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Healing steadily from back,shoulder and migraine pain (2)

Discussion in 'Success Stories Subforum' started by Solange, Oct 9, 2014.

  1. Solange

    Solange Well known member

    I would like to give a brief summary of my experience of TMS and the things that have/have not helped me in the hope that some of you out there may find something of use to apply to your own situation.Don't forget tho', you should always get yourself checked out first with your doctor to rule out anything serious and underlying and preferably discuss your planned TMS approach with your doctor.

    Looking back on it, my TMS problems began as early as my childhood, which was very unhappy and stressful. I had unexplained knee pain, which came out of nowhere, and headaches at an early age. Sinus problems , migraines and skin rashes came and went for several decades as my life stresses accumulated and I acquired a job I hated. Add to that bereavement and relationship problems and it's amazing that TMS held off as long as it did.

    Things came to a head with the birth of my son 11 years ago. My back, never previously a problem even during pregnancy, started to give me problems soon after his birth(which was very traumatic)and just continued to get slowly worse until I had the classic'slipped disc' diagnosis and was in agony all the time. It was a very dark period of my life as went from doctor to physio. to chiropractor and tried EVERYTHING from Alexander technique to acupuncture and adjustments. I don't even want to think how much money I spent on all of this because it didn't help me. Things just got worse and worse and my back condition dominated my whole life and was all I could think about. Health professionals more or less dismissed me and didn't take seriously the pain and distress I felt or said I couldn't be doing the exercises properly. This made me feel even more helpless and unhappy, as you may imagine.

    The more I did exercises and consulted 'experts,' the worse I got and the more I despaired. I had become so restricted in what I could do and the list of things I couldn't do was getting longer all the time. Life was an endurance test not a pleasure and I missed out on so much all those years. Unfortunately,while my back didn't get better, other areas of my body decided to join in the TMS protest, especially my neck and shoulder and I began to get lots of headaches too.

    So, enough of the misery, what happened next?

    Somehow or other while searching on the internet for back pain cure books, I came across Dr Sarno and read so many positive reviews that I ordered the book instantly. I felt I was on to something and acknowledged the basic truths of what he was saying about the mind's power over the body and stressful situations/people creating pain. I went on to order and read his other books and also Howard Schubiner's book and came across this site too, all of which contributed to my understanding of TMS and helped refine my approach. (Many ,many thanks at this point to all the people here who offered advice and support when I needed it also to Steve Ozanich who personally answered some emails of mine regarding 'The Great Pain Deception.') All this provided a launch pad for me to really get going with my new approach and I'd advise anyone to read those or information on this site.

    I have found that you have to experiment with different approaches. This is not a 'one size fits all' type of experience. I haven't discovered anything that works EVERY time but everything here was helpful at some point. Also, I would say that some things worked at certain stages of the 'journey' and not at others, so it's always worth giving an idea a second chance.

    Really try hard to embrace the belief you have TMS by writing down as many examples of mindbody connections from your past and present as you can. Refer to it daily.

    Stop the exercises designed to cure your 'problem' but by all means do any others you like. This worked for me. I started walking through the park instead and I really enjoy this.

    Persistence is essential. At the outset, I read too many stories of quick cures and became disheartened that I seemed to be making no progress. (I'm now over 18 months into overcoming TMS, just to give you an idea).
    It is so true that anxiety about speed of progress actually slows you down and makes it worse. Just accept that the time you take is the time you need to take or you will create more pressure and stress in your life and we all know how that ends!Just because you understand and accept TMS doesn't mean for most people that it will magically disappear. You have revved your mind and system up to such an extent that it needs time to return to a healthy state. Think of it like boiling water. Once the heat is switched off the water still keeps on bubbling for a while and then remains hot for even longer. I think our mind is like that too. It needs time to settle down and time to relearn how to react in healthy ways. Don't give up, progress can be slow but it's still progress.

    You need to relax more. Easy to say and hard to do, I know. Really prioritise the things you have to do and ask yourself if you really need to do all that other stuff. Can it wait? Does it have to be done at all? YOU need time to relax, be kind to yourself and look after yourself. It's not a luxury, it's essential if you want to get better.

    Take/make time to sit quietly every day for a while with no distractions and try to empty your mind or at least not dwell on any thoughts. Don't get irritated by them, just let them go and focus on breathing calmly. Make it a daily moment of calm.

    Journalling. I've never done this every day, I just do it when I'm feeling overwhelmed by events and I feel the need to off load but some people find a daily session really helps them. In either case, write concerns and feelings down then rip it up and throw it away. Amazingly therapeutic.
    I also did some initial deep delving into my past to discover how I'd got to be so angry and stressed in my life. It was all pretty obvious stuff to be honest, no hidden revelations or anything and when I'd done it I didn't keep going back over it, I just got rid of it and started to recognize past experiences which made my TMS surface in the present. I don't think revisiting past parts of our lives over and over again is helpful, it just stirs it all up again. I would sum it up by saying, deal with it and then move forwards.

