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Focusing and fear

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Wings313, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. Wings313

    Wings313 Peer Supporter

    Hi all - I posted somewhat about this elsewhere, but I would love some of your thoughts. I've known about TMS for a while now, my symptoms have come and gone (and are here again), I did the SEP, read many of the books, saw Dr. Schubiner, etc. I have tried my best to work through my childhood issues, which is somewhat difficult because I don't have any obvious trauma, "just" an environment of worry, high expectations, perfectionism, etc that led to my spot-on TMS personality.

    Anyway, so it seems that my symptoms are mainly about current stressors and personality traits. My symptoms have gone away during periods of time in which I've been able to not think about the symptoms, but about other things, or usually when I'm MORE worried about something else than my TMS. Or when my OCD symptoms take over instead.

    Therefore, it seems that as long as I've done or tried to do the work on repressed anger, at this point I need to just get my focus on something else and stop fearing the symptoms, which perpetuates the cycle. Does this make sense? I'm wondering if I should actually STOP reading about TMS, but get a good novel instead, watch a favorite TV show, or as one friend suggested, do difficult math problems so I have to concentrate on that instead. :) What do you all do to try and get your mind off the constant obsession with the pain, symptom, whatever it may be? Or to get yourself to "just not care" about the symptom/pain? There have definitely been times when I haven't cared, and therefore it doesn't bother me, but then it comes roaring back.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  2. jazzhands

    jazzhands Peer Supporter

    I'm coming from a similar background here. As the good Dr. says, we all have difficult lives, no need for extreme traumas in order to develop TMS.

    When you talk about current stressors and symptoms...are you confronting those current stressors? Remember that suppressing negative emotions can lead to the pain.

    Yes, I find just not caring is the best approach, though it's certainly easier said than done. I've had one or two flare ups since I was cured as well as pulled muscles from weight lifting and I just remind myself that my body isn't broken and whatever it is is transient and it goes away shortly. I think the idea of taking a break from reading about TMS and pain in general is a good one, though please come back if you don't make any progress.
  3. Wings313

    Wings313 Peer Supporter

    Thanks; yes, it's definitely true that TMS can develop without extreme traumas. As for current stressors...no, I'm not confronting them very well. I'm kind of in one of those times in life where I feel trapped in life circumstances (which can be a trigger for TMS), so they aren't likely to change. At the same time, I know that circumstances don't determine our happiness or health - our reaction and attitude toward them do. So I can't just wait until circumstances change.

    For sure, not caring is easier said than done. What baffles me sometimes is the amount of depression, anxiety and fear I can have in response to very benign symptoms. It's totally disproportionate, and it's what keeps them going. Most people would say - oh that's somewhat bothersome and not give it another thought and move on. Me, I get totally obsessed.
  4. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think most of us have to keep working on ignoring the pain or accepting it, and put our minds on more
    positive, happy thoughts. It's not easy, I know. We can all worry our slightest symptom into a major stress.

    I find laughing really helps. Just thinking about Monty Python makes me laugh. That ones about funny walks. There
    are several of them. Maybe I can find one or two of them on Youtube.

    Here it is:

    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  5. Alex Bloom LCSW

    Alex Bloom LCSW TMS Therapist


    It seems as though focusing more on taking care of yourself and treating yourself well could be very beneficial. Sometimes TMSers have a tendency to take on their TMS work as just one more task to be accomplished so that they can overcome the pain and get back to "business as usual". This results in greater pressure and conditional success in which you remain focused on the particulars of the pain. Again the result of this approach is a focus on your symptoms or, if there is something else creating stress/anxiety, a focus on how it affects your symptoms, for good or ill. This is why mild onset of symptoms can trigger such intense feelings of stress, anxiety and failure; you are associating your success and capacity with your pain level.

    When my clients get caught up in this pattern I recommend exactly what you suggested. Forget about TMS! Stop reading and piling tasks on yourself, feeling like you need to put more and more effort into "getting better". Focus instead on what makes you happy and taking care of yourself. When the symptoms do arise, remind yourself of what they are, why they are there and that you have no need to fear them. Continue to treat yourself well and your ability to do so as the measure of your success, not where your symptoms are.
    Ines, SebastianM, Alyssa5 and 3 others like this.
  6. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Alex, you give excellent advice. Don't think about symptoms and just enjoy the day.
    And think: I'm grateful. Make a list of those and you'll find a lot to make you feel good about yourself and the day.

