Greetings, new friends! I'm a little nervous, but very excited to be posting on here, I have been lurking about for a while, feeling INCREDIBLY relieved to know that I am not alone in this "boat". This is a wonderful wiki, a fabulous forum and I have already gained great insight from the many bright minds and brave souls on here. Thank you! I hope to be a regular contributor to the forum, now that I know about TMS, I am in the "I want to shout it from the rooftops" phase. I feel like a Jesus freak, wanting to baptize everyone in the waters of the Sarno! I hope the sharing of my journey can help others. A bit of backstory, I am an writer, actor and photographer, grew up in Los Angeles, had a VERY strange childhood and somehow in the mix, decided to go to acupuncture school. Looking back at my life from the hot air balloon of my minds eye, I can now see that I've probably suffered from TMS since age 7 or so, when elementary school started. Please see my profile page for ALL the gory details. Bring your reading glasses, I'm long winded....phew! Shorter story here: I was a sickly kid, who learned that illness was a quick way out of things I hated. And BOY did I hate school. So I was sick a LOT! Though, years later, perfectionistic glutton for punishment that I am, I decided to go to graduate school. Three graduate schools at once, in fact. What a TMS Petrie Dish! Initially wanting to attend USC film school, I took a detour into Chinese medicine because I was helped greatly by an acupuncturist at the impressionable young age of 19. I now wish I had read Sarno back then, because I probably (maybe) would have seen that I had TMS, not "Weak Spleen Chi" and saved myself four years of school, much hypochondria, and perhaps I'd even be a working filmmaker. Ah well, what's done is done. Beating myself up for what I "should" have done is part of what got me here. I'm done with beating me. Done with "shoulding" on myself. Almost. I've always had something "wrong" with me, from sore throats and tummy aches as a child, to diagnosed OCD and IBS as an adult, and later, panic attacks and anxiety, even been on and off some SSRI's and anxiety meds, but I'd luckily never really had any kind of chronic physical pain. That changed a bit, after my mother died of cancer in 2000 and my father re-married a wicked witch who estranged him from the family. This woman literally stalked my dad, married him, cut me and my sister (and his 9 year old granddaughter) out of his life. Worse yet, she went on to dig up my mothers remains, in a ghoulish grave robbing plot of sociopathic mind control. Shudder. Or shoulder, as the case may be. *my shoulders are the current focal point of my tms*. I say "current" because while I'd had my "back go out" more than a few times 30's, this really got bad in my 40's, early 2013 to be exact, when I had to accompany my panic disorder/fibromyalgia riddled sister (tms, tms, tms) to NYC (the ultimate Autonomic Overload City), to see my niece graduate from film school. In addition, my sister had not been on a plane in over 30 years and wanted me to be her travel companion and safety net. I wanted to be a "Good" brother and uncle, but didn't really want to go, couldn't afford the trip, also hate flying, have a loving but rather anxious relationship with my sister and I myself have had my share of panic attacks. I also felt (and I still feel guilty for even saying this) very jealous of my niece. She was going to graduate from my old dream that never came true. Film school. I felt deeply conflicted, but my gut instinct was to respectfully decline and bow out. I did NOT want to go. But my sister offered to pay for the trip, guilted me like crazy and I went along for the "ride" like a good little goodist. And what a ride it was. A roller coaster ride. And not a fun one. It was go, go, go, do, do, do, run, run, run from beginning to end and I came back to LA in emotional tatters, spent, financially broke and exhausted. I felt like I needed a vacation after my "vacation", but instead of resting up for a few days, I immediately returned to my drab and draining day job from the tornado of the trip, and shortly thereafter developed a strange series of symptoms that spanned the gamut from migraine headaches to lower back pain, TMJ pain, panic attacks, chronic fatigue and finally, shoulder blade and neck pain. The former is mostly gone, but the latter (shoulder and neck pain) is still with me, though MUCH better since a kindly stranger came into my day job and asked me (as I was doing some "posture exercises") if I was in any kind of pain. I was in horrible pain, daily. My neck felt like a stone pillar and my shoulders felt like they were in the jaws of a T-Rex. My jaw felt like it was in a metal vice. I said, "Yes, I am in chronic pain, in my neck, jaw and upper back, but I am working on it. It's my bad posture and weekend job, I'm a professional photographer. Tough on the body. You know, all that PhotoShop and camera lifting. I'm not getting any younger. It finally got me. RSI. I've never been much for exercise, but now I have to. I've been seeing a chiropractor, a rolfer, an acupuncturist, a physical therapist and a masseuse. My PT has me doing all kinds of foam rolling, corrective exercises, postural corrections, you know..." He said, "Is any of that stuff helping you?". I said, "No...but it takes time". He said, "Look, it's none of my business, but I have a question for you, when did this start?". I said, "Oh, well, it started when I lifted a bunch of heavy suitcases on a recent trip to NY". He wouldn't fall in for that, thank GOD. He then said, "Heavy suitcases, huh? Um, was the trip stressful?". I