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I just had a huge breakthrough in my TMS

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by chickenbone, Dec 22, 2013.

  1. chickenbone

    chickenbone Well known member

    I believe I have just experienced for the first time a DIRECT relationship between my TMS symptoms and repression of traumatic childhood events. For the past year or so, since I joined the support groups, I have been having ups and downs using various techniques for the treatment of TMS. I did extremely well for a year or so, but was always aware that I was not cured and that that might never be a reality for me. But because I am in Panama, I do not have immediate access to a therapist. Anyway, I was doing ok until about 4 months ago, when I started (again) having flashbacks and fragmented memories of being severely punished by a babysitter and subsequently being hospitalized for 3 weeks. I can't tell you how awful these are to remember. When I get them, I cry a lot and just can't seem to put them to rest. So I decided that these were not that important now and I was going to forget about this part of my life. So I did, it was not hard to really forget them. Within about 2 weeks, and it began slowly, I began having acid reflux, terrible sore throats and really bad back pain. I also had a terrible flare-up of health anxiety, where I constantly imagined that I was dying of some terrible disease. I went to see the local ENT doctor, who is very good. He scoped my throat and tried to figure what was wrong. He wants me to have a bunch of blood tests only because it has been about a year since I had these done. Anyway, it just kept getting worse and worse. I have been pretty much in panic mode ever since and the sciatic pain and sore throats are intermittent and severe. Yesterday, I was in pain most of the day and it persisted at night, which almost never happens. Then I had pain all morning. About noon, I felt completely exhausted and defeated and laid down after taking one Tylenol tablet. I dosed a little, but then decided to get up. I was not thinking of the pain. I don't know exactly the order of things, but I suddenly noticed that I had absolutely no sore throat and no pain, JUST AS I REMEMBERED VIVIDLY again the incidents of my early childhood. I had a pretty dramatic emotional reaction to the recollection of these events, but NO PAIN. It was really unbelievable.

    I am convinced that something in my subconscious is really pushing me to come to grips with these events and the repercussions of them, of which they are plenty. This is the first time, I have experienced a direct connection. My husband, who is a retired doctor, thinks so too. We both feel that I need to get some professional help. I think I have a large reservoir of fear, anger, and guilt. I also feel that I need to relate this to another person(s) for the catharsis to take place. I admit for the first time that I can't do this all on my own. I also feel that at my age, 64, that I need, in an existential sense, to make sense of my life. I want to thank so many people on this site, but especially Dr. James Alexander, Dr. Peter Z. and Dr. David Hanscom for the literature and videos that have helped me so dramatically.

    I am, at this point, seriously considering travelling for therapy or getting online help.
    marcy, G.R., Msunn and 3 others like this.
  2. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Chickenbone.
    It sounds like you already know the repressed emotion that is causing your pain... the childhood abuse from that babysitter.
    Now you just need to make peace with that awful situation.

    Would it be as good journaling about it as t would be talking to a therapist about it?
    Someone else in the forums says they get good relief by acting out situations that they have repressed.
    Maybe write a little play with two people in it... you and the babysitter.
    Re-create the experience and then end it with forgiveness. Forgive the babysitter, forgive yourself as victim.

    Just some suggestions.

    Have you talked all about it to your husband? Maybe just telling someone about it would end the pain.

    Keep us informed as to what you decide to do.
    G.R., Msunn and Eric "Herbie" Watson like this.
  3. chickenbone

    chickenbone Well known member

    Hi Walt - yes, I guess I know. I have known for a long time, but from these experiences, I am realizing how much this has effected my life. What I regret the most is my behavior towards my family over the years. I told my parents about the abuse when I was 14 and I don't think they believed me. I think they just could not accept that they could have trusted someone like that - and they had their own emotional issues. I left home abruptly when I was 21 and my mother took it really hard. My sister never forgave me.

    Yes, you are right about the journaling for a start. I think it will take on a whole new reality if I could capture it on paper, a reality that I would never have allowed it before. That will probably be a good step towards speaking to a therapist about it.

    Yes, I have talked to my husband about it. He is not in a position to be extremely supportive because he has some of his own serious childhood issues. I understand that. But he does want me to get help and will support me all he can.

