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Gone through all the steps - but still stuck

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by keep on livin, Aug 31, 2012.

  1. keep on livin

    keep on livin New Member

    Hi Everbody,

    I'm new to the forum. I'm having some problems with the TMS approach and wonder if anyone else out there has run into the same problems.
    I have quite a few chronic "physical" ailments. My main concern at the moment is an RSI like syndrome in my wrists. I've had issues for twelve years with one of my wrists and six months ago the other wrist acted up. It's gotten so bad, that I'm no longer able to work and am on disability.

    For years I have known these issues are psychosomatic. I've been to many specialists (hand, ortho, rheumatologist, neurologist,vascular surgeon, acupuncture, chinese medicine...) and undergone every imaginable test, and they have never found anything physically wrong. So I have no doubt in my mind about the TMS diagnosis. I've also been (and am currently) going to psychotherapy for many years. Recently I began seeing a second psychotherapist who specializes in mindbody medicine.​
    I meditate on a daily basis, and regularly journal.
    I'm well aware of what psychological issues/traumas I've had in the past. I repressed feelings in the past (twenty plus years ago), but not anymore. I've dealt with the issues from my youth, but my body doesn't seem to change along with my conscious mind. Consciously I have don't have any conflicts and the only fear/frustrations I consciously have are about my "physical" problems.

    What typically happens is this -

    I "overuse" a part of my body, then I develop a chronic pain/issue there, and have a VERY difficult time getting rid of it.

    Part of me identifies with the classic TMS personality, but it doesn't really fit me to a tee. I'm not a perfectionist or over-achiever. I did have some goodism in my youth, but again this was twenty plus years ago.

    Also, though I have some pains, the aspect that is most debilitating w/regards to my wrists is a weakness/paralysis that develops when I use my hands.

    Also, I don't have random flare ups where I can stop and think about why my hands/wrists have begun to get weak/painful. It's always there, 24-7. The symptoms get worse after activity, get just a little better (but never come close to fully healing) with rest.

    Here's a list of some of the books I've read on the topic -
    Sarno - Mindbody Prescription & Divided Mind
    Schubiner - Unlearn Your Pain
    Brady - Pain Free For Life
    Fehmi - The Open Focus Brain
    Kabat-Zinn - Wherever You Go There You Are​

    So I have two questions -

    1. Has anyone else gone through all the steps but not seen any improvement / gotten stuck, but then found a breakthrough? If so, what was the breakthrough?

    2. Does anyone out there have an issue that has to do with weakness/paralysis and cold hands/feet (rather than pain)? If so, how do/did you deal with it?

    I really don't know what else to do. If anyone has any suggestions it would be greatly appreciated.

    P.S. I recently had a breakthrough for about 8 or 9 days where my hands felt strong and warm, but it seems to have worn off.​
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Keep On, and welcome to the wiki & forum.

    You've got a tough situation, and I sympathize. I can't help you with your symptoms, but one thing you said really struck me:
    I kinda hate to tell you this, but repressing emotions is part of the human condition. It's what our brains evolved to do - probably to keep us alert for the sabre-tooth tiger or whatever (notice my tagline). We ALL repress emotions, all of the time. I really don't think I'm wrong about that.

    I'm going to take a leap here, and challenge you to take a good close look at everything you said in that particular paragraph, and question each one as to its reality. Your statement that you've dealt with all of your past issues sounds too good to be true. Call me cynical, but I don't believe that this is possible. Our psyches are too fragile, and we never really get over our childish reactions to the little hurts and fears we all experience, even if we've "dealt with" the big traumas (which many of us don't even have, but we're still messed up!)

    It's simply not possible, in today's world, that you "don't have any conflicts". You did use the word "conscious" which is good, because it's the unconscious that causes TMS symptoms! New stresses, big or small, trigger old hidden emotions, all the time. All we can do is learn to recognize when this is happening, and discover ways to put a stop to the cycle starting up again.