    That's not easy to do today in the Chicago area. We're having freezing rain making everything icy, on top of
    a foot of snow still on the ground. But I laugh because it could be worse.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  7. Solange

    Solange Well known member

    Wings,I can absolutely relate to everything you are saying. I like to check in on the forum and find it is really helpful to do so, but I limit it as I have a tendency to get caught up in 'TMS think' and then it starts to obsess me. I also try to keep away from symptom talk as I must be the most suggestible person on the planet and if I read that someone's left earlobe hurts every time they drink coffee without sugar (ridiculous example on purpose!) then sure enough, it will happen to me.
    I find that what works for me best is to have an honest look at what's going on in my life and head every morning and evening and then to REFUSE, as best I can, to dwell on it any longer or it turns into unhelpful rumination.
    Maths problems are good, counting back in threes from a thousand, spelling words backwards(my personal favourite), guessing how many steps it'll take to a certain point etc, etc. Whatever works for you! Treat yourself kindly and don't rush it.
    Just being aware that we do this stuff is progress because it gives us the chance to change.
    Keep at it and so will I, fellow traveller.
  8. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Solange, when I can't get to sleep after practicing deep breathing and thinking about being on a beautiful beach,
    I count backwards from 100 to 1, and it may take two laps, but into the third I'm asleep.
    I guess I just bore my mind.
  9. chickenbone

    chickenbone Well known member

    Wings313 said "What baffles me sometimes is the amount of depression, anxiety and fear I can have in response to very benign symptoms."

    This is me also. I have observed many times in myself that I wake up in the morning thinking of and noticing a symptom. Then I become fearful of it. By that time, I have convinced myself that my whole day is ruined because I had the curse to wake up with that symptom. It consumes me totally. I am miserable.

    But the times I can become aware of what is happening to me, that I am literally being taken over by this unfortunate state, I can become aware that I have another option. That is to take command of my attention and focus it where I want. I can either become completely taken in by this obsessive amplification of a harmless symptom or I can enjoy my life that day. It all depends on how well I can command my attention to focus on that which serves me well or let my mind run the show and take me mentally to a dark and desolate place.
    Solange likes this.
  10. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think positive before getting out of bed.
    I tell myself affirmations like: "This is going to be a great day." "I am happy and healthy and am going to enjoy
    a wonderful new day." "I thank you, Lord, for giving me a new day."

    I don't ask myself if I feel any pain. I don't give any thought to pain.

    I hope you will practice commanding your attention on everything being great.

    You might even laugh in bed before you get up.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  11. chickenbone

    chickenbone Well known member

    By the way, I just learned a finger exercise that was developed by a psychologist for attention. You hold up both hands and touch your left thumb to your left index finger, while touching your right thumb to your right little (pinky) finger. The next move is to touch your left thumb to your left middle finger while touching your right thumb to your right ring finger. The next - yes you guessed it: left thumb to left ring finger while touching right thumb to right middle finger. Then left thumb to left little finger and right thumb to right index finger. Then go back until you are where you started: left thumb to left index finger and right thumb to right little finger. Do the whole set, up and back, 8 times. At first, you can look at your hands, but to really master the exercise you must be able to do it 8 times in the dark. I am still working on doing it in the dark. It is so hard to do because it requires so much attention. I often do it when I first think of a symptom or something catches my attention about a symptom I am likely to become attached to. It gets my mind off the symptom.
  12. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    The finger exercises look good. It sure does require attention, but that's good, for distracting our mind from pain and worry.

    How about crossword puzzles, too? An aunt spent so much time on them she wrote a book about them.
    I used to like them when they were in old movie magazines, about films and actors.
    I have lots of back issues of movie magazines from the 1930s to 1970s and will look into them to see how good I am today
    at filling them out.
  13. Wings313

    Wings313 Peer Supporter

    Just want to touch back to all my old posts because it's always nice to hear how things worked out. :) I am doing MUCH better. My urinary stuff was and is completely TMS/mind-body stuff. I am convinced of that. Not even physical therapy helped. What I've found helped the most is not fearing the symptom, and not changing anything physically because of the symptom (I would walk differently, clench, cut out foods/drink, etc...but now I try not to). Take away the power of the symptom by not being afraid of it! Tell yourself - oh well, even if I have this symptom forever, it's going to be okay, it won't ruin my life, etc. Even the typical TMS/Freudian anger work didn't really help, although it can be a good exercise to do. For me it's all about dismissing it (the TMS symptom), not giving it power, not giving it attention.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  14. balto

    balto Beloved Grand Eagle

    Great for you Wing.
    No FEAR, no PAIN. That's all there is to it.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  15. Candy

    Candy New Member

  16. Wings313

    Wings313 Peer Supporter

    So sorry for the delayed response! Candy, no, it is not easy to lose your fear of the symptoms and not care about it. It took/takes years to get to the point where you are truly not afraid of them. I still have my moments. But I fear the symptoms much less. It's about perseverance and not giving up. You will have times of the symptoms coming back, then going away, coming back, going away, etc. That is normal. The key is that when they do come back - as they will, even if just for a moment, or an hour, or whatever - you just try to dismiss them, not fear them, etc.

