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New here...Scared it won't work

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by WantToBelieve, Nov 23, 2014.

  1. WantToBelieve

    WantToBelieve Peer Supporter

    Hello everyone! I'm a late-30's mom of a 2 year old with a history of 13 years of bilateral foot pain. When people say they've tried it all, I've tried it ALL! I mean, everything! Even 3 surgeries on what was thought to be nerve entrapment. I've seen probably 20 doctors in all, maybe more. I've been pursuing a fix/cure everyday for 13 years! This pain has turned my life upside down. I used to own my own Personal Training business. I was a national fitness competitor, rock climber, avid world-traveler, skiier, etc, etc and now I can barely stand up long enough to take a shower. I never had an injury and both of feet just started to hurt in the heels. Of all my MRI's, ultrasounds, xrays, nerve tests, blood work, etc, NOTHING has ever come back with any indication as to what is causing this pain.
    I've tried it all and now I'm trying this. I want with all my heart and soul for this to be the answer to my pain. I want to be a success story so badly. But so far, it's been about a month with no change for the better or worse. I'm lucky enough to live in Chicago with a Dr who has trained under Dr Sarno and who is leading a TMS course. I'm reading Dr Schubiner's book in the class, have read Dr Sarno's book, am meditating, journaling, doing the self-talk and nothing is happening. I'm scared this will become another thing that I have tried that does not work for me.
    I know deep down I'm still questioning if TMS is really the cause. How could I not be questioning it though? I've been to 20+ doctors and every time I try a new treatment, I'm assured this is going to help me. I can't tell you how many doctors have been positive that 'x,y.z' treatment will fix me! I get my hopes up again and again and again to have my life back and nothing improves. :(

    I am a Type A personality and I do have some unresolved issues with my father, but honestly I led a pretty normal childhood. I can't for the life of me put an event to what kicked off this pain. I know it could just be an accumulation of stress, a bunch of things causing it, but I'm struggling with believing 100% that TMS is my diagnosis.

    I attended two panel discussions of success stories and I was so excited to get started and see my pain decrease and now after 5 weeks with no change, I'm becoming discouraged.
  2. Gigalos

    Gigalos Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi wtb,
    Sorry to hear you are having such a hard time. Although it seems to me to be TMS, I sadly can't prove that.
    When people strive hard, they may put more stress on themselves than they realize. Maybe that is what is keeping you from progress, you are infuriating yourself by not making any progress despite your hard efforts. Try to leave the battle mode. Do less work on TMS, an hour a day should be sufficient, and spend the rest of your day on other stuff.
    100% believe is something that may take a while too. Some people take a couple of weeks, others a couple of years.

    take care
    Ellen likes this.
  3. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hello. Ok, so you have been dealing with this pain for 13+ years and you've tried EVERYTHING. I really understand how you feel. I was in the same position several years ago, facing yet another surgery that in my heart of hearts I did not believe was going to bring the sort of change I desired. When we are in this position, after trying so many things, with so much hope and effort, what are our options? I came to the conclusion that it was to either give up or keep trying. Although I was acutely aware that each time I tried, I risked yet another fall, a big tumble into pain and disillusion. The pain is more manageable when there is hope. Aha, that is psychological! What if you continued with your TMS recovery program without the anticipation or expectation that you were going to either discover THE ANSWER behind your pain struggle or it would just be added to the long list of treatments you have tried? I can assure you that at the very least, your relationship to your pain will change. When I first started I felt like I just didn't know if there was any way I could ever enjoy my life unless I found the solution to my pain. As I continued in my work, I had moments in which I thought that I would be okay even if I had to live in pain the rest of my life(not that I wanted that, of course). Now that I am basically out of pain after 20+ years, the challenges are not over. Yes, I am relieved, yes I am much happier, but there is an entire psychological and emotional component that the pain effectively distracted me from for a very long time. Its much easier to understand in retrospect why my subconscious was creating the pain. I was not able to start with the answer and then recover, I had to do a lot of exploring and then when the pain subsided I started to understand more. Some of the exploration for me was getting more comfortable asking questions without concrete answers. I have become much more observational. Just yesterday, something was going on with my husband and me and the right side of my head started buzzing with a strange energy (this is the area I was locked in acute pain and spasm for several years). In the past I probably would have reacted in fear and mentally gone into a list of all the terrible things that might be happening. But yesterday, I just sat with it and thought to myself, "hmmmm, isn't that interesting? I wonder what is going on?" Then I just spent some time thinking about the interaction with my husband and how it was making me feel. No big action plan, just focus and awareness of what was going on with me. I am not sure when the strange sensation left because it was no longer of any importance, just a signal. 5 weeks is not a long time. Try not to put a clock on it. I know how hard it is not to focus on the pain, but everytime you are singularly focused on it and the potential structural causes, you are giving it power. Think about and try to sense into some other part of your body that it not in pain. At first I could not do it at all, but with a lot of practice, I have learned how to switch my focus to a part of my body that is not in pain. One day I could only find a small spot on the tip of my elbow, but it was there. It will get better.
    mike2014 and Ellen like this.
  4. Enrique

