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journal advice needed

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by eskimoeskimo, Feb 6, 2017.

  1. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Journaling today, I realized something that I already kind of knew, but now seems more obvious than ever before. My long string of symptoms started during a painful breakup. I think I've been somewhat reluctant to acknowledge how painful it was, because it's a little embarrassing to admit that the end of a high school relationship at age 17 could have messed me up so much. But during that breakup is when various self-image / body-image obsessions and insecurities started, then anxiety, then depression, then stomach pain, then testicular and perineum pain, then upper back pain for 4-5 years, which changed to neck pain for the last 3-4 years. Now I'm totally consumed by neck pain.

    I remember the first time I journaled honestly about this breakup subject, the pain greatly diminished and I felt more confident and empowered ... lighter. I then went out with a friend and watched a movie pain-free. Then there was also one time speaking to a therapist about this breakup when the pain also greatly diminished.

    The thing, I'm not sure how else to process this issue. I've journaled about it many, many times. I feel like, consciously at least, I'm over it. When journaling, I can tap some of that old hurt and get it out. But, except for that first time (which was years ago), it doesn't bring any pain relief. Even today, the journaling felt clarifying, like I could see the situation more clearly. But it didn't alter the pain at all.

    Has anyone else had this experience and have some tips for how to proceed? I thought this was the kind of realization / insight that should render the pain useless. I'm tapping right into the rage and not holding back, but the pain won't budge.

  2. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Eskimo,
    I'm glad you've had an insight that you are able to tie to pain relief. And I'm glad you are still working on TMS strategies despite your frustration with continued TMS pain.

    While I think the kind of journaling you did about the past is helpful, I think one has to bring that insight into the present for it to have a long lasting impact on our pain. For me this has involved journaling about how that old hurt is effecting me presently in how I deal with situations. For example, am I so afraid of having that experience again that I go into a fight/flight situation at even the slightest indication that I could be at risk of it happening again. This is likely happening at an unconscious level and serves as a defense mechanism to protect us from similar emotional pain. When the past hurt is social in nature, this could manifest as social anxiety, that then induces stress and tension, which leads to TMS pain. And then even if we isolate ourselves to avoid being hurt again, this also creates fear and anxiety, as we are social animals who know at a deep, primal level that we cannot survive alone.

    So my sugggestion is to look at the incident in the light of your current life and how it may continue to impact you there. This is hard stuff to look at, and I applaud your courage in doing so. Wishing you all the best.......
    Ewok2, eskimoeskimo and plum like this.
  3. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Thank you Ellen, that is excellent advice. I hadn't quite looked at it from that angle. I am sure that that past hurt is still affecting my contemporary self in all sorts of negative ways. I'm completely socially isolated, and the tendency to punish myself in that way might originate back then. I'll try to tease some more insight out of this subject via journaling. As always, your insight is inspiring. Wishing you heaps of wellness.
    Ellen likes this.
  4. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hey you,

    There is nothing embarrassing about being hurt during our young, budding years. They can be incredibly bruising. It can take us a long time to process them and then challenge the patterns they force us into. But in the end you can journal till the cows come home and these fears can still have you by the short hairs. Sometimes we have to risk it all or else live our entire life in an ever-tightening vise of pain and fear. That really is a indulgent waste of time because daring to be is the very stuff of life. Get out into the world and engage in the things that challenge you. F*** what happened. I was abused by a family friend when I was 14/15. That bastard only took my time, my soul and my life belong to me (and God but that is another story). Become bigger than the bullshit that keeps you small. And TMS is bullshit that keeps you small.

    One of my mantras for life is:

    Action over Perfection.

    Says it all really.

    Plum x
    eskimoeskimo likes this.
  5. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Mme. Plum,

    Yikes this hits home. I've let pesky pains kick the shit out of me. I've turned my life into this microscopic thing where there's no room for any joy. The amount of time I've wasted indulging this smallness, staring at my navel, is stupefying. Good God I'm sick of myself.

