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First small flareup after quick initial recovery (optimistic as ever, but seeking advice)

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by c90danwaiel, Mar 9, 2017.

  1. c90danwaiel

    c90danwaiel Peer Supporter

    Hi all,

    So I'm doing pretty well. I had been diagnosed with chronic pelvic pain/chronic prostatitis/"pudendal neuralgia" before I stumbled upon the TMS diagnosis last October and found significant relief within about a month. I've had about four months where I've been nearly pain-free. And I'm still doing well. The reason I'm writing is that I seem to be having a slight flare.

    I realize my case resolved quite quickly and rapidly, and so I'm not too disappointed this is happening, nor frightened this is returning, albeit at a low level. I expected this might happen.

    I beat this back once, and I'm sure I can again. No fear or anxiety here. Still 100% convinced this is psychological, not physical.

    I guess I'm posting here because I'm looking for some advice. The flare emerged mainly when I started thinking about my former painful situation. I'd decided to go back to the forums where I'd spent so many hours on talking about what I thought I had at the time (e.g. prostatitis, pudendal neuralgia), and post updates that in my case, it was psychosomatic.

    Strangely, I noticed when I was thinking about the pain I had gone through, it started to slowly appear. Then if I focused on that pain, it grew. I noticed I had a ramp-up from that increased focus.

    Realized I was feeding it, and so since then, I've tried shifting my attention away from the pain, with relatively good results. If it pops up, I accept it, and move on with my day as usual. Again, the pain is at a low level and is not present throughout the entire day, just when it pops up in my mind. On days where my brain is more preoccupied with things, I barely have any pain. On others (and where stressful situations pop up), it can ramp up at moments.

    To put this into a few questions:
    -For those who have complete or near-complete relief, do you notice it reappears when you think about it? Or do you get to a stage where that doesn't happen?
    -When I first experienced significant recovery, I didn't put as much time into journaling or emotional work as many people do. I found relief without that much effort. It seemed not focusing on my pain and getting on with life as usual had the most impact. Yet I haven't had total relief. Have others had similar results? Any thought on that particular dynamic?

    Again, I'm optimistic as ever and realize this is just a slight speed bump, one that I fully expected might occur.

    Thanks so much,
  2. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi c90danwaiel,

    I think both of these questions point to long-term refinement of your skills re TMS. You were relatively lucky in your relief, it seems, without too much time or struggle or even work put into it? Now you're called to deepen your practice, whatever that is. The basics for most people are "think psychologically" and "divert attention or ignore." The recommendation according to Dr. Sarno is also to "read Sarno" a little every day. You might contemplate the 12 daily reminders each day as an alternative to this. The more methodical your response is when pain arrives, without worry, the better. Just do what you know to do and allow the results to be as they are. It essentially amounts to "not caring" if you're in pain, which does take practice.

    Andy B
    c90danwaiel and Mermaid like this.
  3. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Congratulations on your recovery. Unfortunately, the occasional relapse is very common.

    As to noticing TMS when I think about it--the context matters. Reading this Forum and answering questions and offering support does not cause a relapse for me. I believe this is because the focus is not on myself, but helping others. However, if I engage in complaining to others about past TMS pain or a current relapse, it will make it worse, as I'm identifying myself as a TMS sufferer, rather than someone who recovered from TMS. So for me it is important how I'm thinking about it.

    As to the question about total pain relief--in my recovery I got to about 90% relief and then stalled there for quite some time. In order to get to 100%, I realized there were some habitual patterns of thinking and behaving that I had to change, as they were creating chronic tension in my body that was leading to the remaining pain. This took some time, but I did get there. Still, I have the occasional relapse. So working on recovery is an ongoing process, but one that continues to provide opportunities for personal growth.
    c90danwaiel and riv44 like this.
  4. riv44

    riv44 Well known member

    It sounds like my experience. I don't think there is a thing you have to do to get better, except to notice your experience and notice how it changes. Some people do well with the structure of the SEP. I didn't. What I have tried to do is stop catastrophising. If you experienced relief, you will again. But don't tighten up your muscles in fear. My big symptom now is digestive. It is the "symptom imperative." I am 61, and have come to realize that throughout my life, anxiety expressed itself in my body. Anything from allergies to thyroid disease to back pain to IBS...as I get older I know that things that are going to deteriorate. But I think back to my experience with a TMS physiatrist. He showed me two MRIs. One of a 30 year old with minor disc problems and chronic pain. The other a woman in her 80's with a really messed up spine---and no pain.

    I do notice that a lot of my conversation with my spouse after a long day is about the massive headache I had, or the feeling in my gut, or the bunion that is acting up. I have to do something about that. I always have something to remove me from the action, and I must keep working on that.
  5. riv44

    riv44 Well known member

    When I have conquered all my demons, who will I be?
  6. Eugene

    Eugene Well known member

    Thank you for that excellent reply Ellen. It gave me some real hope that this is light at the end of the tunnel. I just needed to keep doing whatever I need to do to head towards that light. It's taking me a while to figure that out as, after a couple of good weeks of progress, I seem to have fallen back to where I was before I heard about TMS.
  7. Eugene

    Eugene Well known member

    That's a good point @riv44

    I'd hate to think that I have become or I am becoming my pain. I don't want that to be my identity for the rest of my life. That scares me.
  8. c90danwaiel

    c90danwaiel Peer Supporter

    Hi all,

    Thanks for all your answers and encouragement. Happy to say, I seem to have got to the other side of the flare and am back to being 99% symptom free.

    I had a mini-breakthrough after watching Alan Gordon's video on pelvic pain on Youtube ("Breaking the Pelvic Pain Cycle"). I realized that the major trigger for me was the fear that the pain would come back, and that was a huge part of what was making my flare worse. After I acknowledged that fear of symptoms returning was a major contributor to the flare, it subsided rapidly.

    Until now, I think the fear component was something I hadn't quite realized; my main first period of recovery was more from distraction due to a tumultuous period in my personal life that kept me very occupied.

    I remember reading somewhere that said that TMS is like a Chinese finger trap, and that holds true for me. I have to relax my way out of it by accepting its there and then giving it no attention, instead of instinctually struggling against it and focusing on it.
  9. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Love the Chinese finger trap analogy.

    So glad you have gotten through the flare up.

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