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Menopause and TMS?

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Jules, Oct 10, 2017.

  1. Jules

    Jules Well known member

    Many of you know my story, so won’t rehash it here. I was doing quite well, thinking I had licked tms, once and for all, after 20 years of chronic pain, and some intense emotional work for the last few years. I even was able to get a fulltime job 5 months ago, just to prove I could. Now, pain has come back with a vengence, and not just pain, but anxiety and nausea. I am 45, and last year had my hormones tested. I have too much estrogen and not enough progestrone. I starting taking bioidentical hormones and seemed to be doing better, but then the nausea hit and I stopped.

    At that point, I was doing better with the pain so I figured that this was just the symptom imperative at work. Now, I’m not so sure. I was told that I was deep in menopause, which has many symptoms in and of itself, and because of that, it could be causing my symptoms. Still, I know that menopause doesn’t cause chronic pain. I know that it can cause muscle tension, but so does TMS. I do know it can cause anxiety and nausea. What’s interesting is that my daughter is almost 3 months pregnant and I have the same exact symptoms as her. I have been working very hard with my therapist, and but I have no idea what the trigger here is. The last few weeks have been really bad though, and I find myself either with forearm pain, rib pain, shoulder pain, nausea, anxiety, and migraines. And yes, they keep moving around.

    I’ve had to take off at least one day every week off work and I feel like I’m exhausted all the time. I don’t even want to do anything when I come home from work, because I work from 7 o’clock until 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and I come home and just crash. I’m a writer, so I am writing eight hours a day, talking to clients, and everything else in between. It is very stressful. I thought maybe I need to go to part time and just try not to have so much responsibility. But, again I don’t know if that’s going to help or if this is just perpetuating the TMS. Anyway, I’m very frustrated right now because I was 75% pain-free and was doing everything: painting, walking, on the computer, mopping, scrubbing, etc....

    So, my question for people that may know about menopause or have been through it, is this a crazy thing to deal with, is it using TMS as an excuse? I don’t know. I just know I can’t work like this and I’m so tired of my brain not getting the message, even after years of hard work. It’s almost like it’s been too long, and my brain refuses to listen. I know it sounds crazy, but I’m so tired of dealing with this. I have done everything by the book and then I’ve also done nothing, and it’s still here. I don’t know what else to try at this point.
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hey Jules, I'm sorry to hear that you're struggling again. You're the second person to mention recent nausea as a symptom, and then I remembered that I had an episode of queasiness (and dizziness) last Tuesday morning on a weekly walk I take with some friends. It was two days after the Las Vegas murders by the psychopath. Now, I don't know if that was a specific trigger, or if it was just one more thing piled on so many others. I continued to feel below par all week, and when Monday evening approached again this week, I felt myself getting dizzy and queasy again! Right on schedule - and if that ain't TMS, I don't know what is, people!

    I finally stopped whatever I was doing, cleared my mind chatter, and applied my awareness to my thoughts. I found some niggly little anxieties about one friend that I walk with, and some annoyances with others, and some concerns about the future of our walks. I addressed all of these with my rational mind, and by the time I got to the walk the next morning, I was feeling fine!

    To me, this is such a clear example of how our primitive brain uses the TMS mechanism. I have no doubt that my anxiety level has been ramped up by recent tragic events. Obviously there are concerns and fears related to the world-wide effect of those events, as well as to the threat of a major earthquake where I live. But my brain likes me to be worried about those things, so it has no need to react to those. Instead it chose to give me a symptom related to some minor emotional issues I was having about my Tuesday morning walks - as if allowing myself to be emotional about them would put me in danger of not being alert to the greater dangers out there? It's weird - but addressing these simple thoughts completely turned around my experience.
  3. Jules

    Jules Well known member

    Thank you. That makes a lof of sense and is exactly what my therapist said. I was stressing about my job, realizing I did not want to work fulltime, but worried about talking to my boss. For weeks, my stomach would hurt, then my head, then my arm and back again. It was keeping me so distracted so I couldnt worry about telling my boss, protecting me from the perceived danger of losing my job if I spoke up.

    I finally spoke up yesterday and asked about going to part time and in another department. After the meeting, my arm pain vanished, but I woke up this morning with a migraine. I was now worried if I would be able to move to part time and stressed that if I couldnt, I would have to choose whether to quit. Once I processed those emotions, the pain left again. TMS is tricky and so frustrating. I would just like to have my brain “get it.” Sigh....
  4. Duggit

    Duggit Well known member

    I know nothing about menopause, but for what it is worth, earlier today I happened to listen to an interview of Dr. Schubiner in which he said chronic pain that moves around is an indicator of mindbody pain.

