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Heal Your Headache Diet and TMS

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by dez_sin, Aug 3, 2022.

  1. dez_sin

    dez_sin Newcomer

    Hi all, first post.

    I'm a chronic headache sufferer of about 4 years. 24/7, nonstop. The pain isn't unbearable, it's just incredibly annoying and makes it difficult to concentrate. I reached the dead end of conventional treatment earlier this year and was about to give up when I learned about Dr. Sarno and his books. After reading them, I became convinced I was suffering from TMS. (I also have a few other symptoms like plantar fisciitis, weak stomach, too frequent urination and sometimes overwhelming fatigue.) But the headaches are by far the most serious.

    I decided to supplement my recovery with a therapist and found one online that claimed to specialize in migraine and TMS treatment. I figured she was perfect. I expected to immediately dive right in with matters of suppressed anger, perfectionism, self-loathing and all the other usual suspects of TMS. But the therapist surprised me by insisting I follow a strict migraine diet. (For those that don't know, these diets are very strict indeed. Hugely limiting.) She also insisted I start taking nortriptyline for the headaches as well. A high dose.

    When I explained to her that I already tried both these things, she assured me it was because I didn't try them together for an extended period of time. When I asked how she knew I wasn't simply suffering from TMS, she gave a nondescript answer that I can't even remember and assured me this was the only way to treat my condition. I was crestfallen because I felt so determined to leave conventional treatment behind. I saw her for a few weeks then decided to discontinue our appointments. We just didn't have good chemistry talking together.

    I continued her advice afterward however, and even started seeing a chiropractor who diagnosed me with tension headaches. I fell back hard into the pattern of thinking physically. But a few weeks ago, I decided to attack journaling in a way I never have before. For an hour or two a day, I wrote about every suggested topic I could find on TMS websites. And within a couple weeks, I felt 70% better. It was amazing. I felt like I was getting my life back. I finally decided to stop the diet and medication as well as discontinue seeing the chiropractor. I felt like I had enough. I wanted to wholeheartedly embrace TMS.

    Unfortunately, I suffered a personal tragedy at exactly this time and had a relapse with my pain. (Like within a day of stopping the meds and diet. Talk about bad timing.) Then that old voice in my head started creeping back up, saying "maybe its both. Maybe you need to supplement TMS therapy with the diet and meds." So now I feel like I'm at a crossroads.

    I guess my question is what do you guys think? I know Dr. Sarno said somewhere that most food intolerance is TMS. And medication is frowned upon. But I can't help but wonder why that therapist who claimed to specialize in TMS treatment was so insistent. Would I still be doing fine had I not suffered a traumatic event? Will this relapse pass? Should I go back to the physical treatments as well? Did I just get unlucky by picking a terrible therapist or was she right? After all, she claimed to be a former migrainer herself and followed the same protocol of diet and meds.

    I'd be very curious to hear from someone who has experience with chronic headaches/migraine. I know the folks over at thedizzycook.com claim to have success with migraine diets. But is that placebo? I also hate the side effects of the nortriptyline and am not excited by the prospect of starting it back up. I'm not sure what to do.

    For now, I plan to simply start journaling daily again and not focus on the pain. I don't want to fear it and give it too much power. But man is it hard. Working/concentrating is incredibly difficult.

    I'd welcome any thoughts and feedback. Thank you so much in advance.
  2. Booble

    Booble Well known member

    I get migraines. Well actually I get what they call "silent migraines" which means I get the aura but not the pain. And then light sensitivity and the "migraine hangover" after.

    Like you, after understanding the general concept of Sarno's and then starting writing I too amazingly felt 70% better, then 80% and 90%....all in a matter of days and weeks. Really in days. I'm waiting to see if it lessens or stops my "eye things." So far, I haven't had one since. But I do remain cautious.

    I'd forget what that therapist said. It sounds to me like you have really good instincts. Don't worry about doing everything perfectly TMS-wise. Don't overthink it. I think you are on the right track. If you have known migraine triggers, continue to keep away or minimize them, but if I were you'd I'd quit the hard diet. (I've read all those too. Frankly I think they are cracked. Trying too hard.)

    Since your headache pain isn't unbearable (the way some migraineurs get it), I wouldn't worry too much about it. The TMS work will be great for that. And the other symptoms you mention are all classic as well.

    PS. I'm very sorry about the personal tragedy you faced. Getting back to the journaling and not focusing on symptoms will be really good for you during tough times post-tragedy. Tragedies sometimes can bite us in the anxiety butt 6 months down the road and you'll be way ahead of the healing game.

    Good luck!
  3. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Everything @Booble said, @dez_sin.

