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Help Needed For Re-Conditioining/De-Conditioning, Pain Continues...

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by donavanf, Oct 27, 2015.

  1. donavanf

    donavanf Well known member

    Hello everyone!

    Been a while since posting, but I am suffering and could use some encouragement.

    My TMS is much better than it was at one point, and like many, I have good days (weeks) and bad ones.

    Here is my current situation...

    I was laid off from my (terrible) day job of 12 years in July of this year. This is a good thing. I am collecting unemployment and I got a decent severance, in return for signing an NDA and some other red tape stuff. I'm running through my severance pretty fast, so I have to get my other gig up and running ASAP, which is photography.

    I'm a professional photographer by trade (the job I left had nothing to do with it), so this has been a great time to work on my passion, which is making a living with my camera. I've made major strides in this area, gone from barely being able to hold my camera up without shoulder and neck pain, to being able to do a full shoot with very little discomfort, just some soreness after that is usually gone after a day or two.

    Here is my question, I apologize for the rant...

    I have "de-conditioned" myself to former triggers, for the most part, such as driving, shooting, laying in bed with my laptop (I had a physical therapist tell me this was the cause of all my neck and back pain!) and various other triggers.

    BUT...every single time I sit in my computer chair (where I do most of my serious post-production photography work and re-touching), I get neck spasm and upper back pain between my shoulder blades. Especially if I slouch, which aforementioned PT also told me was cause of my neck pain.

    I'm a patient of Dr. David Schechter's, who has confirmed I have TMS, just in case anyone doubts it.

    Whoa, stopping myself here. Who is doubting me? I am! I still am convinced something is wrong with my neck and back. Which I know is baloney. A few weeks ago, I had a bout of terrible GERD and acid reflux, followed by a bad cold, and during that time I had ZERO shoulder, neck or back pain of any kind. The moment my tummy and cold got better, my neck and shoulder blade pain returned, with a vengeance. I also had an interesting dream where my unconscious (he looked like the devil, but told me he was my "rage") had a younger version of myself hung up on meat hooks RIGHT WHERE MY PAIN IS! And when I asked who could get him down, the "unconscious devil" told me "Only you can, Superman". And I realized that in the dream, I was dressed like my childhood hero, Superman! I tried to get myself down off the hooks but awoke before I could. In the dream, the young man on the hooks was sobbing and the unconscious devil was taunting me like a bully.

    I was bullied quite badly as a kid, and used to get stomach aches every day before school, which became "IBS" in my 20's and "allergies" in my 30's. In my 40's, it became chronic neck and shoulder pain, which vanishes when my IBS or allergies kick back up. Dr. Schechter is convinced it is ALL a form of TMS and that I have had it my whole life. It's just never been neck or shoulder pain until now (started about two years ago).

    It's been a hell of a struggle, but thanks to Dr. Sarno's books, I finally realize what has been "on my back" my whole life. TMS!!!! But still, I doubt!

    So, dear friends and peers, do you have any suggestions for how to de-condition myself to my computer chair and also, why I feel SO close to finally BEATING this bastard condition and it seems to be rearing it's head. Every time I get to the point where I notice it is getting better, it seems to grab me by the neck and say, "not so fast, you are stuck with me!!!". Then the doubt begins, I start to think structurally, I obsess over the pain (I have OCD) and I'm in the pain loop again. Stuck in the mud, like a loser.

    I feel like crying as I type this, I am so sick of this terrible thing.

    One final thing, I have really been trying to be more active, walking a few miles daily and it seems to really be helping overall. It's a nice break for my mind and I do some affirmations on my walk. But I recently decided to add in some push-ups and planking and the muscle soreness after for days is HORRID. People say, "That's normal, you're out of shape and your muscles will get stronger" but the pain re-enforces my depression about TMS.

    Any thoughts? I would especially love any ideas as to affirmations I can do in my computer chair to decondition myself to it. I can sit in any other chair just fine, but the moment I get in front of my computer (like right now), my shoulders and neck feel like they are in the jaws of a T-Rex!

    Thank you all for being wonderful. This forum is a huge help, an oasis of truth and I am proud to be here as a peer supporter.

  2. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Donavan,

    Great to get the report on being able to do a long "shoot" with little or no pain. That is a heck of milestone. This progress might be the start of a simple affirmation right there. Something like "I have relieved the pain from photography, and now there is this _________(other) pain that will be releived too. I know this can be done, because I relieved the photography pain."

