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If not repression, then what??

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Lunarlass66, Feb 24, 2017.

  1. Lunarlass66

    Lunarlass66 Well known member

    Hello everyone,
    Lately, I've been doing quite a lot of psychological self exploration and keep coming back to the same dilemma.
    I've always been (and my counselor concurs on this) a very self-aware person, and I rarely suppress emotion. If I feel sad, angry, depressed or afraid, I usually know exactly why and how it's happened and I don't fear expressing it. (within reason, of course..)
    It's certainly understandable that holding such emotions in without a healthy outlet would create accumulated tension and then of course, TMS symptoms... But I wonder WHY I still have bodily symptoms even though I don't suppress emotion.
    I also believe the Mindbody Syndrome can occur from CURRENT stressors, not necessarily from our histories, though I'm sure this can add to the complexity of the syndrome... it seems all too easy to over think this...
    Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!
  2. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    It is ridiculously easy to over think this. TMS is a mind-gremlin after all.

    Other reasons are anxiety (Claire Weekes), our current way of thinking keeping our pain alive (Monte Huefle, Eckhart Tolle), central nervous system over-sensitisation (David Hanscom) and/or conditioning (Dr. Schu).

    Sometimes (usually) a combination of the above is at play.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  3. Lunarlass66

    Lunarlass66 Well known member

    I completely agree that any or all of these scenarios may be occurring all at once..
    And my immediate reaction isn't one of calm or comfort, but a surge of increased panic. I feel overwhelmed by multiple theories and keep "beating my head against the wall" (figuratively) asking over and over what to DO about it. How to calm my nerves enough to even begin embracing treatment...
    The term "Somatization" was mentioned at counseling and of course with my medical anxiety, putting a name to the "face of the monster" seems to imcrease it's fear factor.
    You begin to question your sanity at this point and of course my relationship is suffering greatly because he has said he "doesn't understand" what's wrong with me and just says "you're fine"... Then I get angry and frustrated. I feel anything but fine.
  4. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    LL, what have you done for your anxiety? Just jumping in and reading these two posts, I'm thinking, not much, if anything. Anxiety is a TMS equivalent, it acts as a distraction, and you simply can not recover from TMS if you don't take it seriously and deal with it.

    You may also be a candidate for Existential Psychotherapy. It's a pretty simple thesis, but I found it incredibly helpful for getting in touch with the core human issues that frequently bring us down. I actually learned about it through this forum, and I never saw a practitioner, but it completely changed my outlook. Combined with overcoming my anxiety, it was really the final step to my recovery.

    Claire Weekes for anxiety, by the way. There's no one else like her.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  5. RichieRich

    RichieRich Well known member


    Take a step back for a moment. Don't get agitated because someone else doesn't understand what's happening; they're not going to nor can it be expected of them. The best you can do is simply continue in meaningful dialogue regarding the issue as well ensure you have their support while you're [weathering the storm]. This is one of those things you kind of have to figure out on your own. You're the only one with the power to change this, all others are there to support the change.

    Don't get hung up on terms and theories....there are so many out there that finding what works for you requires a combination of them.

    What you're feeling right now is what I like to think of as the unfiltered version of You. I guess in a sense you should be honored to be able to meet your other half. Now that you're in the same room together, you need to move towards it, move towards the discomfort/agitation/fear. Don't fight the sensation, welcome it. Accept that it's there and move on. Don't fight it, say hi and move on with whatever it was you were doing. Just start making a habit of moving towards the discomfort and moving on.

    As someone who overcame GAD, you will become whole again if you stop fighting to fix this, rest assured.

