1. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this updated link: https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/painrecovery/
    Dismiss Notice

FREEDOM! How I recovered from years of chronic pain and anxiety

Discussion in 'Success Stories Subforum' started by Tuniguts, Sep 25, 2018.

  1. Tuniguts

    Tuniguts Peer Supporter

    If you are reading this, you probably have read countless stories of people in pain. My story isn't any different. Years of mysterious pain. What started in my back, became headaches, hip/leg pain, heartburn, stomach issues, anxiety, sleep problems, MRI's, bulging discs, 'structural imbalances' from PTs, the list goes on. It doesn't really matter what you have going on- it's all the same. I, like you, was really freaked out. I completely stopped being active and was utterly depressed and anxiety ridden. After years of trying to figure out what was wrong with me, I finally found Sarno. It totally made sense to me. I was like "Finally this is the cure!!" But for some reason it just wasn't working completely. I had times I would feel better but they wouldn't last. I felt frustrated and defeated as time went by and I wasn't getting better. I found this website and used to go on all the time and read stories and tips daily. No, sometimes hourly. I was completely obsessed with my situation and constantly thinking about it. Looking back, I was in a state of panic.

    Now, years later I am a changed person. I experience 'pain' and 'anxiety' in my life but they are fleeting and temporary. I have escaped my obsession with pain and feeling that there is something wrong with me all of the time. I feel great. I am VERY active. I play soccer, hike, mountain bike, snowboard, etc. I just started surfing. I am completely fine. The funny thing is I was completely fine the whole time, I just didn't know it.


    Addiction to pain and your problem.
    By the time I found Sarno and TMS, I was so addicted to checking for pain and researching cures, that I didn't really know how to live life without it. Any sort of down time would result in me scanning my body for issues and/or going on this website to read stories and look for help. It was almost like getting my fix. I would read a story and realize that had TMS and feel like everything was going to be ok. Then try to live life, have pain, panic, come back to the website. It was a vicious cycle. Part of it was good- I was trying to get my head around the mind body connection but it was overkill. So, if you are new to this website, please beware.
    There is a lot of good advice but if you are looking at it or thinking about your issue for more than 10 minutes a day- you HAVE TO STOP. Focusing on your problem all the time IS THE PROBLEM and going on this website all the time isn't helping.

    Noticing when you're not in pain

    I thought I was in pain all of the time. But then I started to stop focusing on the pain and look for the times when I wasn't in pain. I realized that when I was distracted with something fun or interesting, or with people that I loved there were times when I would be like "Wait, the pain is gone" Even for a split second - Of course right when I would think this, the pain would return but it was a first realization that the pain was an illusion. The more I noticed that, the more it reinforced that fact that the pain was not really something to worry about. If it was actually a real problem it wouldn't all of the sudden feel fine. If it was structural it wouldn't let up at random times. The more I noticed this, the more often and longer these times of being in no pain happened.

    At my worst - my default mode of thinking was always about pain. Over the years of dealing with pain, it was almost like I had trained my brain to always worry about what was wrong with me I just needed to train it to do other things. Here are some things that helped with that.

    Meditation / Biofeedback
    I went to see a lot of docs, chiros, PTs and acupuncturists which did nothing (except fuel my fears). One professional I went to see that really did help me was a biofeedback expert. Biofeedback is really just learning how to control your breathing and calm yourself down. While seated, you are hooked up to a computer that reads your heart rate and other vitals. You can see what's going on in your nervous system in real time. Which is cool because you get to see how your body is reacting to certain thoughts in real time. Its a little information overload but it did show me that my nervous system was in a state of panic and I just needed to calm down.

    When your nervous system is in panic (Fight or flight) you have panicky thoughts. Your thoughts can be down right terrifying and absurd. When you calm down- you realize just how ridiculous these thoughts are!

    Back in my pain/anxiety days, I was in a state of panic. I didn't realize it then because I forgot what it felt like to be completely relaxed. Everything felt like an emergency. Even just menial tasks like washing the dishes or simple work tasks felt frantic and would result in flare ups of pain. My mind running rampant - woudn't stop.

    Now I meditate every day. Every morning, I wake up and meditate. I breathe and watch as thoughts come and go. When I first started, it was very challenging. My mind was filled with panic thoughts, agonizing pain sensations, it was terrifying to say the least. The pain and anxiety almost felt worse. But looking back, it was totally necessary. The more I did this practice, the less scary the thoughts and sensations were. Now, when they come (and they sometimes still do!) I laugh at them. They are just ridiculous fallacies and lies. If you start to meditate, you will be looking these lies and your pain, dead in the eyes. The more you do it, the less power they have and eventually you'll realize how silly and powerless they actually are. And then, one day you will realize they are silent. You just need to get good at feeling your pain and not freaking out about it. Meditation really was my savior for learning how to do that. Sit with my pain and not care. Just know that it may need to get worse before it gets better. You just need to feel the pain, thoughts and emotions and let them come through. You can do it on your own or get a book or take a mindful meditation class. If you're reading this and you're resistant- I know how that is- I was the type of person that wouldn't have been caught dead taking a meditation class - sounded so lame. But it turned out to be the thing that saved my life.

