse, it simply just bugs me. Any advice on what to focus on and how much to focus?

    and 3. Like I said I am 24, but unfortunately because of my pain I have continued living at home with my parents even though ive already graduated from college. My parents love me and hate seeing me in pain, but they seem fed up with it, they try to minimize my pain and tell me I need to get over it and live my life, and my dad is very hard on me "for being lazy"(which in reality is me not wanting to do anything because my pain was running my life) and he is constantly yelling at me about EVERYTHING (even being verbally abusive a lot of the time over something as simple as picking up my plate after eating a meal... and this includes telling me im an asshole and a bad person when I know this simply isnt true, im just conditioned to be in a terrible mood when im home and around him and I act accordingly) He also treats my mom the same way and has for years which really pisses me off. We both resent him for this and would love to just leave, but we both have felt trapped in the household for financial reasons. They are both also in a lot of physical pain and have been for years. And my mom is smoking her life away. I know this is a terrible situation for me to feel trapped in and I feel like getting out of the house and out on my own like all my friends have would highly benefit me and maybe rid me of the rest of my pain. (I have stopped seeing most of them because of my situation) Also this especially confuses me because i know that your pain is supposed to come from anger you arent aware of. Or maybe ive done a good job exposing my hidden rage. And i should note that ive realized over a year ago when my pain first came back, I had just ended a friendship with my best friend, got rejected by a girl for being "too nice of a guy"(not the first time) and started my final semester of college, all combined with my current living situation. I go over these emotions a lot and feel like i have let them go, but maybe theres something else going on...I am close to getting a job in my field and having enough money to move out, so hopefully this will help and not cause more anxiety.

    any advice would be greatly appreciated...(and again, most of the time I do my best to not think about most of this and im grateful to have my life back, but my perfectionistic side sees that I havent fully recovered so I end up going over these things here and there anyway.)
  2. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Interstellar,

    First, congratulations on all the progress you've made! Getting to 75% pain relief in only 2 months is amazing, so you are definitely on the right track with what you are doing. Be patient, that last 25% will leave you. It just means that you have a little more work to do.

    Question 1: There is no "normal" in TMS in my experience. Our brains are incredibly complex and the ways in which the unconscious can manifest TMS symptoms never ceases to amaze me. Do not focus on your symptoms. This is what TMS wants you to do as a distraction. Let it go. Just note what happens with curiosity and tell yourself something to the effect "this is interesting, but it is only TMS. It is harmless. There is nothing wrong with my body".

    Question 2: Yes, you can work too hard on overcoming TMS. Dr. Sarno recommends spending less than an hour a day reading about TMS and working on it. I think it is helpful to follow a structured program that has shown success for many people. There are many good ones out there, including the Supported Education Program (SEP) that is free on this site.

    Question 3: Your situation at home is temporary, as you are on your way to self-sufficiency. I would just try to stay focused on doing what I need to do to get out on my own. I realize this is not easy with the situation you describe, but I feel it is the best use of your energy right now. Once you gain some distance, you can work on your relationship with your parents. As far as what to focus on when "thinking psychologically" as Sarno recommends, I have always found that looking for conflicted emotions yields the most in terms of making progress on my TMS. For example, it's not so much the anger itself that is a problem, but that I feel I shouldn't feel that way, that leads to repression. So I suggest looking at your emotions and then searching for all the "shoulds" and "should nots" that are attached to those emotions for you. There is your fertile ground for digger deeper. That's where we find guilt, shame, grief--all the things our TMS personalities and childhood experiences create in our psyche.

    That is my best advice for you right now. I'm sure others will chime in with their recommendations. And welcome to the Forum! Keep us posted on how you're doing, and feel free to ask questions at any time. We are all here to support one another.
  3. interstellar

    interstellar Peer Supporter

    Thank you Ellen! I appreciate you taking the time to read my rather lengthy questions :) and yes I have really tried to tell myself that I know the anger is there, but not only is it normal behavior, but also that it's okay to feel that way. It's funny to think that I love and hate my dad at the same time...I'd say my biggest problem is that my perfectionist side just wants the remaining to pain disappear as quickly as the first 75% did. But I'm doing better at being patient, it's just hard to do in my current living situation.
  4. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Interstellar, that is great advice from Ellen, one of the most wonderful and helpful people in the TMA community.
    I agree with her and Dr. Sarno that we can spend too much time feeling our pain or journaling to discover repressed emotions
    or our perfectionist or "goodist" personality. More than an hour a day can be counter-productive, and I prefer doing mine
    early in the day, not before bedtime. I also do a lot of deep breathing and positive mantras.. "I feel great. I am happy and healthy."

    It's important to relax an hour or two before bedtime... listen to relaxing music... watch nature shows on tv, and I laugh at my
    troubles or pain. Laughing sends calming messages to our mind and body.

    You're on a great adventure which will soon lead you to being healthier and happier than you ever imagined possible.
  5. IrishSceptic

    IrishSceptic Podcast Visionary

    JK Rowling has some great advice for TMSers and life in general.

    interstellar and Ellen like this.
  6. Buckeye

    Buckeye Peer Supporter

    Wow, Irish, great video. Thanks for posting it.
  7. Lighthouse_library

    Lighthouse_library New Member

    Interstellar. I can really relate to your situation and recognize myself in many of the personality traits you describe having. I think Ellen really hits the nail on its head here above and don't have much to add but I think some additional elements that may come into play in your situation is, to begin with, the feeling of being "trapped between the sword and the wall" with no other option than to just try and await better times while keeping your rage and anxiety in check. What your body probably would want you to do is to engage and confront your situation, it is not equipped to have to deal with mid- to long-term stress like that. I think what you describe is really an abusive situation that noone should be subjected to, not the least in one's own home and family, the place where one should be able to feel unconditionally accepted, loved, and relaxed. If I was in your situation I would most likely also feel grief. Grief for the situation your family is in and for seeing you mother abuse herself with that level of smoking you describe, something which for me would mean also having to deal with the fear of losing her.

    I really do not have any answers on what to do in your situation. Dealing with family dynamics is terribly complex. Like playing a three-dimensional game of chess underwater. There is no apply-to-all toolbox in these matters and one must sometimes accept the fact that one cannot really "fix it". What you should not have to accept however, is to be abused or see other people you love being abused.

    Wishing you the best
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2016
  8. Orion2012

    Orion2012 Well known member

    1) Yes, sounds like "normal" TMS. I had a similar experience of intense tightness and increased pain with bending.

    2) No more than one hour of TMS work per day. Perhaps 20 minutes journaling, 20 minutes TMS learning, 15 minutes meditation, 5 minutes affirmations (before bed and first thing in the morning). Like you, I got mostly better with a few months of 'thinking psychologically' then felt stuck. Adding mindfulness meditation and positive affirmations got me to full recovery.

    3) Sounds like your curent living situation is going keep enraging your subconscious mind. Keep acknowledging and expressing those feelings, know that this too shall pass. Don't be afraid to soothe the subconscious aka the inner child and remember to be kind to yourself.

    You are on the way!

    Check out my success story for more info about what worked for me.

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