Hi all, I realize it has been over a year since I found Dr. Sarno, TMS and these forums and that I never officially posted my success story! I know i’ve spoken to many of you about it but here it is, fleshed out. Hopefully a little inspiration for those still struggling…though you are never “cured” of TMS since it’s part of the human condition of having an emotional brain, I consider myself fully “in remission” and am pain-free. Happy Valentines Day all! I think the first time I ever had back pain was when I was 16, after a particularly difficult dance class, I woke up with my back spasmed out. I didn’t think too much of it, and it took a couple weeks to go away. Periodically my back seemed to spasm out again in the same way- maybe once a year or every other year or so lasting a couple of weeks, but it never really turned into chronic pain until 2016. Throughout PT grad school I always wondered what was going on with my periodically painful back but never had much of an explanation…maybe it was hypermobile, or hypomobile, or I had mild scoliosis, or bad posture, a weak core, or a million other things. It never really seemed clear to me! In spring of 2016 I had recently moved back to the city I grew up in, and my husband and I were new homeowners. Work had been stressful for me, with a difficult boss and other issues. I was still getting used to being back in this city and having left the one I lived in for the past 6 years. My husband had recently had some issues with work too and been a bit depressed, and we weren’t feeling settled. One day lifting weights in the gym, I felt something “pop” and my back spasmed out again, this time it felt a little worse than all the preceding instances. I didn’t worry too much the first time but being several years into my career and prone to overthink things, I began to worry what was going on and if something bad had happened this time…and thus the TMS began! After a couple weeks the pain didn’t seem to be improving, and this time I had the dreaded “sciatica” that I noticed creeping up! It seemed to move all over my legs, and I felt the panic setting in. All the “worst case” scenarios came to my PT brain and I started to really go down the anxiety wormhole. I scheduled an appointment with a neurologist to get an MRI…and you know how the rest goes. Confirmed I had 2 herniated discs in my lumbar spine, a compressed nerve root etc. I was convinced i’d be sentenced to a life time of back pain and sciatica, thanks to my PT education. Thankfully surgery or other intervention was not recommended, and I did some PT, which of course only helped marginally. This had been going on over 6 months and my pain was pretty status quo, not necessarily debilitating but enough to make work really painful depending on what kind of patients I was working with and enough to keep my anxiety pretty high. I tried seeing a therapist to work on the anxiety around the back pain but of course that wasn’t so helpful either since I was thoroughly convinced my body was broken and would never be the same. A little after Thanksgiving 2016 I was really having a difficult time with work and trying to accept this new chronic pain reality, when my back took another turn for the worse and spasmed out again. It was so bad this time that I couldn’t go to work and had to take a leave of absence. I felt terrible…between the pain and shame of not being able to do my job, I really started to sink. Some other things came up that were turning into chronic pain too- neck and shoulder pain and arm tingling, amongst other things. (I now recognize all of these as TMS shifting around!) I’m not sure why I thought to look at this, but a year or two ago I had done a self-study mindfulness meditation course and I was looking over the readings for it again one day during my leave of absence from work. One of the readings mentioned John Sarno and the idea of the mind causing chronic pain. It was mentioned fairly offhand but it stuck in my mind and I couldn’t get it out! I did a Google search for Sarno and of course, the rest is history. I came across Thank You Doctor Sarno and immediately began reading the stories. They were amazing! I couldn’t believe people had been cured from simply reading his books, had awful looking imaging but were able to live normal lives pain free. This completely blew my mind. I devoured all 3 Sarno books and found these forums soon after. The books really spoke to me and my pain immediately starting decreasing as I began embracing the ideas. It took a couple of months on these forums doing the SEP and lots of reading to strengthen my TMS beliefs, but the bottom line is that I really found the ideas very logical and compatible with how I understand the mind and body to work. The journaling helped immensely as well, but I think fully internalizing the belief of TMS was what really cured me. I think that changing the way I view myself and my body were what healed me, as well as having a healthier practice of being mindful of emotions. The practice of self-compassion has also been so important for my naturally “type T” personality that all of us with TMS tend towards. I read all the TMS books I could find, have now taken Howard Schubiner and Alan Gordon’s course in person, and am always trying to keep up with new research that comes out and new ideas for treatment when I can use them. The way I practice PT has changed profoundly, as well as the fundamental way that I view people, their minds and bodies. It was a transformative experience to realize on a deep level that our bodies are not broken, and that minds and emotions have such power over our bodies in a way that most people don’t understand. I feel that I cannot practice just as a PT forever, and would very much like to go back to school to be a psychotherapist one day. Many of my patients are honestly more in need of mental health services than PT, if you ask me! It’s my dream to practice both PT and psychotherapy at some point, and do more explicit TMS work (rather than occasionally work in the concepts, as I try to now). I hope my story is helpful to some of you still struggling. The TMS journey is different for everyone for so many reasons, remember to be kind to yourself, tell yourself how strong your body really is, and be curious and accepting of any difficult emotions that come up during your healing process. It’s not an easy journey, but no question a worthwhile one!