    The other piece I might give you for feedback is that you are afraid of the pain, and you want it to go away. These pieces, hard as they are to work with, are probably keeping you stuck here at the end of your "process." Sometimes when pain arises, I say "So what. Of course I have pain. I am prone to TMS!" This helps me become less constricted around it, less concerned. My personality measures, compares, monitors, and obsesses around the "perfect cure." It is helpful to see this, and work with this propensity. I find this really works for me!! -----"So what?!"

    Even as you begin to approach the chair, you might try this. So what?! or Of course there is pain!

    Great dream by the way!!!

    Good Luck.

    Andy B.
    donavanf likes this.
  3. Zumbafan

    Zumbafan Well known member

    There is a post in the General Discussion Subforum, titled "affirmations", which may help you. It was started Sep. 8, 2015, and Steve Ozanich wrote a reply, basically about self love.
    It took me a while to understand, it may resonate with you.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2015
    donavanf, mike2014 and AnnaSchweitzer like this.
  4. donavanf

    donavanf Well known member

    Thank you for your comments, everyone. It's been a rough few weeks. I was in a car accident (all airbags deployed, front impact) this April, on the day of my father's death, and I saw Dr. Schechter the same day, who told me I had some mild soft tissue damage, and would recover within a few weeks. He didn't want to use the word, "Whiplash". My x-rays were all normal. I had a bad few weeks after that, but in general, my TMS has been much better over the summer. But within the last month or so, as I seemingly get closer and closer to beating this thing, it seems to have gotten WORSE. To be honest, it is scaring me, and I am beginning to doubt the diagnosis. Of course, I know that fear and the doubt of TMS are only making me worse. The worst day in many months occurred about a week ago, when I had to attend the premiere of a film that my ex-gf was performing in. Between my social anxiety, where I would see many mutual friends, and seeing her (though we are on good terms), my TMS was unreal. My entire upper back went into spasm as I was driving to the event (driving is a major trigger, especially in LA traffic or if I am late, of which both both were the case). The closer I got to my destination, the more my shoulder blades burned, and as I pulled into the parking lot for the event, my neck could barely move. I spoke DIRECTLY to the TMS and said, "I am going to see this film, and you cannot stop me. I know you are TMS. I will crawl to the event if I have to, on my hands and knees. You are just a bully and I have HAD IT WITH YOU!!! Go to hell!". Within a minute of saying this, the pain in my back became IBS, which I had all through my twenties. When my IBS comes on, my back and neck pain all but disappear. So the other day, the neck pain began decreasing and as it did, the IBS got so bad, I thought I was going to lose control of my bowels. No joke. I told my body, "We will find a bathroom, but we will go to this film". By the time I found the bathroom, most of the IBS pain had subsided and within minutes of that, the neck pain came back. Every step to the premiere was painful, but I made it. Not only did I make the premiere, I had a great time! I felt some neck and shoulder discomfort during the film, but did my best to ignore it. I saw my ex after, who was rather cold to me, and my neck went right back into spasm. I am amazed at the SPEED at which my emotions are now affecting my TMS. I suppose this is a good sign? Anyway, I just wanted to give a progress report. Has anyone else seen this? Where it looks like things are improving and just as you think you are out of the woods, things suddenly turn worse? And is what I am am experiencing what Dr. Sarno refers to as "Symptom Substitution"? I swear, my pain in my right shoulder and scapula (which has been there for close to THREE years) moved ENTIRELY to my left side for a day. The moment I said, "AHA! You are in my left side now! You are just a phantom! The game is up!", it went back to my right within a half hour and stayed. And it is there now, as I type this. I feel like I am getting better/worse/better/worse. And when I get worse, of course, I begin to doubt the diagnosis and fear something is seriously wrong with my shoulder, think of getting an MRI, my OCD goes ballistic and I am in a spin. But I KNOW this is TMS. Well, I know INTELLECTUALLY this is clearly TMS, but some little part of me is terrified it isn't and that little shred of doubt is causing major pain. I would love some thoughts, insights, affirmations, etc. I am so close to beating this and it is driving me crazy. All day long, from the moment I awaken till I go to bed, I obsess over this TMS and I know that is the exact thing that is impeding my recovery. How do I RE-DIRECT my thoughts? I must sound crazy, but having read so many similar posts on this forum, I know I am not alone. And for that, I am comforted and grateful.
  5. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Donavan,
    The awareness you have about how TMS is working in you is very powerful medicine! Try to treat the fear and OCD mind spin as TMS equivalents, which they are. Observe and take action like you would for pain. Call it for what it is, and move on.
    Best to You,
    Andy B.
    donavanf likes this.
  6. Zumbafan