    I am not sure what you mean about being frustrated because your brain does not "get it." First, I hope you are not under the misimpression that if your brain would just "get it," you will never have TMS again. That is not the way TMS works. Dr. Sarno himself had recurring episodes of the TMS-equivalent of heartburn. Here is what he wrote about that in Healing Back Pain p. 45: "I have learned that heartburn means that I'm angry about something and don't know it. So I think about what might be causing the condition, and when I come up with the answer the heartburn disappears. It is remarkable how well buried the anger usually is. Generally for me it is something about which I am annoyed but have no idea how much it has angered me. Sometimes it is something that is so loaded emotionally, I don't come up with the answer for a long time." (Emphasis added -- notice that JanA said she focused on her annoyances with people in her walking group.) Unfortunately, "getting it" is not a one time thing because new annoyances inevitably come along in our various interpersonal relationships, and too often we repress and would rather not admit to ourselves we are angry because the situation is "loaded emotionally." The solution to recurring TMS is to do what Sarno did: do the psychological digging and uncover the answer to what is causing it.

    Second, it is easy to get frustrated when repressed anger related to an interpersonal relationship is hard to uncover. According to Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP), "frustration," like "annoyance," is just another word that signals underlying anger. In this context, I think your frustration/anger is with yourself rather than rather than with someone else. If so, that is not helpful because it is a form of self-attack, which can just perpetuate TMS pain. As Alan Gordon (among others) says, your brain creates pain when it determines you are in danger. Danger to your well-being is not limited to physical things like a sprained ankle or toxic bacteria that have invaded your body, nor is it limited to an emotion you learned in childhood was dangerous to experience. It can include self-attack, at least according to ISTDP.

    Now for a couple caveats. One is that to avoid any misimpression, I should say that I have no formal training in ISTDP. Reading ISTDP literature is merely a hobby of mine now that I am retired from a completely unrelated profession, a hobby inspired by the facts that Dr. Sarno's chief psychologist used ISTDP to treat the patients he referred to her and that Dr. Schubiner is a fan of ISTDP as well. The other caveat is that while Sarno wrote extensively about the role of repressed anger in causing TMS, he recognized that TMS can also be caused simply by negative conditioning, e.g., the belief that "if I do x, I will have pain," where x can be anything. If the cause of an episode of TMS is negative conditioning rather than repressed anger (or another repressed emotion), then single-mindedly looking for a repressed emotion can be not only frustrating but a dead end. If digging and digging for a repressed emotion goes nowhere, it might be useful to explore the possibility of negative conditioning and see if that gets you anywhere. If not, back to digging.
  5. AC45

    AC45 Well known member

    Hi Jules,

    I think perimenopause and menopause can cause all kinds of havoc.

    At 45, I developed anxiety, hand pain, hip pain, knee pain and raging insomnia. Is some of it TMS, yes. Is some of it perimenopause, I believe so.

    I read an article that said you can handle a certain level of stress / emotional discomfort when your hormones are "normal". When you are in perimenopause or menopause, your tolerance goes down because your hormones change.

    In my case, I believe I had a perfect storm of personal / work stress and whacky hormones. In the end, I was never able to figure out what caused what so I just started being a lot nicer to myself. After learning about TMS 18 months ago, my hands healed quickly. My hip took and year. My knee is 90% and my anxiety is out 80% contained. My insomnia has been the hardest to crack but over time it has gotten better
    vs worse.

    I think TMS healing helps improve both and I do think hormone imbalances are real. I've read lots of books and after Sarno, the most impactful books have been by Brene Brown (I thought it was just me) and Jon Kabat-Zin (Full
    Catastrophe Living). Self care / self love, more direct communication with loved ones, finding joy in small things and standing in my truth (settting boundaries, saying yes when I want to say yes and no when I want to say no)
    have been the most impactful changes along with mindfulness meditation.

    Good luck,
    Jules likes this.
  6. karinabrown

    karinabrown Well known member

    Hi jules,

    One of my first posts here on this wiki had this subject too 'menopause or tms'?
    Now after a couple of years my opnion is they both are very real.
    It would be too simple to dismiss menopause as a reason for issues (including pain :its more common than most women know ) the list of related symptoms is huge and there are a lot of forums full of stories which proofs that.
    Having said that :the hormonal changes have a huge effect on stresslevels and our nervous system :there is a link with tms for me. So is it a combination ? Is it 100% tms issues ? I will never know i guess. So far this approach helps me .. and i decided to not let my desire to analyse it all take over this also. Maybe its all bodymind stuff even if menopause is involved
    Lily Rose likes this.
  7. Jules

    Jules Well known member

    Thank you. I do think it is menopause but TMS uses it for the perfect distraction. I am just going to tackle the symptoms, because lets face it: they suck! I am also going to treat it like TMS, with the symptom imperative at play.
  8. Jules

    Jules Well known member

    I totally believe hormones play a huge role in stress response and dealing with the stress of normal, everyday life and other emotional stress that is not normal. I have been dealing with menopause for the last number of years, but the hot flashes, nausea, migraines, and anxiety have just fueled in the last year and were slowly getting worse. I am starting yo take bioidentical hormones because I am estrogen dominat, so I feel pregnant! My hubby thinks its sympathy pains for my oldest daughter who is pregnant with her second child and is very sick. I know better, but having TMS and menopause is a double whammy. :(

    I’ll check out those books, since I’m aways eager to learn new things about our bodies and brains!

