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Overcome doubts

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by balaenoptera, Mar 11, 2013.

  1. balaenoptera

    balaenoptera New Member


    I haven’t been on the forum for quite a long time. Unfortunately not because my pain has resolved. I wanted to let things just go, started working again despite the pain, was always too tired to really work on emotional issues. I’m now having severe pain for two years. I will post my revised story later. It takes me some time, because English is not my native language. But I have some questions to the community.

    I would like to know from you how you deal with residual doubts in the TMS theory. Maybe doubt is the wrong word. I do believe 100% that emotional issues can cause severe physical symptoms and my story and my personal traits seem to be perfect examples for Sarno’s theory (as you will see in my story). But it’s always hard for me to be 100% sure that this is it what takes place in me. I have been to several physicians and they could not find any plausible cause. But I’m always afraid that I might just have something that escapes their diagnostic routine. So I am always only like 90% confident. And that might be the reason why I still have not made profound progress. OK, and I am very impatient. Have you faced similar problems? How have you dealt with that?

    I am very confident that a lot of my pain and unpleasant sensations are due to conditioning. I almost immediately have unpleasant sensations while standing, and later on pain. I am aware that I am always looking at the sensations and the pain. I have some rare moments when my mind is distracted, mostly for less than a minute, and I realize: “You have not felt these sensations in the last 30 seconds”. Until now I have failed to prolong such moments by ignoring or accepting the symptoms. I almost always feel immediately stressed, frustrated or unhappy. Is there a better strategy?

    My last question is for those that also have to deal with anxiety and maybe depression. Before the pain (and subsequently the anxiety) started two years ago, I already had a depression, which prevented me from taking necessary steps in my life. I assume that my mind created pain and anxiety to further prevent me from taking these steps. And also as a distraction from the feelings of shame and guilt that I am not able to do that.

    To me it sometimes looks like a three way barrier. Like, if you plan to do something, first you have to overcome the first defense line, let’s say the depressive feelings. If you got that, you also overcome your anxiety. But then the last barrier, the pain, puts you down. Does that make sense to you?
  2. Weston

    Weston New Member

    Hi Balaenoptera -- I'm pretty new myself, but I have made some discoveries that I'll share with you.

    First is on believing 100%. I'm a very skeptical person myself, so I anticipated that this would be difficult, thinking that I'd have to trick myself into believing or just having 'faith' (which I don't think I have the capacity for) -- but these things aren't necessary. As you continue looking at the information that's out there on TMS, you realize that while it's not all perfect (because no one yet has a perfect understanding of how it operates), its conclusion that many instances of chronic pain have a psychological origin is certain, and that for these cases, the conclusion that treatment like Dr. Sarno's works, is also certain -- there have been too many cases for this to be incorrect, and as you read more and more accounts of a very genuine nature, you start to understand this more deeply. Especially from people who are similar to yourself. I think this is where the heart of the matter is (and the recommended treatments embody this): there is agreeing that something is true, and there is understanding that it is true; the latter is a process that takes time, which is why it's important to repeatedly expose yourself to evidence, day after day -- not to trick yourself, but to deeply integrate the understanding.

    The conditioning aspect is something I'm struggling with too: my pain is strongly associated with using computers as well as with holding books: I have a had a pain response whenever engaging in these activities for seven years now, and I habitually monitor the painful areas while on the computer or reading (and most other times!). I think the trick here may be understanding that when you check the pain, you shouldn't expect to see it resolved since checking it is part of what's causing it. Instead, what I've been trying to do (besides not check the pain of course) is when I check the pain, have in mind before that I should expect to see it there -- that's what the theory describes! But! I have been training myself to look at it fearlessly, holding it at a distance sort of -- looking at it as something mischievous that my mind has been doing to me, but which I am onto, and which poses no real threat. It's been getting easier to stop monitoring the pain so closely with this attitude. I'll have a quick check and then think, "Oh, yeah, that's supposed to be there" and then get back to what I was doing. Often times I won't notice it for quite a while afterward (though this is tougher with the computer I'm finding out).