    Now this is really where I'm stuck. Doing the TMS work only seems to make me smaller. It narrows my focus even more to myself, to the pain not going away, to the inside of my own skull. Is it just me that feels like TMS work is the worst possible prescription for people like us?

    Maybe I need to be stricter about relegating the TMS stuff to a certain reasonable time slot, and then moving the hell on. I do have a tendency to do my little journalling and my little meditating, but then spend the rest of the day thinking about how it didn't "work," this still sucks, checking the forum and my TMS notes every f**** ten minutes.

    I remember Ellen mentioning keeping the TMS work to an hour. I think I need to take that more seriously.

    I want to offer some conciliatory remarks to you too, regarding your past and present, but in the spirit we're cultivating here I'll say instead:

    Grab life by the plums!

    Lunarlass66, Ellen and plum like this.
  6. Sonic

    Sonic Peer Supporter

    Be careful about Journaling about the same experiance over and over. From what I have read, this can cause self-pity and bring you down. Which in turn can cause new symptoms. It's also important that you don't re-read what you have written over and over.
  7. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    That's the spirit!

    Look at it this way, what doesn't kill you makes for a great antecdote. Having spent more time in the TMS hello-hole than people get for armed robbery I completely understand all you are saying. I laughed when you said "Good God I'm sick of myself" because I'm pretty sure I've said something similar many times. I reached the point where TMS and the emotional work just bored me rigid with it's obsessive circularity.

    Have a gander at this reply I made earlier:

    <a href="http://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/do-some-never-heal.14869/#post-78690 (Do some never heal)">Do some never heal</a>

    You may need to shift your healing focus elsewhere. While I was busy endlessly fighting the emotional fires of TMS I failed to notice that instead of the flames going out they had simply expanded and become all-consuming. I had to step away and deal with the bigger picture. That and flirting. Flirting it transpires kicks TMS in the balls. I love the smell of victory in the morning.

    Edit: sorry about the crappy code but the link wouldn't work to save its life.
  8. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Ran across this quote by Eckhart Tolle: "As long as you make an identity for yourself out of pain, you cannot become free of it."

    Also, don't make an identity out of working on your pain--same thing.

    My recommendation about how much time to spend daily on working on TMS came from Sarno, who says around an hour. But don't become obsessive about the time. Just have a clear boundary around it. If a particular exercise or reading takes a little longer, that is OK. But then put it away and live life.

    Go have some fun.
    eskimoeskimo likes this.
  9. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

  10. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Yea C
    Thanks Sonic. I don't think I've fully tapped the well yet on this subject, and it doesn't bring me down writing about it. Something to keep an eye on though, so thank you. I do notice that I have to try to avoid using the same phraseology to describe these things, because saying it the same way seems to lose impact after a while.
  11. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Thanks Plum. My intuition is that you're speaking right to the piece that's most lacking in my approach to this. Sometimes I wonder why the TMS approach doesn't emphasis this part of the puzzle more, just getting back to life, having fun. And then I wonder if maybe that's because I'm not getting it, and that maybe I need to figure it out, and I want to be sure / prove to myself 100% that it can get better and that I haven't done any damage to my neck, and ... back in the circular obsessing. You get the picture. And you're absolutely right about flirting. I have all of these activities at my disposal which I know distract me from pain, but I've not allowed myself to just do them because they feel ... too easy. Like I want to stay trapped.

