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Day 15 Pain adding, doubt and discouragement

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by JSBinSLC, Dec 10, 2015.

  1. JSBinSLC

    JSBinSLC Newcomer

    Hi all, I have been working the program diligently, except I have fallen one day behind. The program today encourages us to answer the question if our pain is moving around. And what is a bit discouraging is that I have not had pain move so much as be added in NEW places. For instance, I have never had back pain before, but I do now. Not at all as bad as the horrible stories that so many of you suffer from, this is still just soreness.

    To refresh, I am a bit different in that I have not been experiencing a lot of pain, but I have been having a lot of anxiety, painful breathing, shortness of breath, anxiety about the breathing, and also allergies, which are no doubt influenced if not outright caused by the anxiety.

    But what is discouraging is that this new pain, though slight, is that all my other issues are still there. I had a particularly strong breathing attack this past weekend, when I forgot to take my allergy meds (or was it anxiety about not taking allergy meds that caused the attack?). So that doesn't seem to be changing at all.

    But to end this on a positive note, there has been significant improvement in one area, and that is anxiety. Normally an attack like the one I had this past weekend would have sent me into a major panic. While there was still some anxiety, I was much more accepting (resigned?) of it. When before, any new pain or unfamiliar sensation would have sent me into a massive panic (what NOW is the problem???), this time I just kind of tried to notice it. Not entirely successful, but still a HUGE decrease in the anxiety around my symptoms. So I am happy about that. And I credit that success to this program and the great tools, information, and inspiring stories, and supportive, understanding people here.

    But now I come to the doubts... my symptoms are different from many others. And they don't really seem to be improving yet. I know I'm still fairly early in the program, and I'm committed to working it. I know for anxiety I can't be too invested in the outcome anyway, so there is benefit in just accepting what is, without expectations for change. But at the same time, everyone here is really clear you have to be TOTALLY invested in the idea that this is psychological, so anytime a new symptom comes up, you consider what the psychological issue is. I am doing that more with my thinking, but I honestly can't say I'm totally invested yet, because (a) my symptoms are so different from others here, and (b) I haven't yet seen much improvement in my physical symptoms (though I am very happy with the lessened anxiety, which alone makes it worth it).

    Sorry for the rambling...
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Oh, JS, I had to laugh just a little when I read this - because this is SUCH a perfectionist/goodist thing to say! More about this later.

    Yeah, I have to say that your new pain, while discouraging, is certainly TMS from hanging around here reading about everyone's pain. And I don't think you are so different, because everyone here who has anxiety (most of us) has also had episodes of breathing problems, and I think if you ask anyone here, they will tell you that they have allergies - which they generally do NOT equate with TMS - although I am not one of those. I have definitely seen a very significant decrease in my seasonal allergies since doing this work four years ago - in other words, the last bad spring I had, taking medications, was earlier that year, in 2011.

    So here's what I'm thinking - just the fact that you had to admit to us that you fell a day behind in the SEP tells me that you are really worried about doing it perfectly. Am I wrong about that? What you need to know is that adhering to your perfectionist personality traits is just as unhelpful as calendar-watching, which we know is not conducive to healing. Have you read Alan Gordon's article about outcome independence? If you go to my profile page, below my story is a list of books and articles and sites that I have found to be helpful, and this article is at the top of the list.

    When I was doing the work, Alan had not yet donated his wonderful TMS Recovery Program to the wiki, but listening to his webinars was incredibly helpful to me, loosening up my emotional rigidity, helping me to "soften" and be more open to emotional honesty. This might be a good recommendation for you, and his Recovery Program is right there, totally free, on our wiki. You might even stop doing the SEP for the moment and try Alan's program instead. I have to warn you, it is NOT structured - which I think might be a good thing for you right now! The lack of structure could cause you more anxiety, but in fact it's really clear that you are doing a great job learning how to change the conversation in your head about the things that cause you anxiety. So take that success, and apply it to your new goal of relaxing a bit, giving yourself a break, and trying to be less rigid. See what happens, and let us know, okay?

