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Help with symptoms tied to work

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by younglazlo, Aug 26, 2023.

  1. younglazlo

    younglazlo New Member

    Hi everyone, this is my first post. It might be a long one, but I would really appreciate your input!

    My symptoms (stomach, chest, and throat pain) first arose in connection to a stressful job I had (of course, there were other factors involved – personality, past stressors etc., but the job was the catalyst for full-blown TMS). I was an editor for an academic journal. At the time I didn’t think of myself as stressed, but looking back at it, it was all tight deadlines, high workloads, and I constantly felt like I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, like I wasn’t going to get things done on time, and my work was never good enough. I was putting tons of pressure on myself. In the early days, I would only get the symptoms while working, but as TMS progressed and I started to believe there was something wrong with my body, they started happening at other times too.

    Since learning about TMS and beginning my recovery, I’ve left that job. I still do freelance editing, but for different clients and in a far more relaxed way than before. I take on as much or as little as I want to, I give myself plenty of time, and I feel fairly confident in my abilities. I actually enjoy it.

    The thing is, my TMS still reacts intensely to working. It’s not the only time that I have pain, but it seems to be the biggest trigger. I have successfully broken other conditioned responses – e.g., pain associated with exercise and with lying down – but I have had basically no success with this one. I have persisted a long time with this, literally years, but the pain gets so severe that it just gets harder and harder to concentrate on the work, and the more I try to concentrate through the pain, the worse the pain gets. It’s at the point now where it’s really interfering with my ability to make a living – which obviously introduces more stress, as I’m financially not in a great position.

    I don’t know what to make of this – whether there is still something inherently stressful about this job that I am not seeing (though I don’t think this is the case, I’ve journaled it to death), whether my subconscious just hasn't got the message yet that work is not a threat, or whether it’s something to do with the mental processing and intense concentration that’s involved. I mean, editing is a hilariously fitting job for a recovering perfectionist: you’re combing through the text, looking for tiny details and errors, and trying to ‘fix’ it and make it as ‘perfect’ as possible. But even in that sense, I’ve tried to relax my mindset towards the work, telling myself that it doesn't actually have to be (and can’t be) perfect, lowering the stakes, etc. But it doesn’t seem to make any difference.

    I am a bookish, wordy kind of person, and a lot of the things I love doing – reading and writing (particularly on the computer), doing crosswords – seem to intensify the pain. Conversely, when I'm doing physical and active things, outside and/or interacting with people, the symptoms tend to go down or disappear. Obviously I am trying to do more of the latter type activities, but it is upsetting that things related to reading and thinking etc. seem to trigger my symptoms, and I don’t really get it. I would love to keep progressing as a freelance editor and one day go into writing as well, but the symptoms are just so intense while I’m doing these things that it doesn’t feel possible, and it doesn’t seem like something I should just ignore.

    Sometimes I think I should just look for a completely different job, at least for the time being, but I don’t want to do that. I want to be able to carry on in my profession.

    I would be so grateful and interested to hear anybody’s take on this. Thanks.
    TG957 and HeidiF like this.
  2. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi @younglazlo
    Wow! You’ve done a great job with your tms.
    I have a few things I see in what you have written. You mention relaxing your mind towards the perfectionism in work, but what I was wondering, is if you’ve relaxed your mind to the pain while working. It seems to me that at this time your hyper focus may be a) perfectionism of being totally pain free while working or b) simply hyper focusing on the pain which as Sarno says can not hurt you.
    And as these things go, it might not be about the actual work: it could be unidentified self-impositions while working like self-talk, not taking breaks
    I have only recently realized that when I worked, I thought I loved my job. But now I realize it was a huge source of stress because I thought that was the only job I’d be good at. Turned out there were jobs I was better at but had never been exposed to.
    I think you could have fun exploring options. Why not do your editing part-time and find another job working with people?
    Why not try another job for awhile period. Editing is always there for you.
    Stick with the editing and try to send messages of safety to your body in association with the work (or whatever is triggering you with the work). Meditate before working (or after) to integrate your mind and body.
    If you aren’t a meditator, EFT tapping might help and you can do it on a work break - lots of youtube video guidance: some for general pain, some for fear of success or simple anxiety.. it simply calms you and gives you the opportunity to see if statements made ring true or not.
    You could journal about working and see what comes up.
    You could try Alan Gordon’s Pain Reprocessing if you have not yet tried his method. It’s pretty much purely fear refocussing based.
    How does realizing that you have many options resonate with you?
    TG957, HeidiF and JanAtheCPA like this.
  3. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Like Cactusflower I love how deeply you've done this work, and all the things you've learned.

