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My Experience

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by EricFeelsThisWay, Aug 19, 2015.

  1. EricFeelsThisWay

    EricFeelsThisWay Peer Supporter

    Hello, everyone. I'm new to the TMS Forum, but not new to TMS! I've been afraid to share my experience, since I'm not yet recovered, but I think it's important that I do it.

    I began having TMS symptomology in May of 2012, in the two-week period between when I gave a graduate vocal recital for grad school and when I attended my graduation from grad school. Upon reflection, I now know that it was the traumatic realization that my mother, who had died a year and a half prior, could not possibly attend either of those two very important life events--events that made her very proud in the past. How I see it, the emotional pain of having physical proof that she was gone forever and could never be proud of me and my accomplishments was too intense for my psyche to handle, and so it manifested itself as physical pain.

    After grad school, I returned home (Southern California) to live closer to my four older siblings (whom I now dub "witnesses to the trauma"). I returned to work in church music at the Catholic parish where I grew up. I spent large amounts of time in the worship space where I said goodbye to both of my parents, my father having died or cancer when I was in high school. I believe now that being in that space was re-traumatizing for me, and I still have a very conflicted relationship with that space and that community.

    Still believing my pain was a structural concern, I spent a year going through the litany of possible physical remedies: first, chiropractor adjustments, then physical therapy, then acupuncture. And all the while doing everything I could to improve my overall physical health: juicing, supplements, modified gym routines, meditation, extreme adjustments to my nutrition, hypnotherapy. Anything to fix my back!

    Talking to my sister, we both felt that my unresolved grief could be the cause of my emotional and physical concerns. I attended grief counseling for almost a year, which helped open up some unresolved emotions, mainly guilt and anger, but there were still huge holes in my awareness of my emotional state, and my physical pain had not subsided in the least. As my counselor put it, "It seems like you're continuing to suffer a great deal."

    I went through a period of depression starting mid-2013 into mid-2014. I took an antidepressant for 6 months, which helped with the feelings of worthlessness, but didn't alleviate any of the back pain. It didn't help me get to the root of my problems, either.

    I stumbled upon Sarno's Healing Back Pain at a hippie dippie market in Ojai, right next to all the essential oils and Buddha statues, hehe. I read the book and identified with repressed rage, and was willing to acknowledge my anger and feelings of being mistreated surrounding the events of my mother's death, but my pain didn't subside.

    I moved to New York City in the fall of 2014 for a variety of personal and professional reasons, one of which was to work with a TMS specialist to get to the bottom of this condition. I was diagnosed by a specialist at Rusk and was referred to a TMS therapist. I worked with her for 6 months, which was an intense and emotionally gut-wrenching period where she and I were able to unlock a lot of the trauma that surrounded my father's and mother's deaths, and also the co-dependent and dysfunctional relationships I held with them. I also learned that I perpetuated these types of unhealthy relationships with current people in my life, as a subconscious way to "fix" the relationships that I felt like I had failed in the past. Heavy stuff!

    Through intense journaling, therapy, prayer, and conversations with friends and family members who care deeply about me and who are distressed at my physical condition, I have discovered that, yes, I do feel like I was a failure to my parents, in that I was unable to take away their emotional and physical pain. All I ever wanted was to be a perfect son for them, and as I watched them die, I knew I had failed at the one task that I had given myself. Losing them brought up a whole host of emotions that I had until then been able to keep at bay: feelings of worthlessness, low self-esteem, rage, inferiority, the need to please everyone, fear of confrontation, fear of abandonment and rejection. If they were gone and were never coming back, what was the point of maintaining these false ideas of being perfect? If I had failed them, I was probably going to fail everyone else I met. If I had loved them with all my being, and they ultimately left me, wouldn't anyone I loved in the future leave me as well? Deep grooves of despair have set it and have imprinted themselves on my very psyche, and it's so hard to let them go.

    So this is my current status. I know the condition, I understand it, I accept it to the best of my ability . I can only assume that the persistence of my physical symptoms is proportional to the persistence of the still suppressed emotions I have surrounding my relationships with my parents. When I am really in touch with myself, I see myself as someone who failed to love the two people that loved me the most, and I can't live with myself because of it. Losing them was deeply traumatic for me, and it's been difficult communicating my distress to others, who can't possibly enter into my brain. So where do I go from here? What do I do to not lose faith in how this condition works? How do I avoid the despair and hopelessness that can enter my mind when I'm not really in touch with how I'm feeling? How do I crawl out of this hole that I've created?

