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My Body Is A Jumping Bean, Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by donavanf, Jun 23, 2015.

  1. donavanf

    donavanf Well known member

    Hey folks, it's me again, your friendly neighborhood TMS supporter.

    I'll try to keep this short.

    I was REALLY doing well with my TMS recovery. At the point where my symptoms (shoulder and neck pain) were down to a 2 or 3 from a 7 or 8. I've been working with Dr. David Schechter, things going well. Finished one of his workbooks, on to doing it again. In psychotherapy weekly with a great therapist, and my regular MD fully agrees I have TMS. All good. I have a great support team.

    As of late, a lot of life stresses have been gnawing at me...day job stress (moving out of day job and into photography, my passion), trying to reconcile with my ex-gf (all good, but hard work), roommate moving out (good but stressful) and trying to build my business as a photographer. All of the stresses in my life (for the most part) are good ones, but still, a lot of changes. Change is a hard one for me, and always triggers my TMS.

    For the last few months, I've been dealing with a lot of life changes. My dad died on April 7th and I was in a car accident on the same day. My gf and I had broken up about a month prior. Pretty much since then, my TMS took a turn for the worse. Of course.

    Here is where my symptoms are at now...they have come back AND they jump around.

    My shoulders feel sore, then my neck, then I'll feel a pain in my stomach (IBS since teens), or I'll get a weird sweat gland infection (recurring in armpits) or my leg muscles will hurt suddenly or I will feel dizzy or anxious or my TMJ will start acting up or my lower back will hurt, or my allergies will act up, etc...it always lands back in my shoulders and neck (original site of severe TMS) but in general, I feel like I am falling apart. I feel like in some ways, everything in my life is caving in on me. I am also on several meds (a low dose of a Benzo, Klonipin, and a low dose of an anti-depressant, Lexapro). I have very good docs who are monitoring me. The meds help, but I know they are not forever. I feel some guilt around having to use medicine to control my anxiety and OCD, but ALL of my instincts (and docs) tell me I need to let that go. They plan on weaning me off the benzo VERY slowly at some point. Right now, it is helping my anxiety and allowing me to function, so it is worth it. I feel fear around it.

    I am VERY hard on myself in all the wrong ways. When I type that, I feel like crying.

    I have a lot of suppressed rage, I can see it, sometimes it leaks out, and I am a MAJOR goodist. This fight between my inner anger and the desire to be "Mr. Nice Guy" is the key to my TMS and I know it, but I still am unsure how to fix it. I feel like "Mr. Not So Nice Guy" and "Mr. Nice Guy" is playing Doctor Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde with my body as the punching bag. How do I reconcile the push and pull between my ID and my Superego? THAT is the key. I've read all of Sarno and the rest multiple times. It's like I get this all on an intellectual level, but I need to put it into action.

    I hope all this isn't "overshare", I'm just pouring my heart out here. I feel like I am finally coming to the point where I have my TMS on the ropes, but as I give it hell, it is swinging back HARD.

    Perhaps I'm just looking for support and for some voices to tell me that I am going in the right direction.

    Lastly, I really am coming to a point where I know I need to exercise and am scared to death. Dr. Schechter told me it is VITAL, but every time I do it, I get worse. How do I push through. I have never exercised, have major inertia in this area.

    Thanks, guys!
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2015
    IrishSceptic likes this.
  2. donavanf

    donavanf Well known member

    One last thing. I notice that whenever my mind gets tense, my body unconsciously follows suit. Even after all the reading, I am still convinced my posture may be hurting things. I spend way too much time in bed, hunched over my laptop. How do I stop tensing my body? When I think on it too much, it just gets more tense. It only seems to get better when I focus my mind elsewhere. But I believe this constant mental tension and worry is making my body a chronic knot. :(
  3. Zumbafan

    Zumbafan Well known member

    Wow, you really do have a great support team. As you said, "Perhaps I'm just looking for support and for some voices to tell me that I am going in the right direction". So you know symptoms are a distraction. It is OK to feel all the emotions you have buried over recent months...anger, sadness, helplessness, annoyance, weakness, amazement, the list goes on. They are all part of the human condition, so you can be OK with them all. Just accept yourself for who you are. Try walking for exercise. It is free, and you can choose your location. Notice nature, give thanks for all the lovely things out there like trees, birds, sunshine, etc. Your mood will be lifted.
  4. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi. I have many thoughts. I can very much relate to everything you are going through. You are clearly extremely bright and have a good grasp of everything. It does not sound like the trouble is believing that you have TMS. Seems as though the trick is learning sustainable strategies in calming your system, not overreacting to the symptoms themselves, and learning how to let the steam out slowly from this jumbled pressure cooker of life. I don't want to throw another therapy at you, but when I was at the point you are in my recovery, working with a somatic experiencing therapist helped me tremendously. I have suffered from a lot of anxiety(which is another side of pain in the TMS world) and the somatic experiencing guided me into stepping into my body, accepting and experiencing all these whacky symptoms as mere expressions of how I am feeling. Learning how to feel these things safely(suppressed rage) is the key. Learning how to calm your mind as you head for a train wreck of multiple roller coasters of conflicting stresses, old habits, wounds, fears, reactions... is key also. You have a very active mind and you can learn to harness that as a strength. I have some of the same struggles and I can easily have just as much of an overload when things are going really positive in my life. I would say I get overly stimulated by all the possibilities of what I can actually achieve now that I am feeling better and then I short circuit. That is what I am working on now. You got this. There are many ways to approach your TMS recovery and I would avoid creating hurdles that don't exist. You don't have to do anything. Slowing down is not easy because our survival has been conditioned to running. We do it so much and in so many ways we are not even aware when we are doing it. Fear is the trigger that keeps us running. Learning how to settle back into our bodies and feel all these emotions without the world falling apart is what disarms the fear. Its a process and you may be much closer than you realize.
    Forest likes this.
  5. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I agree completely with what Anne wrote. You're scaring yourself and it's creating tension. This is TMSing. But you are aware that you are doing it to yourself. Trust that awareness, that observer part of yourself. The other stuff is just an old tape running through your brain. Just observe it. It's not who you are. It will diminish when you don't buy into it anymore.
    Forest and Anne Walker like this.
  6. AndrewMillerMFT

