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Rage, Fear, and TMS in the Time of COVID-19

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by BonnieLass, May 3, 2020.

  1. BonnieLass

    BonnieLass Peer Supporter

    Hi y'all. I was going to start a thread on TMS and gout, but after reading some past threads on the topic, I've concluded that my gout is TMS, especially since the blood test I had last Thursday (today is Sunday) show perfectly normal uric acid levels. Also since the affected toe is on the same side where I've experienced sciatica over the last couple of years. I'm on a week of prednisone, drinking tart cherry juice, using topical anti-inflammatory creams, etc., etc. Follow-up ZOOM appt with PCP next Friday. 'Nuff said on that.

    The pain kept me awake last night so I sat up and read TG957's book straight through. Brilliant, compelling and inspiring.

    Sarno focuses on unconscious rage, and while I'm sure I have rage that is unconscious, I have plenty that I feel, permit myself to feel, and express-- if not to others, then definitely to myself. Also, I don't suppress crying. I didn't cry much as a child, as there would have been no sympathy or understanding, but into my adult years after I embarked on decades of therapy, I began to permit myself to cry whenever I feel the inclination, which is a lot. And more so in recent days. Sometimes every day. There is a lot to cry about in the world today.

    But TG957 also talks about fear being behind TMS and that's when the bells and sirens went off. I am consumed by fear. Ever since an episode of betrayal at age 2 that (I believe) caused me to conclude that this world was not a safe place and my parents could not be trusted, I have had the sense that my life is built on shifting sands. Nothing that followed in my early or late childhood, teen years, adulthood, or my <choke> Senior Years has disabused me of that notion. I've suffered from panic attacks my whole life and hope whoever invented xanax is seated at the right hand of God. :)

    Events of the last couple of months have thrust the awareness of the abyss into the faces of people who (unlike us) didn't habitually stare into it every day. The longer this goes on (and it's nowhere near done) we can't escape the fear and terror. I don't need to spell it out--it's scary as hell!

    The lockdown per se isn't particularly difficult for me. I'm an introvert and live alone. My social life was pretty sparse before all this. I'm a retired widow and a childless only child. I deeply envy people who have others who are longing to be reunited with them when this is over-- I don't have anyone like that. There is no one who is counting the minutes until they can hug me again. If and when we get back to "normal," I'll resume a few activities, but really not much will change. Besides fear, I'm also consumed with sadness.

    What I'm asking y'all to talk about is how this pandemic, its threat, the lockdown, the premature (IMHO) re-openings, and I guess, most of all, the uncertainty are playing havoc with our TMS-related rage and fear? It's one thing to be consumed by unconscious rage and fear because of events from the past that no longer threaten your physical existence, but today the fear of contracting this virus is here-and-now and potentially life-threatening. If you're in a high-contact essential job, God help you. And the rage-- don't even get me started.

    I know Sarno says that the thing you KNOW you're enraged about isn't the thing that's causing your TMS. That TMS is rooted in unconscious rage. But were our daily lives as awash in real-time rage and fear as they have been in the last few months and will be for many more months or years?

    I don't know exactly what I'm getting at... maybe someone else can help me sort this out. I feel like this pandemic has added a new dimension to the TMS discussion. Your thoughts?
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  2. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi BonnieLass,

    My first response to your thoughtful post is that we're always and forever, down deep, subject to the same fears, rage, and the unknown. And down deep our patterns of coping, and defending our precious self-identities are always there.

    In this way, the Covid chapter is an opportunity to feel and understand these currants more clearly. Whatever we do internally, in a non-attuned, neurotic sense, we do it more under stress.

    For myself, this is what I see.

    Balsa11, Sita and Dorado like this.
  3. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Adversity doesn't build character... it exposes it. That is also true for TMS and the unconscious. The factors were already in us... the 'story' just woke it up
    Balsa11 likes this.
  4. BonnieLass

    BonnieLass Peer Supporter

    Awoke in terror a little while ago. Feeling queasy, shaky, like I could throw up.