    I also think that being hospitalized at a very young age and having been subjected to every kind of medical test imaginable, I developed a huge phobia of hospitals. Peter Levine talks a lot about children who had to be hospitalized very young and the trauma it can produce. I remember my mother talking about this to friends and relatives - she said that I was bruised, black and blue all over, and had at least 26 puncture wounds. She never trusted the medical profession after that.

    Thank-you for your concern.
  4. Gigalos

    Gigalos Beloved Grand Eagle

    Chickenbone, great to hear that pieces of your puzzle are starting to fall in the right place. I think you are right about your idea that it may have had more influence than you thought. Good luck with the steps you are planning to deal with this issue.

    I immediately had to think about my own youth when my father once forced me under water so long I thought I would drown, because I refused to come out of the lake for dinner. I think I forgave him, as his own dad had trouble making his children listen to him, so he didn't know better, but on second thought, I still feel some anger when I think about it.

    take care
  5. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Gigalos, your father sure didn't do you any favor doing that. He should have found a safer way to get you to dinner.

    But if you can forgive him, it will bring you peace.

    I had to forgive my father for some things too, and it has brought me peace.
  6. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    Chickenbone, sounds like you're really on to something…yay!

    If you're able to work with a therapist, why not send a few emails and set up some Skype calls to look for a therapist you feel comfortable with? I made a call to Alan Gordon and he was so kind and helpful. He gave me referrals to a couple of therapists that work via Skype, including one that charges a smaller fee. (Finances are keeping me from pursuing things at this point in time but when I can, I do plan on calling the one lady.)

    Please keep us posted on your progress. I suspect you're just on the verge of finding new freedom and self discovery.

    Good luck and Merry Christmas!
  7. Lori

    Lori Well known member

    Hi Chickenbone. Yes, I recall your mentioning this trauma. And I remember being horrified for that little child and wanting to hug you.

    If this memory is still so clear and it brings up strong emotion, there is more in you that needs to be processed out. When done sufficiently, you may remember the event, but it will simply be “yes, this happened to me” and no emotions will stir.

    FEELINGS FEELINGS are what need to come up. I feel ANGRY. . . etc. sad, afraid. Perhaps write the person a letter of all the things you want to say to them. E.g. how dare you treat me this way!!! And burn it or shred--something therapeutic for you. Have compassion for the little child to whom this happened.

    And end always with a positive note that you can feel in your body. I know you might say what could possibly be positive—how about a simple “I am ready to heal this part of my past and move on with my life?" Sit with that and see how you FEEL.

    I also agree with Walt’s comment, that at some point, you will need to feel forgiveness for the person who did this to you to be fully healed. They had their own issues going on, you can be sure of that. But it is for YOU that you feel this forgiveness—it is not condoning what they did to you. It becomes freedom for you, which will feel wonderful.

    Warmest hugs to you. I hope you do find the right therapist.
    Msunn likes this.
  8. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, all.

    When we need to forgive others, maybe we should think of how we hope others will forgive us.

    At Mass one Sunday some years ago the sermon was on forgiveness. The priest suggested we call
    people close to us and ask, "Will you forgive me for grievances real or imagined that you have against me?,
    and I forgive you for grievances real or imagined that I have against you."

    It must have shocked my mother and sister and a friend when I phoned them with this, but they all agreed.

    I felt afterward that a great weight had lifted off of me.
    Msunn likes this.
  9. Gigi

    Gigi Well known member

    Chickenbone, I'm delighted for your insight, and also so sorry for that child in you who needs to be hugged and validated. Bless you as you work your way through the hard things. You are a courageous woman! I'm sending positive thoughts your way, so you find a therapist who is a good match and a blessing to you as you heal.
  10. chickenbone

    chickenbone Well known member

    Thanks so much, Gigalos, North Star, Walt, Lori, Gigi for all the support. I am really overwhelmed by all the insights and compassion. I am thinking that, as soon as the holidays are over, I am going to get something going with therapy. I planned a trip to Phoenix for this winter where I will look into the possibilities of seeing someone. Unfortunately, I don't think there are any TMS therapists in that area, but at least I will be in the US, where I can make phone calls without much trouble. Believe me, you don't want to have to deal with long phone calls in Panama. I need to find a place here where I have both stable internet and privacy. I am also seriously considering SKYPE support with one of the therapists on this site that I feel I know and love, because I feel as if they have already helped me in the past.

