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Potential break through? And a question.

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by HeidiF, Aug 29, 2023.

  1. HeidiF

    HeidiF New Member

    Since I posted earlier this month I got my test results back and do not have Lyme disease. A few weeks passed and my husband was still worried about me and urged me to go to the doctor. I did not want to go because I was sure it was just stress, but to appease him I went. I told the doctor what was going on and he said he would order a full blood work up, but he thought I was depressed. Got the blood work back and everything is fine.

    But he put that bug in my brain that I’m depressed. So I started getting mad because I am not depressed, I am worn out. Then I started thinking about all the times in my past I have been depressed. I know depression is form of TMS and kept telling myself that, but I started telling people I was depressed. I wanted their sympathy so I could be left alone (because I’m not the problem, they are, oh boy). My thinking (and I’m not super proud to admit this, but this is what I was thinking) is that if Heidi is depressed than we shouldn’t burden her with our problems. By the way that did not work. Direct communication always wins.

    But things still felt off, so I went down the rabbit hole of reading about the ego and inferiority complex and letting it all sink in.

    I think my TMS with depression is I try and use it to get my own way without having to voice what I want. (Rereading this it screams out to me learned helplessness, but I am going to be nice to myself.) I want to be left alone. I know people say self-isolating is a sign of depression, but I really like being alone because life over stimulates me and it easier to admit I’m depressed than just sensitive. I take it all in and if I don’t have time to process everything correctly, it’s like my brain goes haywire (anxiety) and think that happens because of my perfectionism and I think well I have to process everything perfectly, blah, blah blah. More pressure on myself, more TMS.

    The break through part is coming. This past Sunday I was at my parents’ house for my mom’s birthday and my siblings were there. I am the youngest of five, by a lot. My siblings are 18, 17, 16, and 8 years older me and we were reminiscing about early 80s. I never talked about that period in my life, even in therapy and I say to myself there is some block there that just hurts too much.

    I was born in 1980 and they were talking about how we moved when I was three months old, my mom had to leave for awhile because her mom was dying resulting in me calling my brother Mom first, my mom being in the hospital for a hysterectomy, my mom being in a car accident, my brother being in another car accident, my sister moving away to college (my mom said every time I saw a train I would cry), she came home and then moved to Florida. There were a lot of behavioral issues with my siblings going on then and my dad is a rage-holiday. My earliest memory is my sister throwing a glass across the kitchen and it exploding in the sink and I buried my head in my mom’s shoulder (she was holding me). I was really little, it really scared me.

    While they were talking about all these things I got really sad and thought huh, what is going on here?

    So fast forward to today, I had to go back to the doctor for a follow up. I saw the PA I usually see, last time she wasn’t available. She asked how I was and I started crying and just said the person who everyone turns to when they have a problem is done, I am exhausted. She was very kind and wanted to know if I wanted some meds. I did take her up on an anti-anxiety med that is like Benadryl that you can take as needed. (This really is a testament to how crummy I have been feeling because I weened myself off a slew meds in 2018, but am trying this whole new self compassion thing.) I told her I just need to be left alone.

    I’m driving home and this little voice pops in my head and says you know it’s really too bad you are so mean to yourself because you are pretty great and I start bawling. (I guess the month of self compassion mediates are working.) And I just keep sobbing and another thought/voice says you know you don’t have to keep proving yourself anymore, you really are fine the way you are. And I’m thinking to myself what is happening and I just keep thinking about little Heidi and crying and crying.

    Then it dawned on me, I literally was inferior when I was small because everyone around me was so much bigger and there were so many things they could do that I couldn’t. And I remembered the reoccurring dream I used to have a kid when I was sick. I was in this little cozy house shaped like strawberry and it was pink and happy and nice. Then I went outside and outside everything looked like black and white TV and there were these enormous skyscrapers and I got scared and went back inside my strawberry house.

    Is this the real reason I want to be alone? Because of all the stuff from my early years it feels like I am either going to be abandoned or yelled at it easier to say I want to be left alone.

    This is turning into a novel, but here comes the question. I’m not in physical pain anymore, but more emotional. I think I have used the TMS coping techniques to stay out of physical pain because I know physically I am fine. I think I still have psychological components because I don’t think I’m ok, I think I’m less then. And that emotional pain (along with my ego) causes me to keep pushing and pushing to prove I’m just ans good as everyone else, if not better. (This is so honest I may never return to the forums.) And I do this until I’m so tired I either can’t think or mentally collapse. I think the person I need to leave me alone is me!

    So the question is can you use TMS coping mechanisms as a quick fix? It feels like my brain was like hahaha you used to use drinking to push and push and then tramadol and you quit those things so now you found meditation and journaling and you have used those to keep push through.