    Gout pain not bad. I was so hoping to sleep well. Got four-ish hours, so better than usual. Having realized what I posted above about the all-pervasiveness of fear in my mind and heart, I lay in bed thinking how often over my whole life I've awakened in fear in the middle of the night. As a small child, I'd wake up and lie there in bed frozen with fear. I would turn on my light and read comic books to distract myself, turning off the light every now and then to see if it was getting light outside yet. When I could finally see the sky getting lighter, only then could I turn off the light and go back to sleep. It never crossed my mind to call out to my parents-- it's not that I was afraid of them exactly, I just felt there was no help or recourse there. When I try to put myself back in that place to feel what I would have felt, I guess I assumed they'd be annoyed or possibly do something that would scare me even more... I don't know what that might have been. I wasn't afraid of them physically. But they were not a source of safety or feeling safe. I assumed there was no safety anywhere to be found. I didn't know (and frankly still don't, now that I think of it) what safety would feel like. Nor even the illusion of safety. Except in bright sunlight. Although I have had panic attacks in bright sunlight, too.

    Thinking back over the years, even having someone here with me would not have made me feel better. I can think of a time when I was married and having a middle-of-the night panic attack. My patient and bewildered husband sat up in bed as I paced the entire house over and over. Sometimes I'd just lie there in terror and not wake him.

    As the two previous posters said-- or implied anyway-- this existential uncertainty/fear is always there. Let's face, it life isn't "safe." But now I feel like the fear is not just mine; it's pervasive. As a panic-sufferer, I'm not an outlier. Not that that helps me at this moment. Daylight, when it comes in 2.5 hours, might help.

    Baseball65, what do you mean about how adversity exposes character? I don't feel that my lifelong mid-night panic attacks are related to my character. I believe they're related to trauma in babyhood and the nature of the caretaking I received. Can you explain?

    Maybe I can go back to bed around 6.
  5. BonnieLass

    BonnieLass Peer Supporter

    Finally feeling a bit normal. Heading back to bed.

    Even if you're fairly sure nothing is life-threateningly wrong, attempting to ignore a physical panic attack is like trying to ignore the physical sensations of the airplane shaking and the engines screaming as you feeling it plunging toward the earth. Even if it's a movie or a flight simulator-- the mind may know you're safe, but it's the body that's reacting. It's a reflex.
    Balsa11 likes this.
  6. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    The Post was on the most recent scary story being spun out there... big bad covid 19. What I meant was, anybody having a 'problem' with it was already pre-disposed and the event just IS. As epictetus and Marcus Aurelius said, it is not the event but our thoughts about the event that disturb us.
    TrustIt and sam908 like this.
  7. BonnieLass

    BonnieLass Peer Supporter

    Color me dense... but where does character come in to it? (As they say on Reddit, "explain like I'm 5") :)

    To me, character has to do with integrity, principles, values. Are you saying a person's character (unless you have a different understanding of that term from mine) would react to the COVID stuff... well, how? Where does character come in to it?

    I look at a COVID story, and I'm appropriately alarmed re what it is likely to mean to me, my health, my job, etc. Taking those things into account and thinking about them practically and realistically, I go about my business, stocking up on food, getting a mask, etc. Not trying to be argumentative--really. It definitely is our thoughts that disturb us, but if those thoughts are about something that we should heed...
  8. BonnieLass

    BonnieLass Peer Supporter

    I had hoped for more discussion...

    Maybe I'm the only one whose anxiety is being kicked up by current events?
  9. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    BL: What else would you like to say, or hear?
  10. BonnieLass

    BonnieLass Peer Supporter

    I asked in my OP: "I feel like this pandemic has added a new dimension to the TMS discussion. Your thoughts?"

    I'm asking if people are experiencing additional or recurrences of TMS pain that they thought they had dealt with or had a handle on because of the new, added stress of facing a potentially life-threatening situation that will be with us for a very long time.

    And in the post right before you asked your question, I said: "Maybe I'm the only one whose anxiety is being kicked up by current events?"

