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Shame for not healing quickly enough

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Soph1802, Jun 14, 2023.

  1. Soph1802

    Soph1802 Peer Supporter

    Hi everyone

    Something came up for me in therapy today and I wanted to post about it. I have been doing TMS work since 2020. I have seen a lot of improvements, but I am still not healed. I am a huge TMS advocate, champion and believer, and I love this community. It genuinely saved my life, and for that I will never be able to repay it.

    I have CPTSD, and whilst I’m definitely not as severe a case as many others, I’m someone who has found psychological wellness, emotional maturity and self acceptance to be some of the hardest challenges I could ever face. I have a really hard time with self compassion, perfectionism, high expectations of myself/others and always doing what I think I should be doing, not what I want. I struggle to feel comfortable in my own skin, choices, actions, decisions. I am very hyper vigilant, afraid, and filled with deep, deep shame. I understand we all feel this to some extent- that’s why we’re here! And because we all share these traits, I want to share something that may help others feel more seen: I feel a huge amount of shame for not being able to grasp this TMS stuff quicker, for not being healed yet, for still being so dysregulated and even for getting so sick and dysregulated in the first place - especially given TMS can lead us to feel like we are the reason we are struggling (I understand that this isn’t strictly true, but it can often feel that way).

    The fact that my own history of trauma, lack of resilience, high stress and lack of tools to cope is what led me here coupled with the fact that I, supposedly the most intelligent, high achieving, pretty, cool, stylish, creative (etc) person in every room (at least, this is what I’ve always bent over backwards to try and be, as this is how I was taught I would be accepted), have still not managed to heal myself and figure out this work and make it stick, is extremely shame inducing and ultimately, I really feel like a failure. I am not asking for pity or sympathy, I’m just being honest. I think that this intense shame is beneath all of my coping mechanisms, behaviours and neuroses that are keeping me stuck, and I want others who feel the same to know that they are not alone.

    Learning about TMS and the solutions this community provides offers so much hope and empowerment to all of us who are suffering. I could not be happier for all of you who have healed and managed to get back to living fulfilling lives, I genuinely mean that. This work is extremely hard and an exceptionally brave journey to embark on, and we should all be extremely proud of ourselves for being here and doing it, no matter how successful we are. But that doesn’t mean it won’t also sometimes be a part of the problem - TMS offers us hope and belief that we can heal, but it also means that we have the possibility of failing. The fact that we can heal also means that we can fail to heal. We only heal TMS if we get the work right, if we get out of fight and flight, learn to care for ourselves, learn to let go and ride the waves of life. For those of us who have a complex history of trauma this is an extremely difficult ask. And for those of us who have a deep seated belief in themselves as a failure or not good enough, the possibility of failure is a huge trigger, poked at everyday that we don’t succeed in perfectly doing the work and seeing improvements. Failing means staying in this place of suffering and knowing that there was an alternative, it was possible, but that we just couldn’t get there because we didn’t figure out how. This really feels genuinely terrifying to me.

    The packaging of TMS techniques and programmes to neatly explain how to do the work is extremely helpful, and really enables and empowers people to take control of their health and well-being in an accessible way. But it also makes everything sound so simple, that when those of us who aren’t able to ‘just do it’ and heal by reading about it and implementing the techniques fail to heal or fail to do the work as suggested, it adds to our already fragile and deep rooted shame, low self worth and self loathing. The more we try and get it, grasp it, try techniques etc without it working, the worse this gets. I so desperately want to be one of those success stories on this site, on the podcasts, etc. I so desperately want to be one of those who healed and found themselves. But I’m struggling. And reminiscent of much of my entire life, I once more feel like I don’t quite belong, no matter how much I try to. I am not someone who identifies as chronically ill and permanently broken, advocating for the medical model or research into my condition, but I’m not someone who feels entirely well and healthy or who has fully healed themselves either. I am in the middle, lost in limbo, belonging to neither camp.

    I really don’t intend for any of this to be a criticism of anyone or anything - I wouldn’t change a thing about the TMS community, this site, any or all of the programmes available or those working hard to coach and support others through the work. I am so grateful for all of it. I also don’t for a second believe any of this is a direct byproduct of or fault of TMS or anyone promoting or doing the work. TMS work has given me hope where nothing else could, and the journey of this work alone has been worth it 10 thousand times over, regardless of the outcomes that arise in the future. I would never change it or criticise it. The only thing causing this is my trauma, and the trauma of others who were brought up to believe that they aren’t capable, worthy of love and belonging and able to care and support themselves wholeheartedly.