    AndrewMillerMFT Well known member

    "I feel like I am finally coming to the point where I have my TMS on the ropes, but as I give it hell, it is swinging back HARD."

    "One last thing. I notice that whenever my mind gets tense, my body unconsciously follows suit."


    I quoted the above sections of your posts because I wonder if it highlights something about how you're coming to the TMS right now. There may be a lot of pressure to get rid of it. A lot of struggle. What would it be like to take your foot off the gas just a little. You can still challenge the TMS, you can still do all the strategies you do to get rid of it but what if we took it from 110% down to 90%. Often, how we address our TMS symptoms shows us a window into why we have the symptoms. What would it be like to still address it but in a way that creates less internal pressure?


    Forest, donavanf and Anne Walker like this.
  7. Elena99

    Elena99 New Member

    I was scared to exercise too. It's hard! It was also hard to feel the DOMS after, which is perfectly normal, and that went away after a few days. I think you're confusing the feeling of pain being worse after with DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). After my DOMS went away after a major exercise class, I felt like myself again, and the pain wasn't any worse (or better, but it certainly wasn't worse). It also took my mind off of everything, and that helped. Maybe you should try an exercise class. If there are other people around you doing it too, you might find that encouraging (I did). Remind yourself that any pain the next day is likely just DOMS and normal.
    donavanf likes this.
  8. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    When TMS comes back hard it means, according to Dr. Sarno, that you have it on the run.
    Your subconscious knows you know it is emotional and not structural, but may need a little time to accept that.
    Keep telling it you believe in TMS. And spend most of your time enjoying life. Keep busy and active and
    don't think about pain at all. Pleasant distractions help a lot.
    donavanf likes this.
  9. donavanf

    donavanf Well known member

    Thank you everyone. And thank you so much, Andrew! What you wrote is very helpful. I tend to overdo everything or do nothing. In high school I was the guy that got A+'s in the classes he loved and F's in the classes he hated. My Superego and ID were in cahoots that far back! I have one question, I understand the concept of putting too much pressure on myself, but isn't SOME pressure a good thing? I don't want to stagnate or live in fear. How do I push forward without putting undue pressure on myself? My inner voice tends to be a bully and the only thing that works is when I stand up to it. When I "give it hell" as Dr. Sarno says, it gets better. I am a professional photographer and I am trying to get a wedding photography business going and so far it is doing well, but the camera triggers my TMS. If I shoot for FUN (as I have for my whole life till I got TMS), I get almost no pain. But when I shoot for a JOB, my neck and back feel like they are in the jaws of a shark. But my camera is the majority of my income, and I LOVE photography with every ounce of my being. It is the thing that brings me the most joy. How can this object (camera) that brings me so much joy, artistic expression and financial freedom cause me pain? Photography is everything to me. Dr. Schechter told me that I absolutely cannot structurally hurt myself from lifting a camera. I am a 210 pound, six foot tall, strong man. The camera weighs two pounds. It's mental and I know it. Even THINKING about being a professional photographer often causes my pain to increase. So it MUSN'T be the camera, but my associations to it. How do I condition (or un-condition) myself to be able to shoot pain free? Somehow, I think it is the word "professional" that has me scared. But I am a professional! And I REFUSE to stop doing the thing I love most. I just hope I can get to the point where I can do it and feel GOOD! Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated, what you said hit the nail right on the head. How do I turn my camera into a life preserver and not a noose? Into a friend again and not a chain of pain?
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2015
  10. Elena99

    Elena99 New Member

    I think self-talk might help. Or even just time. How long have you been doing it professionally? I wonder if it would help to write down things like: "your name", professional photographer, or, wedding photographer. If you see it in writing, it might help. Really reinforce it for yourself, every day. Look yourself in the mirror and say (or think) I Am a professional photographer. I am really good at my job. Think about the best photos that people paid money for. I think it will take a while, though, it's not an overnight thing. I hope that helps.
  11. donavanf

    donavanf Well known member

    Thank you for the great ideas and kind replies, everyone. Elena99, I've been doing it professionally for close to 10 years, and shooting for more than 25 years. Here is a link to my website, and to my client feedback in case anyone is interested:

  12. AndrewMillerMFT

    AndrewMillerMFT Well known member


    Sounds like you already have tremendous insight into your pain. If you haven't already read Allen Gordon's article on Outcome Independence, it should be really helpful and it's on the wiki. Additionally, I think exploring through writing or with a therapist, what it means to you to be a professional photographer, to succeed, to fail, to struggle at it, to do it better or worse than others may be another window into your inner emotional world. Those underlying fears, emotions, body sensations may all be things to remind yourself of when you feel the pain.
    donavanf likes this.

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