    Enrique Well known member

    You've been given some good advice above already. I'll just encourage you to stick with it. 5 Weeks is nothing... everyone's on their own timeline. We are all unique so don't put a timeframe on when you'll heal. Just keep intending to believe and you eventually will. Take it from me... I suffered from bad wrist pain, back pain, neck pain, feet pain, tennis elbow, etc, etc for many, many years. Now I'm able to do IRONMAN triathlons :)!! Stay the course!
    Ellen likes this.
  5. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    WTB, What do you do for exercise now to stay in shape?
  6. WantToBelieve

    WantToBelieve Peer Supporter

    Thanks everyone for the tips! I really appreciate it Anne Walker. To answer the question from Tennis Tom....I workout 4 days a week - I swim, do the stationary bike and lift weights. Having been a personal trainer for 8 years, it's in my blood to keep working out. I have never let this pain stop me from trying. For years, I just pushed through the pain and kept traveling the world, hiking Machu Picchu, trekking all across Thailand and Australia, but then I simply couldn't push through it any longer. It just became unbearable. I only have pain when I stand and walk. It is gone 100% when I sit down. So, I continue to push but not as hard as before. Pushing a stroller was out of the question, so I got a bike stroller thing (Taga Bike) and I use that to ride her around and then take her to the park. I push through grocery shopping and cooking. My point is, I've never let this keep me on the couch. I've always been a fighter!

    I think it's hard for me to not think about the pain since everytime I'm standing the pain starts inching in. I try everything to ignore it by keeping busy and thinking of the task at hand, but the pain persists and like I said above, I can't just push through and ignore it anymore.

    I'm determined and i will keep pursuing this, but how does one:

    1. Get the skeptisim in your brain to stop?
    2. Stop thinking about the pain?

    I've actually found that I'm thinking more about the pain since starting the TMS work. Before I really just felt like it was mine to live with and I would try to do what i could to get through my day/life with the pain. But now I'm always thinking about if the pain is worse, better, etc. With the self-talk it's another reminder of the fact that I have pain.
  7. mike2014

    mike2014 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hello WantToBelieve,

    I'm sorry to hear you are suffering so much.

    I would suggest to keep re-affirming to yourself it is a mind body symptom and there is nothing phyically wrong with you.

    Try and focuss on your breathing when the pain becomes overbearing, bringing yourself into a neutral/safe place - even if it means taken a few minutes out of your day.

    You could also distract yourself by visualising being in a fit/healthy state.

    Above all, please be gentle to yourself and kind, if you worry or have too much stress it can cause a hormonal disbalance in your cortisol levels and trigger your fight or flight responses. Thus increasing the level of pain associated to your symptoms.

    Please try to be gentle with yourself and work through a SEP. you ae definitely on the right track to recovery.