    The thread with C64 is eerily akin. I feel confused and frustrated (and hopeless) in the same way.
  12. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    This is helpful guidance. I don't plan on setting an egg timer, but I do think I need to stop sprinkling "TMS work" in throughout the day whenever I feel like I need reassurance. When I'm alone, in public, doing school work, I click over to the forum constantly in an attempt to bring my fear down. I'm thinking that's counterproductive.
  13. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    This brings up something I'm confused about. I've never really connected with the psychological replacement / distraction part of this whole thing. Thinking psychological has never brought me relief. I'm trying again to understand this part of it by journaling more consistently, but I'm still skeptical. Instead I've focused more on treating the pain as basically any other anxiety symptom and then trying to Claire Weekes it ... accept, float, etc. This hasn't brought me relief either, but it makes more sense to me so I keep trying. Ellen, I know you used a bird-shot approach to healing and attacked it from many different angles, but is your feeling that thinking psychological is key? Did it take some time to connect with this?

    Also, regarding meditation. I meditate most days, trying to accept the pain. One out of twenty times, the pain diminishes significantly. One out of a hundred, it dissipates entirely. So, I keep going back to it to try to repeat those experiences. The other 118/120 times it can do anything from lessen a little bit to jump up a bunch. The thing I'm worried about though is that this meditation is really just paying attention to the pain, trying to accept it ...... is this just keeping me too focused on the pain? I'm I just building more neural networks around the pain, complicating the picture, and keeping me stuck? Those occasional successes keep me coming back, but it usually just drags me down. I really can't tell if it's helping or hurting.

    Thanks Ellen

  14. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    God Bless You. You are so adorable. Embrace the ease and fun and stop trying to figure it out. In a response to Ellen you ask if the psychological is key. In a weird way it is because the lock is the tangle of thoughts you've created and the key is the knowledge that you can unpick the perplexity one thought at a time OR you can get your beautiful gluteus maximus out there and have so much fun it's ridiculous. If nothing else the latter breaks up the pain patterns for the duration of the banter. Read the link Ellen has given you to Monte. Listen to the download. We build our house of pain stick by stick, thought by thought. We can tease it into going kerplunk or we can burn it down. Me? I'm fascinated by fire. You don't want to stay trapped but perhaps a part of you has habituated or feels safe there..? Idle thoughts to kick around.

    Rootin' for you.
  15. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is a very important insight. I suggest exploring this. There is an attraction to the familiarity of our suffering that has to be addressed.
  16. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Ah, my dear Eskimo, you remind me of myself. You are the master of the "Yes, but........" I was trapped in that pattern too for awhile. We get a lot of positive feedback in our culture for being smart and analytical, and it may serve you well in school and in your chosen profession, but it's a curse in our personal lives. But I do applaud you for your persistence, despite your doubts and lack of success. You must know you are on the right path at some level or you wouldn't persist.

    Regarding "thinking psychological"--at it's essence, it seems to me that it is just saying that the cause of our TMS is in our Mind (or psyche, or the neuroscientists say it is in the brain). Do you doubt that? Believing that was a huge relief to me, as it meant I didn't have to go down the rabbit holes of physical or environmental causes any more. But narrowing the cause down to the Mind is still a huge area, and so there are different paradigms to try to make sense of it. I don't really completely understand any of them all that well, but I still recovered from my TMS pain syndromes. Therefore, I don't think understanding the paradigm is necessary. I just tried a few different things, and when I found something that seemed to work in reducing my pain, I kept using it. Some of these things are exercises or strategies, some of it was more about changing my attitudes, beliefs, and thoughts. This is a much harder process to describe and is very individualized. I identified patterns of thinking and behavior that were creating stress and tension, and tried to change them. I react to stress differently now. It was a slow process, and I'm still working on it. Everything I used is in my Success Story. But I'm still learning.

    And you know how they say that the best way to learn is to teach. That is one of the reasons I'm still replying to posts on this Forum after all these years. Every time I respond to some else's questions, I clarify my thoughts and beliefs. This might be a good exercise for you. Reply to some of the questions posted by Newcomers here, and see what evolves. What do you believe about TMS?

    As always, wishing you the best......
    plum likes this.
  17. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is so true. Helping others also helps you heal, nurtures empathy and compassion and adds to the wealth of mind~body knowledge.
    Ellen likes this.

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