    The reason I was thinking about this is I was reading a this post from Alan Gordon about lowering your stress by breathing and how it’s a lifestyle change not a five minute thing. It’s like my brain weaponized the healthy coping skills for TMS to push my self more and more towards psychological fatigue. I think I really thought if I use all these coping skills I will never feel stress again. Yes, I know that is laughable, but looking back it’s as if my brain thought we will you pushing through so you never feel psychological pain again.

    Because what has happened is I rather feel the psychological pain than work myself into an early grave. Is this thing?
  2. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Beloved Grand Eagle

    Your have certainly been through it.
    No wonder your sense of safety was to help and placate everyone - you grew up with no sense of safety (other than hiding in your pink strawberry). TMS work really can help you see those cycles and the interweaving of current stressors and hidden emotions tied to the past.
    Anger, rage, sadness, even possibly some guilt. The key is not to overthink it. You really do not need to totally dissect it all. Now you know, just lean into the sensations. The physicalness of crying and sadness or the rage. Teach your body that the emotions pass through it (faster than you’d think) and remind yourself that the anxiety and depression are states of mind, symptoms of TMS and will also not be here forever.
    The hiding and wanting to be alone is just a coping mechanism. You are stuck in fight flight and your nervous system needs calm. I believe this too can pass. It might take time, and slow exposure to the people, noise, hustle, stimulation but it can pass. The important thing is not to sweat it.
    When it is time, expose yourself socially just like Sarno says to do physically - just slowly get back to life.
    At some point the psychological work feels a little less heavy. You unpack some bags, you learn new ways to deal with stress, you understand your patterns more..you see them happening and can make different choices. You learn to respond instead of reacting, and it all begins to feel safer to do that. This distress is all because your brain knows you are on to tms. Its coping mechanism of perceived safety is being threatened and it’s having a hard time accepting the new things you are offering.
    It’s good you posted here.
    You need support and to know what you are going through is normal.

    My suggestion is to find some self-soothing practices. You mentioned meditation. There is EFT (done with YouTube videos!), or just listening to very calming music with headphones, walks, breathwork, yoga nidra, somatic experiencing exercises, really easy Qui Gong (again, some great stuff on YouTube that is super basic), chair yoa, gardening, sitting in nature, birdwatching, so much variety. You can see what interests you and you enjoy. And, that process can change over time. It’s basically just to calm your nervous system.
    And if needed, get the support of a therapist.
    This will pass, it can also come and go.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2023
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  3. HeidiF

    HeidiF New Member

    Thanks @Cactusflower for your response. I feel very validated.

    I re-listened to Alan Gordon’s recording about sadness and yep, that’s exactly how I feel. Thank you for sharing that. Alan’s voice is so soothing. But you are right it feels good to know I am not alone and that what I feel is normal.

    This made me chuckle, because it is so true. I have a tendency to do that. Another coping mechanism perhaps?

    Ah-ha! That’s what I keep doing and then I must find the answer and overthink it. I over intellectualize to not feel the feelings. But now I know, like you said, I will see the patterns.

    I did start getting massage again last week and some breathwork. I tried one of EFT videos on YouTube and holy cow, it really does work. I’m so relaxed. I think I have been in fight or flight for so long that I have mistaken being relaxed for being tired. I will look into the rest of you suggestions.

    I’m back to monthly appointments for some extra help. You are right, it will pass and come and go. Thank you for that gentle reminder.
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  4. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi @HeidiF
    Talk to your therapist about overthinking and anxiety.
    It is indeed a coping mechanism.
    Your brain is basically keeping you from the body sensations of emotions, so that you don’t sense those difficult emotions. It will have you retreat to imaginations, or thoughts. You will be convinced thoughts are real or are “you” because your subconcious has no clue of reality or time. Meditation and EFT will help you slow down and eventually separate thought from “you” and that is part of what quells the anxiety. It’s like having more space in your brain to just exist. Give this plenty of time, it can take years. It’s not necessary to healing pain necessarily, but helpful for peace of mind.
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  5. HeidiF

