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How do I explain my TMS history on a date?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by David88, Jun 24, 2015.

  1. David88

    David88 Well known member

    I'm not sure which sub-forum this belongs in. It's a success story and a request for suggestions.

    I'm finally feeling better after a long, long battle with TMS-induced back pain and other symptoms. I've had PPD symptoms all my life, but twenty (!) years ago, in the midst of multiple personal crises, I came down with immobilizing back pain. I was soon out on disability, and making the rounds of all the doctors and physical therapists in the city. I got the usual degenerative disk diagnosis. I had the tests, the physical therapy, the pain medications. Nothing helped. I remained mostly homebound for six years.

    Then someone gave me a copy of Healing Back Pain. It took me a while to digest it and start to follow the advice, but I gradually began to improve. I was able to get out of the house and have a limited social life, but always with pain. I remained unable to work. I had the misfortune at the time of seeing an idiot psychotherapist, who was more of a hindrance than a help in dealing with the childhood trauma that was at the root of my TMS. I became resigned to living with pain and limitations.

    Finally, about a year or so ago, I found this site, checked the practitioner list, and made an appointment with Dr. Gwozdz in Somerset NJ. He confirmed that it was TMS, and put me in touch with a psychotherapist who works almost exclusively with TMS patients.

    After a year of therapy, my life is finally changing for the better. The symptoms are abating as I work through the terrible residue of my upbringing. I'm not done with the work, but I know I'm on the right track and will get through it.

    But ... how do I explain my history to someone not familiar with TMS? This weekend I have a coffee date with a nice woman I met on a dating site. How do I explain why I haven't worked for twenty years? There's an enormous stigma to being on disability, especially with a psychophysiological condition. It's way outside the experience of most people. Few have heard of Sarno or TMS. The fact that it took nineteen of those twenty years to get the right diagnosis and treatment is hard for anyone to fathom.

    In part, I don't think I should have to explain very much. It's been a very difficult, very personal journey, not something to share with a stranger. But the question will come up. What do I say? How much do I share?
    Forest and IrishSceptic like this.
  2. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, David. I wouldn't share your TMS journey with someone you just met on a date. She doesn't need to know your work history at such an early stage of your relationship. If she asks what you do, maybe say it is what you did before your disability, or that you are between jobs, or that you are now retired. I wouldn't tell her anything about your work history.
    Kathleen and David88 like this.
  3. IrishSceptic

    IrishSceptic Podcast Visionary

    had this thought as well as explaining to a work colleague or prospective employer. I am honest to a fault and felt that my 'bad back' and related pains were stopping me from performing as well as I could so I took a break to really find out what was wrong with me. cue Sarno and almost over the line and back into work proper!
    David88 likes this.
  4. David88

    David88 Well known member

    Thanks for those responses. I'm honest to a fault, too. I tend to err or the side of giving an honest answer rather than deflecting a question.

    She already knows I've been on disability, though not why or for how long. So I have to say at least some brief word of explanation. Maybe I can say "I had a struggle with chronic back pain, I'm fine now (not entirely, but mostly), more details as I get to know you better." And then go on to more fun things to talk about.
    IrishSceptic and Forest like this.
  5. IndiMarshall

    IndiMarshall Well known member

    David, very happy that finally you are getting back your normal life. I feel you don't have to explain about TMS at this stage. You know you suffered for a benign issue & if you knew your pain is due to TMS 20 yrs ago you wouldn't have suffered so long. So don't worry there is nothing wrong with you. It must have been such a hard time to be at home for 20 yrs.

    Do you have any herianated discs? I would like to hear from ppl that Herianated discs won't cause pain.
  6. David88

    David88 Well known member

    I do, and they don't. It's a bogus diagnostic.
  7. IndiMarshall

    IndiMarshall Well known member

    Great ! Can I ask you more questions regarding your back ? If you don't mind
  8. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    @IndiMarshall , you might like our chat room on Saturday. It's a great way to ask interactive questions.

    By the way, if anyone is willing to help out, we really need volunteers to moderate that. You don't need to have healed already - rather we are more looking for a mature responsibility and a willingness to put the needs of others first.

