1. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this updated link: https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/painrecovery/
    Dismiss Notice

If the brain is trying to distract me, why do I only get pain from using my voice?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by thecomputer, Jan 19, 2017.

  1. thecomputer

    thecomputer Well known member

    I have a few questions, and thought I'd create speerate threads as it may be more coherent and useful for people searching.

    I am still suffering with my voice and throat problem, it's nearly been a year since I have talked or sung freely without pain or worry. What a toll it's taken on my life.

    I have read so much about tms and experienced some brief relief after one of sarnos book. Now I am back in as much pain as the beginning.

    My question is....If the pain is a distraction created by my mind to save me from experience more dangerous repressed emotions, then why is it only there when I use my voice? If I stay silent for a few days I feel good again, relaxed, at ease, enjoying beautiful nature again. Things I cannot do when in pain.

    Surely these repressed emotions are down there in the subconscious all the time, so why is the pain only when speaking?

    The same questions goes for those with back pain that occurs only when running or doing a specific action. Surely a better distraction would be pain all the time!

    I am going through a period of doubt about tms and just want to get all my questions out there and hope for some answers I can take on board that might make sense. There are so many questions you can have with TMS especially when you are back in pain and making no progress.

    Any input greatly appreciate
    Kerrj74 likes this.
  2. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi robodelfy,

    Dr. Sarno writes that the fear of pain or other symptoms, and obsession about how to fix them, is an even greater distraction than the pain itself. When one's life begins to revolve around a symptom which comes and goes, isn't the distraction happening more often than simply during the time of the acute symptoms?

    My feet didn't hurt unless I used them. I sat most of the time. Yet my life turned into an endless quest about how to "fix those feet" including 300 mile trips once per week by plane or car...

    Andy B
  3. thecomputer

    thecomputer Well known member

    Hi Andy

    Thanks for your reply. I agree, it's a huge distraction and takes up the vast majority of my mental energy and my time.

    But if I decided not to talk at all, I could be almost completely at ease on a physical/pain level.

    This is what confuses me. It just seems that if the mind body wants to create a distraction and it has control ober almost anything it wants, why not create pain all the time.

    Ive been told on this forum already that maybe I'm just splitting hairs and asking questions that aren't going to help me heal, and just adding to the distraction. But I can't just accept anything because that's the way it is, I need to understand it as well as I can, and iron out any creases there may be. Sometimes tms can seem quite vague and all encompassing which leaves room for lots of confusion.

    If I had back pain maybe I could accept it all much more easily. But my problem appears to be fairly unique so it's harder to accept the diagnosis.

    Be great to hear more from anyone who cares to share :)
  4. Gigalos

    Gigalos Beloved Grand Eagle

  5. thecomputer

    thecomputer Well known member

    Thanks gigalos, I read that when this first started. And funnily enough I went to see Jacob Lieberman, and it cost me a lot!

    I'm afraid it didn't help much, as much as I really believed he could help.

    This is where I'm stuck with my particular problem. Do I keep trying the phsyical therapy options, massage, vocal exercises, or just treat it as tms. It's so hard to know and I worry about doing long term damage or getting terribly ingrained habits

    I'm still struggling with the concept of tms regarding pain only when using the muscles. Also that alot of my pain is due to muscle tension , I can feel them tightening constantly after use. Sarno doesn't speak much of muscle tension. I'm not sure where this fits in with TMS

    Any more people's thoughts very welcome :)
  6. Gigalos

    Gigalos Beloved Grand Eagle

    Weird coincidence, although I use the same Google search engine as you do :)

    Muscle tension is TMS, no doubt in my mind. Many people with TMS have one or more triggerpoints, oxygen deprived area's in your muscles that give pain and tension in the muscle. Every voluntary muscle (that's a giveaway already about the psychological cause) can have triggerpoints, so also the muscles that are involved with speaking. It is difficult to use a muscle that has triggerpoints in it, because it is shortened/tightened and it gives pain when you use it.
    LoveAfterAll and EileenS like this.
  7. Lady Phoenix

    Lady Phoenix Peer Supporter

    I occasionally have pain when speaking and my voice stops making any sound. If I speak more softly it seems okay but then people can't hear me. I saw Hillary Clinton doing this on TV during her campaign days and realized right away she had TMS. I had the same thought about her coughing spells. But I never realized until now that the same applies to me. (My main symptom is migraines)

    Now when it happens again I need to tell it to stop which usually works for me with other symptoms. In my opinion there is a continuum that happens when working on getting rid of TMS. First, you need to brainwash yourself by reading the book over and over and/or success stories. Then the SEP/journaling and lots of soul searching to find your anger and fears, then lastly, some quick cures you can use in everyday life when the TMS starts. Eventually you can keep the trouble to a minimum. And eventually it will be gone forever, I hope.
    Mermaid likes this.
  8. thecomputer

    thecomputer Well known member

    Thanks for the responses.