    There have been some great posts recently from some of our practitioner members and an author. If you click on the Search box (upper right) and enter any of these names in the "Posted by Member" box, you'll find some good discussions, some of which might resonate with you:
    Steve Ozanich
    Derek Sapico (specifically about lack of progress)
    Alan Gordon
    Peter Zafirides

    Maybe someone else will post with some more specific advice - but you already know it's TMS, and you did have more than a week of relief, so you know it can happen!

    Good luck, keep posting, tell us how it's going,

    Terry and Forest like this.
  3. keep on livin

    keep on livin New Member

    Hi Jan,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond to my post. I liked some of the links. Seeing other people's stories is encouraging.

    W/regards to my previous post in which I said I currently didn't have any conflicts and that I had dealt with issues from my past -

    Of course I have some current conflicts/stresses, but they are minimal. Overall, I'm consciously happy w/my life (outside of the TMS symptoms).
    And of course I still feel some hurt from the past, but the events/feelings do not seem to match the level of intensity of these TMS symptoms.

    My TMS symptoms are so severe I'm on disability from work. There is nothing in my past/present that would seem to merit this kind of response from my unconscious mind.

    Has anyone ever noticed a correlation between specific emotions and specific physical symptoms (e.g. anger/pain, fear/weakness, guilt/____, etc.)?
    Seems a little too convenient, but just wondering.

    ****Again, if anybody has any ways of dealing w/weakness of the hands, that would be appreciated. I can tune pain out mentally or with pain killers, but when weakness/paralysis sets in, it's very difficult to continue with an activity. ****

    For me the pain is secondary. The weakness/paralysis and cold hands are what are the most debilitating.

    I don't mean to be a downer and I really am grateful that this forum exists. It's a very supportive community.

    I'm sure I'll get through this. I just have to keep at it.

  4. quasar731

    quasar731 Well known member

    Hi Keep on livin, good to meet you but sad to see your physical distress, not to mention the psycho-emotional effects of being in pain. I deeply empathize with you and at this point I will ask you to love yourself even when you feel so uncomfortable. And you will be surprised how many people find this "love yourself' rather 'strange'. So the next question is to ask, how do I love myself? Steve Ozanich, Peter Zafiridis have written plenty on it. But to start you on the journey of love, when you are in pain, pamper yourself. Talk to yourself and tell your body to talk to you and show you why is it aching. This works for me but I am not implying that it will work for you. I also talk to my husband going over the day in trying to figure out if there was an event, thoughts or something else that aroused my emotions. You bet, after a while you become very aware of what does it.

    And, you are in the right forum because all of us, without exception (I dare to say) at different stages in our TMS sojourn go two steps forward and one back. At the beginning, after having read and journaling (some of us profusely), we get glimpses (as you did) of the promise of having a clean bill of health when it comes to pain symptoms. I quoted above an abridged form of your own quote and I encourage you to print it in BIG letters and put it on a place where it can be visible. Then, read it and read it. Chew and digest intellectually that you can have 'strong and warm hands'. Your mind already showed you a glimpse of that promise. This is something to celebrate!!! Forest has a similar TMS experience to yours, read his story and by all means, contact him.

    Provided that you had a good medical check up and came out from the Dr as bamboozled as you went in (because the aetiology of your condition does not fit a proper diagnosis), then you can start looking closely at the hidden offender, TMS. As I read in your first message above, medicine can't find what is wrong with you. This is not bad at all, this is the beginning of getting well. BUT, it took you a heck of a long time to hit the point of physical distress, and sometimes it takes long too to hit the point of reversal of that distress. So, HANG IN THERE and 'keep on livin' as if you are being healed (present continuous).

    I know that at the beginning is tough but all of us without exception have that in common, the pain and the process of getting rid of the pain. However, in medicine there is term called idiosyncratic response. This quirky line means that not matter what we all do, even when we undergo similar processes, we all respond differently and at different rates too. Also it depends of how and when we perceive pain. The plot thickens when we try to find out what did it, it is like octopus ink thrown at you. It is all part of the amazing mind that we have not just inside the skull but as Dr Candece Pert says, all over our body. We are walking receptors, we receive and we communicate energy. We are electrical being of light, and this is not new age concept. This is neurobiology and quantum mechanics.

