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Knowing where to begin

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by gitch, Jun 12, 2016.

  1. gitch

    gitch Peer Supporter

    Once you discover you have TMS, it's something of a rollercoaster, as I'm sure many of you can relate. Learning the pain is not physical but emotional in nature is both refreshing and scary at the same time. It's refreshing for obvious reasons, but it's scary because it suggests you can't keep dodging some pretty big issues that are going on inside your head. I spent the last week going up and down with my moods, as I tried to figure out the root cause of it all. It turns out there's a big fat elephant in the room - my anxiety.

    What I've managed so far is that I can largely control my daytime TMS symptoms. When they come, they don't bother me. I can sit for as long as I want, and if my back pain comes, I pay no attention to it and instead focus on what I actually sat down to do.

    I think there may have been some repressed anger in there, which was the first emotion to come out. I also think that I've been putting a huge amount of pressure on myself, which hasn't helped. But the reason the pressure has been so dangerous is because it sets off my anxiety. On and off, over the last 10 years or so, I have had pit-of-the-stomach anxiety in response to particular situations. Sometimes they are situations I can explain, but most of the time it comes on for no reason I can rationally explain. When I get worried, I don't always feel it this way, but sometimes I do. Initially it came on because of feelings about my relationship, but since my brain developed the habit of producing this feeling, it began to come on through lots of other worries too. This feeling started up again last year when my back pain was creeping back. It's interesting to note that as I'm writing about this fear, the back pain I had several minutes ago is fading.

    The real reason I reached out over my back pain was the way it affects me at night. It's been about an 18 month battle so far as I try to get a clear night when I don't wake up the next morning in pain. I get pain-free nights when I sleep on my sofa, but not on my bed, and the pain gets worse the more consecutive nights I sleep on the bed for.

    I can control my daytime pain, but obviously, I can't do much about it at night when I'm asleep, which is my subconscious throwing a fit and creating tension that I feel on waking. It doesn't usually wake me up in the middle of the night, and I have no problem getting to sleep. But after several nights on the bed, I will wake at around 4am very uncomfortable.

    So, I need to know what I should focus on. I think my anxiety needs to be the next thing I go after, but where to begin? Some people suggested Dr Claire Weekes' work, which I've had a listen to but doesn't really seem to be targeted at my kind of anxiety. I get the 'acceptance' thing, and the 'float' phenomenon (personally, I used to say to myself that 'anxiety dies if you don't feed it' as a way of reminding myself not to think about it or wonder where it's coming from) but it doesn't feel like it's talking in the way I need it to.

    This isn't really a question, I know. I just wondered if it might get some thoughts from others on here.
  2. Huckleberry

    Huckleberry Well known member

    I don't necessarily buy into TMS being caused by this big issues going on inside your head scenario. I think for many people the TMS symptoms are actually a physical response to the day to day drip drip drip of stress and anxiety that becomes insidious over a period of time...there becomes a point when these emotional stressors become a physical symptom and then your nervous system basically becomes a superhighway of pain responses. I obviously do not know your situation but for me once I stopped looking for the 'big' issues and just concentrated on the little over reactions to life and the daily stressors that it when things improved.

    I totally understand what you mean about Claire Weekes' work not being specific to your kind of anxiety. I was exactly the same when I first read her and it totally put me off her theory if I'm honest. Looking back this was typical of my 'just right' and perfectionist mindset in that unless every single thing hit home then I discarded the whole thing...classic example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. What I can categorically tell you though is that though Claire Weekes work appears dated (timescale wise it is) you could spend months and months researching all the books etc and you will not find a better treatment route for anxiety. I believe the trick really is to read her work once and then just totally buy into the Accept-Float-Allow principles and not to look further than that...the less I meddled, searched, doubted and feared then the better I became.

    I hope this sort of makes some sense to you. I know its can appear that this route (and Claire Weekes work) over simplifies a complex issue but really that is the whole point. It is so easy to get caught up in the whole shit storm of doing things correctly and following procedures and stuff like that but really I think once we just stop meddling in those areas that we cannot control then things first calm down and then actually begin to resolve.
    Ellen and plum like this.
  3. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Huckleberry, that's a great response. For my part I'd add that doing nothing is a great initial response in pretty much every situation. It does well to get out of reactivity in all senses. I can also see how all the digging around I did for years just made everything worse. The fact is I am a carer and that is more than enough to induce a cascade of stress. Why ice that particular cake?

    I also completely agree with your thoughts on the drip, drip, drip nature of stress. I find this holds true for me and serves to explain why body-oriented approaches soothe and heal me far more than any others. Having engaged in tms mind games for years I am now a whole-hearted supporter of what works. The orthodox tms theory leaves little wiggle-room and I've seen that cause a lot of grief and confusion in people. I'm happy to be a heretic.

    Thanks so much for your amusing and authentic take on this, a perspective I share and enjoy.
  4. Huckleberry

    Huckleberry Well known member

    Yep I totally agree.

    It's a weird one as the acceptance of the TMS theory actually often flies totally in the face of the personality traits and stinking thinking of the typical TMS sufferer...this can leave you stuck for ages. I know it is never going to be easy to recover form stress illness/TMS but it becomes somewhat easier when you don't waylay yourself down with worrying about following procedures and theories to the letter. Consistency trumps everything.
    Ellen likes this.
  5. gitch

    gitch Peer Supporter

    A quick update on my progress here. Huckleberry, it turns out you were right about Claire Weekes' work. I never actually listened to any of the tapes again, nor did I read any material, but I didn't need to. The one and only point she made that was exactly what I needed was that anxiety is not a disorder of how we feel, but one of how we think. That was it. Whenever I feel the pit of stomach anxiety creeping in, I don't stop and examine it and ponder over why it has come. I just recognise the fact that anxiety is a disorder of how I think, and my mind then finds it very easy to just move onto something else.

    My sitting TMS is nearly a thing of the past. I can spend all day at work sitting, and don't experience any real pain. I might get a little bit under certain mental circumstances or when I'm thinking about certain subjects, but that's all.

    My sleeping TMS is progressively improving too. I came up with a regime to gradually introduce myself to the bed again. It involves weaning myself off the sofa over time. Since I have my children living with me on weekends, I have mostly slept in my bed for two nights a week. But I found whenever I tried it during the week, the pain would come back. Once I discovered about TMS, I have been gradually reintroducing the bed into my week nights. Two weeks ago, I spent one week night on it. Last week, I did two (alternating with the sofa). This week, I'm doing three, the next it will be four, then five, then six, then I'll be done. This seems to be working. Last week was a bit confusing when I'd wake up, because every day it was in a different place! But interestingly, I found I occasionally woke up with small amounts of pain after spending a night on the sofa. I think the TMS is getting rattled, and behaving erratically. This week seems to be going really well.

    If you want proof that the pain caused by TMS is a complete load of utter nonsense, I saw it today. I used to go to the gym and do a yoga class at lunch time to 'help my flexibility and improve my posture so I stopped having pain when sitting'. I now go to the gym and do a yoga class at lunch time because I enjoy the relaxation and how it helps me to switch off from work. But today, we were doing a few poses that were designed to twist the spine and work the back muscles, and I started to feel pain!?!?! I just laughed at it and wasn't worried. But how much of a mockery does that make of the "back pain = bad posture" argument? No pain after days of sitting, and then pain WHILST working the postural muscles.

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