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My TMS Story

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by map76, Dec 23, 2014.

  1. map76

    map76 Peer Supporter

    Hello, I would like to introduce myself and share my TMS story.

    I am a 38yo man who started having TMS pain when I was about 23yo. A former DI College soccer player, I loved working out, and was running about 30-40 miles per week. Looking back, I was depressed, lonely, and isolated; I didn't care about relationships or anything else except exercise. Exercise gave me a sense of accomplishment and kept my depression in check.

    Then, I started having chest pains while running. It was devastating, and I went through all kinds of medical exams (echocardiogram, endoscopy, etc.) to hear there was nothing wrong with me. I remember thinking that I almost didn't want to live if I couldn't run-- it was so much a part of my self-image.

    I transferred my passion to cycling and enjoyed this for a while... until the knee pain started. I had X-rays, MRIs, bone scans, all of which found nothing. (I'm thankful they didn't find a slight structural abnormality because I certainly would have insisted on surgery.) I went to physical therapy, but nothing improved.

    Unable to run or cycle anymore, I started swimming... until I developed back pain. With pain beginning to develop all over, I started to suspect a systemic disease. I began searching the internet for answers (since my doctors were stumped) and diagnosed myself with lyme disease. My lyme tests were negative, but I insisted that the doctor give me antibiotics anyway.

    My last desperate attempt was to go to the Lahey Clinic for a full diagnostic workup. I saw several doctors, but they found nothing physically wrong with me. One doctor did ask me if I had any "life problems" and I remember being so insulted. I told him that the only problem I had was physical pain.

    I got home from that appointment and was just hopeless. I called my Primary Care doctor and told him I needed to see a shrink because I was unable to cope with the pain anymore. He said, "I think that's a good idea Mike. I wonder if depression might actually be causing your pain."

    Somehow this resonated with me and I said, "I just can't believe I might be doing this to myself?"

    He replied, "Mike, it's not your fault."

    With that, I just exploded into tears, and felt the pain literally drain out of my body. I haven't cried like that in my life. I went into the shower and remember just saying, "I'm sorry," to myself over and over again.

    This epiphany convinced me that my pain was psychological in origin. Unfortunately, the pain did return. I spent the next few years trying to find a therapist who could work with me, but almost none of them bought into the idea that my pain was not physical. They all assumed it was fibromyalgia. This left me depressed and hopeless again. Here, I had this breakthrough and no one really believed me.

    At some point I came across Dr. Sarno's books and it made a lot of sense. I was no longer worried about injuring myself, and I would say the quality of my life improved significantly. I got into golf, and barely thought about my pain out on the golf course.

    But the pain never went away completely. I was fine if I had a distraction (golf, work, alcohol, sex), but I would have intense pain standing in line at the supermarket or standing talking to a co-worker.

    Lately, I have had a full blown relapse and I feel like I'm back to square one. I am reading the TMSwiki everyday, trying to get to the root of my TMS. I know I have all the personality traits that generate these symptoms (low self-esteem, self-sacrificing, perfectionist, goodist). I just can't seem to connect with my feelings on an emotional level. I am starting to think I may need a TMS counselor to help me.

    Thank you for letting me share. I wish the best to all of you who are suffering. I know how awful the pain can be, and how it can wear you down.

    Tennis Tom and Enrique like this.
  2. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Mike. You can be glad you went through all the exams and nothing structural was found. That means your aches are from TMS
    and it's typical of the subconscious to move the pain around. It's so that you look into your repressed emotions (maybe from childhood)
    and you say you have low self-esteem, are a perfectionist and goodist. Those character traits are typical of those with TMS pain.

    My suggestion is you concentrate as much as you can on discovering any repressed emotions and think about your personality to try to modify
    your perfectionist and goodist sides. Journaling helped me with those things.
  3. map76

    map76 Peer Supporter

    Thank you Walt. I will give the journaling a shot.

  4. David88

    David88 Well known member

    Hi Mike,
    Thank you for your story. I'm brand-new here too. I haven't written my story here yet. I find it hard to write about myself, and admire how open you can be.
    A lot of your experience resonates with me. I am a regular walker and swimmer (when my TMS isn't interfering). Exercise is a great thing. It keeps the body healthy and burns off anger. But it doesn't address the causes of TMS. I've recently begun to suspect that I've been using exercise to avoid facing something that I need to change. Your story makes that more concrete for me. Thank you.
    I'm not sure I have any great advice on how to address those personality traits that cause TMS. I'm working on that myself with a TMS psychologist. But you're on the right track.
  5. map76

    map76 Peer Supporter

    Thank you David. I'm glad you found some inspiration in my story.

    I look forward to hearing more from you!

  6. heleng

    heleng Peer Supporter

    Hi Mike

    I am fairly new to this site too. I have been battling pain that has been moving around my body for a couple of years. I have had a lot of improvement since I have accepted its TMS. The pain went away completely for a couple of weeks but has come back but I am still confident as if the pain was real it wouldnt come and go. I know I have a way to go before it will be gone for good but I do believe it will. Belief is the key and challenging the pain by laughing at it and looking beyond it and inside myself. I am learning a lot about myself in the process and have realised I need to be as kind to myself as I am to others.
  7. map76

    map76 Peer Supporter

    Hi Heleng,

    I think you are on the right track. You remind yourself of the "evidence" that this is TMS (pain moving around, coming and going); and you also have a positive approach to healing (laughing, learning about yourself.) I think these are important tools that will help you let go of TMS.

    I have been contemplating the question on Day 1 of the Structured Recovery Program: "What would a life without TMS mean to you?" I didn't think this question would be so difficult for me to answer!

    I have had these symptoms for so long, it is honestly tough for me to even imagine a life without pain. I'm not sure my mind knows how to operate without a problem, since I was pretty discontent before having pain too.

    Do I not feel like I deserve to be happy? Would I be able to accept myself without pain as an excuse for my failures in life?

    I do remember times in my life when I felt care-free and content...but it has sure been a long time.

    David88, Tennis Tom and heleng like this.
  8. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    There's the $64,000 question!

    Here's the wiki's list of TMS therapists:


    Phone sessions can work well. You have a good overview of your TMS issues, you write really well.

    Steven Ray Ozanich's TMS book is a good one: THE GREAT PAIN DECEPTION.

    Any relationships?
  9. David88

    David88 Well known member

    Mike, that's true for me too. I've always have some pain or anxiety to fret about. I'm trying to imagine being relaxed and happy in life. It seems like an impossible goal sometimes, and sometimes it seems just out of reach. Hard to figure out. David.
  10. map76

    map76 Peer Supporter

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for the link and book suggestion.

    Relationships? Yes, I have been in a relationship for about 3 years but things are not going well lately. She wants to get married and have babies, and I don't. I've been honest with her about this, but I think she believes I'll just come around to the idea eventually. I don't think she'll be happy without children, so it seems like a matter of time before we break up.


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