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My pain story

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Sergie, Apr 12, 2012.

  1. Sergie

    Sergie New Member

    Hi my name is Sergie. I just turned 25. I'm new to the TMS Wiki, but i'm pretty familiar with TMS (i've read Sarno's Healing Back Pain) and am currently reading Never Good Enough: Freeing Yourself From the Chains of Perfectionism and Things Might Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong: A Guide to Life Liberated from Anxiety. Reading this material has helped me temporarily, but my pain always resurfaced and stays fairly constant. I fit the bill for Sarno's TMS-sufferer description perfectly: goodist, perfectionist, worrisome, conscientious etc. My story and plea for help is below. Thanks for taking out the time to read this and helping me!

    My mid-back pain started in December 2010 after 3 months of self-induced stress. The stress/pressure started when my boss told me I had 3 months to find a different job (i’m a graphic designer. He knew he wasn't able to pay me what i deserve for my type of work and wanted me to find a better job. (He's a really good guy!) The reason things started going wrong was because I felt i wasn't good enough for a full-time job, so I spent the next 3 months (from September to December) working on all the different ideas that i've been wanting to do in order to have them in my porfolio & resume. I thought that if i didn't have those things then I won't be good enough "in the eyes of employers". I felt like i would have no worth unless i can show my full potential. Here my perfectionism became extreme and became entwined with my own evaluation of my self-worth / identity. I felt like i was fighting myself trying to prove something, that i was worth something, and i was trying to do this by being perfect. I was and have always been anxious about my self-worth, especially when it comes to my performance. But at the end of the 3 months, after all the hard work every day, i wasn't able to meet the perfection i thought i needed in order to be ready for "that perfect job". Through November i had very small episodes of back pain which i didn't think about much. In the middle of December it became full blown. It seemed like it came out of the blue because of how painful and constant it was. I visited several doctors, had tests and scans done and nothing abnormal was found. I've tried countless massage and chiro and nothing helped.

    After December my boss actually gave me a raise and told me that I can get a job in my own timing and that there is no pressure. I spent January-March applying for different jobs but i ended up giving up because I thought "If it is extremely painful to sit at my computer and work then how will i be able to work at this new job?". During this time I rarely came in to work because of fear of pain. Last summer I decided to start working out, thinking that my body was somehow week and this would help the back pain. It didn't help the back pain, but it did help me realize i can do anything and that i'm not fragile. Later in the year i started going back to work consistently. I've been consistently working out and working even with the chronic back pain always bothering me. I recently bought a bike and have been biking to work. But the mid-back pain is always there, especially when i sit for long periods of time, particularly for work-related stuff.

    Other things i’ve noticed that are weird: 1. My back pain disappears sometimes, literally disappears when i finish work and hang out with my girlfriend - it’s like my subconscious anxieties are a non issue when i have something else on my mind. 2. When i get anticipatory anxiety, that is when i begin get excited or stoked about the possibility of something happening, my back gets really tight. I feel it’s usually exasperated when i’m worried about what people will say about something i’ve done or will do in relation to my work. 3. This past january I got serious about updating my portfolio and reapplying for jobs. When i was the most confident that i was “good enough” to step into it I had absolutely zero back pain for 2 straight weeks! Once i realized how much work i really had to do and that i wanted to include my latest work the pain begin to creep back in. Sometimes i don’t know if it’s because i sit wrong or if i sit too long or if it’s all psychological (purely TMS). Sarno’s Healing Back Pain was okay, but not very in depth practically so i’m looking for other resources and thinking about doing Dr Schubiner’s Unlearn Your Pain program. I ordered Pain Free For Life yesterday to read. Any thought’s on these resources?

    There’s a lot more I can say, but this is a lot already! Thanks for reading. :) What’s your interpretation? Thanks for your help!
  2. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    Welcome, Sergie :)

    It sounds like you have a pretty good handle on what's going on and what some of the issues are for you that are fueling TMS.