    In my (now very old) profile story I recount what happened when a PT suggested I go on the migraine diet. There is actually no real consensus on what works for sure, and if you read the open forums on migraine sites (ones that are not heavily moderated or edited), this becomes abundantly clear very quickly, because the inconsistencies and contradictions were rampant. By the time I read a post from someone who said that eliminating avocados from her diet was the thing that prevented her migraines, I was laughing. Fortunately, that forum also contained a post from someone who recommended The Divided Mind by Dr. Sarno - and I never looked back.

    Let's look at what you accomplished - 70% reduction is AWESOME. And great news. And proof that you are on the right track.

    Screw that therapist - most likely she didn't really have TMS at the heart of her practice, maybe gave it up as a result of too much resistance from clients, and didn't have the personal strength to push back. Or, worst-case scenario, she added TMS to her resume just to market herself. During my career as a CPA I prepared tax returns for a number of shrinks, and let me tell you - they are generally a pretty f'd up bunch of people! (I love the TMS counselor I have right now, however :joyful:).

    I'm also so sorry for the trauma you are currently suffering. I recommend that you write about your emotions - just write down whatever comes into your brain (and don't keep it). Don't be afraid to address any abandonment and isolation that you are personally feeling (those are the big ones) along with possible emotions surrounding mortality, and/or the meaning of life. These are core human issues, and they are ripe for repression during a time of trauma, especially if others are involved. Be willing to let this be about you, and let it all out on paper (again, don't keep it). At all times, maintain love and compassion for yourself.

    All the best,

    Sita, dez_sin and Cap'n Spanky like this.
  4. Celayne

    Celayne Well known member

    @JanAtheCPA and @Booble said what I would have said, only better.

    The “TMS therapist” was lying to you. No actual TMS professional of any kind would tell you to start off with a diet plan and medication. That’s not what this work is about.
    Sita, dez_sin and Cap'n Spanky like this.
  5. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Beloved Grand Eagle

    My sister suffers from migraines. She tried the diet, many medications.. all sorts of things and the only things that have worked are removing herself from the stressful stimulus ( dark and quiet room) getting out of her thoughts (she realized sleeping was doing this for her), and changing her mindset (and her life, which she needed). All without being TMS informed. She also has a device like a crown she occasionally wears, but says its more of a placebo. Her migraines have gone from being weeks, to days, now to an hour or so very occasionally. It took her years to figure it out. Medications can help some of my sisters symptoms, but she rarely takes it and is no longer afraid of the discomfort and disruption they cause.
    Sita likes this.
  6. peacefulpath

    peacefulpath Newcomer

    I had tension headaches and migraines every single day with little exception for years.

    I have the dizzy cook book, I’ve gone caffeine free, dairy free, gluten free, grain free, and yes the classic migraine diet. NONE of that helped.

    I too, am on a noritriptyline, but I am down from 30mg to 5mg as I’m weaning off.

    I can tell you from experience, the diets pull you into fear easily. As I was weaning off the meds, if I got a headache I’d assume it’s because I was weaning, or because I ate the dreaded migraine food, peanut butter, or a banana, or some other forbidden migraine thing.

    Maybe the diet did work?
    maybe I need the meds?
    Maybe it was the coffee?
    All fear

    I have WAY fewer headaches now
    Like once or twice a month

    Last night I woke up with a doozer. But I remind myself, this is ok, this doesn’t mean they are all coming back, this is TMS

    I use Alan Gordon’s avoidance behaviours, I grab the ice pack, I grab some pain meds, I massage my head
    But now I know it’s temporary

    it’s not easy
    And fear tries to win

    but I am telling you

    it is not, not the random foods you eat

    you probably ate all those things before you ever got headaches
    And reading every bloody food label is stressful and focuses on your head !!!

    you can do this !!
    Celayne and JanAtheCPA like this.
  7. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I had migraines for over 50 years and have been free of them since 2014 after taking a strictly TMS approach. You can read my success story on my profile page. I hope it is an inspiration to you. Set backs are common in our TMS journey, but can be overcome. You had some remarkable initial success and just need to build on that. I wish you the best in your recovery journey.
    JanAtheCPA and Booble like this.
  8. rbracco

    rbracco New Member

    Just wanted to chime in that around 18 months ago I cured my headaches of 10+ years with a purely TMS based approach, and quit all meds except very occasional ibuprofen. I compiled a list of TMS headache success stories in a public notion doc here: https://www.notion.so/Success-Stories-cd4fb668b19d49208855d80330b7da17 and I just posted my success story. See my profile for a link. Hope this helps! Headaches are the worst.
    JanAtheCPA and Sita like this.

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