    In a very broad and deep way, I suppose your life is telling you something very important about the kind of activities which are truly congruent for you. I think that the key might lie in inquiring into what it is in that writing which activates you, which still activates TMS even as you dismiss the need to be perfect. Is that dismissal really true, for instance? How do you feel in your body while doing the writing work? Sometimes we do have to make changes, such as in relationship, and it becomes more clear after doing the TMS work, and specifically "self-image" and "perfectionist" type inner work, which it seems you've done. But perhaps you can do deeper there?

    Beautifully, you have a very clear correlation between what could be termed "emotional" type situations (you know the pressure you once or still? feel about writing) with the symptoms. It may be "conditioning" but it seems deeper, more like the psychological realm to me. Just my ideas, and good luck.
    TG957, HeidiF and JanAtheCPA like this.
  4. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Well, at least you are beginning to know yourself. I Always feel like I don't know what I'm doing and I am an old man who has been doing my job for 40 years !
    I had a similar experience in that I found it wasn't what I was doing, but who I was doing it for that had a lot to do with TMS. I worked in building sets in the film industry (glamorized construction work) But realized no matter HOW hard I worked I would alwaqys be laid off first because of Nepotism/studio politics, etc. I also thought Hollywood is to blame for many of the ills in our society. So I left and went back to regular constuction even though it paid less.

    BUT.. I still occasionally got TMS and it was always on the first day or two of a job. That had a lot to do with your insight about 'not knowing what I am doing' = feelings of inadequacy inferiority. Sarno talks about that in ALL of his books.

    Here's an Idea. For being a manual laborer, I am actually a very avid reader and student of the world. I have a lot of esoteric interests that have nothing to do with my 'role' on the planet. I recently had a flare and it was also during a time when I have been taking online classes... I am probably the ONLY person in the class who didn't go to college...many of them have PhD's,etc.
    When making anger lists this definitely came up. I feel like I try to OVER compensate for my lack of education by studying harder than anybody in the class reviewing HOURS of recorded Q&A's to make sure If I am asking a question the prof. didn't already answer it, etc.

    So.. I had to set it aside for a minute and go hit baseballs.
    I don't try to concentrate through the pain... I go and do something that doesn't occupy my mind (Like my job LOL) and then I ask/meditate on these things while I am NOT engaged in them... then when I come back to them I have a new perspective.

    Sarno's whole deal wasn't about ONLY ignoring the pain... it was also about reconditioning which means "Turning your mind to a recurrent source of irritation" (HBP Pg 77). Well, I can't do that very well when I am reading a 700 pg. Book on Biblical textual criticism... so I hit baseballs, play with the dogs, and THEN after It has lost a little of the intensity, go back and try and ignore it....it's a two pronged strategy

    I would imagine that being an editor, you probably harbor some anger at how dumb a lot of writers are. I know that now that I regularly chat with PHD's I am astonished at how DUMB with a capital B these people are..."didn't you read the text? The Professor already answered this Dumbsh&t! Wow.. I gotta go sand drywall tomorrow morning and you are going to be teaching other people...and your dumB!"

    that's what TMS is made of
  5. Sita

    Sita Well known member

    This sounds like OCD...while studying, Baseball65. Sorry to interrupt. Please continue the discussion.

    Take care.
    HeidiF, JanAtheCPA and Baseball65 like this.
  6. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    A symptom of it, yes, but without the 'repetitive intrusive thoughts'. I have always described TMS as 'OCD' of the body. Rather than having a circular thought to distract you, you get a pain that you're obsessed with.
    The work/study thing has a lot of issues of perfectionism, and as Sarno points out THAT creates rage...we don't want to feel it, so the black box creates a symptom.

    I have had both.. I would waaay rather have Pain than OCD.
    TG957, HeidiF and JanAtheCPA like this.
  7. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    I apologize for being brief, I am traveling, not much time to dive in deep, but the post and discussion are very deep and fascinating. Have you thought about how you approach work vs the job you are in? Could it be that you general attitude towards working is too perfectionist and causing you inner rift? In that case, wherever else you go, you will be in the same boat.
    Baseball65 likes this.

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