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Derek S. How to help others through the TMS process

Discussion in 'Ask a TMS Therapist' started by Guest, Oct 8, 2014.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

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

    Question
    Hi, I am the wife of a TMS sufferer. I cannot say how long he has been suffering with TMS, but I think he identified it about 5 years ago. I have until now not been supportive of him and his pain as I didn't understand TMS - not an excuse! He has identified many of his stressor and have worked through some of them / learn to deal with them / forgive them. Some of the stressors he has not yet been able to work through / process. Also some of his stressors (I think) he has not yet identified. I for no moment doubt that I am potentially one of those 'unresolved' stressors. That breaks my heart.

    I need to learn to understand his pain and need to find ways I can support him. I think this 'thing' is going to ruin our marriage if I don't start supporting him now and if he is not able to process these stresses very soon.

    Our biggest problem is that he is not much of a talker, so I know very little of what he is going through, which feels as if he is pushing me away. Please provide me with information on how I can help him with his TMS? (and in the process help myself and our marriage).

    Thanking you in advance.
     
    North Star, Ellen and Forest like this.
  2. Derek Sapico MFT

    Derek Sapico MFT TMS Therapist

    Answer
    Hi there.

    First things first. THANK YOU for joining us on the TMS Wiki! I think that people such as yourself, the loved ones of TMS sufferers, are tragically underrepresented in the Forums and your presence here is deeply appreciated. It takes a lot of courage and vulnerability to come onto this forum and ask such an important and personal question.

    I don't want you to beat yourself up for taking some time to embrace your husband's TMS diagnosis. Take a look around this forum and you will find many people who took years, if not decades, to fully embrace or even begin to understand that their pain was psychogenic. It often takes people long periods of time suffering from excruciating symptoms to even consider a psycho-emotional cause. For you to have never experienced severe TMS pain yourself and to be open and empathetic enough to get to a place where you are able to integrate it into your belief system is no small feat. You are here now, and that is what matters.

    Something that is very clear to me from reading your question is that you are putting a tremendous amount of pressure on yourself. Here are some examples of this:

    "I didn't understand TMS [and this is] not an excuse!"

    "I am one of his 'unresolved' stressors [and that] breaks my heart."

    "I need to learn to understand his pain and....find ways I can support him."

    "I think this thing is going to ruin our marriage if I don't start supporting him now..."


    First of all, OF COURSE you are a stressor for him. Every spouse is a stressor for their partner, TMS or no TMS. Physical pain just happens to be the way that your partner's stress manifests for him. It may manifest in a different way for you (anxiety, guilt, shame, depression, etc.). This does not make his stress more important or meaningful than your stress.

    One of the most important things that you can do for yourself, your partner, and your marriage is to not add pressure to the recovery process. This is your husband's battle. It is not your responsibility to fix his problem......and you can't. The most that you can do is to express your needs and to try to attend to his. The simplest way to attend to his needs is to ask him what his needs are. If he is unable to communicate his needs to you, then you should work on your communication as a couple rather than both working on his TMS.

    It is clear that you feel a lot of guilt for not understanding his condition sooner. You can apologize for this by saying something like "I realize that I haven't been supportive of you in the past and I'm very sorry for that. How can I be more supportive in the future?"

    This is about you owning your own feelings and expressing them. You can only be responsible for so much and if you communicate your feelings to him in an open and honest way, you've done enough. Work towards forgiveness of yourself. If you continue to act out of guilt, this will only generate more tension and distance between you.

    Recovery from TMS is different for everyone. There is no fast forward button and it tends to be a very personal process. You absolutely cannot fix your partner's TMS. Personalizing his progress, or lack thereof, is unhealthy for you both.

    Since he has TMS, he more than likely struggles with tolerating and expressing certain feelings. If you are patient with him, open to hearing his feelings, and model a healthy expression of emotions, the rest is up to him.

    I wish you and your husband all the best!

    -Derek


    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.

     
    North Star, Anne Walker, Ryan and 3 others like this.
  3. Alan Gordon LCSW

    Alan Gordon LCSW TMS Therapist

    Great answer.
     
  4. blake

    blake Well known member

    Thank you very much for your question, guest. As a TMS sufferer, it was wonderful to get the spouse's take on things. Always helpful to have the other person's viewpoint.

    And that certainly is a great answer. Really helps me understand what each of our responsibilities are when it comes to dealing with TMS - and any other life issue for that matter. My husband has also expressed some guilt and, I think, powerlessness about my neck pain. Now that I am slowly but surely hearing thanks to TMS knowledge, I think he feels relieved.
     
    Anne Walker likes this.
  5. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Great question and great answer! The Ask-a-Therapist Sub-forum is truly a wonderful gift and resource to all of us on the Forum.
     
    Anne Walker likes this.
  6. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    I agree that we need to thank the spouses/partners/family/friends of TMS sufferers for their posts
    and their support of their loved ones. Sharing belief in TMS can go a long way toward healing.
     
    Anne Walker likes this.

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