    Thanks for listening.
    Tennis Tom and IrishSceptic like this.
  2. IrishSceptic

    IrishSceptic Podcast Visionary

    thanks for sharing. parental relationships are typically difficult for TMSers.
  3. kevinmichael

    kevinmichael Peer Supporter

    My mother died in 2006 of MRSA septicemia. In other words she got the hospital bug from tests. For years I was angry and said countless times that the hospital killed her. One day a friend spoke to me forcefully and said you have to stop saying that. Instead you have to replace the idea with, My mother died at 83 and she had multiple health problems. I have done this and it has helped. You have to let go. Sometimes you have to change your whole way of thinking about an issue and move on. The reality of middle age is that your parents will pass away. You cant stop it. I had friends who had younger parents and some died of cancer when they were in there fifties. My parents both lived into their 80s and two of my grandparents made it into their 90s. So in a way I did better than many other people I knew.:) :shame:
  4. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Eric. Thanks for sharing your story. I can sense how traumatic the loss of your parents is. I lost my father very suddenly four days before my first child was born. We had spoken just the day before and he was planning on flying out as soon as the baby was born. This may sound strange, but a running joke we had was that my eggs were deteriorating daily. He was always teasing me and trying to get me to have a baby so it was very difficult for me to understand how he could suddenly be gone just days before giving birth for the first time. I have experienced a number of traumatic events in my life, and if you haven't already, I encourage you to look into some of Peter Levine's work and somatic experiencing. I learned about it on this site and worked with a somatic experiencing therapist. It helped me tremendously in my recovery. I also encourage you to practice being kind and compassionate to yourself. Sometimes it takes practice.
    Grateful17 and Boston Redsox like this.
  5. Shanshu Vampyr

    Shanshu Vampyr Well known member

    Hi Eric,

    First of all, welcome. I hope you'll find that the TMS/PPD Peer Network becomes your community as well as an online forum. It has for me.

    It's tough dealing with parents as a TMSer...and you have "TMSer" stamped all over your post. My little bit of medical and therapeutic background colors my perspective. I recently went through a difficult time with my father. He's 72 and healthy as a horse most days. A freak accident (if you want to call it that) landed him in the hospital for two weeks and on tube feeds. Was unable to eat for close to six weeks and lost about 25 lbs. He is a difficult man to get to know in the first place. Each of us have defenses that shoot way up. When I realized that I should have leveraged my knowledge to get the CT scan of his neck 4-5 days earlier, as per his MDs recommendations, I blamed myself for a long time. When he was admitted, that scan that his ENT had lobbied for finally showed a perforation in his esophagus, with deep collections of pus in three areas of his neck, and he was teetering on the edge of sepsis. Despite this, he nearly checked out AMA. Was supposed to get on a flight to England for a professional conference in three days, you see. Had he gotten the CT scan a week prior, he may very well have avoided a long hospital stay and a lengthy recuperation. Esophageal perforations are dicey things. Imagine my sense of guilt when I realized this, that mortality skyrockets if not properly addressed in the first 24 hours. I thought I had failed him. I Rounded on him every day. I spent days in the hospital; I wouldn't leave his side.

    Where am I going with this? Feelings run high with TMSer parents. They are, after all, the ones who created us, created our strengths and weaknesses. It sounds like you need to acknowledge your "unresolved issues" of "guilt and anger." You are doing what you need to have done to have started the process of TMS recovery. Where you are is where you are...and that's OK. Be kind to yourself. TMS recovery, to me, is like the Greek hero who was forced to push a boulder up the hill in the afterlife. When you first start that process, you are laden not only with the weight of the boulder of physical pain, but the burden of expectation. "Other people read a book and they were cured like magic." "Other people had an immensely cathartic moment in therapy and their pain went away immediately." Like the woman Sarno mentions in her first book (can't remember her name; "Laura"? "Helen"?). As time goes by we ascend the hill of TMS recovery. It is easier to roll that boulder once we get some momentum. The ways to get that momentum are all over the TMS teachings (increasing physical exercise, evidence sheets, a moment or two without pain, pain indifference or outcome independence). It is true that the weight of the boulder will always press you down. That is how our subconscious works. Once you reach the summit of the hill you realize that the boulder will always be there, but it can be your friend. That's when the weight no longer feels as heavy. Then you look down and see how much "hill" you've covered. That's the "faith" in the diagnosis you're looking for. Take it slow. Allow the healing to "happen."

    You started off with an emotionally conflicted relationship with your parents. As they became sicker you tasked yourself with giving yourself "the one job" of being the perfect son. As if you could undo their "dying" with your trying. Your intentions were admirable, and, dare I say it, enough. You did enough by trying to do right by them. When my dad was in the hospital, I tried to be the "perfect" son to take care of him. I tried to "undo" my mistake of not "pushing him" to follow up and follow through with getting that CT scan earlier. The illness opened a window between me and him in spite of the defense mechanisms on every side. I daresay the same happened with your parents. I don't figure you for being closed off.

    Be kind. Sometimes the process needs to take time. We are, after all, onions.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2015

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