  9. Jules

    Jules Well known member

    Thanks for your comment. I have been seeing a therapist who believes in TMS and we have processed a TON of traumas I have experienced in my life. I have been doing Sarno work, plus Amir’s, Ozanich, Schubiner, etc....for the last five years. It was not until last year when I totally bought into TMS and healing dramatically. But, you know how tricky TMS is; it was about 75% better, but then after not seeing complete healing and new symptoms that popped up, I began to doubt again.

    I have dealt with frozen shoulder, thoraic outlet syndrome, on both sides, carpal tunnel, RSI, on top of chostochondritis, slipping rib syndrome, migraines, pelvic pain, tinnutis, balance problems for 8 years, shingles 3 times, back problems, stomach problems, hiatal hernia, TMJ, neck pain, and sinus infections/allergies; these issues have been off and on for the past 20 plus years, and I’m pretty sure I have always had TMS, but was mainly just frightened of everything, as a child, and the anxiety was enough of a distraction.

    I was diagnosed with every chronic pain syndrome ever invented, but also dealt with a rocky chidhood. My dad almost died when me and my twin brother was 3 months old; we were sent to foster care at a year-and-half old, because my mother could not care for us, so naturally, we felt abandoned. My mother has bipolar and tried to commit suicide a number of times, while growing up; my twin brother had major behavioral issues and a short temper - which he took out on me; mother was ill all the time with chronic pain; my dad was a workaholic, and defied the doctors by walking again, after his accident and to prove to the world, he would heal, worked upwards of 60 hours a week, never being able to see us kids.

    I was sexually abused and raped when I was a teenager, and even sodomized by a stranger. I was bullied in elementary school for three years and moved about 25 times growing up. After I was married, I had three children and all were complicated births, with my last one resulting in a hysterectomy, bladder repair surgery, (due to my uterus rupturing after childbirth) and a blood transfusion. That is when my chronic pain really began. Before that, I had horrible painic attacks and had post-partum depression with my 1st child.

    As you can see, there was A LOT to work on and my brain became very sensitized to EVERYTHING. So, that is what I mean by my brain “getting it.” It is so used to trauma that it does not know how to respond normally to stress. As my therapist said, “You are constantly bracing yourself for the next trauma to happen.” When I get stressed, my brain automatically goes into fight or flight mode, because that is all it knows. Since working on Sarno’s, et al techniques, I have seen a huge difference, but my brain still reverts back to the trauma stance and it is taking a long time for my brain to understand I don’t need the distraction anymore. Does that make sense now?
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2017
  10. Duggit

    Duggit Well known member

    Jules, WOW! Rocky childhood indeed. Not to mention adulthood.

    I started to write some remarks on the problem of overdone fight-or-flight mode, but that got me deep into the weeds of neuroscience. I stopped because neuroscience just makes most people's eyes glaze over. Instead, I want to recommend a book to you on brain reprogramming from the perspective of ISTDP. The book, available on Amazon, is a self-help book by Norwegian ISTDP therapist Kristian Nibe. It is titled Reconnect to Your Core. If you want to check out whether you might be interested in it, you can preview significant chunks of selected chapters by going to http://www.reconnect-to-your-core.com (Reconnect to your Core - A self-help blog about psychology and spirituality) and clicking on the left sidebar.

    Nibe apparently lacked a good editor because occasionally he has trouble with subject-verb agreement, which perhaps is due to the fact that English is not his native language. He also uses double "less than" and "more than" symbols for opening and closing quotation marks, which seems inexplicable to me. Despite those distractions, the substance of the book generally is very good. I hope you will find the book useful, or at least interesting.
    Jules likes this.
  11. Jules

    Jules Well known member

    Thank you. I will check out the book. Sorry for all the spelling errors, I hate typing on an iPad. :mad:
  12. Jeather

    Jeather Peer Supporter

    Yes, I wonder how Jules is doing too! I'm finding my pain flares around my period, and I'm wondering about this.
  13. Balsa11

    Balsa11 Well known member

    Sorry you're going through this! It's ok to rest a little after work and get support. Don't be hard on yourself. Create plans for all your work options so you feel confident you can be flexible. Figure out what are your best times to work. Maybe even decompress with your family- you all deserve to support each other and hear each other out.

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