    Dr David D Clarke wrote a terrific book that you can find in Amazon in various formats, audio-book, e-read or hard copy. The name is:' They can't find anything wrong: 7 keys to understanding treating, and healing stress illness'. I read this book after I read all of Sarno's, Shubinner's, Monte Hueftle, the Master practice. I found David D Clarke's book so close to home, he tells you of so many examples of people whose stresses caused manic havoc in their bodies and how they healed. Armed with all the information I did the TMS program on this website. And then like you I would keep posting about the way I was feeling, my progress and my regressions. And today, I can say that a debilitating pain in my low back that I suffered for 24 months has disappeared.

    Jan has answered your questions pretty comprehensibly. I also agree with Jan's comment that we never quite work completely out our issues. It is amazing how issues that we thought we resolved in the past can return with a might. So so not be alarmed but be aware that TMS will strike until we have gained mastery of the mind in the way a TMS practitioner does.

    Let me give you an example of how I caught TMS on my shoulders and necks the other day. I was talking to a family member who happened to remind me of my mother whom with great sadness I had to stop communicating. I first got angry that this situation should be mentioned (this was irrational because my relative did not mean harm to me at all). But...because I feel disappointing and uncomfortable that I had to take such a decision to survive emotionally speaking, I basically, without realizing attacked myself with guilt. I was doing really well, four hours later the pain in my neck was hideous. I went over my day and there it was, clear as the sky, my interaction with my relative, which was friendly, loving and peaceful was translated in my inner self as a mini battle against the self. My mother did not even figured in it. So, having detected the issue, I did some self talk, some self love, some self releasing through breathing and meditation and finally I talked to my best friend (my hubby) about my experience. Confession is cathartic.

    I think I wrote too much so it is time to say Shalom to you. Look after yourself with the love that only a person that has one go at this life and one body would love.
    JanAtheCPA and Forest like this.
  5. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hey Keep on livin,

    My symptoms weren't exactly like yours, but were really similar. The pain in my wrists started out at tendonitis and overuse, but got worse over time. I was diagnosed with several different conditions over the course of my 18 years of pain including RSI, Fibromyalgia, and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. I did have tingleness and numbness in my hands and fingers as well.

    Through the entire 18+ years I had chronic pain I learned one thing - TMS will create any symptom that you will believe is a biological/structural problem. You can take away the power and fear these symptoms have over you, by understanding that they are just TMS and are caused by psychological issues.

    It is great to hear that you have already explored your past and childhood and processed a lot of those repressed emotions. But I never felt that recovering from TMS is about psychoarcheology. Instead I have always thought the reason you explore your past is to understand how it influences your present reactions to events and issues. Having this understanding will help you identify those times when you are repressing and allow you to process your emotions like how Quasar did. As Jan mentioned, everyone represses emotions every day. Recovering is just a matter of understanding that this is going on and knowing how/why we do it. From there the key is to gain Outcome Independence - which Alan Gordon explains in this thread.

    If you keep doing the work and remain commited to the approach you will make progress. This approach works. I had all sorts of symptoms for 18 years, and am now 100% pain free. We may have slightly different symptoms, but it doesn't really matter since it is all TMS anyways. If I can recover, so can you.
  6. Beach-Girl

    Beach-Girl Well known member

    Welcome Irvin:

    I can relate to your frustration. I have lower back pain that has me on disability too. Your laundry list of things you've tried - pretty much match mine. AND I literally have cold feet at night. Even though I'm in decent shape, I can't figure out (nor have I heard of anyone else) who has had this. When your hands are cold and numb, have you tried simply rubbing them until they warm up? Since TSM is basically oxygen deprivation, I'd venture to guess that you are having this annoying symptom because your hands are the place where you are experiencing TMS. So perhaps try and warm them and see if that helps.

    Another thing I'll point out is that I also did the Structured Educational Program here on the wiki, as well as Dr. Schubiner's. I did them last winter and since then MANY things have come to the surface that I had forgotten about (conveniently) and they aren't small issues. Continuing to journal can help with uncovering these buried issues. Although Forest has a different approach, for me, I know that I must continue to uncover and bring these issues to the forefront and deal with them.