    It is just really amazing when you can clearly SEE the TMS strategy at work. This happened so clearly when I apparently successfully re-repressed these memories and sensations, only to have terrible back pain, crippling anxiety, and severe allergies arrive within a couple of weeks. Then, one day, I literally gave up - capitulated, said I can't stand this anymore, then almost like magic, the memories returned and I started to cry. The physical symptoms disappeared almost immediately. It was like a switch being flipped. I know that my inner self is telling me that I MUST deal with this and that NOW is the time. So now to keep physical symptoms and anxiety at a minimum, I try to keep these memories as close to consciousness as I can, not necessarily making any progress, but keeping them close as a friend. I really now believe that the TMS strategy is protecting me from much worse things to come if I refuse to deal with this.
    Ellen likes this.
  11. Becca

    Becca Well known member


    I have been sitting here for at least five minutes knowing I want to say something here, but really not sure what to say, if any of my words will help at all. But I do want to say something and as experience posting here has shown me, as I start writing I tend to finally figure out what I'm feeling and how to really express it. So hopefully this won't be the anomaly...

    First, I am so delighted (to steal Gigi's word -- it just fits so well!) to hear about your breakthrough. What a profound, and rather amazing thing...I cannot imagine having to go through what you have experienced. I have an immense, immense amount of respect for you. Though it sounds all of this has been quite emotionally painful (and rightfully so) the lack of physical pain is something to really take note of, and honor, and even celebrate, in a way.

    The main thing I want to say is just how in awe of you I am, not just for all of what I wrote above, but also for taking a next step and seeking out a therapist. I think it takes an incredibly strong person to not only admit needing some guidance from a professional, but truly accepting that it's necessary. Even besides those of us who bristle at the thought of seeing a therapist (clearly, you are far, far away from this stage), it can be so incredibly difficult to get past the wishing-it-wasn't-so mindset, where you wish something wasn't the case or wasn't necessary SO MUCH that it can almost persuade you that you actually don't need it. (This can totally work the opposite way...you want something so incredibly badly, you cannot see the faults or the possible fall-out that could occur.) I think all of us face these sorts of decisions that are influenced by our feelings one way or the other...that's simply part of life. But with decisions like this, decisions that can be difficult for a number of reasons, I think those strong feelings or opinions can really interfere in a rather detrimental way. I know they certainly have for me. So really, chickenbone, I am simply in awe of you -- and not just of your strength, which is incredible on its own, but also of your clarity, your insight, and your willingness to share all three of these truly remarkable things about yourself with us in a deeply personal way.

    Going forward, the practical advice I would give is this: As goodists (which I suspect perhaps you are, but please, correct me if I'm wrong on that) it can feel natural to indulge another person in a conversation, or whatnot. But this therapy is a) something you are paying for and b) something that is supposed to help you, a place for you to feel safe enough to talk about something that sounds not just difficult and painful (emotionally and physically) but also quite terrifying. It's important, I think, for therapy to be a place for you to be able to focus on YOU, and not think about the therapist's experience. If you can (or feel it'd be helpful), I would encourage you to check in with yourself and how comfortable you feel after you meet/talk/Skype with that therapist.

    Really, though, I think I can only offer you this practical advice (which in hindsight, I realize you probably know already...) because I think you're doing everything right here. You are approaching therapy because it feels like the right next step, and from what I read, I agree. Talking out trauma with a compassionate and also trained individual can be incredibly productive. I feel, as I think you do, that this could be just the right step forward. And just remember, if it feels like too much too fast, or anything else that makes you feel unsafe or in a sort of "non-productive pain" (as therapy can certainly be emotionally painful, but in a productive way), you can always, always slow down or even stop, if necessary.

    I wish you all the very best with this. I think any therapist will be lucky to know you and work with you, and be inspired by you as I know I am each time I read your posts.

    Take care, and happy holidays!
    Becca santahat
    Ellen and North Star like this.
  12. chickenbone

    chickenbone Well known member

    Becca, thanks so much for your tremendous vote of confidence and valuable insight. I was really awed by your response. Also, thank-you for the advice on finding and interacting with a therapist. You know, I have always been open to the idea of therapy and twice in my life I have been in therapy for short periods of time. One was after my first husband died of cancer at 32. My therapist, who was great, wanted me to stay in therapy longer because he thought that I had some kind of abuse somewhere back in my childhood. It made sense to me also, but I just could not remember it at the time. I did not have TMS symptoms at the time, but I am sure I did have them at various periods in my childhood and early adulthood. But of course, I had no idea that these episodes of backache, headache, allergies, etc. were caused by psychological issues. It is just so amazing that it is all starting to fall into place now.