    For example, maybe you have figured out that your upset stomach or headaches were TMS-related and had come to terms with that. But now... maybe those physical indicators are related to unconscious issues OR maybe they're symptoms of COVID and shouldn't be disregarded. The premise of TMS/MBS is that once you establish that various aches and pains are not due to a verifiable disease process, then you follow the Sarno protocol of ignoring them and getting on with your life.

    But now... how do you know whether there is a disease process involved? I assume that people reading this forum are prone to health anxiety, and the ubiquity and ease of transmission of COVID, a disease that is likely to lead to a very unpleasant few weeks of being sick (or even to death), would be a potent catalyst to kick up health anxiety into some sort of crazy-making zone.

    Is no one here besides me seriously affected by the new health-related circumstances of the last two months?

    If the answer to that is, "No," or "Yes, but I don't want to share how it's affecting me," then okay.
    Balsa11 likes this.
  11. BonnieLass

    BonnieLass Peer Supporter

    285 views and no one is interested in talking about this? I guess I'm the only one whose anxiety is exacerbated by the pandemic crisis. I'll be going now... wavea
  12. Dorado

    Dorado Beloved Grand Eagle

    Beautifully stated. Thank you, Andy.
    Balsa11 likes this.
  13. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    TG957 likes this.
  14. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Then there is this, for some humor:
    Lizzy likes this.
  15. jt99

    jt99 New Member

    I have noticed a marked increase in TMS symptoms—especially new ones—since early March. For me TMS is about a fear and uncertainty. I have structured much of my life around safety because of my fear and uncertainty. However, so much of this safety has been thrown into question because of the pandemic. I believe this is why my symptoms are up. In response I am focusing on the basics. I check my breathing, and when I see/feel/hear that it's okay, I bring this into the foreground: "my breathing is okay." Then I examine my immediate circumstances. I have a safe place to live and a job that can, at least for a while, be done remotely. I am taking strong precautions (isolation, grocery delivery, etc). IOW, yes, the world is really bad right now, but today, now, tomorrow ... are all okay for me. So I try to live for that and not worry about the longer term. A term I heard recently from Nicole Sachs was "pre-grieving," and this stood out to me. She says we shouldn't pre-grieve our futures before they're here, before we know for sure what will happen. I am guilty of this all the time—it's my version of worst-case scenario thinking! So, given that you're okay right now too, maybe try what I described? I hope it helps!
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  16. Lizzy

    Lizzy Well known member


    I didn't see this thread until I searched today for "covid." If I had, I would definitely have commented.

    Then, as I thought about commenting, I thought how overwhelming it felt. Maybe others feel that way too. Everything is so all encompassing. So where does one start? And how much do I say? When do I stop?

    "this world was not a safe place and my parents could not be trusted, I have had the sense that my life is built on shifting sands. Nothing that followed in my early or late childhood, teen years, adulthood, or my <choke> Senior Years has disabused me of that notion."

    Wow, did this resonate with me. This is underlying my whole life. Then the coronavirus started creeping across the globe and I couldn't hide fast enough. My husband and I were laid off and we went to our house a few hours drive away and hunkered down. And my lower back started to hurt. I knew it was TMS. I don't have back pain, other than twinges I can talk my brain out of in a few minutes. This stuck around for weeks, although it was inconsistent and so I wasn't worried. I didn't do any traditional TMS work though, I thought it would fade if I just got on with things.

    One day about four weeks ago I was getting groceries out of the trunk and my back "wouldn't" let me get a heavy bag. Then I said out loud, my back's not hurt, and I yanked that bag out and marched into the house. My back was fine and never hurt again. Isn't the whole mind body thing crazy and amazing?

    Except for the little problem of coronavirus. After that.... sciatica, which I haven't had before, became a thing. On and off, but becoming more on.