    I did not initially challenge my TMS by forcing myself to do things which caused pain. I told myself over and over again that I had TMS and there was nothing wrong with my body before I began to start doing certain activities I had previously stopped. Visualization has not helped me but some people have found it helpful in their recovery so give that a try too.I soon began to realize that I was not getting worse and this gave me confidence to continue. After a much longer time, I adopted the mantra,'I'm done with being afraid'and decided that I would just accept whatever I felt like after doing a previously avoided activity. That really helped me to stop caring about how I felt so much, especially when I realised that pain came and went even when I wasn't doing anything at all.

    Avoiding ruminating on things once you have addressed them.Very hard! I came up with a couple of images of things/ people I love and make me happy and whenever a negative or destructive or repetiive thought came into my head I instantly told myself 'STOP' and replaced it immediately with my chosen image. Believe me, I had to do this a lot of times every hour, every day but now I have to do it less and less.

    Mindfulness. Hard at first but gets easier. I really try to choose a part or parts of the day when I make an effort to be present in whatever is happening to me at that time. It gives your mind a sort of breathing space . Do it as much as you can. Tell yourself that you will deal with your problems later, they can wait and then immerse yourself in the moment.

    This one is an entirely personal one. I am very suggestible and have found it better to stay away from discussions of symptoms or pain as my mind seems to latch onto these and present me with my own personal version the next day!I have found it more helpful to surround myself with positive stories and people. Also I trashed misery TV and sad stories as they all brought me down too much.

    I am not yet 'cured', I still have work to do but now I can do the following things which I couldn't before I started my work on TMS

    wash my own hair
    put my socks on
    clean my feet
    sit comfortably in any chair
    go for long journeys
    walk briskly for about an hour
    come down and upstairs easily
    sleep without a special pillow
    hang out my washing
    clean my floors and skirting boards (who would have thoughtI'd get pleasure from THAT!)
    sit in the cinema
    reach to hang clothes in the cupboards
    bend to pick things up from the floor
    hug my son(should have put that first!)
    stay painfree in stressful situations most of the time

    You can see how restricted I was before. Now I am so much better and happier even though I still have some restrictions and discomfort it does not bother me like it used to and I feel confident that I will reduce and overcome these problems too with time. Any pain I get now goes quite quickly and as soon as I am aware of it I think, WHAT IS IT THAT IS BOTHERING ME?That usually does the trick.

    I hope all this helps someone.
    mm718, Forest, Colly and 5 others like this.
  2. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Solange, your success story is terrific and very inspirational.
    Belief 100 percent in TMS is so essential, and then going ahead and doing the daily activities despite any pain.
  3. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Congratulations on your success! And thank you so much for sharing specific strategies that have helped you. They are so helpful and and your story is inspirational.
  4. Sheree

    Sheree Well known member

    Solange, your story really touched me. Probably because I see so many similarities to my own. Dr Sarno implies that the healing should take a matter of months unless you have quite serious issues that need therapy. Although I know this does not apply with me, I have still been working at this for two years. I know from the forum that this is not totally unusual, but your words have given me extra reasurance. It is a good idea to write down all the things you can now do that were impossible before - my list, if I took the trouble to do it (which I should ) would be similar. Lovely to be able to stretch and clean windows! Can I ask you a question? Did you find writing this post helped you in any way? My husband has been trying to encourage me to write " my story", as he says that I hold back from expressing myself to others. He believes it would be a big help to me.
    North Star likes this.
  5. Solange

    Solange Well known member

    Hi Sheree. I know this may sound silly but I delayed some time before putting all this down as I had this fear that it would somehow jinx my recovery. As I was typing, my back did indeed start to hurt but this time it has just served to confirm for me even more the mindbody connection and the whole TMS explanation. My back is now settling back down after a good talking to. I won't say I never worry about my progress or symptoms but I am much better at keeping a lid on it all and sitting it out. I remind myself of all the other ups and downs I've had along the way and how things always settle back down.
    I think seeing the long list of things I can now do really did help me to see the distance I have travelled, particularly when I reflect that I used to truly believe these activities were harming and hurting me. Nothing about them has changed it is my attitude and beliefs which have changed. I would encourage you to write your own list, if not your story.
    I think the time aspect is one of the hardest things to come to terms with especially when we read about others who,in a matter of months or even weeks manage to overcome their TMS. The stories can make us feel inadequate or as though we are doing something wrong, not to mention envious. The more I have resisited the temptation to compare or calculate the length of time taken, the calmer I feel and the more solid my progress. Pressure to cross the finishing line is the last thing we need (not that I'm in any way criticising people who post their stories of quick recoveries, you understand) when we are experiencing a slower recovery. It's just our own individual way of healing, I suppose and I am so, so glad to think my story may in any way have reassured you. Reassurance is a great healer and a promoter of confidence.