    If I stay with some form of the program (and typically what works for one person may not work for another) I get better. But this past summer I had no time and didn't do much. I found myself unable to stand straight last week. It was due to suppressed anger at a long time friend. I've moved far enough down the TMS path to realize that some of my reactions are making me worse.

    I've seen the same therapist for 10 years. She is amazing and we're starting a new assignment to get me more in touch with past situations that I've accepted as OK - but were not OK at all.

    It's easy because we are impatient, but don't get frustrated. Many have said that TMS is a gift. The journey back to health is all about getting to know ourselves and learning to love ourselves.

    Walking beside you

  7. keep on livin

    keep on livin New Member

    Hi Everyone,

    Thanks so much for taking the time respond to my post. Also, a big thank you for opening up and sharing your personal stories, advice and encouragement with me.

    FOREST - I feel like I have fallen into a "psychoarcheology" phase - with the different therapists and journaling - i've gone over my past and present ad nauseum. I'm writing about seemingly petty incidents from decades ago...Sometimes it feels like all the digging can lead someone into becoming bitter and holding grudges.

    I'm pretty aware of what's happened/is happening and try to connect it those feelings/events to the TMS symptoms, but it doesn't seem to have much of an effect.

    Here's a very light example from my past - I used to have trouble falling asleep the night before the first day of school or a new job. Consciously I wasn't nervous about starting another semester/job, but intellectually I noticed this pattern and knew why I had trouble falling asleep - the timing of the insomnia was obvious. So, even though I knew what was triggering my insomnia (TMS), it didn't help me fall asleep. When the next semester/job would come, the same thing would happen.

    So it seems to be with this greater issue of TMS - I've uncovered events/feelings, but the knowledge of why and what the triggers are doesn't seem to prevent the TMS symptoms.

    I didn't have any conscious breakthrough before my recent symptom free period (8 or 9 days). So it seems like the healing is also happening on a totally unconscious level! I just decided I had had enough of the TMS and pushed myself physically. Then it wore off, and now I'm kind of back to where I was.

    Someone is steering the ship, but it's not me!

    QUASAR - thank you for the book recommendation - the title could be the story of my life...

    BEACH GIRL - yes, I've tried rubbing my hands together/soaking them in hot water/ wearing fingerless gloves. Nothing seems to work for a very long time. But Sarno's hypothesis that it's oxygen deprivation (with mine not being so acute, but more regional) makes total sense.

    I've asked my doctor to allow me to return to work part-time starting next week. As a way of pushing forward and not being controlled by TMS.

    We'll see...

    Thanks again everyone for your help.
  8. dabatross

    dabatross Well known member

    8 or 9 days of symptom free is awesome i wish i had that going on. my longest was 2 days i think. yeah ive read a lot about psychoarcheology on here lately and i agree. going over your past again and again looking for that one magical thing that you missed which will get rid of your pain is futile. i tried the same thing that there isn't one thing that is causing the pain. however like other people have said past events do influence the way you do things in the present so thats what you want to look at (and what im trying to look at). recently i went to two therapists trying to search for a clue as to why im having pain (looking at past issues as the cause) but i dont think thats the reason. i think the reason has to deal with how i handle stuff now because of things that happened to me in the past.

    the outcome independence idea makes complete sense to me. if you dont care whether your pain is there or not, it will go away on its own. simple as that. if you dont care you dont fear the pain which in turn eventually makes it dissapear. this leads back to the main things i think cause TMS which are fear, attention, and anxiety. monitoring the pain, being scared of it, and heightened levels of anxiety all make the pain continue. outcome independence is obviously very difficult to get to but i did it once in the past with some arm pain i had. when i stopped giving a damn whether i had it or not it eventually dissapeared and i didn't even know it. i fully believe its the attention and anxiety you give the pain that keeps it around... the biggest problem is not paying attention to it because when you're in pain it consumes all of your attention really easily.