    All the best,


    PS - if you haven't read Hope and Help for Your Nerves, by Dr. Claire Weekes, it is probably the #1 recommended book for anxiety on this forum. It is my second favorite book after The Divided Mind and it was also my second life-saver.
  3. KevinB

    KevinB Well known member

    Hey! I just wanted to say what's up, we're both on the same day of the SEP! I also just posted about the today's Question to Ponder. Anyhow, I know it's very difficult, but we are warned about "calendar watching", that is, constantly monitoring our issues in terms of how long we've been working on them.... again, it's very challenging NOT to do, but I find when I'm able to stay present and accept things as they are in that moment, I'm much more content. Also, I've read in lots of TMS literature that anxiety is generally a result of repressed anger and rage, so perhaps keep that in mind when doing the journalling assignments.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  4. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, JSbin. Your anxiety level has decreased, and that is very important and a sign that you are healing from your symptoms.

    I work for a book publisher who is a perfectionist and also my best friend was one. They both drove everyone crazy.
    Try to modify your perfectionism. It can help you to be pain-free and relieve stress on everyone you know.

    Perfectionism is one of the most common causes of TMS pain. Just become less perfect. It's as simple as that.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  5. JSBinSLC

    JSBinSLC Newcomer

    Well thanks Jan, you are right, perfectionism is one of my traits, but I have several of them that really fit me, and few others I think contribute to this as well. I have read Claire Weekes, and found it extremely helpful, I should keep reading that. And it's obviously true I'm wanting to "get it over with" so I can just get better and be done with this! While I am a perfectionist, it's more the desire "calendar watching" that Kevin mentioned (and that I hadn't seen warned about before so far), but that I am definitely falling prey to.

    Thanks Kevin be, we are cohorts (at least unless I fall behind again... which I guess is ok!)

    I am making progress about the "outcome independence" and also being patient and accepting where things are. I am also trying to think of my symptoms "psychologically," and I think that is actually helping my anxiety too. Instead of some debilitating new disease or problem that might be cropping up with this or that new ache or pain, these are just emotions wanting a way to express themselves and be acknowledged. Is this a good way to think of it?
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  6. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    It's certainly one way to think about it, and I will always say "go with whatever works for you". Others might say that the classic Dr. Sarno explanation is actually just the opposite - these new symptoms are a sign that your brain is trying to distract you with pain instead of allowing you to experience and acknowledge the emotions.

    But both of these points of view are coming from the same place, which is knowing that any new physical symptoms that crop up while you're doing this work are almost sure to be the result of emotional issues, and, not, as so aptly described, some debilitating new disease or problem! THIS is definitely a key piece of knowledge and belief that we must have in order to recover.

    And establishing a completely different relationship with your anxiety is another essential element- that was certainly my experience, and it really sounds like you are making great progress on that front.

    Keep up the good work!
  7. KevinB

    KevinB Well known member

    Hi! I think Allan Gordon talks about this in his Recovery Program, also here on TMS. Check it out, it's not a structured one, more of an auxiliary to the SEP, but there are some very profound concepts and insights.

    Keep it up!!!!
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2015
  8. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    It can be hard not to become discouraged, and want to heal right now from TMS pain, but you just have to stay positive and as I do, tell yourself:
    The best is yet to come!

    Keep deep breathing, and when all else fails, LAUGH! It really lifts the spirits.
  9. JacketSpud

    JacketSpud Peer Supporter

    I totally understand the whole anxiety thing. That's one of my symptoms and it has got a whole lot worse as my original TMS pain has improved. It's pretty unbearable and I can't help but think the stress from the anxiety adds to the tension which increases the TMS thereby increasing the anxiety. It a horrible cycle. Of course, it might not work that way, but that's how I'm feeling right now.

    Stick with the program, try some mindful meditation, and try to go easy on yourself!
  10. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    It's a really vicious cycle JS, and what's ironic is that anxiety is another form of TMS. It's actually just another distraction, replacing the physical ones you've successfully banished. Dr. Sarno came to suspect this by the time he wrote The Mind Body Prescription, and many TMSers and practitioners now believe it's true, along with depression.

    Perhaps if you can think of it that way, it will help.

    I forget, have you read Help and Hope for Your Nerves?

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