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Derek S. Going through hell

Discussion in 'Ask a TMS Therapist' started by Guest, Aug 29, 2014.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    This question was submitted via our Ask a TMS Therapist program. To submit your question, click here.

    Hello, I am going through Hell. I am 44 years old and I am living like an old man waiting to die. I am obsessed with the idea that various things I like to eat are going to harm me, although my diet is probably healthier than it has ever been. I do have chronic pain, especially in a shoulder where I suffered a workplace injury (and, ironically, one week ago, I injured my other shoulder, also in a workplace accident). I am a musician, but I barely play anymore because of pains in my hands and wrists - as well as the fear that playing an instrument might initiate said pain. I can barely clean my apartment. My most recent health obsession concerns a horrible cough that started a week and a half ago. I was 1st diagnosed with a virus; then with allergies, and advised to take Claritin; and then with an infection and put on antibiotics, which I just finished today. The cough has finally - today - subsided somewhat. I am a singer, and I was so concerned the cough had damaged my voice I went to a new ENT today, who endoscoped my nasal/throat passages and told me he didn't see anything. Awhile after I left his office, however, I started developing a horrible post-nasal drip , about which I worried - is it an infection? is it the cup of soda I drank after I got back to work? - until he finally returned my call and told me this was normal, due to the tube down my nose/throat and the anesthetic wearing off, or something like that. The point is, I HAD to talk to him, or I would have spent the entire Labor Day weekend stressed out over what this was. (It's largely gone now, though not entirely). There's more, but I hope this will do - I need help. Please help me to find it. Thank you, Tom
  2. Derek Sapico MFT

    Derek Sapico MFT TMS Therapist

    Hi Tom,

    I'm so sorry to hear how difficult things have been for you of late. It sounds like you have really been drowning in fear lately and I want you to know that you can absolutely change this thought process which, in turn, will help you to break the cycle of pain.

    The description of your thought process and the accompanying level of preoccupation sounds like classic TMS-driven fear addiction. This type of fearful thinking and disempowerment is precisely the thing that keeps you in pain.

    I want you to make a decision to not indulge in the fear.

    I want you to empower yourself and work toward believing in the FACT that you can change both the fear AND the symptoms.

    Every time you feel a sensation in your body that is either painful or causes you discomfort, utilize this as an opportunity to create a new neural pathway.

    Every time you have a catastrophic thought, work on empowering yourself and telling your unconscious mind that you are not going to live the rest of your life in fear.

    Your brain is stuck using the same well-worn superhighway of pain and fear. Every time you stand up to the catastrophic thought or refuse to react negatively to a symptom, you are metaphorically taking out a machete and hacking a new road through the jungle. If you continue to do this, over and over with persistence, eventually the old superhighway will become overgrown and you will be cruising down a freshly paved (and pain free) road. Preferably with the top down.

    Patience, repetition, and empowerment: These are the ingredients for TMS success.

    Work toward overcoming the need to externalize your sense of safety and wellness. No doctor can truly create safety for you. There are no magic words that will make everything click, regardless of how prestigious or esteemed the person speaking might be.

    A true and lasting sense of safety can only come from you, so start giving yourself some credit. If you continue to chase all of these rabbits down their rabbit holes, you will be running forever. Watch the fearful thoughts fly by and make the decision to not chase them because you know that it is destructive. When the symptoms are there, call them out as the deceivers that they are.

    "I know what you are."

    "I know why you are here."

    "I don't have to play in your reindeer games because I believe in my capacity to get well."

    TMS is the neighborhood bully that kicks your ass and steals your chain every day when you're walking home from school. Like most bullies, its power comes from fear and intimidation; nothing more. If you get fed up and fight back one day and you break the bully's nose, he can still talk, but his words will be empty. Sure, he will still follow you home for a while, but he will be walking on the opposite side of the street hurling his pathetic insults at you. If you continue to show a genuine indifference, he will eventually leave you alone because you are no longer giving him the reaction that he wants. You will start exuding a swagger and confidence that you never thought possible and the bully will no longer be an issue. His power is a mirage and he cannot hurt you if you are empowered and believe in yourself.