    I have adopted big time the mantra,'I'm done with being afraid.' I just do more and more stuff and accept however it makes me feel without fear. It hasn't been easy to get to this point but it's helping me push the boundaries of what I can do. You will find your own mantra which works for you and I feel sure you will succeed.
    North Star likes this.
  6. Sheree

    Sheree Well known member

    Lovely reply Solange. Thanks for taking the trouble. I completely understand your thoughts about jinxing. I have imagined myself writing a success story in the future, and my next thoughts go to worrying that it would spoil things. How's that for worrying! Regarding the time aspect, I have come to terms, pretty much, with it now. When I first discovered Sarno I was due to go on holiday within a few weeks and honestly thought I would be well by then. How wrong did that turn out. Through reading posts, I now know that the whole progress is up and down.
    As for a mantra - good advice.
    Thanks again Solange. Look out for my success story. Hopefully it won't be too far away- no pressure though. I will enjoy each day regardless!
  7. Solange

    Solange Well known member

    If that mantra doesn't suit then what about,'feel the fear and do it anyway.' That's another one I use in less confident moments.
    I know what you mean about worrying;when I look back on my life, I can see that I have spent so much of it worrying about one thing or another.
    I would add one important thing that I forgot to mention earlier and might be of use.
    I used to hate and dread flying so before my holiday this summer, I went to see a hypnotherapist for a couple of sessions about this issue. Now, you should know that last year, during a flight to Venice I worried so much and was so tense during the flight, I got a migraine and was sick three times on the plane. Horrible! This time, no problem. I almost enjoyed it and in spite of a very bumpy landing, I had no tension at all. When I got back, I went to see her again and had several sessions about controlling anxieties and worries surrounding my pain issues. It has certainly helped me remain much calmer and not exacerbate the situation when I have a downturn. If, you're able to ,you might consider that.
    I would say however,I did try that before with another therapist and it didn't help at all because I think I just didn't really like him that much and a personal connection seems to be key for it to work for me.
    You know what? We both seem to be in it for the long haul here so I'll be looking out for you on the site. Keep cleaning those windows and I'll keep doing my skirting boards!
  8. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Solange, it's wonderful that you were able to take a plane trip without any symptoms. I call that a major success story.

    Keep it up and you will be happier and healthier than you ever dreamed.
  9. Solange

    Solange Well known member

    Thanks Walt.I am very focussed on getting better but also more relaxed about the process, if that's not too contradictory! I think I used to try too hard. Sometimes less is more! Taking that trip was wonderful for me and I felt like life was really opening up again.
  10. blake

    blake Well known member

    Hi Solange,

    I loved your story, especially the analogy about the pot of boiling water. Absolutely brilliant image! And I like your idea of going for long walks. Made me feel relaxed just thinking about it.

    I remember about two months ago deciding that I would rebuild my life no matter what and that I would no longer let the pain stand in my way. The pain is still there, in the background, but since it's not hindering my efforts to live my life, it doesn't bother me as much. I look forward to the day when this problem is behind me completely, but I feel really relieved to no longer be looking at the calendar.

    Thanks for posting your story of your journey. I really enjoyed reading it.
  11. Solange

    Solange Well known member

    Thanks Blake. I know what you mean about background pain;it can still be there but somehow it doesn't dominate in the way it used to and we can get on with life. I have more and more time totally pain free and days when I even forget to think about it. As I mentioned earlier, I still have some restrictions I am working on but apart from occasional bad patches, I could live quite happily as I am now.
    Not letting pain stand in the way is my chosen approach most of the time. When it is not successful tends to be moments I am perhaps feeling a little tired or down for some reason and then a little fear may creep in. I can often really and truly not care about the outcome of some activity when I am feeling strong and invariably, I will have few or no symptoms afterwards. Attaining that mindset permanently is the tricky bit!
    Good luck to you.
    blake likes this.
  12. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Solange. I think now that you are almost pain-free and keeping active, you could spend more time on
    enjoying yourself and do things that bring pleasure. I find that pleasant distractions take my mind off any
    pain or anxiety. Music, reading, meditation, deep breathing, laughing (even just smiling) are my companions,
    along with my darling dog. Just looking at her napping cheers me.

    I say I hate technology, but some good comes from it, such as being on the computer and Googling the web.
    I learn a lot from searches for history, geography, biography, nature, animals, etc. It takes my mind off anything
    troubling me. Learning is fun.

    I also find a lot of the above distractions at YouTube. There is an amazing amount of free web sites there that
    can be informative and also lift the spirits.
    Solange likes this.
  13. Colly

    Colly Beloved Grand Eagle

    What a wonderful and inspiring story Solange. Thank you so much for sharing! Some wonderful insights which I can add to my "TMS great advice" file:) Thank you!
    Solange likes this.
  14. Sheree

    Sheree Well known member

    Agree with Colly - thanks SO much for all your advice. Plus, like Blake said, the boiling water analogy is perfect.
  15. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    Wonderful, encouraging success story, Solange…thank you! I came on here specifically to read a success story as I woke up with a headache. I'm off to "boot camp" shortly and will adopt your mantra about refusing to be afraid (in today's case - of a headache lasting weeks) while I drive over to it. It's also yoga day so a great day to focus on being pain free.

    Thank you so much!

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