    Gigalos, it's hood to hear you say that, but why is it not written in the books that chronic muscle tension, not just a lack of oxygen can be TMS? I feel from the endless things I've read I have not seen that clearly stated.

    Once I use my voice I can feel the muscles in the area tightening and feeling like my throat will close. This continues for a day after speaking too much, and is incredibly difficult to cope with. If I concentrate incredibly hard I can slightly oppose this contraction, but never for more than a spilt second. So it seems somewhere my mind/brain has control over it.

    I have been reading more conventional advice about muscle tension dysphonia again, and it states that it's chirnic misuse of the muscles for vocalising. Often muscles pulling in opposite directions. It says the only way is to retrain these muscles with vocal exercises and speech therapy and sometimes physical manipulation.

    It says if you do not do this you can cause permanent damage to your voice. This is my greatest fear.

    I listen to recordings of my voice a year ago when I was singing. Now all I have is pain and a gruff raspy voice, sometimes just air coming out. It often brings me to tears thinking about losing the thing I love most, writing songs. So I am obviously worried about following tms treatment if it's not the right diagnosis.

    If I had low back pain im sure I could accept TMS instantly, as I resonate so much with the idea in general. But my problem is not that common, and I'm scared of doing the wrong thing

    I appreciate everyone's help, and any more advice or people chiming in would be greatly appreciated as its my only form of support. I've exhausted every conventional route I can think of

    Thanks again, sorry for the rambling!
  9. Gigalos

    Gigalos Beloved Grand Eagle

    Okay, I don't know exactly who wrote what, but it is partly what I deduct from what I have read through the years.
    Sarno and others talk about oxygen deprivation in tissues. Triggerpoints are just that! A muscle with triggerpoints in it feels tense and painful.
    Moreso, muscle tension is constantly keeping your muscles ready to fire, something you do in survivalmode (freeze-mode) where you have to decide to either get the hell out of there or fight your way out of a dangerous situation. In that mode, servicing muscle tissue is put on a low priority, all energy is directed primarily to systems that increase the chances of survival in the short tem. That's why your muscles can feel so sore after a while.
    TMS can be seen as spending too much time in survival mode because the brain sees brewing, unconscious emotions as a threat. To deduct even further, for some reason your brain could be trying to protect you from speaking out, making yourself heard. When people have experienced a traumatic event, they sometimes loose their voice. Why?? Why their voice?? Or when you directly apply the TMS theory of symptoms acting as a distraction, loosing your voice is one of the most distracting things for you. It was the same for me when years ago I had so many problems that I couldn't play table tennis anymore, something I loved to do. But when I dug deeper I had to admit that the game also stressed me out, because I usually don't like crowds of people and I don't like to hear myself moaning and whining behind the table when (inevitably in table tennis) things didn't go as planned.

    I had to think back about a famous singer in the Netherlands. One day he had a big show, but he lost his voice and had a painful throat. They called a guy with so called special powers to help. This guy told him he would do a session with him to take over the voice problems so the singer could perform that night. So, a couple of minutes later they reappeared before the camera, the singer could sing again and the 'guy' couldn't talk. Total bogus of course, it was a completely psychologically induced problem.