    My main TMS symptom was really bad tension-type headaches, but I've also had plantar fasciatis, chronic tendinitis in my lower legs, TMJ Disorder, anxiety, and probably more things I can't remember right now ;)

    I'm about 90% better at this point. Some of the things that helped me: reading and rereading Dr. Sarno's books, making lists of things that were bothering me, reviewing the TMS affirmations from Sarno's back pain book every day, journaling (free writing mostly), doing some of the Structured Program on the wiki here, talking to people here, seeing a TMS doctor (who pretty much confirmed what I already knew but was very supportive & felt like I needed to have the official diagnosis to totally accept it). I have Dr. Schubiner's book but haven't worked through it. I do use the meditation CD that comes with it pretty much every day. I also found Claire Weeke's to be pretty helpful for the anxiety piece of TMS.

    But all of this is just what worked for me--you might find different things resonate better with you.

    You mentioned that you feel better when you're hanging out with your girlfriend--I have also noticed that I usually feel better when spending time with other people and when I'm distracted by something fun.

    Welcome & feel better soon :)

    ~ Veronica
    Forest likes this.
  3. sewmuch

    sewmuch Member

    Hi Sergie and welcome to the forum.

    I know you will find a lot of resources and great support - I know I have.

    First, everytime I get the opportunity, I promote Dr. Schubiner's book. Along with this site, the tools in both of these are responsible for my healing and recovery.

    There is a recent post about Dr. Schubiner's program and several, including me, have posted.

    Second, check through the site, previous posts, and the program. Not only is there a lot here, but there are a lot of references, links, and tools.

    Finally, one thing I post about a lot is be kind to yourself first and foremost. As you go work through the site and other resources, keep in mind that everyone has a unique and different path. There is no one way or right way or timetable. Seek, listen to your body, take your time - this includes relaxing and doing nothing!, be kind to yourself and you will find many wonderful and positive things and experiences.

    Good Luck and keep posting about your progress.
    Beach-Girl, Pandamonium and Forest like this.
  4. Sergie

    Sergie New Member

    Thanks guys! I can't wait to start Dr. Schubiner's program. :)
  5. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Heya Sergie and Welcome to the Wiki,

    Having TMS can be frustrating and at time lonley, but you have found the right place. The one thing that really stood out to me about your post was that you mentioned your symptoms changed and the pain would increase and decrease depending on what you were doing. I recommend simply making a list of things that you do which make your symptoms increase. Identifying these possible triggers/stressors can help you figure out which areas of your life you may need to investigate.

    It is great to hear that you are already becoming active again. For me this was a huge step. Knowing that we are not fragil can really help us gain confidence in both this approach and in ourselves. Schubiner's program is really great and is a good next step. You could also try the wiki's educational program as well. The key thing is to stay positive. If you have any doubts or any negative emotions then write them down and ask yourself why you have those feelings. There is nothing necessarily wrong with having these emotions. It's just important to know what is going on. This approach does work and if you have any questions feel free to ask and keep us posted on your progress.


  6. yb44

    yb44 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Sergie,

    Along with Forest's suggestion of making a list of things that worsen your symptoms, I would also note those instances where your pain moves around, lessens or disappears.

    A major breakthrough for me was when I was speaking to a colleague about PPD/TMS. I didnt know how she would react but she listened with interest and agreed with the general premise that our emotions can cause extreme physical pain. At the time I was suffering from sciatica. That particular day my pain was about an 8 on a scale of 1-10. After my colleague responded to me positively, that 8 dropped suddenly to about 2. It was rather dramatic. By the next day the pain had increased again but that short respite gave me such hope and spurred me on to contact a TMS therapist where my acceptance of the concept went from 95% to 100%. I no longer suffer from this symptom.

    You are in very good company here. We have all been where you are now and can offer much encouragement.
    Forest likes this.
  7. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is wonderful to hear :) . Your story is a testament to what can happen when we understand that our pain is caused by our emotions. When I first recovered I was a little hesitant to explain to people what PPD was all about. It can be easy to worry if people will accept you because of it. Now, I don't really care because I'm pain free and have my life back.