    God bless,

    Ellen likes this.
  8. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    Please, this is not a criticism(oh I hate it when my husband says that!) and we all have a tendency to do it, but try to notice when you are having thoughts that propel you into the future. We imagine that we are always thinking about the pain NOW and just having that thought helps us to imagine that this is what our future will be. But the truth is, we are making the choice each moment to think about the pain. If you can in just one moment direct your thoughts to something else, then you are no longer ALWAYS monitoring and thinking about the pain. The more moments you are able to do that, the less you are thinking about the pain. And the less you think about the pain, the easier it gets not to think about the pain ALL THE TIME. So start small and begin with a moment. Its not like I never think about pain anymore, its just that I don't do it the majority of the time. When I become aware that I am doing it, I now have the ability to more effectively redirect my thoughts. This doesn't necessary answer the big question of how - how do you redirect your thoughts away from the pain, even for a moment? Here are some suggestions: Focus: try focusing on something else. For several months I played a game on luminosity that required a great deal of concentration. It was all about getting numerous trains into a different stations. I could not play this game and stay focused on the pain at the same time. I would notice occasionally that after playing the game for a long time, the pain was less intense. Meditation: Some of us find that with practice meditation can help us get beyond the singular focus on the pain. Enjoyment: I think even the most extreme chronic pain sufferers have noticed that there are times we are enjoying an activity or conversation so much that we completely forget our pain for a period of time. Intention: as I mentioned earlier, with the help of a somatic experiencing therapist, I was able to learn how to focus on a part of my body that was not in pain. I am sure there are many other techniques in which we can intentionally redirect our thoughts away from the pain. Please don't get me wrong, not thinking about the pain is not the overall cure for TMS. Its just that in the beginning we are so effectively trapped by the pain distraction that it can be very challenging to think about anything else, develop the necessary belief that our pain is not structural, and we can be suffering so much that it is too challenging to find the strength to address the emotional and psychological. Sounds like you are a fighter and have enormous strength. Its all about channeling that strength in the right way without fighting yourself too much.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2014
    Ellen likes this.
  9. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    WantToBelieve, I run in the pool with a flotation belt 30 minutes or more a day, have you tried that as a substitute? I now prefer it to running on land because of the over-all body resistance of the water. I use a water-proof device for listening to music and if the music's good keep running. What do you think of pool running?
  10. WantToBelieve

    WantToBelieve Peer Supporter

    Tennis Tom - I could definitely try pool running. I swim laps for 30 minutes and I too use an ipod for the water! Love it! I've never really enjoyed running on land, but in the pool it may be more enjoyable. Thanks for the tip!

    Anne- wow! What great advice! I think I should own up to the fact that I don't ALWAYS think of the pain. That is my tendency to think 'black and white'/ 'all or nothing'. I only have pain when standing or walking so anytime I'm sitting or laying down I do not have any pain at all! Therefore there are a great many hours a day/night that I do not think of the pain. Unfortunately, when I stand up in the morning, it's like a ticking clock and the longer I stand/walk, the sooner the pain starts to creep in. I don't concsiously sit there thinking 'the pain is coming, the pain is coming'. But I'm positive, my brain is trained to know that it's coming. I guess I should have asked, when the pain comes (after probably 2-3 minutes of standing and then gets unbearable sometime between 5-10 minutes and I need to sit), how do I not think about the pain then? It's the same thing every day, so it's not that a current stressor is setting the pain into motion. I've been taking a deep breathe and telling myself it's not physical and that I no longer need the pain as a distraction as I'm working through the underlying issues, but by doing this I end up thinking about the pain more. Is it responding? Why isn't it responding? Then I think this isn't working.

