1. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this link: http://go.tmswiki.org/newprogram
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Our TMS drop-in chat is tomorrow (Saturday) from 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM Eastern (NY) Standard time. It's a great way to get quick and interactive peer support, with Celayne as your host. Look for the red Chat flag on top of the menu bar!

Self-Absorption and TMS

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Huckleberry, Jan 14, 2016.

  1. Huckleberry

    Huckleberry Well known member

    I'm just wondering if self-absorption is a common trait among those with TMS. I am aware that TMS is a pain syndrome and that people in pain are generally self-absorbed but I'm wondering if this trait is more prevalent amongst TMS'ers?

    From my own perspective I have noticed that since my health anxiety, pain and TMS started I have become incredibly self aware and increasingly only concerned with a very small sphere of the world...namely just myself. This was brought to life quite vividly today when I went for a coffee with a person who I've recently become friendly with. All the while we were talking I became aware that I wasn't actually really actively listening to the person and actually even felt somewhat divorced from the surroundings of the coffee shop, all I was basically doing was fixating on my body (even though my pain level was low today) and was thinking about how I was feeling in relation to my body.

    I'm obviously aware that this way of living is not natural and certainly cannot be healthy. It's a hard to thing to explain really...it is like just not feeling engaged with the world and just wanting to make yourself and your influence as small as possible almost to the point that your whole life become internalised.

    I think this sort of all ties in with the fact that I have very much fallen into that chronic pain trap of almost like putting your life on hold until that golden 'pain free' day arrives and all is well with the world again. I'm pretty sure I have enough smarts to realise that actually living as if I was pain free in this moment would no doubt bring forward that pain free day but for whatever reason I still remain stuck in that trap.

    In many ways it almost feels like I have lost confidence in my ability to interact correctly with the world again and therefore I blame this on the pain...I have no idea if this is a classic secondary gain type thing. I am aware that the time has come to man the you know what up and reengage with my life as I am well aware my current mental and lifestyle stagnation is not good for me, my wife or my young son but the realisation of this just seems to cause underlying anxiety.

    Anyway, apologies if I've gone off on random tangents...any thoughts or opinions from others who may feel the same way would be greatly appreciated.
     
    Lunarlass66, mike2014, Renee and 2 others like this.
  2. introverted

    introverted Peer Supporter

    Yes, you describe very accurately what I have experienced (and still often do). I have noticed that when my symptoms were extremely intense and causing a lot of fear and anxiety, nothing else in my life mattered except trying to figure out a way to find relief from my symptoms. I could force myself to have a conversation with a friend, go to the mall, watch TV, or attend a presentation, but at the back of my mind I was not engaged with any of these activities and didn't care at all about them. The single only thing I could care or think about was my symptoms, why they're there, why they weren't improving, how much I was suffering, and how I could try to make them go away or at least reduce in intensity. It was like my brain was stuck on "auto-pilot", unable to think or focus on anything other than my body and its symptoms.

    What has been helping me a lot in this aspect has been mindfulness meditation. I am still new to it, but through the deliberate act of sitting in silence and allowing myself to be mindful of how my body feels and the symptoms it generates, I have been slowly training my brain to be OK with the symptoms even though, of course, I'd prefer them not to be there. Usually I'll sit for about 30 minutes, twice a day, focusing on my breath. Now of course, during these sessions my symptoms will often be very intense and will try to distract my mind from focusing on my breath. But I will simply notice, observe, acknowledge, and allow the symptoms to be there without judging them or engaging with them. My brain will try to tell me to freak out and become upset, but I will "take a step back" in my own brain, distancing myself from my thoughts and merely observing them as an outsider. I teach myself that I am not my thoughts, and I am not my symptoms. They are allowed to be there -- we have no control over when they choose to flare up anyways. But we do have control over the power we give them. Do we run away with our thoughts and believe everything they tell us about our symptoms? Or are we able to sit back and watch the thoughts and symptoms occur, as if we were watching a weather broadcast in a matter-of-fact sort of way, without any emotional attachment?

    Through this practice, I am very slowly training my brain to notice and observe, but do not engage with or be sucked in by, the symptoms and thoughts of the symptoms. This is translating over to my interpersonal relationships. In the past, whenever I was talking to a person I could never focus on the person; it was always about how awful I was feeling. But, over time, it is becoming easier to care less about my symptoms and more about the other person.

    It is still a struggle and very challenging especially when the symptoms are really intense. But it's the journey I'm on. The alternative hasn't worked, anyways.
     
    mike2014, Renee, Forest and 1 other person like this.
  3. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Huck and Introverted. My book publisher boss is wildly introverted and makes life miserable for his wife and me and everyone else. I told him his ego is bigger than ten Grand Canyons but he denies having any ego. He also denies having TMS, yet his back and other pains are killing him. It's from his obsessive and compulsive and perfectionist work habits causing him psychological pain. But no one can tell him anything. I've tried and have given up.

    Moderation is everything, in work, play, and life in general. Live in the present moment, like my darling dog Annie, who is taking another nap now, close by me under my desk.
     
