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Need more help unable to convince my subconscious this is all tms

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Davidgraham5, Apr 3, 2022.

  1. Davidgraham5

    Davidgraham5 New Member

    I am doing the work. Sarno books, schubiner program etc. I am unable to convince my subconscious this is all tms.

    I have classic ehlers danlos syndrome. I experience very loose saggy stretchy skin, chronic anal fissures, anal prolapse, chronic hemeroids, poor skin healing etc all due to lax tissue. Some things have improved such as fatigue and less chronic pain but the eds symptoms are progressively getting worse.

    Do I just keep going with the process? Is there something I need to do to dig deeper? Or do I just accept my Ehlers-Danlos skin is genetic and nothing I can do
  2. Dorado

    Dorado Beloved Grand Eagle

    I was diagnosed with hEDS by a geneticist at Mayo Clinic. My skin isn't saggy, but it is velvety and doughy, and some parts are incredibly stretchy - to the point that Mayo performed a blood test to ensure I didn't have the classical type. As hEDS is a congenital issue, not everything is within my control... but not everything is out of it either.

    I've had to accept that some symptoms are simply a fact of life for me and not caused or significantly increased by the mind-body connection. While performing my nerve biopsies, for instance, the neurologist said upfront that he had a difficult time making the circular incisions due to my skin's unique texture. He commented on my heavy bleeding, as did a gastroenterologist who took a sample from my stomach. As another example, I went through years of tattoo removal because nobody - including myself - understood my skin when I had a larger bold piece done in college, causing the highly acclaimed and experienced artist to overwork my skin. The piece still contained bloody scabs after a full month and took about three times as long as it should have to heal. It was blown out and looked terrible after the healing process, which was unheard of for that esteemed artist. Just like the neurologist, the artist intensely struggled with my skin. I recently had a fine line tattoo (no more bold designs for me!) placed over the now removed tattoo, and what would normally take most artists <40 minutes to complete took >3 hours. I’ve had four artists comment on my bleeding, too. The morale of this story is that I can't change the texture of my skin - which I've had since before I was even born - with mind-body healing and there will always be special handling and healing considerations for me. I've also had to accept that the mind-body connection will not put an end to potential subluxations when I'm eating or dancing with my friends, pens and pencils sinking into my skin while writing will never be comfortable, the unprepossessing piezogenic papules on my heels are a permanent result of my connective tissue, etc.

    At the same time, I fully recognize that other symptoms, such as dysautonomia that was leading to different issues including extreme nerve pain, are very manageable and only become troublesome or disabling when I'm dealing with intense emotions. Writing essays with pens and pencils was not pleasant in school, but I'm able to hold my cell phone without immediately shrieking from serious nerve pain... unless I'm going through something emotionally. Mayo confirmed that my blood vessels have structural abnormalities due to my collagen formation, but my Raynaud's is barely noticeable when it's over 15 °F outside... until those emotions are in overdrive. When I'm in a bad way, my hands will turn purple from a 50 °F day. I have menstrual problems that both EDS and stress have been shown to affect. Some people with hEDS go from having debilitating POTS to standing just fine after taking the mind-body approach. I genuinely believe the dysautonomia that is often seen in EDS can make us more prone to developing emotionally-driven symptoms given fight-or-flight mode, but this can be managed beautifully! And regardless of EDS, stress can cause your immune system to become less effective, leading to increased infections, further healing delays, etc. This is all where mind-body work dramatically changes everything for me.

    So while not every EDS symptom is caused by the mind-body connection, emotions can certainly lead to and/or amplify other symptoms. I may not always know which is which, and this is why addressing my overall outlook and anxiety has helped me tremendously. There needs to be a moment where you accept that life will never be perfect and may involve some symptoms. Sometimes the treatment of our symptoms falls outside of mind-body work, or at the very least isn't 100% reliant on mind-body work. We are not alone: anybody who lives long enough will eventually develop some sort of a chronic condition or major bodily change. Longevity experts debate whether aging itself should be considered a disease. I may have EDS, but I am still here and able to live a fantastic life filled with things I love and enjoy. I'm not disabled. Anxious thinking can make me feel otherwise, which goes back to the management of my anxiety (an ongoing process) being critical and a top priority. Mayo told me to stay off negative EDS forums and watch my attitude toward the things I cannot change - and I truly believe this was some of the best advice I've ever received. As a result, the uncertainty regarding whether a symptom is mind-body driven has become easier to deal with over time. Outcome independence is exceptionally freeing. I understand my body better and am empowered to work with my medical team to make executive decisions about treatments. To confirm, I only work with providers that recognize the mind-body connection - this also helps alleviate my uncertainty.

    Bottom line: addressing fear and emotions, combined with accepting that we may experience symptoms, is a game changer. I can't always automatically confirm to which degree every symptom is influenced by the mind-body connection, but that's why getting back to living my life was dire. It's thrilling to see some symptoms decrease or even completely go away, and I can't give my up life over the symptoms that stayed. Be mindful of outcome dependence and catastrophic thinking. Nobody wants to have a chronic condition, but fear is what ultimately makes life feel too painful to go on.

    As a final note, this reminds me of when I became deathly afraid of elevators after some incidents, a huge issue for someone living in Chicago (not the suburbs, but the actual city where elevators are simply unavoidable). My cognitive behavioral therapist recommended exposure therapy after COVID forced me to work remotely and several weeks of avoiding elevators made me have nightmares about going back in them. It’s as if my brain said, “I never loved this. I really started to despise this, and now that I’ve had a break from it, I never want to do it again.” As a Chicagoan, I could only forgo elevators for so long. I explained to my cognitive behavioral therapist that the elevators at my office actually did break down quite frequently. What was the point of trying to prove otherwise? He reminded me that I may indeed get stuck in an elevator one day, but the point of exposure therapy was to prove that I could STILL handle it. That is how I view EDS, and that is true outcome independence.
    JanAtheCPA and LaughingKat like this.
  3. LaughingKat

    LaughingKat Peer Supporter

    This is IT in a nutshell! Thank you for taking the time to write it all down.