    Forest, I was reading a book on health anxiety and CBT exposure therapy is very similar to what people can do with TMS to rid themselves of pain. exposing yourself to the thing you fear eventually gets rid of the anxiety associated with it.. you dont fear it anymore and the pain goes away. i remember reading about steve-o and how he just sat through the pain or ran through it no matter what. he essentially "exposed" himself to that fear of activity and eventually overcome it. so it looks like exposure therapy is a good way for people to overcome TMS since its all about overcome fear of hurting yourself or that you have a physical symptom. i went to a CBT therapist months ago and she tried exposure therapy on me but she did it all wrong in my opinion. her idea of exposure was this: "Think about having terrible pain for the rest of the your life and theres nothing you can do about it. now sit with that thought until the anxiety starts to fade". what the hell was she thinking. the correct thing would have been more along the lines of "try running a little bit today to try and overcome your fear of foot pain". who would want to sit and think something like that

    when i was journaling i found myself going over events that i had been over in the past already and almost trying to make myself angry or something to express the emotions that weren't there. this also happened when i saw a psychotherapist last december. she tried to make me feel emotions towards my ma that weren't there and it felt really awkward and fake. she had me beating a pillow and talking to a pillow about how my mom wasn't there for me when i was going through this no talking phase i had. i didn't feel angry towards her about that anymore but the therapist was trying to make me feel that way so i stopped seeing her.
  9. Good Vibrations

    Good Vibrations New Member

    Hi Keep On,

    I am new to the forum (just signed up), but not new to TMS. I have had it for 5 years; although I have only known for sure that I have it for 1 year. I signed up in order to respond to your question regarding weakness/paralysis symptoms. My symptoms are weakness on the left side of my body. I don't have any pain, tingling or numbness, thank goodness, but the more I use my arms and legs, e.g., walking or typing, the weaker my arm and leg get. When I rest, they get better. I can't walk for more than a mile and sometimes just a mile is difficult. I have had to use a cane for years when I have to walk farther. My job requires me to be on a computer all the time. I am a good typist, but with my TMS I get to where I can't type with my left hand at all and have to either stop typing and do something else or hack it out with my right hand.

    I wish I had some tips for you, but I don't. I have not figured out a solution to the hemi-paresis problem. There are many things that I just can't do. E.g., my husband and I were on a vacation recently and were walking a long a waterfall and I went as far as I could go and still have the strength to get back (with my cane), so I sat and waited while my husband completed the walk and took pictures to show me. With typing, I stop and do something else for a while. With both walking and typing, if I stop and start such that I take little rests, then I can go a lot longer. That is my only tip. Take little rests as often as possible and avoid continuously using your hands as much as you can. E.g., answer an email, then stop and read some emails, and then answer another one. It won't eliminate the problem, but it should mitigate it a bit.

    My symptoms have been continous. Congratulations on having 8 or 9 days without symptoms. It must have felt like you had a new body. I hope you achieve that again. I, like you, feel like I have done everything that there is to do, but nothing has helped yet. I am hoping that I don't have to live the rest of my life this way, but there are plenty of people who live with worse than I have, so I know that I can do it if I have to.

    Good luck,
  10. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Good Vibrations,

    I know how frustrating it can be to try a whole bunch of different techniques, and have none of them working. One thing that I noticed was when I tried to take breaks and mitigate my symptoms, they only got worse. When you are first starting out recovering from TMS, you may want to take things slow at first which is okay. Everyone is different, and sometimes you need to build up your confidence in yourself and TMS first.

    The biggest thing to remember is that if you do something to alleviate your symptoms or relieve your pain you are actually prolonging it. You are actually sending a message to your brain that your have a physical problem and are feeding the pain cycle. One of the best things I ever did was to push through my pain and to ignore my symptoms as best as I could. The more I did this, the more confidence I gained in myself and in this approach.