  4. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    Gosh, I know exactly what you are talking about! I have so many memories of being in meetings and working really hard at actually being there and listening, being so distracted by what was uncomfortable in my body... I noticed the more important the meeting was to me, the worse it got. It was weird because sometimes it would be a meeting I was really looking forward to, and I would have these almost out of body experiences. I suppose that is just a form of anxiety and nerves. The somatic experiencing therapy I did helped a whole lot in this respect because I learned how to focus on parts of my body that are not in pain. It took me several months to learn to effectively do it, but once I learned how to do it better, it also became easier to redirect my focus in other ways. So if I am visiting with someone and notice that I can't stop thinking about how something is going on in my body, I can mentally decide to actively listen to the person I am with. Its also interesting that a few months back I took a self compassion class on line that I had learned about here. Overall, I was doing really well in my recovery but for some reason when I would sit down to skype in those one hour sessions, I would fall apart physically. Sometimes it got so bad I would almost have to excuse myself from the sessions and it was very difficult to focus. Now in retrospect, it makes sense. I was there to focus on self compassion which is obviously a difficult emotional subject. So suddenly I was becoming overrun with distracting physical sensations(shakiness, brain fog etc). I know that now that I am pain free most of the time, I think much less about what is going on in my body. But I imagine that is still a lot more than your average person!
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2016
    Lunarlass66 likes this.
  5. Susan1111

    Susan1111 Well known member

    I can also relate to being there but not really there. It's a very strange feeling that Huckleberry, Peace and Anne articulated so well.
    I'm working on mindfulness meditation but can do maybe 15 guided minutes at most. I practice and teach Pilates which is a body mind practice but I know I'm not giving it my full attention. I start out with the intention but it always reverts back to how tight my neck is.

    Reading this post has actually brought me some comfort as there have been times I feel I'm losing my mind. Thank you for sharing this experience... You are not alone.
     
  6. introverted

    introverted Peer Supporter

    Anne, thanks for sharing your experiences. You mentioned that you are now pain free most of the time. How, in a nutshell, did you experience such significant symptom relief even though your symptoms were so intense in the beginning? Was it simply through acceptance, losing fear, calming the body/mind, learning to love yourself, etc.? All things that this community teaches?
     
  7. stayfit65

    stayfit65 Peer Supporter

    @Anne, did you go through a therapist for somatic experiencing or did you teach yourself? I'd sure like to know more about this. Thx, Stayfit
     
  8. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Stayfit. I saw a somatic experiencing therapist 1-2 times a month for about 8 months in person. She was really great and unfortunately she moved away which was tough for me because I think I could have done even more good work with her. I was intending to continue with a new somatic experiencing therapist but for money, time, and just the difficulty of starting over with someone new, I haven't yet. I started out with a TMS therapist via skype and this was also very helpful. The reason I switched over to a somatic experiencing therapist is that although I had made progress in understanding TMS and many things about myself(the internal bully!), I felt I was too much in my head. What I mean by that is intuitively I sensed I was spending too much time trying to figure everything out and reacting to the pain but I needed to learn how to be in my body and really feel things. The somatic experiencing felt like a very safe place to do that. And I think that it goes very well with everything that we learn from Dr Sarno and the TMS practitioners. In this therapy I learned how to sit with my feet grounded on the floor and to truly sense what was going on in my body. If I said I felt sad or anxious, my therapist would ask me how I knew I felt that way. There are always corresponding physical sensations to how we are feeling. The basis for somatic experiencing is how animals naturally and instantly recover from trauma. Our nervous systems are designed to recover from trauma. That is why a deer can get chased by a predator, escape, and then calmly graze in a meadow moments later. But when we halt the natural process for whatever reason, the trauma does not get released. There are lots of books on this, but the point is somatic experiencing therapy can be very beneficial to some. I know it was for me.

    And PEACE you asked how I became pain free after having such intense symptoms in the beginning(and I would add for over 20+ years!). Well, my internal bully would like to say that it took me a very long time to become pain free and that others could do it much faster. HAHA Its not that I had any trouble believing in TMS but I did have a whole lot of trouble believing that I was safe and that it was possible for me to be pain free. You need to see to believe and believe to see. So I think at the end of the day it was just out of stubborn persistence, I wasn't going to give up because I truly had no where else to go. I had been down all the other roads, at least all the other roads that I was willing to accept. And yes, acceptance, losing fear, calming the body/mind, learning to love yourself... those are all really beneficial. But the most important I would say for me was becoming aware of my thought patterns and learning how to redirect them when I would start to try to figure out what was physically wrong, or beat myself up. It is possible to be in a lot of pain or to feel really anxious and for there to be nothing really wrong. Its hard when you are going through it though to truly believe that. What if? What it? What if I am ignoring something really important? And then also to not resist my emotions, especially anger. That does not mean I scream at people all the time, but I will take a moment to reflect and feel it. Its okay to feel angry. Not just to think, oh yeah, I'm angry, but to really feel it and accept it. I don't have to act on it or change anything(although I can if I want to). Its enough just to feel it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2016
    Lunarlass66, Dexy and introverted like this.
  9. Renee

    Renee Well known member

    Anne, this is exactly my situation. I have no trouble in believing in TMS, but I do have a problem in feeling safe. When you get to a certain age after seeing and experiencing so many things any innocence I've had about life is lost if that makes any sense. I think that I feel all of my emotions and that is what causes me problems. I feel too much. But from what I've read here and other places not feeling your emotions is the problem. So at this point I'm confused. Not to put myself down, but maybe I'm not intellectual enough to get this.
     
