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Daniel L. OCD and TMS

Discussion in 'Ask a TMS Therapist' started by dharn999, Jun 30, 2016.

  1. dharn999

    dharn999 Well known member

    This question was submitted via our Ask a TMS Therapist program. To submit your question, click here.

    While doing my homework for the day, I was reading Alan Gordon's "breaking the pain cycle" and I ran something he said stood out and I'm wondering if Alan could shine some light on this and help me out

    "Most of you have likely had the following thoughts at some point:
    “Will this pain ever go away?”
    Remember how great life was before the pain started?”
    “Wait- is it better or worse than it was yesterday?”

    I feel like I look at time different whenever I'm in pain. Whether it's the first time I went through this for over a year ago, or this current relapse. I keep thinking back to what things were like before I was hurting. I even kind of carry the date with me in my mind. (I did this same thing when I quit smoking way back when Jan 1st 2008, which helped me with that)

    No matter if it's me thinking back to a couple months ago and how my thoughts weren't on pain, or if I watch a tv show and notice the program aired during a time I wasn't in pain..

    I refer to this as Nostalgic thinking (not sure if that's correct) but I'm wondering if you have any tips on how to break this way of thinking?
    And is this kind of thinking hurting me in accepting TMS or hindering my improvement?

    I know I have to do better on accepting the diagnosis and move forward and I'll be there sooner or later (this isn't my first time, I'm in the middle of my first relapse after being good for almost 3 years)

    I've dealt with ocd off and on in my life and I really feel this is connected since it's almost an obsession of the past when I was pain free instead of keeping my attention on the now

    Any tips or words of wisdom would be much appreciated, I didn't see this mentioned in any of the precious threads

    Thank you
  2. Daniel G Lyman LCSW

    Daniel G Lyman LCSW TMS Therapist

    Alan handed this question off to me because he thought I might be able to answer it well. I’ll give it my best shot. J

    You are 100% correct in that this is connected to OCD. Those thoughts that Alan talks about are manifestations of the obsessive part of OCD. We tend to dwell on thoughts that we really wish that we wouldn’t. Part of the problem is that we fuel those thoughts by wishing that we wouldn’t have them to begin with. I’ll explain that more in a bit.

    You ask a great question about how to ‘break this way of thinking.’ I understand what you’re asking, but in fact I want you to do the opposite. I don’t want you to break it. Instead, I want you to recognize every single time “this way of thinking” arises. At that point, it’s your sole job to recognize that those are thoughts and only thoughts, and you don’t need to grab onto them.

    What do I mean by that? Well, if I told you to think about dinosaurs right now, you’d be able to do it. You probably could just as easily dismiss thinking about dinosaurs and continue thinking about whatever you want to think about. What happened right there is that you didn’t grab onto the thought of dinosaurs and didn’t get lost in thought for an extended period of time thinking about Triceratops’. Instead, you noticed you were thinking of dinosaurs, and then dismissed it.

    You can do the exact same thing with those thoughts about your pain. It’s trickier, for sure, but the same mechanism is at play. It is your choice which thoughts you grab onto and which ones you don’t.

    You asked about not thinking a certain way. If you desperately try to not think a certain thought – guess what – it makes it SO HARD to not think about it. That’s what fuels obsessive thoughts. Judging something we are thinking about as something that we shouldn’t be thinking about (that’s way too much thinking right there). I don’t think that sentence made any sense, but the point is that every single thought you have in your brain is neutral. It’s only when you judge it that the OCD symptoms can begin to flare up.

    For example, people will have obsessive violent thoughts, and when they have them they judge themselves and think that they are a bad person for having that thought. Turns out, when you take the judgment out of the equation, the obsession (and therefore the thoughts) go away!

    That’s why it’s so important to:

    1) Observe your thoughts

    2) Don’t react to them

    3) Move on

    That’s right – even if the thoughts you are having are unpleasant. Even if you feel like you’re torturing yourself with thoughts about life before pain – don’t react. Observe, don’t react, and move on. Practice this a thousand times and you’ll be well on your way to being as healthy as a monk sitting on a mountaintop in Nepal.

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  3. dharn999

    dharn999 Well known member

    Thank you for your advice! I understand what you are saying about putting stock into thoughts and how they can continue the fire but only if you allow them to. I do need to embrace these thoughts and just let them go instead of dwelling on them (I think that's what you are saying).

    A big problem I run into Is even when I know this is TMS and I just need to redirect my thoughts to something else, my OCD keeps me locked and I actually will tell myself that I don't know what else to think about. And then I actually start to realize that I don't even remember what my thoughts were focused on before I started to obsess about my pain. (Now I try to make my obsession on my TMS and emotions but it's diffocult). (Also, I am doing better with this current relapse because little by little I am accepting that this a TMS relapse and I am fine)

    So with it being obvious I struggle with being obsessed with whatever is current in my life, is it ok to try to redirect an obsessive mind towards TMS instead of pain and physical symptoms/pain?
  4. Gigi

    Gigi Well known member

    One thing I try to do when my pain threatens to consume me is to deliberately focus on someone else. It really helps me. Sometimes I do something nice for that person; other times I just send good thought their way. It breaks down the me-centered focus.
  5. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    How about making a list of a few things you can think about instead of what you're obsessing about? Carry it around with you.

    I used to ruminate about stressful stuff when I was trying to go to sleep at night. I picked a neutral topic to think about instead (re-modelling my kitchen). I knew I wasn't going to ever actually do it, so I had no stake in the outcome. It was just a mental exercise to occupy my mind that wasn't stressful.

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