    Thanks everyone who did for reading and holding space.

    Tomi, JanAtheCPA, Ellen and 2 others like this.
  2. tag24

    tag24 New Member

    Hi Sophie - this isn't a very insightful response, especially not compared to your own wonderful post, but I just wanted to chime in that I absolutely feel this same kind of shame you do. I think many of the forum users do, in one way or another, and I think the root of that feeling is a root of the TMS itself. The lack of belonging, that intense internal pressure for perfection and success, the anxiety and uncertainty of it all... you're not alone in this. <3 Everyone on a healing journey is there with you, especially when we don't experience a 'book cure' so to speak.

    I think all we can do is continue communicating safety, comfort, and ease to our nervous systems as much as possible, by taking things slow (literally) and allowing ourselves to feel all that we're feeling without trying to fix or speed it up. In time, hopefully, the body will hear our message that we're not in danger and let the symptoms go.
    Tomi, JanAtheCPA and Soph1802 like this.
  3. Soph1802

    Soph1802 Peer Supporter

    thanks so much for the reply. I totally agree. I’m sorry you’re feeling the same but as you say, I do think this is probably the root of our issues and something worth exploring. We can and will get there, it will just take time. I’m sorry that it hasn’t been easy, but I hope the journey turns out to be worth it anyway. ❤️
  4. Bonnard

    Bonnard Peer Supporter

    Hi Sophie, There is so much honesty/self-awareness/power in your lines, but this line really stood out among the rest.
    It's awesome you wrote all of this! Because examining where we are at and what we really honestly feel about the process is part of the healing in and of itself.

    I with you the absolute best!! And, I'll be sure to read your success story when it shows up (or is the podcast first?) :)
    Be well!!

    I have struggled with this as well. My newer way is trying to find smaller successes. The idea of healing or not healing (I now realize) is way too much for me to deal with....especially since I've found out how common it is for symptoms to return in some way. If I define myself out of success, I'm just feeding right into the worst of my mind-body/TMS issues.
    I've heard that experience (of symptoms returning) so much on this site. Symptoms have returned for me when stressors changed/increased, my situation changed, my coping mechanisms were stretched or partly let go of etc...
    Bigger picture is that I've gone years with no symptoms and some recurrences have been very very short. Others have been more challenging.

    AND, many of the success stories have long stories of struggles (ups & downs) before the 'success.'
    JanAtheCPA and Soph1802 like this.
  5. Soph1802

    Soph1802 Peer Supporter

    thanks so much Bonnard this is really helpful and empowering, and very kind! I do feel as though working through this is helping me to make progress. Even if only, as you suggest, it helps me to stop desperately searching for perfection and instead, appreciate all the little wins along the way.
    I hope you also find peace soon! We are all in this together
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  6. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Sophie, I can completely, totally sympathize. Thank you for writing such an insightful and introspective post, I see so much myself in it! Being a very competitive person, I remember looking at all the success stories and thinking: what is wrong with me, it took such and such 3 months, while I am still going on my second year and not completely healed yet?!

    But I now realize that it was a mismatch of self-image and reality.

    I used to think of myself as absolutely having to be the best, the first, the smartest! Well, part of my recovery was accepting myself for who I am: ordinary and average. Kristin Neff's book on self-compassion was very helpful in establishing that it is OK not to meet my own expectations, but instead to recognize that my expectations are not always realistic. Striving to be and failing to be are not the same. Giving yourself permission to fail means giving yourself an opportunity to learn about yourself and finding a better way to succeed.

    I think you are absolutely right that this profound feeling of shame and unrealistic expectations is what creates your pain.

    It took me 2 forever long years to heal, but I now cherish those two years, as they taught me more than 58 years of my prior life. It is self-discovery that heals. Find yourself, and you will fully recover!
  7. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    What I'm about to say is in my words, because I can never remember how Nicole Sachs says this, much more succinctly than I can. I've certainly heard her say it many times, since I try to listen to all of her weekly podcasts:

    The concepts behind this work are deceptively simple: if you can manage your brain's fear response to only engage when you are actually in real danger, and if you can learn to completely accept and forgive and love yourself, then you will find recovery and healing.