    Stop focusing on how long this is taking
    I was super freaked out by how long I had been in pain. I felt like the longer it was going on the harder it would be to get out of it. This is just another scary thought to laugh at and ignore. Who cares?! It doesn't matter how long it's been or if you are in pain right now! It's just fear.

    Pain moving around
    You may start noticing that once you don't care about the pain anymore it might start moving. Time to really laugh at it now! You've called it's bluff! My pain pretty much moved to every part of my body imaginable. Every once in awhile, I will still get some sort of strange pain sensation - I laugh and go about my day. Before I know it, I've forgotten about the 'pain' and its forgotten about me! Pain is a temporary sensation, nothing else.

    Knowing when to chill
    During my pain years, I was always on the move. I'm a doer and always have been. I accomplish a lot and I get things done! The problem is I never knew how to stop! I just pushed and pushed and did and did. I like to visualize it as RPM's redlining. That was the state I was in. I didn't realize I just needed to relax! Now, i have at least a day a week that I literally don't do shit. That sounded impossible to me before. I wouldn't have known what to do with myself! But a day off to just chill, nap, eat, watch movies, whatever- if you forgot how to do that- it's time to get that skill back! Start meditating to calm yourself down.

    Scary MRI's, docs
    During my healing, my mind would constantly flash to fearful things my docs has said, or images of MRI scans. I had an MRI with herniated bulging disc bullshit that they told me was the problem.
    I had chiros and PTs tell me that I was out. Imbalanced, etc. I researched all kinds of crazy explanations of my pain from piriformis syndrome to gastro stuff. Docs are all trying to figure out what's wrong with us but they have no idea. I had nutritionists, acupuncturists, and healers all tell me conflicting things.
    The fact is NONE of them know what what going on. When your brain brings up these ridiculous images in your head or things docs have said- laugh at them! Its just fear trying to have its way with you. Meditate and get used to these thoughts- soon they wont bother you any more because you'll realize they are just lies.

    So, as I started getting active again, it was a blessing and a curse. It felt SO GOOD to fucking move again. Freedom! However, I would get pain. Pain during, pain after, and then freaking out. What I realized is that if I exercised super hard, it would jack up my nervous system yet again and it would be hard for me to calm down. I would get fearful thoughts and pain and the cycle would begin. Now that I know how to just breathe and calm down- that doesnt happen anymore. Or when it does, and pain mixed with ridiculous fear thoughts come up, I know it's just temporary. Fight or flight kicking in. Then I calm down and all is right with the world. Get moving!

    Lastly- SEND IT.
    If you haven't heard this term before, it should become your new mantra. We say it a lot at the pass when we're skiing. Scared to drop into that powder? Send it! Are the conditions a little too icy? SEND IT! And you send yourself and your snowboard down the hill.
    I started using this mentality in daily challenges and it was extremely helpful. I guess it just helped me be brave. It was something I could say to myself when I was afraid. Oh man, I want to play soccer but what if the pain comes back... SEND IT. Just fucking send it. Play and play hard - just remember to calm down those nerves afterwards. :)

    I'll leave you with this:
    Everything you want is on the other side of fear
    Fear is a liar, call it's bluff

    DONT GIVE UP! You are fine!! Just keep believing it.
    Whew that was long. Bye!

    Totally feel free to email me if you have any questions about this rant.
    Bex1111, Jak, Julie-Ellen and 31 others like this.
  2. beccaboo

    beccaboo New Member

    amazing thanks xxxx
  3. deborah24/7

    deborah24/7 New Member

    What a great story..... perfect thing for me to read this morning.... my one sneaky look at this site today... just wanted a little inspiration... so thanks... I was just thinking( realising) yesterday that I am like a drug addict in that I am addicted to thinking about my body/pain/sensations..... and when I catch myself NOT thinking about it and wandering elsewhere with my thoughts onto normal stuff I get so excited.... it's like I've forgotten what I used to think about before I got addicted!!!!!
    Really great story... so perfect for me you have no idea...... thanks and well done.........
    SSS, Jak and Julie-Ellen like this.
  4. kkcarlton

    kkcarlton Peer Supporter

    Josh, thank you for this. Just what I needed this morning. One question, what type of meditation did you do? Sounds like you just let thoughts come up?
  5. HattieNC