    Anyway, hope that helps some.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  3. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    It seems that healing TMS is a process that unfolds not because you have complete faith in the diagnosis, but that occurs as your belief in the diagnosis grows and matures over time (at least for me). When you start to improve, your belief is confirmed and the more you improve the more you see how psychological issues are creating your symptoms. Belief in the diagnosis, in other words, is a process that occurs as you improve and see the connections between your emotional life and your TMS symptoms. Maybe this sounds too much like St Paul, St Augustine, or Thomas Aquinas?
    gailnyc, veronica73 and yb44 like this.
  4. balaenoptera

    balaenoptera New Member

    I am not very skeptical about Sarno's theory. It's just that I am afraid that 1.) it might not apply to me 2.) I am not strong enough

    It's this damned feeling that it looks like a journey that is too hard for me. That my mind is so rotten that I don't have the power to heal. That every issue blocks the other to improve. The life situation blocks the pain, the anxiety and vice versa.

    And sometimes the idea that you have something physical that just has to be found and can be cured easily seems very alluring.

    I more or less accepted the theory one year ago. One of my main problems was that I haven't had any occupation for a long time as a cause of my depression (and later pain/anxiety). I had too much time to trouble, dwelling on fear and pain etc.. And this was a major source of shame and guilt. So I decided that I have to do something. Through a friend I got a job in gardening (I hold a PhD in science). I felt not able to get a job in my profession (and it is very hard to get a job offer with my history anyway)

    I thought I would benefit greatly by simply being convinced that it is all psychological, and by having an occupation. I worked hard despite the pain! To some extent it helped me. Most time I was simply too exhausted to feel anxiety. And in the beginning I could manage the pain much better. It felt just good that I was able to do such hard work, even with pain. It convinced me somehow that I could not have something physical. But the exhaustion of the work prevented me from working on my emotional issues (and from posting on the forum). After several months of working my pain management got worse.

    Interestingly, in the last two months I was without any occupation because of the winter break in gardening. And my pain management even got worse. And my anxiety came back.

    I’m telling you a short story which might illustrate my personality traits:

    Three months ago we (me and my girlfriend) had a two week trip to the Canary Islands. Before the trip I was in fear that it would turn out to be horrible. Because I would have pain, be unable to relax and enjoy, I would ruin the whole trip. My girlfriend, off course, always emphasized how she is longing for the trip. During the flight I suffered from severe anxiety (I have no fear of flying). It was rather that my feeling of being trapped was attenuated by the limited space in the aircraft.
    After landing I relaxed somewhat. In the afternoon we had a first trip to the beach. The weather was beautiful, not too hot, just right. The beach and the sun were beautiful. I pulled off my shoes and walked over the wet sand. I felt so light! My pain and my sensations were still there, but strongly reduced and they didn’t bother me much. It was as if tons of sorrows were relieved from me.
    This feeling was strongest on the first day but it continued for a few other days. I even thought, maybe this island can cure me. But then a period of unusual bad weather came and both of us were pretty much annoyed. I felt the stress of trying to make the best out of this situation. And the pain and sensations got worse again.

    That's where I am now. I plan to engage more thoroughly in the TMS story. And I'm about to start working again in the next days in gardening. I also apply for jobs in my profession. It is like applying for a future. That is really tough for me!

    I am writing on my story. Unfortunately it is becoming very detailed and very long. I hope the members won't be annoyed by its size.
  5. gailnyc

    gailnyc Well known member

    Weston and Balaenoptera--you might find Claire Weekes' "Hope and Help for your Nerves" a helpful book. Although she is writing about "nervous illness," she writes about physical symptoms that result, and the fear-pain-fear cycle that is hard to break out of. I find her idea of facing your pain, accepting your pain, and "floating" past your pain very helpful to think of. She also stresses the importance of letting time pass--you will not be pain free just as soon as you face your fears. You need to give it time.

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