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Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by eskimoeskimo, May 13, 2014.

  1. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Hi all,

    I never thought I'd be support forum guy, but hey... I'll try anything at this point. Would greatly appreciate any advice or insight.

    Short synopsis:
    Back pain, for approx. 6 years. Started when 18, right in the middle of moving from US to UK for college. Started upper mid-back, mild and has essentially progressed in intensity since then. Main zone is upper back / neck now essentially always present at 6-9/10 strength unless I'm horizontal.

    I've known about TMS for approx 1 year now, with varying degrees of belief. I'm a deeply cynical skeptic, so I'm a tricky healer. It may be one of those things where everyone thinks their horoscope sounds eerily like it applies so specifically to them, but, well, we're desperate humans looking for guidance. Anyways, I've had extreme anxiety/depression with nearly the same timeline (start of that mess predates physical pain by approx 1 year). I definitely match the hyper-selfconscious goodist personality type. Very self-critical, perfectionist, OCD related disorders, night time jaw clenching, occasional knee pain, nightly nightmares etc, etc. I've tried osteopath, chiropractor, injections, acupuncture, deep muscle massage, meditation, swimming, physical therapy, and more (a very familiar list for many of you I'm sure). MRIs show mild arthritis, and moderate degeneration in a few areas. Some doctors have mentioned the degeneration as possible cause, some don't mention it at all.

    Needless to say, no clear diagnosis, no successful treatments. I will say that I've had a few good placebo kicks... the first 48 hours after any/all of those treatments has been pretty good. I've also had a good 48 hours of 75% relief after reading each of the Sarno (and related) books.

    Certainly I fit a common 'type' that seems susceptible to TMS, but man o man is it hard for me to get that idea to stick. I don't baby my back and never have. I'm very active, cardio and weightlifting most days of the week (I think healthy amount, not over the top), which is very relaxing and offers a small amount of confidence/mood boost. I try hard to ignore the pain and go about my day doing the things I'd like to do (and the work I have to do) as if the pain wasn't there. I've been following the SEP and journaling. I also meditate before sleep. Many sources, of anger, frustration, loneliness, anxiety, etc... but nothing too surprising or seemingly 'repressed' has popped up yet.

    I definitely have a problem tracking my progress, which I think goes hand in hand with having a hard time believing the TMS theory. It's very difficult for me to accept a rather non-scientific, not widely accepted diagnosis (not to say that mainstream theories on back pain are any more scientific) and it almost seems cruel that the treatment for this disorder is to 'fully believe' in the diagnosis. I've never 'fully believed' in anything in my life, I'm not sure how to start now. And yes, I'm aware that that type of thinking is a big part of the reason I have pain in the first place.

    Anyways, I'm all over the place, and getting pretty desperate at this point. If any of you have any words of advice (the more specific the better), I'd very much appreciate it.

    Thank you,

    PS Does anyone else here share this concern?: One of the main worries that the chronic pain gives me is that it's negatively affecting my mental faculties. I feel like chronic pain turns the brain into mushy mush and that terrifies me. My egotistical, likely unrealistic, sense of intelligence is one of the only positive feelings of worth that keeps me buoyant(ish) in the midst all sorts of emotional problems... and the chronic pain attacking that part of me is really upsetting.
  2. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    Read SteveO's book.
  3. Tru B Leever

    Tru B Leever Peer Supporter

    Hi Eskimo,
    Like you, I'm a major skeptic. If I don't see it, I don't believe it, but let me tell you.........if there's one thing that I now believe in 100%, it's Dr. Sarno's TMS theory. I spent a few years in my 30's where I'd get crippling back pain out of the blue. Pain and back spasms so bad I could not get out of bed, sometimes for a few days. I'd crawl on all fours to the bathroom. Doctor told me I had degenerative disk disease that was advanced for my age. To make a long story short, after learning about TMS and reading Healing Back Pain, I have been 100% free of back pain for approx 7 years.

    You seem to be doing everything right as far as reading and journaling and following the SEP. The one thing you may not be doing correctly is believing 100% that your issue is TMS. That is the critical component. If you don't believe, if you let that little bit of doubt creep in that your pain is caused by something physical, than the TMS will win. Once I totally accepted that my back pain was caused by TMS, I won. Kind of funny that the doctor told me not to squat at the gym or lift any weights straight up above my shoulders. I think about that sometimes now as I'm doing overhead dumbell presses with 50lb dumbells or squatting with 240lbs of weight on my shoulders. TMS is real, and those of us who know about it are the "enlightened" ones.