    Hope you find out what it is that is responsible, either psychological or physical because I am not in the position to say what it is and frankly I have nothing more useful to add. The thing with TMS is that at a certain point you have to trust your own intuition and go for it, something that is hard for many people. Anyway, hang in there! Wishing you the best and I hope you find some more people here who have the same problems as you.
  10. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Our unconscious brain is very good at creating TMS so that it impacts what means the most to us. Thus, it creates the ultimate distraction because we fear losing what we love the most. Dancers and runners have problems with their legs; musicians, artists, and computer users have problems with their arms/hands; singers and teachers with their voices; parents have back problems so they can't lift their kids; and so on. I see it all the time on this Forum. This is the heartbreak of TMS. We all have our stories, but there is hope. Follow a specific treatment program for TMS, and you will begin to recover. Just be patient and persistent.
    Ines, BruceMC and EileenS like this.
  11. EileenS

    EileenS Well known member

    Robodelfy, there are already excellent replies, but I'm adding mine because I think you are thinking your problem is different because it's your throat; mine is too.
    Three years ago, there is a long list of things I couldn't do, but they all stemmed from my neck and throat. I couldn't talk. I couldn't eat without severe ibs. In order in live, I had to eat, so I forced myself, even though I feared doing so. I love talking and talk I do, and sometimes sing. ( I love Ellen's comment above about what we love.)

    TMS is a fancy way of saying tension in the muscles. Fear and anger is always the cause of that tension.
    My advice is to stop searching the internet for solutions to your problems. I know because I'm the most analytical and sceptical person most people know. Even if you have medically diagnosed issues, the programs on this site and journalling will help you tremendously. I have diagnosed issues; 3 years ago my cervical spine was pressing on my central spinal nerves, but it's not now. I go to a chiropractor and for massage, but as my chiro said to me, all his adjustments would do me no good if I hadn't learned how to deal with the tension and stress that threw my cervical spine out of alignment in the first place. My sceptical brain has been great at fighting the very things that will help me too, like believing that the mind affects the body and that journalling helps, but they do. (Check out Time magazine's special edition titled, "Mindfulness". A true sign this has become mainstream knowledge.) Your journey has begun and welcome aboard.
    Ines likes this.
  12. thecomputer

    thecomputer Well known member

    Hi guys

    Thankyou so much for the responses. It's good to hear you all say that muscle tension can be TMS. I dont know why this isnt more explicit in the books. It seems they talk about lack of oxygen to muscles and nerves, but rarely about chronically contracted muscles or even using the wrong muscle in a certain action, like speaking in my case.

    It is sometimes hard to think my brain could possibly target the thing I care about most, or choose a certain event to start symptoms, although I know this is at the core of TMS. I keep thinking if it has control of the whole body why not just make us in constant pain all over! Maybe I'm thinking too simplistically and not given enough credit to the possibilities our minds and brains can create.

    Thanks Eileen. I appreciate your advice, its means a lot. I know at some point I need to stop posting here with all my questions, but to be honest it does help me a lot. I do have more questions, but each time I start a discussion here, it helps me to move past that doubt and much closer to believing the diagnosis. That is the way I have always been, extremely sceptical and doubting.

    Something I've been thinking about is : how do you know when something is TMS and when it is a learned habitual behaviour. Obviously we learn to do many things over the years from muscle memory, just like finding the light switch in the dark. It can be very hard to change these habits. Obviously a lot of these dont come from repressed emotions. This is what I am being told with my voice from the countless conventional doctors and specialists, that I have learned over the years to breathe incorrectly, use the wrong muscles etc. And that I need to retrain. If this is the case, then of course it makes sense to do certain exercises and routines. But if its TMS then doing any of these 'physical' things is just re enforcing the idea that its physical. This is where I am stuck. I am certain lots of emotional stuff plays a huge role in my problem, and then i also feel i have many bad habits with breathing, talking, singing etc. But I am being told contradictory things from the different sides, and I'm a little lost for what to do. If I completely trust in the TMS diagnosis and just work on the repressed emotions etc. then will these bad habits correct themselves, or will I still be left with a 'lagging vocal cord' and various muscles contracting.

    Sorry if I am going round in circles a bit, but I feel much closer to understanding all this through this thread, so if you guys can be patient with me and trust you are helping me immensely

    Thanks again
  13. ladyofthelake

    ladyofthelake Peer Supporter

    In my TMS certainly muscles were constantly tense and causing pain in a way that made it very painful to work and support my family therefore producing profound fear.
    As far as other therapies...yes they are a distraction but I sure tried them. I won't go into major details but I tried PT and alignment excercises and stretches and then steroid shots...they didn't help even though they "treated" the thing that was wrong.
    My point is, as backwards as it sounds "understanding" the physical mechanics of TMS is not important and part of the great wheel of fear and distraction.
    I personally recommend Alan Gordon's TMS recovery program, free on this site. It helped me get how to start thinking differently.
  14. Gigalos

    Gigalos Beloved Grand Eagle

    Robo, we understand your doubts because we all had them. You are probably a bit of a perfectionist, the ideal candidate for TMS symptoms. I am a perfectionist. Perfectionism is fear of your unconscious of not being in control. Yes, I am still not 100% sure about every single symptom, but I gathered so much evidence along the way that I trust in the TMS approach. For example, I had loss of control of my left leg. But sometimes I didn't, especially when I was relaxed and not worried, unconscious even of what I was doing. Hey, I just walked a mile without any problems?! How can that be?? When that had happened a couple of times, I slowly got more confidence that my approach was the right one and I started to get better.