    Check out the Outcome Independence thread i linked to before. When you stop caring about the symptoms, you being to reduce the control they have over you.
  11. Good Vibrations

    Good Vibrations New Member

    Hi Forest,

    Thank you for your reply. The reason I replied to Keep On Livin's email about weakness is because as he/she says it is different than dealing with pain. I had low back pain for decades which I eventually learned was TMS and nearly completely resolved it as of a few years ago. You can push through pain knowing that it is not real, but weakness is different. E.g., in my case, I physically cannot lift my left leg more than 3 - 4", which makes going up stairs and many other things very difficult. The more I walk, the weaker my leg gets until I cannot lift it at all even using a cane. Going up the slightest incline or walking over gravel or anything that is not completely flat is next to impossible. I thought that I could just power through this and do mind over matter since it is psychological and not physical, but I can't. I simply cannot lift my leg and cannot walk. The same is true for typing. I get to where my left hand no longer has the strength to push the keys and I can't fake it. So in the case of weakness, you have to change your life style. I went on a walk one time and decided that I could make it 2 miles and ended up having to call my husband to come pick me up. I got to where I could not tke another step. Therefore, I have to know my limits and not put myself in a situation where I have walked somewhere that I can't be picked up in a car and don't have the strength to get back. As I said, doing activity (walking or typing) in spurts rather than continuous mitigates the weakness somewhat so it is an approach that I wanted to offer Keep On Livin. Most TMS is pain, but for those of us who have weakness/paralysis it is functionally a very different situation and we have to cope with it differently.

  12. quert

    quert Guest

    I understand that if you have weakness or paralysis you may have to go about being physically active slightly different than if someone had pain, but you still need to find a way to gain confidence in yourself. When you tell yourself that you cannot walk a certain distance or type on a keyboard you are conditioning yourself to have those symptoms you fear. Yes, some people may have more intense symptoms that makes walking harder, but in time you can get there. I remember watching the 20/20 segment where Janette Barber had to roll around in an electric wheelchair because of her pain. After she learned about TMS and did the work her symptoms went away and she become able to walk long distances. There are a lot of people who were able to overcome debilitating symptoms and fully recover. Perhaps you can try being active in increasingly longer spurts. This may help you push yourself phyisically, while still being active at a level you are comfortable with.

    The thought that you can't do something or walk a certain distance is the TMS distraction at work. Instead of thinking psychologically and focusing on your emotions, you are worrying about your symptoms, which is exactly what your unconscious wants you to do. The goal of this approach is to move past worrying about what you can or can't do because of your symptoms, and reach a point where you just don't care about them any more. Part of this requires learning about TMS and yourself. This is why knowledge is such an important part of TMS. The more knowledge you obtain, the more confidence you will develop and the less you will fear and worry about your symptoms.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  13. keep on livin

    keep on livin New Member

    Hi Everybody,

    Well, I'm sorry to say after all this time nothing has changed. I'm about ready to give up both on the TMS approach and the physical approach. I'm sure it's TMS, but as I mentioned in a previous post, knowing hasn't been the penicillin. I've read the books, journaled, focused on my emotions, gone to different therapists (with one specializing in TMS), let it sit for awhile, and of course ruled out anything physical by seeing god knows how many specialists. I'm out of ideas.

    If anyone has any suggestions outside of all the traditional responses I'd really, really appreciate it.
    Or if anyone else has run into the same problems I have and just given up, I'd like to hear about that too. Sometimes I think those who've pursued the TMS route without success are underrepresented in the forums.

  14. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Keep on Living,

    Sorry to hear you aren't getting any relief. I'm assuming you've kept using the techniques during all this time--the meditation, etc? I'm not sure what you consider traditional responses, but in reviewing the posts above, I didn't see any mention of conditioning and sensitized nerve pathways. These concepts have helped me get through a phase in which I felt stuck. I was having flare ups and couldn't identify any psychological issues through journaling, etc. I realized they were happening during changes in the barometric pressure, and that my pain response was due to a combination of conditioning and very sensitized nerve pathways, not emotional repression at the current time. Sarno doesn't talk about this much, but Dr. Schubiner goes into more in Unlearn Your Pain. Since understanding this, I've been able to make progress.

    I understand that your situation is different, but perhaps there is something new for you to explore in looking at conditioning and sensitized nerve pathways, as it seems you have explored the psychological issues thoroughly.

    Best wishes....
    Msunn likes this.
  15. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

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