    Don't be seduced by the problem-solving mentality. It will keep you paralyzed and your TMS brain will never fail to produce symptoms that compel you to schedule an MRI, obsess about what medications may or may not help, schedule a doctor's appointment, etc.

    The answer lies within you. Trust in your strength, resilience, and capacity to change.

    Best of luck to you Tom!


    Any advice or information provided here does not and is not intended to be and should not be taken to constitute specific professional or psychological advice given to any group or individual. This general advice is provided with the guidance that any person who believes that they may be suffering from any medical, psychological, or mindbody condition should seek professional advice from a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions. No general advice provided here should be taken to replace or in any way contradict advice provided by a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions.

    The general advice and information provided in this format is for informational purposes only and cannot serve as a way to screen for, identify, or diagnose depression, anxiety, or other psychological conditions. If you feel you may be suffering from any of these conditions please contact a licensed mental health practitioner for an in-person consultation.

    Questions may be edited for brevity and/or readability.

    Kira, giantsfan, jazzrascal and 7 others like this.
  3. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Tom, one Tom to another Tom, sorry to hear about what appears to be the TMS imperative at work, one symptom after another. I'm just curious how you injure your shoulders playing guitar and singing, unless you jump into a mosh pit, are slam danced or fall off a stage like Lady Gaga?

    North Star and Tomasso like this.
  4. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Tom. Derek's advice is the best. It isn't easy, but do whatever you can to stop worrying and thinking the worst.
    That just perpetuates itself. Follow Derek's suggestions and see how you feel better. You can and will get well again,
    if you BELIEVE you will.
  5. Gigi

    Gigi Well known member

    You may want to try reading Dr. John Sarno's Book Healing Back Pain. Sarno is the ultimate TMS guru. I read the book many years ago and "saw myself" on almost every page. It's what first convinced me that I had TMS. Fear is a huge component of TMS. I can feel your pain. Many of us have been there.
    One step at a time, my friend. There is a way to recover--and we're here to help.
    Blessings on your journey.
    North Star, Tomasso and Tennis Tom like this.
  6. ash86

    ash86 Peer Supporter

    Hi Tom! I am sorry you are going through such a difficult time. But there is certainly hope for you! I had major health anxiety, and at times it can still catch up with me, but I found reading "The Worry Cure" by Robert Leahy to be very helpful. The book actually talks about how when we are worrying about our health, part of us actually thinks we are doing something productive and keeping ourselves out of harm. We think that if we catch an illness early enough, we can control our situation. The reality is, its just another distraction from our repressed emotions.

    I do think there is something to be said about the fact that you experienced pain in your hands and wrists, making it difficult to play instruments. Then you had ENT symptoms, making it difficult to sing. I would look a little further and see if you have any emotions about performing/singing that is causing your problems.

    Hoping for healing! :)
    Tomasso, tarala and Tennis Tom like this.
  7. Tomasso

    Tomasso Newcomer

    Hi, Derek,
    I just read this. Thank you so much for your response. It's exactly what I needed to hear/read. I've been talking with another TMS therapist who gave me some very useful suggestions, and they were working pretty well until today, when everything kind of went to Hell again, due to the "symptom imperative" replacing muscular pain with IBS/gastrointestinal symptoms. But we had a brief talk again, and he got me back on the right track - the same track you recommended.

    It's hard, when you're used to letting your fear reduce you to a scared kid, to talk back to it, but I guess that's what I have to do.

    Thank you again.


  8. Tomasso

    Tomasso Newcomer

    Thank you, Gigi, for this lovely reply. It brought tears to my eyes.

    I have all 3 of Sarno's books, and now I also have this wiki and those who've been through this beast.

    Thanks again,


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