    So, my advise: Just go with it (TMS) and gather evidence. Capture the moments where you suddenly become conscious of the fact that you are speaking or singing without problems. These moments will probably be followed by the problems coming back, because you get anxious that they will... what you expect is what you get is very applicable to TMS.
    But to start gathering this evidence, you will need to start switching off your doubts about the exact mechanics. People with back problems for example, need to go through this too. Conventional doctors tell them their back is wrecked and warn them about possible consequences of using it the wrong way, often in a very convincing way. Despite that they need to take the risk of approaching it the TMS way, otherwise they will never start gathering evidence that is needed to convince yourself that it is psychologically induced pain and discomfort that you are suffering from.
    Yes, you take a risk by doing that... but life is full of risks... only thing you know now is that all the conventional doc's couldn't help you, so if you choose to not take the risk you will be stuck forever.

    I do believe people can wreck their voice, although I doubt that it will be irreversible. If I sing the wrong way, I will be unable to continue within 10 minutes. (This in fact is true, but I don't worry about it because it is not my passion nor do I need to sing for a living). I am sure I will be able to sing for an hour if I am instructed the right way. You should have learned how to sing by now, since you read so many things and went to specialists. It might be difficult for you because of TMS, but you do know what technique to use I assume. Singing or speaking consciously isn't the problem, but worrying about it is. Doing something strained is messing up things, doing it without expectation in a relaxed way is when things start to go better.

    Yes... it sounds so simple, but getting over this fear and doubt is why people need time to heal. Hope it all makes sense.

  15. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

  16. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes, Gigalos! So well put that we all have doubts, and we proceed, and the doubts get taken care of in time... actually a natural part of the process. It is the perfectionist fear/anxiety thinking patterns, exacerbated by symptoms and negative experiences which make proceeding without "being sure" difficult.

    It may help just to recognize: "I am afraid that this may not work" and be gentle with yourself, in your inner experience.

    Here's my contribution on doubts:

    http://www.tmspainrelief.com/doubts-about-dr-sarnos-work/ (Doubts about Dr. Sarno's Work | TMS Pain Relief with Andy Bayliss)

    Andy B
  17. thecomputer

    thecomputer Well known member

    Thank you for your replies.

    I am slowly erasing my various doubts about TMS and my problem, but it is taking time. I cant just have blind faith in something, I never was able to! It seems the more people tell me just to believe in TMS and let go of needing to work anything out, the more I feel aversive to the whole thing. I know its not black and white like maybe a broken leg, but I think many questions can be answered, so I appreciate people doing their best to help me, I really do.

    Nobody responded to my comment about learned behaviours that are not caused by repressed emotions (such as singing with bad technique etc) as opposed to TMS.

    Also, if you have a Structural/Physical problem that maybe was caused by your TMS symptoms, such as my lagging vocal cord, should you be treating that physically if possible whilst aslo following TMS treatment. This is where I get lost as the two paths are so contradictory. I essentially have 3 problems, all in my throat/voice, some obviously physical manifestations such as chronic pharyngitis and my lazy vocal cord, and some invisible such as the pain/burning and extreme tension in my throat. If I resolve my TMS symptoms, who knows if the physical problems will also go back to normal. My main worry is obviously damaging my voice permanently by following TMS if it is not entirely that. I fully accept that a lot of this is emotionally based, but maybe not all!

    Gigalos, I would try, but in over 9 months I have not said or sung a word without pain and a different sounding voice to before. So I have little to go on in this respect. The pain has fluctuated hugely, but also been consistent overall when using my voice. I have resorted to typing on my phone or laptop to speak to my partner, and I cannot work or sometimes even go to the shop.