    You said that TMS is a "not scientific, not widely accepted diagnosis". People who don't know about TMS and go to a doctor because they are in pain want to hear that it's something physical. They expect the doctor to give them a real physical cause for their pain. If the doctor told them, "Don't worry. That excrutiating pain is all in your head.", they'd leave there and look for a new doctor. It's beat in to us in all these TV commercials for various pain meds that if you're in pain, there is something wrong. Don't expect the makers of Doan's back pills to tell you that your pain is purely psychological. How much money would a spinal surgeon make if they told most of the patients that came to them that they didn't need surgery, they just need to read Dr. Sarno's books?

    Anyway, I wish you luck in your recovery. Believe!!!
    Ellen likes this.
  4. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    What is "SCIENTIFIC"? Not that long ago, hysteriaorically speaking, it was thought the earth was flat and that the sky was falling! If you watch the infomercials for the Tommy Copper sportswear line you'll hear a lot of science. I'll believe the lies I want to believe.
    Last edited: May 14, 2014
  5. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is a such as great exchange of posts.

    Last night on the call-in a woman said she went to a psychiatrist out-of-state seeking advice about her back
    and other pain. When she got to his office he refused to see her but charged her $450 for the consultation
    he never gave her. I'm not saying all psychiatrists are con artists, but that guy sure fit the bill. She said she
    is a "goodist" person so she paid him what he asked. I'm a goodist too, but wouldn't have given him a dime.

    When we're in pain, medics can give us bad advice or worse, so I suggest trying TMS "knowledge penicillin"
    as Dr. Sarno says. It works and it's FREE.
  6. AndrewMillerMFT

    AndrewMillerMFT Well known member

    Hi Eskimoeskimo,

    Sounds like you're working hard on the TMS stuff - even if you're not fully convinced! Have you ever tried keeping an evidence list? It can be a powerful tool to aid the conscious mind against the doubt that creeps in around symptoms. If you haven't, you might want to try making separate lists for each "TMS symptom" you have. Under the heading of the symptom, begin to track reasons that it might be TMS: Does the symptom change due to psychic causes (feelings, thoughts, non-physical events)? Does the symptom seem conditioned? Do you only have it sometimes? Does the symptom go away, only to be replaced by another shortly thereafter? Etc...

    Some TMS patients find that keeping these lists, watching them grow and regularly reviewing them, keeps them steady when doubt creeps in.

    I encourage you to play with these lists if you haven't already and see what comes of it!


    Andrew Miller LMFT
  7. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Tennis Tom,

    Thanks for the reply. I've read SteveO's book, but I have to say I don't think it's the best tool for me. I enjoyed a lot of the uplifting encouragement, particularly considering that his pain story was considerably longer and more trying than my own. However, I found that he swam too often into spiritual waters, linking things that I'm tempted to believe in (TMS) with things that I absolutely do not. The cover of the book is a ying yang, and he ends up blaming pretty much everything on TMS. A little Carl Jung isn't too painful*, but the cosmic consciousness thing made me question the validity of the TMS thesis. The cocktail of encouragement and mysticism was confusing for me. Anyone else?
  8. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Tru B Leever,

    I really appreciate your response. DDD is the "diagnosis" out of many "diagnosis" that scared me the most (particularly b/c I'm in my twenties so I have this horrible vision of progression 'degeneration') and it's the one that I have the hardest time losing, on a fundamental, seep-in level. It's encouraging to hear that you've experienced success through TMS healing.

    Now, any tips of really assimilating belief? How does one achieve 100% belief? I've read all the materials, but it seems to me like 'belief' is so much more complicated than understanding. I feel like the switches that need flipping are very deep in parts of my brain that don't exactly take orders. What was that process like for you?

  9. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    By the way: My initials are TMS. How's that for irony?
  10. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    And you can also find a lot of people that will tell you Christianity cured their back pain. But I agree, the 'science' of anything is hazy and subject to change.
  11. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    I do like the free part! And also that's it's universally accessible. No gadgets or facilities necessary.
  12. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    You know, I haven't really done this formally and I think it's a good idea. I try to mentally compile evidence against the structural diagnosis, but I think writing it will help assimilate.

    Thank you
  13. PaulBlack

    PaulBlack Peer Supporter

    I have been at this for absolute years and I still get times when I doubt myself, because as was stated, nothing can be looked at under a microscope to show you your anger is causing little orcs with swords to be stabbing into you. And all the while having the gut feeling it is never really an injury, especially coming out of nowhere.
    One thing that seemed to stick with me reading Sarno was, the pain from TMS was/is always pretty nasty and horrid feeling and it comes and goes and moves in and out of exact areas and changes intensity. I have never really had a cut, or bruise or turned ankle feel like TMS does.
    Of course when I have felt hamstring jags or DOMS from exercises, say they hurt, but again they are consistent and usually always keep getting better daily if not hourly.
    Even when I had hernia surgery, the pain was constantly decreasing in intensity. It never really seemed to wane in and out or one day good the next bad. TMS for me, always seems different.