    David, I typically describe my symptoms and the diagnoses I was given. Then I say that I got better using a mind-body approach and leave it at that. "I had chronic pain for 18 years that was diagnosed as RSI, FMS, TOS, MPS, GERD, etc., but I found a mind-body approach that really helped and gave me my life back." I figure that it's not their right to know the whole story, but at least this gives them something and doesn't leave a big mystery. It's amazing how little casual acquaintances will ask, though it might be a little different when meeting someone for coffee.
    David88 likes this.
  9. Mala

    Mala Well known member

    Hey David88. Its wonderful news that u r making progress with with yr back & yr life. I don't know how much u have told this lady about yrself already but I suggest u keep things simple & uncomplicated. If she has any queries, answer her truthfully but without going into too much detail. Make this date about getting to know her better & deciding if u want to continue seeing each other. Too much info of any kind at this stage is not a good idea & u don't want to come across as being weird with all the stuff about TMS which is hard for a lot of ppl to grasp.

    Take it easy. As a woman all I can say from experience is that we don't like too much serious & heavy info on a first date. That can come later on. Just be yourself, be attentive & warm & show interest in her. Oh & we all love guy who's got a bit of a sense of humour. No pressure David;). Just enjoy & let us know how it goes, that is if u want to of course.

    Kathleen, David88 and Forest like this.
  10. IndiMarshall

    IndiMarshall Well known member

    Thank you that will help
  11. IrishSceptic

    IrishSceptic Podcast Visionary

    personally I think your strategy is correct. keep the TMS under wraps or you'll come off as 'loony' . its sad but its true!

    I think Forrest mentioned it too but I have put off any prospective relationship because I didn't want to become a burden on someone or have them endure my irritable side when the pain got intense.
    David88 likes this.
  12. David88

    David88 Well known member

    I suggest you post your questions in a new thread in the support subforum. You'll get responses from lots of people, including me if I have anything to add.
    Forest likes this.
  13. David88

    David88 Well known member

    Thanks Forrest, IrishSceptic, and Mala for your advice. That sounds like a good approach.

    Online dating is more awkward than meeting through a shared activity. You meet for coffee and there's a lot of pressure to impress the person right away. It can become too much like a job interview, not enough like fun. You've all got me thinking about how to avoid that.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2015
    IrishSceptic likes this.
  14. IndiMarshall

    IndiMarshall Well known member

    Sure ... Thanks
  15. Lori

    Lori Well known member

    Indi - there are a bunch of us on here who were diagnosed with herniated discs. Check out the success stories. and since you asked: HERNIATED DISCS DO NOT CAUSE PAIN! I was told I needed surgery; I didn't have the surgery and I am pain-free. Once in awhile I'll get a twinge of pain but can always relate it to something going on in my life. :)
  16. IndiMarshall

    IndiMarshall Well known member

    Hello Lori, Thanks. Its very reaffirming to hear from ppl that Herianated discs wont cause any pain.
    Yes I read your story its very very inspirational . My situation is similar to before you are cured. I did leave message for you in Success story.
  17. David88

    David88 Well known member

    Thanks Walt, Forest, IrishSkeptic, and Mala for your good advice. The date went very well this morning. When she asked about me being on disability, I just said that it was back pain, that I took a mindbody approach to healing (good suggestion, Forest), and that I overcame it by making some needed changes in my life. She nodded and we moved on to another topic. Perfect.

    I'm sure there will be a second date!
  18. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Great to hear!

    I've found that if I talk about a "mindbody" approach, people don't tune out and I have a chance to get to know them before they judge. People seem to be less receptive to the more Freudian distraction explanation, so I wait until I know people better before I tell them that if I can. Of course, if they ask specific questions, I'll answer honestly, but I'm always suprised how rarely they do that.

    But in general, people seem pretty receptive to the mind-body connection. We TMSers take responsibility for our own health, and people seem to admire that (I know I do). I often talk about how important it is to overcome fear and resume physical activity, and people seem to really respect that as well. On some level maybe people naturally understand that our bodies are strong. It's pretty intuitive.

    Here's hoping the second date goes well, too...
    David88 and IrishSceptic like this.
  19. David88

    David88 Well known member

    I was surprised, too, but in retrospect it makes sense. I wouldn't ask someone about personal details like that unless I knew them well. It would be prying. It's up to them to reveal the information when the time is right.
  20. Mala

    Mala Well known member

    Really chuffed to hear that things went well for you David.

    David88 likes this.

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