    I really need to make sure that I follow through this time. I can tell you that I consider this just as important as if I needed to have medical intervention for a physical problem. The psyche can make us or break us and I have a new respect for mine. My difficulty here is that my husband and I retired to Panama. We live in an out-of-the way area on the Pacific Ocean. So it will either be SKYPE or traveling to the US for therapy. Perhaps I could meet the therapist in person for a few visits and then continue with SKYPE.

    I guess the thing I would like everyone take away from reading this is how important it is to realize that the mind and body are not really separate, what effects one effects the other. Ignoring important psychological issues can rob you of your quality of life and actually make you very ill. Taking care of these issues is not optional. I wish I had realized this long ago because I probably would have had a happier and more productive life. It is just so awesome that I have received so much support from this forum. Thank-you everyone! Happy holidays!
    Becca, Ellen and North Star like this.
  13. Msunn

    Msunn Well known member

    Hi Chickenbone. Congratulations on your progress!

    I also live in a remote location and have been doing skype therapy sessions with the therapist mentioned in North Stars post, recommended by Alan Gordon. We've only done 3 so far but I'm finding it very helpful. I think just the willingness to talk this out with a professional has helped a lot. She has also come up with some insights which I didn't see about my emotions and TMS. So it feels a little weird doing it via computer but it works. Good luck finding a good therapist.
  14. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Chickenbone, I don't know if I can add anything beyond the excellent advice that people have already given, but it's great to hear an update. I think that this might be something that in Internal Family Systems they would call a trailhead: an opportunity to make real progress.

    It never ceases to amaze me how deep the mind-body connection can go. We think that we can get away with things some times - they look so small, but then our bodies let us know that they actually aren't and that they need attention.

    Thanks for sharing the story. Let us know how it turns out.
  15. chickenbone

    chickenbone Well known member

    Thanks, Forest. Msunn, can you provide me with the name of the therapist that you and North Star used? That just might work for me.
  16. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Merry Christmas, Chickenbone, Msunn, Forest, and everyone.
    Msunn likes this.
  17. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    Chicken Bone, I will PM you the info. I have not yet spoken with her but Alan Gordon trained her personally and highly recommended her. :)
  18. Msunn

    Msunn Well known member

    ditto to North Star's message. I sent it in a private message. I've never done that before, so let me know if you have any problems.
  19. chickenbone

    chickenbone Well known member

    Hi North Star and Msunn, I got both your messages. I really appreciate the information. Have a happy holiday!!! I will let you know how it goes.
    North Star likes this.
  20. chickenbone

    chickenbone Well known member

    Since I decided once and for all to get professional help with my issues, and taking concrete steps toward this goal, I have experienced mostly the absence of pain, but extreme manifestations of full-blown hypochondria, complete with acute anxiety and sometimes panic attacks. It seems that my mind is mounting a last-ditch effort to keep my mind on the physical by attempting to convince me that my hot flashes that I have had most of my life (that have gotten worse through menopause and the intense heat in this climate), and which before recently have not been of much concern to me, are the symptom of a very rare form of tumors that become malignant upon reaching a certain size. Of course, I don't have any other symptoms of this disease. I have had these imaginings sporadically most of my life prompting me to run to the doctor only to find that they can't find anything really wrong. Of course, hot flashes and night sweats are even much more likely to be caused by lymphoma, which I believed I had for a short time after my husband died of this disease at the age of 32. My current husband, a retired doctor, pointed out that, if I had some sort of cancer back then that the hot flashes were a symptom, I would probably not have survived for the 30 years or more since the death of my first husband. It is just so absurd, and yet my mind really knocks itself out trying to keep me from exploring the psychological.

    I am doing a little better today, my husband is helping me to construct some mind games involving Venn diagrams, where each bubble represents part of my psyche and what it is involved in. I am attempting to crowd out the bad stuff with the good stuff in my life, but that is going to take a lot of time and effort. Wish me luck! I think it helped me just to put this in writing, although it brought on a hot flash.

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