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My anxiety as it relates to pain

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by music321, Mar 30, 2018.

  1. music321

    music321 Well known member

    I've done the six week program, spoke with a therapist at the center that runs this site, and have had years of counselling; I still have TMS.

    I would (and still do) constantly "injure" myself. I would try to tease out whether the injury was legitimate (and therefore need babying, be an appropriate cause to feel worried/depressed) or just pain associated with TMS (and be pushed through while exercising, not get worried about, etc.). The TMS therapist with whom I spoke wisely told me of my erroneous way of looking at the problem. He said that it was impossible to know which individual pain might be the result of an injury, and which pain might just be TMS. He said that I needed the change my attitude toward all pain, and not worry about it, which I've been trying to do.

    I read an account of a Buddhist monk that cured his TMS which spoke to my experience. He tried mindfulness meditation as well as Chi Gong (the practice of moving positive "energy" around the body, and to areas in pain). None of this worked. What did work for him was focusing on his pain, while not getting emotionally drawn into it. He would focus on his painful area with a neutral/positive disposition, not feeling anxiety, catastrophizing, etc. Along with relaxation exercises and mindfulness meditation to calm myself and make myself healthier in a general sense, I've been trying the monk's techniques of graded exposure.

    My problem is my anxiety, and my anxiety as it relates to pain. As a result of TMS, I often wake at 4:00 am. Lately, upon waking, I'll be experiencing a moderate amount of anxiety. In and of itself, it isn't that problematic. What is problematic is my anxiety as it relates to my pain. If I stub my toe, roll my ankle, or injure myself in some other way, anxiety takes over. At the time of the injury, anxiety will wash over me. It feels separate in some ways from the rest of my mind. In some ways, I feel very calm, yet this anxiety storm is happening almost along side my normal thoughts. I will feel my chest tense and start to hurt. I try to calm myself. I try even to tell myself that these anxiety attacks aren't worth paying much attention to, as doing so will only reinforce them. Yet they still happen. As I'm typing this, I'm thinking about having rolled my ankle a few days ago. Frankly, I don't know if the ankle injury is real or TMS, and I can never know. It wouldn't surprise me if it were either. This is causing anxiety, though. Intellectually, I realize that divorcing the anxiety from pain and "injurious" events is the key to overcoming TMS.

    Is there anything that I should do differently, or am I handling things about as well as they can be handled? Should I just accept that I'll have an interplay/relationship between anxiety and pain for perhaps the next few months, and just accept this, and trust that it will eventually go away? thanks.
  2. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi music,

    I think you're doing pretty well. In terms of anxiety, as with pain, it is helpful to accept the anxiety as best you can, feeling it, allowing it, defending your right to experience it. The "hooks" for anxiety are deep and tricky. It feels like something is wrong, so it must be, right? What's wrong? Typically, the most wrong thing is actually the experience of anxiety. There seems to be an anxiety bucket, which gets filled with all kinds of "believable content." The bucket exists regardless of the content. Try to make it really OK to have anxiety. No need to feel anxious about anxiety! I hear your acceptance, and I think this shows a lot of real strength.

    Also Howard Schubiner has a book Unlearn Your Anxiety and Depression, using TMS type approaches. I have not read it, but it would likely have a good exploration of the interplay which you describe.

    Also, I guess you know Dr. Sarno's experience with patients' anxiety: When pain subsided, anxiety arose. Many people here have reported similar experiences such as "first time panic attacks" when their chronic symptoms abated.