told him it was hell on earth. Then he asked me if I had been under any stress before that. When I told him my mother had died a horrible death of cancer, my dad left me, my life turned upside down, I had to give up a lot of my dreams and I hadnt been the same since, he (ironically) put his arm on my shoulder and said, "I'm sorry to hear that, it sounds like you've really been through a lot. You've really had to bear a heavy burden of sadness and loss. That has got to take its toll way more than your posture or carrying a camera ever could..." Tears welled in my eyes. Then he asked me if I liked my day job. I said, "Well, I LOVE photography! But no. I F***ING HATE this HORRIBLE retail job!!!" He said, "Sounds like you have a lot of anger, and why wouldn't you! You're human, after all...". I said, "Aw, no, not really, I never feel truly angry, at least not consciously". A glint formed in his eye. "Not CONSCIOUSLY"...."What if I told you I thought your neck and shoulder pain may have less to do with suitcases and cameras and more to do with stress, tension, grief and a mountain of repressed and very real, un-conscious RAGE?" I looked at him like a deer caught in the headlights. The headlights of truth. I knew, deep within, this man was saying something huge to me. Something TRUE. He then recommended a book. You guessed it, "Healing Back Pain", by Dr. Sarno. He said, "Just promise me you'll read it"...."It saved my life, I used to be you, and now I'm 100% pain free". I read the book. Cover to cover in 2 days. At first, I didn't think much of it, in fact, I kind of wondered if it was baloney. Keep in mind, I'd had YEARS of school that focused on the body and I was very convinced that my posture was the cause of my pain. And worse yet, I really trusted my Physical Therapist (a beloved former anatomy professor of mine) and put a lot of weight into her words. But something strange happened as I read. My pain got a tiny bit better. So I read it again, and this time, I saw what I didn't want to see. I saw myself on every single page. A goodist to the core, a somatizer since childhood, Type-T, perfectionist, angry, anxious, narcissistic, neurotic and in deep denial of a tornado of inner turmoil. I was a four alarm fire and my pain was merely the fire alarm. My superego was having a tug of war with my ID and my shoulders and neck were the rope that I was hanging my ego with. I began to stop worrying so much about my posture. I stopped physical therapy and started psychotherapy. I learned to say "no" without blaming my back or feeling guilty. I tried, with difficulty, to have more fun and think less about pain. Not easy. But the more I did this, the better I felt. I began to realize, it was my MENTAL posture that was the cause of my strain (and pain), not so much my slouching. This paradigm shift has been equally powerful and challenging. Thank you Ace, for the keys to healing. I read them DAILY. "I take my time, forgive and let go easily". "I'm calm relaxed, patient and confident". "I am always easy on myself". "I am comfortable with doing nothing." Seems easy. But it takes a lot of doing to undo! Or vice-versa. Lather, rinse, repeat! I'm not out of the woods yet, but I'm getting there. I've read ALL of Sarno's books, Dr. Schechter's book, Steve Ozanich's book (genius), half way through Dr. Schubiner's book, been journaling (hello flare-ups!), continued with the psychotherapy (much better for TMS than physical therapy) and I've even slowly started shooting photos again, my true passion. Next, I want to go back to my earliest desire, acting. One step at a time, slowly re-realizing my dreams, seeing how hard I am on myself and curing myself with knowledge. Self-knowledge. It's the real deal. It's the yellow brick road and the ruby slippers, the alpa and the omega. I applaud everyone who has gone through this journey, overcoming TMS is the hardest thing I've ever done, no doubt. And the most important. I'd say, I'm about half-way home. I have an appointment to see Dr. David Schechter in January (I am blessed that his office is less than a mile from my work) and while I have flare-ups, and many ups and downs depending on my stress level (which is currently high due to the TMS-mas season), in general my pain has gone from a 9 to a 5. I'm shooting for a zero. Heck, I'm shooting for a three. But zero would be nice! I'm keeping the faith, because I've seen it get to a zero, and ironically, the moment I say, "Hey! My pain is gone!!!!"...it returns. Maybe some of you can enlighten me to why you think that is? Any ideas? I have some of my own...but I'm open to any and all input. I am here to keep learning! The more I learn (and unlearn), the better I get. And I am open to any questions anyone wants to ask me. I'm new at this, but I've had TMS my whole life, I'm just new at recognizing it! So, ask away. Happy to answer. And speaking of happy (the best cure for TMS), Happy Holidays to everyone reading this, a bright new year and much luck in your journeys. See you all again, soon... PS- I am SO excited about "All The Rage". How wonderful is that!!!!!! A film about Sarno!!! Hooray to the filmmakers!!!! Can't WAIT to see it!!! PPS- Has anyone on here had shoulder and neck tension as part of TMS? I hear a LOT of low back pain stories, but few shoulder blade, upper back, neck tension stories. Or maybe I've just missed em'? Yes, I still have that 1% doubt this is TMS, get back on my foam roller, obsess about my posture and fall back into pain! I suppose this in itself is classic TMS, but my mind LOVES to second guess itself. PPPS- I re-edited this 3 times and added 2 P's to my S's. Hello, perfectionist!!!