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Alan G. How do I ignore the symtoms?

Discussion in 'Ask a TMS Therapist' started by Guest, Nov 4, 2014.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    This question was submitted via our Ask a TMS Therapist program. To submit your question, click here.

    I'm having a very difficult time ignoring the symptoms. It seems like the harder I try to not pay attention to them, the more persistent they are. Any thoughts?
    TMSEcuador likes this.
  2. Alan Gordon LCSW

    Alan Gordon LCSW TMS Therapist

    Great question. There's s a recent email exchange I had with a TMS sufferer that gets to the heart of this. She's given me permission to repost it. Her initial question and subsequent response addresses the true power of nonresistance.

    Hello, I just read your article about TMS/PPD and the fear and attention cycle. I have also recently read Dr. Sarno's book and am convinced that the dizziness I have experienced for months when I close my eyes and try to sleep is psychological, after much medical testing. I've had a horrible year, the most emotional one of my life. The problem is that the dizziness affects my sleep, it tries to tell me I can't sleep. I am trying to not be afraid of it and not think about it, but I don't know how to NOT think about it when I'm feeling it so intensely! I desperately want to break the cycle because I truly believe now I am dealing with a conditioned response: lie down in bed, close eyes, get dizzy. Wake up in the night, immediately feel it, fight to get back to sleep, feel defeated. I lie there and try to tell it to stop, to tell my brain I don't care, to think about something else, it just won't go away. I'm in counseling, working through and praying through my emotions, but now all my emotions are centering around this problem. Does this sound like something that TMS could do to someone? Do you have any advice that can help me?

    Hi J,
    This is totally TMS. The dizziness is just a physical manifestation of anxiety. First of all, don't try so hard to get rid of the dizziness and don't try so hard not to pay attention to it. You're working way, way too hard. Let's just have you focus on your breath for awhile. When you lie down, just focus on the breath come in and out, and feel the physical sensation of your breath coming in and out of your stomach.

    Accepting the dizziness is the first step, as counterintuitive as that may sound. Just focus on the breath, let it feel good coming in and out, and just accept what is. The harder we struggle to get rid of a symptom, the more power we give it.

    Good luck, and remember, you don't have to eliminate the symptom, you just have to make peace with it. It will eventually fade.

    Thank you so much for your response. I am so glad I read your e-mail before bed last night. For the first time in months, I just let the dizziness come in without caring about it. It was almost liberating. By doing that, I was feeling the whirling it SO strongly, it was all over me even more than when I try to control it. But I didn't try to create a "force field" or squeeze my brain down in a hundred different ways to combat it, or get upset or frustrated. I just accepted it (yes, VERY counterintuitive because I hate it so much) and relaxed into it. And after having its tantrum for a while, I am almost certain it settled down somewhat before I drifted to sleep. That has never happened.

    Before, I would (sort of? maybe?) succeed in fighting it off in certain ways, holding it off by my own will, but then in the place between waking and sleep it would spin violently before I drifted off. I tell you, that's no way to fall asleep - working so hard to stop something tormenting your brain!

    I believe that freedom from this is possible and that these breakthroughs will continue to happen. I do not expect it all to stop overnight. But I can SO understand that all of my fighting and working to succeed, to control it, to FIX it myself has probably been my enemy all along. This is a major paradigm shift in my life.

    Thank you again for taking the time to respond!

    Any advice or information provided here does not and is not intended to be and should not be taken to constitute specific professional or psychological advice given to any group or individual. This general advice is provided with the guidance that any person who believes that they may be suffering from any medical, psychological, or mindbody condition should seek professional advice from a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions. No general advice provided here should be taken to replace or in any way contradict advice provided by a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions.

    The general advice and information provided in this format is for informational purposes only and cannot serve as a way to screen for, identify, or diagnose depression, anxiety, or other psychological conditions. If you feel you may be suffering from any of these conditions please contact a licensed mental health practitioner for an in-person consultation.

    Questions may be edited for brevity and/or readability.

    TMSEcuador likes this.
  3. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I find it very helpful to watch some of the Youtube videos on techniques for relieving anxiety and falling asleep.
    They're all pretty much the same... deep breathing, imagining ones self in a peaceful, sunny setting,
    telling ones self they are calm and relaxed and that soon they will be free of anxiety or will be asleep.

    Slow, deep breathing is done while telling ones self they feel a part of the body being heavy and warm,
    then move on to another part of the body. It's a form of self-hypnosis and our subconscious lets us drift off to sleep.
  4. Nattycakes

    Nattycakes Peer Supporter

    Show no fear.. Invite it, because what you resist persists.. Accept it. Laugh at it! Stay present. And have faith that it will go away. Actually BELIEVE that it will go away.

    Realize it is your suppressed emotions. Your anxiety is trying to get you to not think about your problems.. So get that anger out! It will go away once you do. Remember to think psychological not physical. The worse your anxiety gets the harder your body is trying to keep those emotions hidden! Get them out!
    TMSEcuador likes this.
  5. Steve Ozanich

    Steve Ozanich TMS Consultant

    Can't wait to read your book Natalie.
  6. Nattycakes

    Nattycakes Peer Supporter

    WHOA!!! You just blew my mind. I have SO SO much that I want to say! So much that I understand about the mind body.. The more people that write about this.. And get the truth out.. The better! And the more people we can help :) because.. That is what it's all about! Thank you.. For everything!
    Boston Redsox likes this.
  7. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I love this exchange of positive discussion about TMS and fearing not.
    It always helps me when something pulls down my spirits, to just LAUGH it all away.
    Often, I just laugh at myself for letting anything get me down.
    Nattycakes and heleng like this.
  8. heleng

    heleng Peer Supporter

    I have loved this thread, really made me think and even though I am at the very beginning of working things out I have a lot of hope. Tomorrow I have a day off and I have decided to bag up all my self help back pain books and I am shocked at how many I have. I have spent so long looking at them, looking for the one with the right set of exercises and I used to read them when things were bad. I would lie in bed reading them before I went to sleep.....no wonder I have become obsessed with the pain and been fooled by what is happening. Those books have fuelled my pain and my unhappiness. I want to be strong enough now to not open them and not try to heal myself in that way. I know I have become slightly addicted to them.

    I am going to stop reading them and stop buying them and will save myself a lot of time and money!

    Thanks everybody

    Nattycakes likes this.
  9. Nattycakes

    Nattycakes Peer Supporter

    I'm glad you get it Helen. Believing that it is TMS is the first step. It amazes me that once 10% of the population accept TMS.. But of that 10%... 93% or something like that are actually HEALED!! Pretty amazing. You got this!...
    Laudisco likes this.

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