    The symptoms do change, sometimes my tongue is the focus, mostly my throat, sometimes burning, stinging, sometimes tightness and spasms, sometimes more freedom to speak but my voice goes completely gruff and Husky. This makes me think its TMS as it is rarely exactly the same.

    I'm doing my best here, and I apologise for the being so doubtful and asking so many questions, but I dont even remember who I was before this problem. I used to run public speaking workshops, sing, perform, talk all the time with friends and my partner, and enjoy being active and social. Its been close to a year since doing any of that, and Ive lost the will to pick up my guitar, to be around people, and mostly just want the day to end, and the next one to not begin. I have lost all my confidence and feel depressed. This is not me, I love life, or I used to.

    I am just trying to keep the little faith I have, and TMS is that little bit of faith that there is a way out of this
  18. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    Depression is an affective/TMS emotional equivalent symptom--it's also TMS. Depression is an opportunity to grow.
  19. thecomputer

    thecomputer Well known member

    I was not depressed before I had these physical symptoms. I enjoyed life a lot.

    Even now as the symptoms subside when I am silent for a few days I feel joy and ease coming back.

    Again, the more people just repeat that everything and anything is TMS the more I feel frustrated. I believe in sarnos work and I completely agree all these things affect certain people.

    Currently I am trying very seriously to work out if there is something else going on with my fairly unique problem, so I can believe fully in TMS or get the appropriate treatment in another way.

    So if anyone could respond to my previous post I'd greatly appreciate it. I'm feeling quite desperate
  20. Gigalos

    Gigalos Beloved Grand Eagle

    I feel your frustration robo. You want answers but we cannot answer all your questions because we are not specialist with both medical and psychological backgrounds. And even if we were specialists, it would be mostly empirically gathered evidence that we would base our conclusion on. Because that is what TMS is based upon mostly. So, only thing left for me is to state things that I hope will hit home, I am sorry beforehand for doing that without you asking for it. I am not a blind believer from the church of Sarno that is trying to convince you about that your particular problem is 100% TMS, I would be wrong to do that.

    Learned behaviour vs. TMS.... yes you can get problems from wrong, learned behaviour, but it should resolve in time unless you have seriously damaged something and don't allow it to heal. I understand your doubt about your particular situation. Sadly, as already stated, I cannot take away that doubt.

    A mistake in thinking could be that something is either 100% TMS or not. Many things can be both TMS and physical/structural. For example, when I get a cold it is a virus that is responsible, science has proven that, but the chance of getting that cold and the severity could be greatly influenced by TMS. Another example, when I twist my knee it is completely obvious that something structural went wrong, but the chances of me twisting it and the severity and length of the aftermath could be greatly influenced by TMS. So, pondering about your voice problems..... might something similar be happening?? If so, why not take the TMS road to at least up your chances of your voice getting better? You can always make a U-turn when you feel it doesn't help you at all. But don't make the mistake of making the U-turn because you feel resistance. Resistance is often fear of underlying emotions...

    I wonder why you think you take the risk of wrecking your voice for good. Do you think you need to speak and sing despite the symptoms once you take the TMS road?? This is what I call the Steve-O way of conquering your TMS, which isn't necessary. He only got better for real when he found out what set it off, that he spend years in hyperfreeze about certain things that happened in the past. Sarno also says to resume physical activity, but he doesn't mean that you should do that despite terrible pain and discomfort. There is another way and that is taking baby steps. It will take more time perhaps, but you will get where you need to go too. I took babysteps, gathered some confidence, took a bigger step once and a while, gathered more confidence... till where I am now.

    Buddhism is great, but why do so many monks have hemorrhoids?? (please someone tell me who stated that quote... I put my money on Steve-O but I am not sure). Is it TMS (frustration, anger, fear about living the life of a monk for example, trying to be a goodist, trying to be a perfect monk, I don't know, seems frustrating to me) or is it purely from sitting in a certain way for long periods of time or eating stuff that is clogging you up inside?? Can you elaborate on how meditation/silence is helping you? I am not a buddhist, but I do meditate sometimes. I know that it should revolve around accepting and allowing emotions by spending time in the present, instead of pondering about the past and future. But I do sometimes make the mistake in which I misuse meditation in order to flee from my situation, just like going to bed early when you are in a sad mood. That isn't necessarily wrong to do, unless it becomes structural.

    that is it for today :), hope some of my scribblings help you, hang in there
    Tennis Tom likes this.

Share This Page