    A followup question: Where do you find all your "providers that recognize the mind-body connection"? Alternative practitioners are easy to find, and I prefer them, but sometimes you need an MD, and I think I've only ever found one who was at all sympathetic (and even then, not convinced) about TMS.
  4. Dorado

    Dorado Beloved Grand Eagle

    Great question! I’m lucky to live in a major city where I’ve got many options available to me. Even before I believed my nerve symptoms were mind-body driven, I had a neurologist who understood that it was. I have a gynecologist, dermatologist, etc. that provide integrative care - I’ve found that some of these practitioners have a good understanding of how emotions affect the body (some of them, sadly, do not). I believe it’s because they view health more holistically and are open to possibilities outside of medical school textbooks - “the whole person approach.” They may not know who John Sarno is or what “TMS” stands for (none of my providers ever have!), but the good ones believe in the mind-body connection. My gynecologist did her due diligence, for instance, when I bled for several weeks straight. When nothing popped up on my ultrasound or other tests, she said, “It’s amazing what stress can do, isn’t it?” And it went away. She didn’t lead me down a bad path and she knew when it was time to stop digging based on my overall history and health profile.

    I always explicitly ask anybody I work with how the mind-body connection plays a role in their care. If I didn’t like their answer, I was out. I’ve written before about how my amazing neurologist referred me to a biofeedback specialist who actually went against the psychosomatic diagnosis and said I likely did have nerve damage (spoiler alert: Mayo and University of Chicago confirmed that I freaking did NOT). That was terrible… and it was so important for me to have my neurologist who actually “got it” to lean on. I tend to be told I’m a convincing person - I’ve always been effective at expressing how I feel and presenting arguments. That’s why the biofeedback specialist believed me when I still had doubts about my nerves. It’s been important for me to tell anybody I work with that mind-body symptoms and work are critical to me.
    JanAtheCPA, LaughingKat and Sita like this.
  5. Celayne

    Celayne Well known member

    It sounds like you are trying very hard to convince your subconscious that your symptoms are TMS. I don’t know anything about your skin condition or whether it can be improved by TMS. Dorado had great answers for you on that.

    As far as convincing, take it from someone who came into the TMS world determined to make her brain accept the TMS diagnosis and stop creating symptoms, and to do it right away.

    Sometimes the best thing you can do is sit with the knowledge you have. Just for a while. Let yourself calmly know that you’re okay, you’ve done what you could, gotten the knowledge you need.

    Even if your condition is genetic, you can lessen its impact on you with the techniques you’ve learned in your books and workbooks.
    Sita, Dorado and JanAtheCPA like this.
  6. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    SO much great info and advice from Dorado and Celayne! This one leapt out at me because I just read a new National Geographic article, all about how pain* is now proven to be made worse by one's mental state - and the article specifically focused on our tendency to "catastrophize".
    (*Note that you can always mentally insert "and other symptoms" whenever you see "pain" or "chronic pain".

    Spoiler alert: the promising new approach mentioned in the excerpt below is Pain Reprocessing Therapy! Alan Gordon's new therapy!

    Here's a link to the article, but it might be limited to subscribers. I've copied two introductory paragraphs:

    How you think about physical pain can make it worse
    It's not all in your head. But a promising new approach to treatment may offer relief to many sufferers of chronic pain
    Published April 1, 2022

    "One promising area of research is looking at the way “catastrophizing” about pain—thinking it will never get better, that it’s the worst ever, or that it will ruin your life—plays a central role in whether these predictions come true. This effect is very different from the dismissive “it’s all in your head” comments chronic-pain patients sometimes hear from doctors when they can’t pinpoint a physical cause, says Yoni Ashar, a psychologist at Weill Cornell Medical College and coauthor of the study in which Waldrip participated. Some contemporary researchers even dislike the term “catastrophizing” since it can imply the thinker is at fault.

    “You can have very real, debilitating pain without any biomedical injury in your body because of changes in the pain processing pathways,” Ashar says. It turns out, he says, that “the main organ of pain is actually the brain.” And that’s why for some sufferers, treatments like pain reprocessing therapy seem to help."

    As Dorado and Celayne both said, it is vital to find a way to change the way you think about your symptoms, even when you are struggling with a diagnosed - and perhaps untreatable - physiological condition. Stress and fear and, for better or worse, what the article frequently refers to as catastrophizing, will make every negative physiological sensation worse - a truth that is finally starting to become more accepted even in traditional medical specialties.

    Good luck,

    Sita and Dorado like this.
  7. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I'll just add that I found the technique of "talking to my brain" effective if done consistently. I think both Sarno and Schubiner discuss this as having our logical, rational brain override our irrational, primitive unconscious by talking to it and reasoning with it like a child. My "talks" would go something like "there is no logical reason for you to X (feel pain, develop a headache, etc.), so just stop it. Stop it brain! I'm willing to look at and experience my true feelings, so I don't need you to protect me right now. So just knock it off!"

    I know it sounds very silly, and I felt kind of ridiculous doing it, but I noticed results. We have a divided mind and the ability to mediate between the rational and the irrational parts. That is a major lesson I learned in my TMS recovery journey. I wish you all the best on your journey.
    Sita and JanAtheCPA like this.
  8. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes! What @Ellen says! This has been a very effective technique for me as well, but I often forget to mention it because talking to my fearful brain like this has become second nature for me now, for a long time. It really does work.
    Dorado likes this.

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