    HattieNC Well known member

    Thank you for taking the time to share your story! I'm about 75% healed, but the last 25% is a real beast. I find myself constantly monitoring my pain levels throughout the day. Partly, in gratitude because I've come so far and like to remind myself to be thankful...but also when the pain ramps up to a 6 or 7, I find it incredibly difficult to ignore. Guided mediation and visualization helps on desperate days when I want crawl in bed and pull the covers over my head instead of going to work. My current pain is mostly shoulder and scapula, so I recently started exercising with light weights to challenge any lingering belief that it's structural. I hope someday I will be able to post my success story on this forum too.
  6. SarahR

    SarahR New Member

    Thank you for your inspiring story!
  7. hiltje

    hiltje Newcomer

    What a good advice, thank You !
  8. Ines

    Ines Well known member

    So amazing! I’m really happy for you. Thanks for sharing.
  9. sasharose

    sasharose Newcomer

    It’s been a few years since this was posted so I don’t know if anyone will see this but wow!!! This post resonated so so much. I’m completely overwhelmed by panic and anxiety and am very much in need of a practice that allows me to be welcoming and at peace with the fear and how it shows up in my body. It’s not often I read a recovery story where the recoverer really struggled with anxiety even after finding out about tms. Not just before. This post has offered me more Hope than I have felt in a long time. I don’t know if the original poster, Josh, will ever see this but thank you. I would love to correspond a bit further if possible but can’t find where he posted his email. If you read this Josh, feel free to let me know what it is. I’d really appreciate it.
    Thanks again.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2022
    Julie-Ellen likes this.
  10. tb_player

    tb_player New Member

    Wow, wow, wow! After I read this and saw that date (3+ years ago), I figured it must be a pinned post. It's that good! Thank you so much for posting this, it resonated more than I can even say. I've been meditating recently and it really has opened my eyes to the crazy things my mind is doing on a regular basis. It's given me glimpses that all this pain and anxiety is really just a sham. It's all just manufactured by my mind in order to distract, scare, escape, etc. It's so fucked up when I actually stop to think about it. And what I really need to do, what I've known I need to do, is just go live my life. SEND IT as you would say. So, thanks so much for sharing your journey. You've given me a great deal of hope again.

    And thank you @sasharose for resurrecting this one! I never would have seen it otherwise.
    Julie-Ellen likes this.
  11. sasharose

    sasharose Newcomer

    You’re so welcome!!
  12. Sadiegirl

    Sadiegirl New Member

    SO SO SO helpful! Thank you!! I am relatively new to TMS acceptance, and struggle still with doubts and anxiety of the sort you describe so accurately. I feel less alone reading this, as it describes me to a "T' and I am as yet still afraid of the pain from vigorous exercise....
  13. Dixon

    Dixon Newcomer

    I recently stared these procedures and saw some relief now worse but know this is the path to recovery. Meditation is so damn hard. The pain is so intense when doing it but I see you said to keep at it. Congratulations
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  14. Bernardomelo

    Bernardomelo Newcomer

    Did u get better? What were your symtoms?
  15. Brad renfro

    Brad renfro Newcomer

    I just joined this website. Dr sarno is a savior.
    Josh, your post is very inspiring and informative.
    I will post more in the future but I still have some minor issues as I’ve overcame a lot so far, but I understand for me this will be a lifelong journey. Because this is life.
    I had/have some cfs issues and you are correct it is 100 percent in the mind not your body. I definitely can be overcome but you have to realize 100% it’s tms.
    Your doubt will keep you stuck. I know it is not easy but fact. Good luck to all.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  16. patrickj

    patrickj Well known member

    I relate to this story, thanks!
  17. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Great find, @patrickj and def worthy of being bumped again.
    Julie-Ellen and patrickj like this.
  18. David B

    David B Well known member

    This is a great find. As someone who discovered TMS many years ago and cured truly debilitating back pain, I now find myself someone with very difficult hip pain. I have pretty much everything I need to know it’s mind-body syndrome, from the personality, to family issues and changes, a very good physiatrist agreeing that my MRI says I have a few minor things several years after hip replacement but the hardware is in great shape, there’s no tissue pathology and nothing that’s really a big deal.

    This post is reminding me to just keep re-committing, admit to the fear about the pain, go to a TMS doc if I need to, dig deeper into the work without going overboard and be patient!

    Thank you Josh.
    patrickj and JanAtheCPA like this.
  19. DannyAndDana

    DannyAndDana New Member

    This was very interesting! So happy you’re better :)

Share This Page