    Zumbafan Well known member

    Have you tried visualisation to redirect your thoughts? If you choose something that makes you happy, and is calming, a past memory perhaps, and replay it in your mind, remembering all the good things about the experience. If you do this for several minutes, several times a day, you will strengthen that neural pathway for calm. This also reduces the adrenaline racing around your body making you feel wired. Be kind and compassionate to yourself...you really are ok.
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  7. mike2014

    mike2014 Beloved Grand Eagle

    I'd like to add to Zumbafans comments, as well as practicing affirmations, I'd look at incorporating a mindfulness meditation or being mindful throughout your day. This will give you the ability to be aware of your thoughts without acting upon, or being judgemental. This will give you the ability at a conscious level to create space between you and the emotion so it has less of a hold over you. The more you practice this, the more your anxiety will reduce and its triggered responses.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2015
    donavanf, Simplicity and Zumbafan like this.
  8. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I like to combine visualization with mindfulness meditation and deep breathing, three of the most important techniques for TMS relaxation.

    Youtube had some wonderful videos combining those elements. I especially like the Guided Meditation video on Youtube that I just discovered... "Guided Meditation in The Seat." It is a very relaxing video showing a bench from which you watch a pastoral scene of sheep grazing and clouds passing overhead. You practice deep breathing while watching for 16 minutes and you can replay it, with eyes open or closed.
    donavanf likes this.
  9. AndrewMillerMFT

    AndrewMillerMFT Well known member

    Hey Donavan,

    Try this: If your TMS was a small child, how would you address him? Say this small child was having a temper tantrum? Would you yell at him? Would you cajole him? Would you tenderly speak to him? How would you let him know that the tantrum isn't appropriate? Would you ask him what was wrong? Would you hug him? For many TMS clients, they take the Sarno self-talk to heart and yell and scream at their TMS... and this can work for some. Others have to take a different approach because the yelling and screaming is counterproductive for them and only stimulates their unconscious dynamics of shame, anger, perfectionism and self-abuse.

    Best of luck to you!

    donavanf likes this.
  10. donavanf

    donavanf Well known member

    "I really am ok", is such a foreign, yet beautiful concept to me. I think I have been telling myself, "I am not ok", since childhood. Thank you for reminding me that even when my body thinks I am under attack, the arrows are mere phantoms of the subconscious, ghosts of trauma that have long gone, but still howl in the hallways of my memories (neural pathways). I am really ok? I am really ok!
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2015
    Zumbafan likes this.
  11. donavanf

    donavanf Well known member

    Thank you, Andrew. This was powerful medicine. I would not yell at a small child, ever. I would speak to him tenderly, ask him what he needed and do my best to give it to him, in a kind and gentle manner. My father never yelled at me, nor my mother, save for very rare occasions, and they were loving, open minded and smart parents. When my mother died in 2000, my father estranged himself from me this is when my inner rage started, and interestingly, I fell into a down spiral of negative self-talk, bullying myself and forgetting the kindness that was modeled to me. Yelling at my pain helps momentarily, sometimes even stopping it cold, but it starts hurting worse after a few minutes. When I am gentle with my pain, easy on myself and use kind words, the pain is often slow to respond, but the results last longer. If we see this as metaphor for dealing with a tantrum child, which is very much how my TMS feels, I am going to really try to be kinder to myself. My father died this year, the day after my birthday and I felt a deep sadness, but my TMS began to get better, the more I let the tears come. The more tears, the less pain in my body. Reminds me of Carl Jung's brilliant quote, "Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering".

    I can re-visit the good parts of childhood. The last fourteen years have been rough, but my parents early kindness carried me through. I need to remember that modeling and use it better. It's hard not to blame myself for so many things. I can choose a better way to grieve.

    I think we have struck gold. Thank you, Andrew, for your brilliant insight. You have given me a powerful tool to work with, gentleness and compassion for myself. Just saying THAT makes me want to cry. OK. My dad always said to me, "Brave boys cry too, in fact the bravest ones do".

    New goal: More tears, less pain.

  12. donavanf

    donavanf Well known member

    Thanks, Andy. You always have very insightful things to say. I think the "move on" part really strikes a chord. My mind (and my OCD) tends to call it for what it is, but then I tend to OBSESS over it, constantly evaluating the pain, re-evaluating it, and worrying over it. I think I need to see it, and move on. That is the key! As they say, if you are going through hell, keep going! I've been standing in the fire wondering why it keeps burning me!

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