    I'm journaling now, reading success stories and puttering around the programs here. But I'm having a hard time getting anywhere. I know I'm worrying about coronavirus way too much. I know I must be missing my people, but can't get in touch with the feelings. This is something I've experienced before. I'm really good at stuffing that I miss someone. I don't know why. I do have separation anxiety from my spouse unless it is planned in advance and he is 62, so I'm sure I'm stuffing a lot of feelings regarding his vulnerability and being separated from him. Trying to think phycological about all this, all the time, but I must be doing a pretty bad job of it.

    Rage and fear. I am aware I feel LOTS of it! However, because it is ongoing, and will continue for a long time, I am sure I am repressing because my brain is trying to "manage" the next 6 to 12 months and it is afraid to be overwhelmed. I am aware of being afraid, but how much is in the pot Dr Sarno wrote about? How angry am I that my neighbor, from a safe distance, said, I'm not going to wear a mask, it won't help me. She and her husband are in their 60's. Uh, people like that scare me. They don't care about other people. We are in trouble when BonnieLass and I are right about the world not being safe. How do we fix that?

    I hope you come back to the discussion

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  17. BonnieLass

    BonnieLass Peer Supporter

    Lizzy, a million thank yous and (socially distant) hugs for posting. I was pretty astounded when I posed the question and it did not generate much discussion. Is it because, as you said, it's too big to wrap our brains around?

    I've got Sarno's book on my phone and I set the timer and fall asleep listening to him, hoping something will seep in subliminally. My sciatic/leg pain is back bigtime, and it interferes with my daily 50-minute walk, the only anchor in my whole day--I hate to miss it.

    Even before all of this hit the fan, I had tremendous anxiety and just plain FEAR-- a low-level background fear that lives in me. COVID has dialed it up to intolerable levels.

    Next month it will be 20 years since my husband died. And next week it will be two years since the most recent man in my life died. I'm sad, lonely, afraid, and as Sarno says, full of rage.

    The thing is, there is a lot to be full of rage about these days--not just stuff that happened in childhood or at work. Every day in the news is something hateful, cruel, dangerous, and these things aren't remote--they present possible life-threatening dangers to us. In our nice houses, in front of our nice computers. Unless we never go outside again.

    Our biggest local grocery chain is not requiring masks any more. I will still wear mine, but mine doesn't protect me. YOUR mask protects me. People don't seem to understand that.

    Today's world is in fact NOT a safe place. That is the terrifying reality.

    Anyway, I'm just ranting now. Thank you again, Lizzy, for posting. I adore the nickname Lizzy!
    Best to you and your DH. Hug each other for me!
    Balsa11, JanAtheCPA and Lizzy like this.
  18. HattieNC

    HattieNC Well known member

    My strategy has been to reach out. To coworkers, friends, family, and my spouse. There's definitely a feeling of "we're all in this together" when I have. TMS has taught me that it's okay to be vulnerable and reaching out is not a sign of weakness. Before TMS, I would carried COVID-19 (plus everything else going on in the U.S.) on my shoulders and in my heart, pretending everything was okay and tending to others while inside I was falling apart. Self-care and leaning on others for support has prevented from going back into the abyss of chronic pain.
    Balsa11, BonnieLass and Lizzy like this.
  19. BonnieLass

    BonnieLass Peer Supporter

    HattieNC, tell us more about "reaching out." Are there people you call or text every day? Do both of you take turns initiating? And when you say "it's okay to be vulnerable," do you call or text someone and actually say, "I'm feeling scared today--I don't know how this will turn out," etc. What sort of "support" is the most helpful? I'm interested in how other people are handling this in detail.
    Balsa11 likes this.
  20. Lizzy

    Lizzy Well known member

    Hi everyone, I don’t really have anything to add yet, but I wanted to share something that I experienced over the weekend. For two days I was in the worst mood. I must have apologized to my husband a million times. I went for a drive by myself and did a lot of yelling and swearing, which is not the way I usually talk. I didn’t have any complaints though. I just yelled swear words. Later I thought it was like my brain was having a temper tantrum about the coronavirus and all that has meant. I think it was like when the brain causes an extinction burst, but instead I was vomiting words. I don’t know. It was weird. Hopefully it was of some value! Lizzy
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