    When having a pain, among doing other types of thinking/feeling, I will still on occasion twinge and then say (sometimes out loud if I alone) that is anger stuck in that shoulder Paul. It is an angry feeling trying to get so let it out. Nothing is broken, just mad, guilty, anxious, or afraid.

    I like Monte Hueftle, questions...
    I am having a pain,
    What are you thinking?
    What are you feeling?
  14. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Yes, this kind of reanalyzing is very helpful for me in the moment too.
  15. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    If their pain was due to TMS then a Christian faith healer may very well have cured their pain. Voo Doo works also as an anecdote in one of the Good Doctor's book's testifies to. Dr. Sarno says people with strong religious beliefs are faster healers, citing Hasidic Jews he's treated as examples, perhaps because they are better practiced at believing. Whatever works.
  16. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Eskimo,

    Belief has never come easily to me, but perhaps for different reasons than your own. 20 years ago I had a ruptured disc and excruciating pain in my lower back. I read Dr Sarno's book at the time and played around with it for a few months but it just didn't sink in and I ended up having back surgery. I started working on TMS a second time a little over a year ago. At first I couldn't believe 100% that what I was going through was caused by TMS. I really struggled with that and especially everyone saying that I had to believe in order to heal. Those of us that doubt seem to focus on the potential harm of believing in TMS and ignoring the true structural or verifiable cause of our pain. But what about the suffering and harm caused by not being willing to take that leap of faith and believe in TMS? If you actually do have TMS then it means that you have a propensity to process your emotional and psychological life in such a way that you create painful conditions as a distraction. The good news is that with practice and awareness, you can change that. Many, many people have. You're not stuck. The bad news is, if you don't, your subconscious may just keep coming up with new and more inventive ways to distract you.
    I had back surgery and it cured the pain. For a while. Then I developed occipital neuralgia and months of physical therapy cured that. For a while. I don't want to write out the whole list of conditions the last twenty years, I'm sure you get the idea. There's no going back, but I do wish I had spent a little more time on Dr Sarno's book when I first read it 20 years ago. I'm glad I'm finally getting it now. I relate to the brain mushy mush. Part of my list of conditions over the years was brain fog, chronic fatigue, adrenal fatigue, thyroid problems... I investigated, tested and treated almost every possibility under the sun, both western and alternative. Nothing concretely diagnosable ever really turned up and all the therapies worked to varying degrees but never really sustaining. And you mentioned anxiety and depression and those are certainly related to brain mushy mush. The anxiety, depression and chronic pain is all interconnected no matter how you look at it. And isn't it interesting that it is now widely known that talk therapy is as effective as medication in treating depression! I will say on a positive note that the success I have had working on the TMS recently has on the good days cured my brain mushy mush. And I'm almost 52 years old and going through menopause! Try to recognize when you are in a state of worry and it is the anxiety talking. The chronic pain, anxiety and depression can effect how your brain feels but it is not going to make you less intelligent or effect you permanently.
    Ellen likes this.
  17. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Thank you Anne, a lot of what you said really hit home. I've had a lot of symptoms and obsessions over the years and it's kind of like there's always one dark thing that's sort of my main worry for the time. I'm always thinking, "If I could just fix this one nasty thing, my life would be so easy." But, when I sit back and look at the past 10 years, the 'nasty thing' has changed many times. There are so many things that I thought I'd never get past, but then sure enough it morphs into some new obsession. At times, it definitely feels like the back pain and neck pain is just the latest manifestation of an ongoing distraction effort by my brain. Now, distraction from what? That's a tougher question. I can't figure out what my brains trying to distract me from thinking about. Was it clearer for you?
  18. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    I couldn't agree more, the power of belief is strong. It just doesn't come easy to me... which is why I'm hoping that 'TMS' isn't just a placeholder term for 'belief'
  19. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Not to say that I'm looking for 'easy' ... just hoping to coax my unconscious with something a little more substantial than 'if you believe you're fine, then you're fine' sort of thing.
  20. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    I don't know, for me it has been much more of an ongoing process. At first I couldn't see past the pain, I had a really difficult time enjoying anything in the moment because of the pain. That didn't mean I was miserable all the time but even when I was enjoying myself I had an awareness of the pain. Its hard to describe what came next because in my mind its a big chaotic mess. I was all over the place. The belief came slowly out of a stubborn unwillingness to give up. Then one day I realized that even if I wanted to doubt that I had TMS, I couldn't. I personally don't think I have one thing to discover as a distraction. I think that for me at least it is a combination of past experiences, how my nervous system has been conditioned to respond to certain things, and chronic thinking patterns. I know being angry doesn't feel safe to me and I am sure how I deal with and express anger is at the root of this and although I am improving immeasurably, I haven't figured it all out yet. My anxiety is a lot better and I am very grateful for that.
    eskimoeskimo and Ellen like this.

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