    HeidiF New Member

    Hi @Cactusflower I will do that.
    Ah-ha that makes so much sense. For years I didn’t cry and then with therapy and TMS work I started crying again and with EAET from Unlearn Your Pain I was able to feel anger, but it all started to fade again and I remember saying to myself why don’t I feel anything anymore? I can do this. I know how to do this. I did it before and I can do it again. @Cactusflower you so much for listening to me and for all your helpful responses. I really appreciate it.
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  6. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think this is right up your alley! It hits on all the points you've been talking about. I was thinking about your mentioning that you said EAET worked well for you for awhile (I wish there were therapists that worked with this form of therapy!) - why? Why did your ability to feel the feelings fade. Mine abilities similarly come and go but are usually on the go spectrum. It is very hard for me to allow myself to feel AND ACKNOWLEDGE how I am feeling. Lightly observe yourself. Is it that you can feel those feelings around things that feel "safe" but at other times you don't allow because the connection to whatever it is in you (some people call it trigger) is unsafe?
    I found this video powerful because she discusses this and so many other things around why self-love is very hard, and how it relates to feeling our feelings etc.
    One thing I have learned on this forum was to make sure that affirmations or statements you repeat are true to you. So if you don't find what she says exactly true, you can slightly change the words to make it true for you eg. "I am working towards fully feeling my feelings" or "I am working on accepting my emotions and that feeling them is safe" instead of some of the more firmly convicted things she says if you feel the need.
    So much of this is exactly what the TMS work is!
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  7. HeidiF

    HeidiF New Member

    @Cactusflower Oof, that’s a great video. Tapping through tears with that one.

    After reading this my gut reaction was nope, I’m going to tell her because it’s embarrassing. Sigh. I actually posted about it earlier today on
    Alan’s Pain Recovery Program under Pressure and Criticism. You know how when you are in chronic pain you can point to the thing that happened that started it all and through TMS work you realize it usually coincides with something emotional painful?

    Anyway I don’t know if that holds true for the more psychological components of TMS, but I’m assuming it does. Long story short, I’m a professional potter, which is hard enough and in March of 2021 I was mailed an anonymous hate letter. It’s not a joke. It was really mean. That’s why when I watched the video Alan shared about musicians who got mean tweets and read them aloud it really hit home. I laughed it off (outwardly), but internally it hurt like hell. I spent years practicing self love and self compassion and affirmations. That letter said all the mean things I used to think about myself and it didn’t happen that day, but it slowed eroded my confidence. The amount of pressure I felt to prove the letter writer wrong was intense, then I was afraid maybe they were right, and because it was anonymous I felt like I couldn’t trust anyone and was always looking at people as if maybe they did it, no maybe they did it.

    I never saw this connection until now. My thought is that letter arrived around the anniversary of the death of my SIL. She was 17 years older than me and she was always nice to me. I really loved her. Gosh just typing this I am tearing up. My older siblings were not always the nicest to me and I was bullied at school, but she was always nice to me: she didn’t yell at me, or criticize me, or think I was dumb, she was safe.

    So I guess I just started doing EAET less and less and believing that letter more and more.
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  8. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Beloved Grand Eagle

    So, basically someone sent you a letter re-iterating your own self-critic.
    I’m so sorry that happened to you.
    I think these things usually happen to us little by little. Someone says something here, or you sense something there that confirms critical thoughts but you got a mega dose.
    I myself had built up pressure from myself and from others to be perfect at a volunteer job within a religious organization, and I wanted to lighten my load but the pressure to increase it was huge. I felt saying no was bad because it was supporting disabled folks. I felt unworthy to express my emotions about - and even knew at least one other person who’d had a pain syndrome because of the very same thing (and he recovered!)
    @Andy Bayliss just posted a link with him talking about our inner critic and self-compassion. Well worth a watch, he outlines an excellent exercise and recommends a book.
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  9. HeidiF

    HeidiF New Member

    Wow, you saying that made me remember something. I was getting repeated pushback around that time because I was feeling better about myself and realized I had been undercharging for years and not paying myself a living wage. I stopped believing the starving artist nonsense and raised my prices and people were not happy. It was if my brain said see you’re not worth it. That jerk!

    Oh gosh I would feel similarly. That’s a difficult situation. What did you end up doing? But you saying you put pressure on yourself to be perfect that’s what happened with me. I was feeling good and loose and playful and bam I got that letter and my brain said oh see it’s not safe to love yourself, better go back to being self-critical.

    That was a great video! When Andy talked about going for walk and his foot hurt, but he didn’t catastrophize the pain it clicked. I know people say to use the same TMS tools for physical pain and for psychological, but I could not figure that out! But him saying that I understand now and it’s what you @Cactusflower having been saying to me too: let the anxiety or sadness flow through you. I’ve been catastrophizing it my head thinking I’m going to have a major depressive episode or a panic attack. Ah-ha!

    On the self-compassion topic, @JanAtheCPA recommended the unsent letter technique and I have been doing Nicole Sachs method of journal speak with a self compassion mediation following and that is really helping. It has been hard to tap into the real feelings, I’m still being really polite, but today I wasn’t and that did help a lot.

    I took Nicole Sachs’ workshop on fawning and there is something there. I know I am a fawner, but my inner critic is not happy about that. I guess I just need to make peace with it and flow through that internal conflict.
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