    Andy B
    MindBodyPT, Lizzy, westb and 2 others like this.
  3. music321

    music321 Well known member

    Thanks for the book recommendation. I'd forgotten about the emergence of anxiety as the pain subsides. The insight that anxiety looks for excuses to exist rather than that various problems cause it is helpful. Thanks.
  4. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Just want to briefly address this statement. This site was started by and is run by @Forest, who is a person who recovered from TMS. He started the site to share information about TMS and support others who are using TMS techniques to recover. It is a totally peer-run and volunteer effort. You may have been referring to the Pain Psychology Center who provides content to this site, but they do not "run" it.
    karinabrown, Lainey and plum like this.
  5. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks @Ellen. This misconception has risen a couple of times and it saddens me because it dimishes the incredible efforts and legacy @Forest made and created, while devaluing the immense contributions people have made over the years. We're a community not an offshoot of a commercial venture. It is an important distinction.
  6. Mary80

    Mary80 Peer Supporter

    there is definitely something in your life that is not working and anxiety is warning you that something is wrong . Ignore anxiety will not make you overcome the problem.. so definitely use the programs in the transition phase and while overcoming your problems can help you in times of crisis but it is also true that you have to make changes to your life because obviously you are suffering for something and express your suffering with pain/symptoms and do not allow to yourself to feel this emotion...for this reasons it is expressed in this way. What is it that makes you feel bad?

    This is my modest opinion
  7. music321

    music321 Well known member

    Thanks. I was referring to the Pain Psychology Center.
  8. music321

    music321 Well known member

    I appreciate the reply. There are two things. First, I've been conditioned to be anxious as a result of a tremendously stressful childhood. Secondly, I'm terribly worried about my future job prospects, as TMS has stood in the way of meaningful work for many years. Thanks.
  9. Mary80

    Mary80 Peer Supporter

    I fully understand...unfortunately...I had the same feeling, but It is important that you let these feelings go and especially those fears to be able to free you.
    First.... Even if you had a terrible childhood It does not mean that now you can not be a happy person..
    You are not those stressful things you had to suffer. You are a wonderful person who survived about terrible childhood. . This means that you can let go of the past and overcome the difficulties of the present...
    (I say it to myself every day. . )
    Second .. Conditioning can be canceled. . but you need to train yourself to do this. . . . I'm trying to do and it is very difficult, because after years you always think the same way and always do the same way.. the wrong way.. It becomes difficult to change and It takes time. . but it can be done. In any case worrying about the symptoms will only increase the symptoms, erase the fear of the symptom is the way of recovery and treat yourself with love, do not judge yourself, do not put pressure on yourself.. take the time you need.
    plum likes this.
  10. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks for clarifying those points, @Ellen and @plum. We are proudly independent. :)

    I am, however, a huge fan of Alan's and do believe its important to support him. I deeply believe in supporting people who can not just help people who are already aware of TMS, but can spread the news about TMS to a wider audience. No one deserves to be in pain, so I support anyone who I believe can do that. Since I've known him, he's created a clinic with 20 licensed therapists, had a great success story on national TV, and has raised $133K for an fMRI study and accompanying documentary. As an economist, I love numbers, and those are some pretty impressive numbers! As an academic and a careful person, I respect professional licensure and scientific studies, and he is doing all of the right things.

    Good luck in your recovery, @music321! I hope you like the site.
    MindBodyPT, Ellen, Mary80 and 2 others like this.
  11. Tms_joe

    Tms_joe Well known member

    Anxiety is the thing that had the closest to 1:1 impact on my pain. The type of anxiety that equals fear. Solving the anxiety problems through the TMS methods discussed here made a drastic difference. There was still fear leftover. That was the toughest and last part.

    Read this more than once. You HAVE to find a way to convince yourself at a gut level that SHOULD let go of these things that stress you. You should feel that way because of genuine compassion for yourself. So take whatever drastic steps you have to to make that happen. Eventually you will see the anxiety and fear as making no sense. Then life as well as the pain get better. You won’t care so much about outcomes because you have confidence you’ll be fine either way.

    Hope that’s helpful. If I had read that a million times and actually understood it it would have helped me.
  12. Homestead Hermit

    Homestead Hermit Peer Supporter

    I watched this video the other day and had an "a-ha" moment regarding anxiety...they discuss anxiety being a SYMPTOM of fear (there are only 2 emotions, love and fear, and everything else branches out from those 2). I always believed anxiety (which has greatly decreased lately) CAUSED my other symptoms. But if we realize anxiety is actually a fear we should look into and not repress, anxiety holds less power :)
    Lizzy likes this.

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