    EDIT: To clarify what it means to move towards the discomfort, if you feel like you're suffocating, take a breath and move on. If your chest hurts, remind yourself it's only a sensation and get on with things. If you have mental fog, take a break and let it smack you around for a minute, then get back to what you were doing.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2017
  6. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, lunarlass66. Have you done the Structured Educational Program? It's free in the subforum here and can help you to discover and deal with the emotions and character traits that cause physical pain. I found journaling to be the most helpful. I learned to understand myself better, by discovering repressed emotions going back to my boyhood. It also helps me to deal with contemporary events that cause stress. They actually are related to anger and other emotions from the past.
  7. hoolie

    hoolie Peer Supporter

    Sometimes, the "fake it till you make it" approach is a place to start. Tell yourself calming things, like "I am peaceful and calm. I am healthy and whole. I accept who I am". It might feel so forced and contrived at the time, because part of you will scream back at you. But the alternative is letting those bullying voices get louder and louder, and those bullying voices are not the truth. Eventually you will start to believe the good things you are telling yourself.

    I had this epiphany a while back when I was so so so tense. I found myself telling my husband, "I'm just so tight! I can't relax!" And I realized, if I kept telling myself that, of course I would be. I changed gears. It wasn't immediate, but it worked.

    I know how much you want an immediate fix, right now. I know!! And you might, but just start by telling yourself soothing comforting things. Start there. It will start to gain traction.

    My husband only understands about 10% of what I deal with, but it's now enough that he can support me. Has your partner read any Sarno books, or even the intro to the Wiki? I have had some really cathartic moments when I have just wept and let my husband into my world. Then he plays me this super cheesy YouTube video by Rosey Grier from 1972 and it makes me cry harder- then laugh because it's so bad it's good:
  8. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    According to Sarno's theory, TMS is not caused by the emotions we are aware of, whether we choose to suppress them or express them. Rather TMS is caused by repressed emotions that are outside our awareness. The process of repression is an unconscious defense mechanism. It is possible for us to become aware of our unconscious, repressed emotions through the process of expressive writing and psychotherapy. This newfound awareness usually arrives in the form of an Ah-ha moment, like a light bulb going off in our mind. These repressed emotions are often the result of internal conflicts. One TMS writer put it well--TMS is not caused by the feelings we are aware of, but rather our deep, unconscious feelings about these feelings. These are usually rage, guilt, shame, grief, fear. These emotions are often triggered by current events, but our defense mechanisms are usually developed in childhood as a coping mechanism. For example, I am aware of being angry at my boss, but because I learned in childhood that it is not OK for me to feel anger (especially at an authority figure), I feel guilt and shame about having these angry feelings. I may be repressing the guilt and shame. Or the opposite may occur. I'm aware of feeling guilt and shame around my boss, but I may be repressing the anger, since it wasn't safe to be angry when I was a child.

    And TMS is a defense mechanism created by our unconscious to keep us distracted so these repressed emotions never come to conscious awareness. By being willing to uncover our repressed emotions and look at them, we undermine the need for TMS. And we recover.

    Sarno's book the Divided Mind goes into all this well, and explains it much better than I can. I highly recommend this book.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2017
  9. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is well put.

    I would also say that based on my experience, in approaching Dr. Sarno's work, I was already well aware of my inner emotional states, having done many years of inner work with meditation, inquiry, somatic awareness. I was puzzled as to why I would have TMS. Dr. Sarno explains that I must simply connect my inner awareness to his theory. This opened my healing. Your situation may be different, Lunar, if you've already been practicing Dr. Sarno's approach for awhile.

    I think that Richie might be getting at a core item for you here. When you say this:
    And my immediate reaction isn't one of calm or comfort, but a surge of increased panic. I feel overwhelmed by multiple theories and keep "beating my head against the wall" (figuratively) asking over and over what to DO about it. How to calm my nerves enough to even begin embracing treatment...
    The term "Somatization" was mentioned at counseling and of course with my medical anxiety, putting a name to the "face of the monster" seems to imcrease it's fear factor.
    You begin to question your sanity at this point and of course my relationship is suffering greatly because he has said he "doesn't understand" what's wrong with me and just says "you're fine"... Then I get angry and frustrated. I feel anything but fine.

    You're dealing right into the most difficult constellations which you might experience: frustration, confusion, anger, loss of support, even rage that you're in this position, probably. Everything you experience in these current states can be simply folded into the inquiry of "what does my Inner Child feel about this?" Or What does not want to be felt? What I am saying is you might stick with Richie's aim to feel and hang out in these inner hell realms, and then add these simple inquiries I wrote out above.