    Anne Walker likes this.
  10. introverted

    introverted Peer Supporter

    I believe it comes down to losing your fear of how the emotions feel to you. Yes, we need to feel them, but if we feel them and continue to feel disturbed or distressed by them, it doesn't help. I think we need to get to a place where we can feel fear, pain, and other emotions without identifying with them or allowing them to hold us captive. When you say you feel too much, consider asking what exactly you're feeling, and how personally you take these feelings? Do you wish the feelings weren't so strong? Do you wish they were more comfortable? If so, I believe we still have work to do -- until we can accept and be willing to feel everything without fear of the feelings themselves.
     
    Ellen and Anne Walker like this.
  11. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Rene. I think you have identified something really important. I know it was for me - security, feeling safe, that I am okay, that things are going to be alright... I have known for a really long time that my childhood trained me to prepare for the worst. If I could imagine the worst that could happen and be prepared for it, then I could have some stability. But then you have a life spent imagining the worst! But just knowing that about myself did not help me to change. Peace is right, it is about acceptance and not fearing the feeling themselves. I have always been very emotional and so when I first started reading more about TMS, I was also confused. I thought I was feeling too much, was angry a lot. And then when I started practicing feeling my emotions without resistance, or judgement, I discovered there was something different about it. Its hard to put into words but I think I felt a lot of shame and fear around feeling angry or sad, like I was out of control in some way and if I was a more together person I wouldn't be feeling that way. Everyone's situation and issues are different. Its not that everyone has to feel their emotions a particular way to recover from TMS. Really you just have to understand and believe that your pain is not structural and is being generated by your sub-conscious to distract you from something. Sometimes just that understanding and belief is enough. For me it was a much more involved process getting to that understanding and belief, and learning how to feel and accept my emotions without shame was part of what I needed to do to get there. I am still going there in so many ways, but at least I don't have the distracting physical pain. Which brings me back to the beginning - security. I did not feel safe at all being angry. Anger could potentially destroy relationships and make worlds fall apart. Or so my sub-conscious thought.
     
  12. Andy B

    Andy B Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi All,
    Great discussion. Thank you.
    Andy B.
     
  13. KevinB

    KevinB Well known member

    Thanks for sharing. It seems appropriate to mention here that THIS is precisely what Dr. Sarno's entire thesis postulates: keep our conscious minds focused on the body. This is the crux of TMS. He then tells us that we must think psychologically at ALL TIMES, which is clearly easier said than done. But it would seem that when we are thinking psychologically, we can be more present.

    This seems to be the answer right here.
     
  14. KevinB

    KevinB Well known member

    I love this Walt. As you know, I'm more a cat guy, but I often look at my two kitties in awe, envying just how present they ALWAYS are. But then I suppose it'd be much easier for us to be present if our lives consisted of being fed, played with, cuddled, loved, and taking naps every day..... jeez, somewhere along the line our societies really got it all wrong.
     
  15. Susan1111

    Susan1111 Well known member

    This is Sassy not a care in the world! She teaches me every day!

    0727151023.jpg
     
    Fabi, mike2014, Anne Walker and 2 others like this.
  16. Renee

    Renee Well known member

    Oh my gosh Introverted this is exactly what I've been doing without realizing it. I am terrified of all of these feelings. They feel horrible and I just want to feel at peace. And as with everything else in my life I take my feelings way too personally.
     
    Anne Walker likes this.
  17. Renee

    Renee Well known member

    Just like one should practice feeling pain without resistance or judgement. So hard but I think I'm starting to understand all of this a little bit better.
     
    Anne Walker likes this.
  18. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    About self-absorption, it reminds me of a roommate I had. He used to spend a lot of time at the counter in our apartment kitchen, writing his name, first name and last. I always wondered about his self-esteem. If he thought too much of himself, or too little. I think it was too little. He was justified in that, because I also remember when we first moved into the apartment I said I would keep the kitchen clean if he would keep the bathroom clean. He agreed and I gave him some shelf paper to put in the bathroom cabinets. He was in the bathroom for an hour and then came out and asked, "Walt, how do you hang shelf paper?" He came from a wealthy family where everything like that was done for him. So I do believe he kept writing his name out of low self-esteem.
     
  19. Huckleberry

    Huckleberry Well known member

    Wow some great replies here guys and thanks for taking the time to reply some great things to think on. Good to see I'm not alone in having these thoughts. I too often look at my dog and think how chilled and in the moment they are but then again I never see cheeky swine cutting cheques for the monthly repayments. ;)
     
  20. Huckleberry

    Huckleberry Well known member

    ...and now I've been reading into hedonism and the concept of the Pleasure Principle. So much in that relating to avoidance of pain and discomfort that seems to hold some truths. I think you could deep deep down into the rabbit hole. ;)
     

Share This Page