    As for reading the forum...everyone is different, so for some the forum is a lifeline and is very helpful. For me, I did start staying away from it once I wasn't so obsessed with my symptoms and trying to "cure" them. I just didn't want to be part of this world at all until I was totally over it. And honestly, once you've experienced this stuff, I'm not sure if you're ever TOTALLY over it, but you get to a much better place of managing it. So the forum is definitely a good thing, but if it's making you stuck in your symptoms, just stop checking it for a while. And yes, living your life is really important. Doing other things, engrossing your mind in other topics, etc...that is HUGE. I work full-time now for the first time since I learned about this TMS stuff and I believe it is really helpful to have my mind occupied by other tasks most of the day. Hope that helps!
    Candy likes this.
  17. Candy

    Candy New Member

    thanks fot the reply wings,

    I am suffering with pelvic pain as of the moment, what i feel is not actually pain, i lost my fear of pain thats why its the first symptom that went away. What im fearing now is the genital tingling, thats why this is the one that keeps on coming back, there are days that i can ignore but there are days just like today that i cant ignore, its so uncomfortable and disgusting, im afraid that i cant get out of this loop because its so hard for me to lose my fear of this symptom. Can you please share with me how you ignore and handle your symptoms? By the way, was it easy to go back living your life like they used to be? Because as for me, its so hard to do the things that i used to enjoy because it will trigger my anxiety and increase in symptoms because i would feel sad and it will just remind me of myself pre tms.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2017
  18. Wings313

    Wings313 Peer Supporter

    What you are describing about not being able to do the things you used to enjoy sounds just like I was at my worst. But the key is to also not care that you are not enjoying life. Hopefully that makes sense. It is to not give it any weight, attention, etc. Which is of COURSE way easier said than done and it doesn't happen overnight. You can't just ignore the symptoms usually, I get that. But you have to not care that it's uncomfortable. Like I said in an earlier post, you say "oh well, I don't care if I feel like this forever"...in other words, just not giving it the strength to ruin your life, so to speak. Think of it almost as an outside force. It's not you. You know the symptoms aren't "real" in the sense that they are caused/influenced by your mind. And the sadness. I totally get that. Your mind starts filling with things like "I'll never truly be happy again because I will always have these symptoms, feel this pain, have this tingling, etc." "This will never end." You start thinking of yourself as an elderly person who still has the same exact symptoms and you've had them for 50 years. Seriously, your mind will just run away with you. And then, you start getting anxious as your mind keeps spinning out of control, then you think the thoughts again, etc, etc, etc. It's a terribly vicious cycle. If possible, it would be great to stop the cycle but that's very hard to do. But if you can't STOP the thoughts, just don't react to them. "So I'll have this when I'm old, too...oh well. I can still live a good life" (even if you don't consciously feel that way, tell yourself that). And then try to move on to something else.

    There's a phenomenon called "calendar watching" or something like that, which is common to TMS-ers, where we think about how long we've had our symptoms, and each day, month, year, we get more upset at how long it's been since we've had the symptoms. Try to stop doing that. Don't even pay attention to that. Try not to think of life pre-TMS and post-TMS (I get that, I did/do that too)...it's just life and this is just a blip. It doesn't have the power to ruin your life. We can choose to be content in any situation.

    I hope I'm making sense, because I'm just kinda rambling. I've learned so much through my journey.
    SebastianM and Candy like this.
  19. Candy

    Candy New Member

    very well said wings, thanks very much for your inspiring reply. By the way, do you have sleep problems while you were suffering? Because as for me, since thia tms started i developed insomnia. Do you have any pointers in overcoming insomnia while recovering?
  20. Wings313

    Wings313 Peer Supporter

    Sorry no sleep was actually kind of escape. It was the time I didn't feel my urinary symptoms (usually they got better while lying down). But I've had some bouts with insomnia in general. I don't have pointers really, besides what's probably out there on google (which is of course sometimes dangerous to research on google!). Maybe post a new thread on here to get advice?
    Candy likes this.

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