    You're dealing with some pretty basic, painful ego activity such as "Why am I in the state I am in?" and "Is there something I can or should do to not be here?" These states cause extreme head-banging, because some action seems to be required. It is impossible to not act, it feels. Extreme frustration. But this too can be witnessed, and connected to Dr. Sarno's approach.

    Also, anything pleasurable and distracting from this dynamic that you can do is wonderful. I would recommend engaging in some things which are antidotes for these difficult experiences --whatever that might be for you. Movies, massage, movement, talk on the phone with friend, music, breathing, art, food, etc!

    Andy B
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2017
  10. Huckleberry

    Huckleberry Well known member

    All somatisation means is that psychological distress is being manifested as physical symptoms/sensations. If you can accept that concept and more importantly believe that, on the balance of the evidence, that this is what is happening to you then that is pretty much 99% of the battle won.
    I personally am of the opinion that TMS is basically physical anxiety on steroids that becomes perpetuated by a combination of obsession and the subsequent somatic amplification. Pretty much every anxiety disorder is chararactised by the negative feedback loop of Trigger-Mental Reaction-Physical Reaction-Fear...I think most TMS'ers get so hung up on the physical aspect of the loop that they fail to take into account the validity of all the other contributing aspects to their predicament.
    Lunarlass66 likes this.
  11. Lydia

    Lydia Peer Supporter

    It can be such a mind-trick, when convincing thoughts/conclusions are there like 'I rarely suppress emotion'. Everybody supresses, the unconscious part is so huge, our conditioned reactions to life events are so strong and sometimes completely out of sight. And... it's just human. Believing the thought that the emotional part of this TMS-work is not for you, can really be a wonderful and effective distraction. And the result is that you stay where you are, and the pain keeps going on...

    I had this thought too, about myself. Then I started to journal by talking into a memo-recorder and being very, very honest with myself. I saw that my mind was interfering too much while writing. That's why I changed my method.
    I was/am astonished about a lot of outcomes. Completely new insights, especially about personality traits and early childhood trauma's, were given to me, by being so receptive while talking into the memorecorder. So grateful for that!!! 15 years of psychotherapy and 20 years writing in my diary were nothing, really nothing, compared with what has happened now...

    So may be it's time for you too, to step in a completely new way of self-observation... Not the usual ways you already know...

    Wish you wonderful insights and fun on your unique way, to discover the root of your pain!
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  12. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yeah, Lydia!

    I believe that this was also a huge turning point for me - becoming aware that my primitive brain kept trying to steer me away from certain topics as I was doing the SEP. Once I made the decision to not let it do that, the results were, as you also experienced, astonishing.

    Relentless honesty is required to be successful in recovery, I have no doubt about that.
    Lydia likes this.
  13. ladyofthelake

    ladyofthelake Peer Supporter

    Lydia, could you elaborate on this memo recording journaling? I'm a verbal person who doesn't sometimes realize things until I'm actually saying them. I'm also not proficient at writing, it isn't a natural way of expressing myself. I do benefit from journaling but just don't do it nearly as much as some people here. My physical pain is about 98% resolved...now I'm really delving into anxiety. (If I were a better writer I'd have posted my success story). Anyway most of my TMS progress came from listening to and relistening to Alan Gordon's program because I'm an auditory learner.
    ANYWAY, did you ever listen to your recordings? Or was it just enough to know that it was being recorded? Is there a name for a spoken journal? I've done that sometimes myself...often a voice memo on my phone while driving...I don't really revisit the recording, it was the process itself that helped.
  14. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think success stories are the most profound way we can help each other because they provide hope, often where there is none. So I'd like to encourage you to post your success story. It could just consist of bullet points. No need to worry about how it's written. Or there are those who have posted using video accounts of their success. There isn't any reason why it couldn't be an audio account that you post.

    Congratulations on your success!
    JanAtheCPA and ladyofthelake like this.

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