    Once we understand what is going on, the symptom has no more need to be there because we are not thinking about the symptom. We are focusing on our emotions. They symptoms seek to distract us from our emotions. If we focus on our emotions they have nothing to distract us from, and they cease. Of course, a new symptom may pop up, but when it does we will know that it happening again and we can usher it out the door quickly.
  8. Beach-Girl

    Beach-Girl Well known member

    Hi Sergie:

    Welcome to the forum! Sounds like you have a pretty good idea already on a lot of your triggers. You are totally working in the right direction. I think anyone who read your story can relate to it, because we've all been there (or are still there). But Forest is right - we're all different and what gets us out of pain for good, is going to vary from person to person.

    I did the Structured Program here on the wiki. It was a fantastic start to healing. Then I did Dr. Schubiner's program which was a great follow-up. Whatever you do or whatever order you decide to do them in, I think you're going to get through this!

    As an anxiety sufferer, I love the name of the book you mentioned: "Things Might Go Horribly Terribly Wrong". We kind of joke about this at my house. Sometimes you need a little humor with all this emotional stuff.

    Best of luck to you - keep posting so we know how you're doing!

  9. dabatross

    dabatross Well known member

    both unlearn your pain and pain free for life are really good reads. they are easy to understand and talk a lot about TMS and specific programs on how to treat it. I'm also a web designer/graphic designer and my pain started when I began working at a web design firm. I have pain my eyes though that feels like pulling and tightness. It's interesting that your back gets tight this may have something to do with anxiety as well because we all know anxiety causes muscle tension to increase. Along with TMS Im also looking more and more into how anxiety affects our bodies and one website I came across with a lot of good info was calmclinic.com. I stumbled upon this a couple months ago and he has a paid program you can go through but there are also a lot of articles talking about anxiety and there are a number of them that talk about anxiety causing physical pain. I actually found one that said "Can anxiety cause eye pain" which interested me but there may be some on there that relate to you as well.

    But yeah you found two of the best resources I came across already so thats really good I would suggest you continue with those. Some other things I can suggest are a book called Dissolving Pain. It's like a different take on meditation but you become aware of space instead of focusing on something like you're breath. This calms down the nervous system and creates alpha waves in your brain which promote relaxation and calm down hypersensitivity. I think all of us on here have some type of hypersensitivity to pain too. Interesting too that we both have pretty much the same job but different symptoms. Are you working full time as a graphic designer now?
  10. honeybear424

    honeybear424 Well known member

    Dabatross ~ Thanks for your post. I am going to check out Calmclinic.com as well as the Dissolving Pain book. I have been regularly meditating for 9 months , but I'm very interested in trying something new which can help to "calm down hypersensitivity".
  11. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    This may be a little late, but I re-read this thread again and something really stood out to me. Sergie, you wrote, The stress/pressure started when my boss told me I had 3 months to find a different job (i’m a graphic designer. He knew he wasn't able to pay me what i deserve for my type of work and wanted me to find a better job. (He's a really good guy!).

    I think a classic sign of the TMS personality is to call our boss a really good guy even after they tell us we need to find another job. Your boss might actually be a great person and you may want a better job, but even so, it can still threaten our unconcsious to have a deadline set and for our boss to tell us to get another job. Looking for a new job can be tough and having your boss give you a deadline can create a very stressful situation.

    The goodist/perfectionist personality always wants to think of the good things related to our work, which leads us to occassionaly repress our anger about our career and work. I think almost every TMSer will try to view people in a positive light and sort of overlook some of their negative traits. I did this some in my past, especially in my career. It may not be appropriate sometimes, espeically at work, to yell at our boss, but I do think it can be helpful to at least recognize to yourself that you are angry or upset at someone. To be honest, this is something I tend to struggle with from time to time. How do other people release/express their anger and frustration they have about your co-workers/boss while at work?
    Livvygurl likes this.
  12. Lori

    Lori Well known member

    Hi and welcome. I would recommend reading some of Dr. Sarno's other books. I also read Scott Brady's book years ago and thought it was very good.

    It takes time for this information and new way of thinking to sink into our brains after years of conditioning otherwise, so repitition and consistent use is important. I also found journaling to be helpful. You have mentioned a few things that I would be journaling about to explore the feelings there--feeling vs. thinking.

    The Educational Program on this site is very good and I encourage you to check that out as well.

    Best wishes,


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