    I'm sure I sound like I'm pushing back and coming up with excuses, but I'm really just struggling. I will keep at it and have my TMS class tonight. Thanks to all of you who are listening. I appreciate it.
  11. Enrique

    Enrique Well known member

    Anne Walker likes this.
  12. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi WantToBelieve. I don't in any way think you are making excuses! I know exactly how hard it is because I have experienced this first hand. I was thinking after I wrote my last point how its a little different for you in that the pain is not constant but comes after you stand up. I am sure this is a conditioned response and many of the people on this board have a lot to say about that. The thing is, TMS distracts us so well because it has so many consistent inconsistencies. What I mean by this is that we are constantly searching for patterns that will help us to believe that it truly is TMS, and TMS gets us by coming us with unique ways to keep us focused on the pain. That's what the symptom imperative is all about, it is constantly throwing us a new challenge as soon as we become confident that the cause is not structural. I am trying to imagine what I would do if the pain only came when I was standing up. Hmmmmmm, probably lay in bed all the time! ha ha. No seriously, it is hard to live life lying down. My pain was constant without any relief so perhaps there are others here who only had pain in a certain positions that could give better advice. I did have a very intense flair up of piriformis pain as part of my long series of symptom imperatives(my subconscious is very persistent). I did push through and continue on my walks and tell it to go to hell for days on end and eventually it did get better. But I still remember those walks and they were some of the longest moments in my life!! Keep an evidence sheet, look for the holes, don't give up, focus on outcome independence and it will pay off in the end. I can say that confidently now that I have finally reached "the end".
    mike2014 and Ellen like this.
  13. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    Oh, one last thing, any time you catch yourself monitoring the pain, telling yourself that it must be structural and can't be TMS because you are still in pain, just throw in the towel. TMS has got you. Not monitoring is one of the most frustrating and difficult parts of this whole process. How do we care if we are in pain or not if we are doing all this work to get out of pain????? I don't know. I don't have a good answer for you other than the more you monitor, the more you will find the pain is still there. I used to monitor my pain with the first thought I had when I woke up in the morning. I couldn't even imagine how I could wake up and not think about whether or not I was still in pain. I am not sure how I eventually succeeded but I can tell you truthfully, that is not my first thought anymore. Now I am thinking "what time is it?" ha ha
    Ellen and mike2014 like this.
  14. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    What helped me was to monitor my psychological/emotional state instead of my body/pain/symptoms levels. I shifted my attention to looking inside and asking "how am I feeling" "what are my thoughts/attitude/beliefs about this present moment" "am I experiencing joy, pleasure, gratitude, compassion or fear, frustration, irritation, sadness?", etc. (Eckhart Tolle puts it this way: What is my relationship to the present moment?) If the answer was that I was feeling/thinking negative things, then I use the tools I have to change that state of being---practicing mindfulness is the most effective for me. Sometimes deep breathing if I am sort of "amped up".
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2014
  15. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I need to add to the above post that it is important to not get too obsessed with this kind of "navel-gazing" anymore than one should be overly-obsessed with the body. It can become another form of narcissism. So after looking inward, it's essential to act to change one's internal state if it's stressful, even if it means practicing acceptance.

    But I have also found it useful if I'm overly focused on myself, (my body, my pain, my story) to shift my attention outward--onto nature, other people, animals, an absorbing activity, etc.

    It's about balance.

    Now if I could remember to do this all the time:)
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2014
    Anne Walker and mike2014 like this.
  16. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Want ti Believe. Believing 100 percent that TMS is the cause of our pain is one of the hardest things for many people to do.
    I withheld about 10 percent belief that my back ache was structural because I was 82 and believed the pain was from aging.
    I read HEALING BACK PAIN and that Dr. Sarno said that back pain was often no more than "gray hairs of the spine,"
    a normal aging process. It took a while but I finally gave up that 10 percent structural belief and believed 100 percent in TMS
    causing my pain. Journaling led me to understand the repressed emotions going back to my childhood that resulted in anger
    and that over the years turned into internal rage.

    Long story short, keep at the SEP program because it really has helped many people to become pain-free.
    None of the doctors and tests and medication you took relieved the pain. Let TMS do it.
    Anne Walker, Enrique and mike2014 like this.

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