    It really is that simple.

    In theory.

    In practice, it's fucking Hard. And sometimes really complicated.

    This is most especially, ESPECIALLY, true for anyone who suffers from trauma, particularly childhood trauma. It breaks my heart to know that this is true, and to see it play out.

    It's well known by now that Dr Sarno turned down a surprisingly large proportion of patients who applied to his recovery program, because his evaluation was that they would not benefit - presumably due to greater psychological dysfunction and past trauma than his typical perfectionist patients with stress-based anxiety.

    Nonetheless I would like to believe that there is some benefit in this work for everyone and anyone, even if it's not full "recovery", whatever the heck that even means.

    More importantly, I believe that any improvement, no matter how small, counts as success. You must be able to acknowledge the existence of small successes in order to start building on them.

    In my opinion there is no such thing as 100% recovery, or permanent recovery. It's a myth, and it does no one any favors to hold it out as the goal by which success is to be measured.

    I say this as a pretty typical Sarno-type perfectionist with anxiety mostly based in modern stress, and without any trauma - and I stand by my own definition of personal success and recovery, based solely on where I was at "Before Sarno" 12 years ago. This is the only thing that ultimately counts.
    Tomi, Soph1802, Ellen and 1 other person like this.
  8. tag24

    tag24 New Member

    I just wanna add on here (because there are lots of ppl reading these threads who probably don't make accounts!) that when you say 100% recovery is a myth, you don't mean 100% recovery from any specific symptom - but that even when you get over these ones, as stress builds and you begin to feel more intense emotions your body doesn't quite know what to do with, you will probably somatisize again and develop new TMS symptoms. They might not be as bad, and they might not last as long, but somatisizing your stress is just a part of the human condition and can never be fully eliminated. Howeverrrr. There is absolutely hope for 100% recovery from a particular set of symptoms that are bothering you, as seen in all the success stories that are on the forum!

    (At least I hope that's what you meant. I just thought the "100% recovery is a myth" sounded a little pessimistic)
  9. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I agree that 100% recovery from TMS is possible for a particular symptom(or set of symptoms) at a particular point in time, hence the Success Stories. But as you state, other symptoms may occur, or in my experience the old symptom may reappear at a future date. Recovery from TMS is an ongoing process for most of us.
  10. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Adding my two cents: Dr Sarno defined TMS traits as a personality type. We (TMS-ers) have a certain structure of our nervous system that is more prone to the emotional overdrive and subsequent physical symptoms. If that means that 100% recovery is not possible - I agree with it, we can't completely change the structure of our nervous system. After we defeat our symptoms, we still are who we are, which means that we have to remain self-aware for the rest of our lives.

    But what we absolutely can do is to understand who we are and learn how to manage our mindbody.

    If you want your car to work reliably and last longer, you take it to the mechanic for a tune-up and maintenance. If you want your mindbody to work reliably and last longer, you must tune it up on a regular basis – and it has to be mostly do-it-yourself. There is no magic pill. Each time I tried to throw money at my illness by buying expensive treatments, I learned repeatedly that magic pills do not exist – unless I put my own elbow grease into getting better by meditating or exercising.

    After I recovered from CRPS, I had multiple re-occurrences of various symptoms, head to toe, but I now know how to deal with them. I was tricked once, quite successfully, by my brain, to the tune of $500 and 4 weeks of chiropractor visits and exercises thrown at my pain, only to realize, once again, that it was TMS. I laughed at myself and posted about it on this forum. Will I get tricked again? Possibly, but not as likely as 8 years ago when I was nearly destroyed by self-inflicted CRPS. At that time, my symptoms cost me 2 years of miserable life and many thousands of $$ on various doctors and healers. Doing better, ain't I?
    Tomi, Soph1802 and JanAtheCPA like this.
  11. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    100% agree, @tag24, and thank you for adding on, as well as @Ellen and @TG957 of course. It was so clear in my mind what I was trying to get across, but not surprising that I missed a vital nuance!

    Again referring to Nicole Sachs, and again paraphrasing, she often says that there is no cure for life, and that there is no way to avoid pain, but that there is a cure for chronic pain. She even guarantees it, which is pretty bold.

    The thing is, it requires hard work and complete emotional vulnerability, which, going back to the original premise of @Soph1802's eloquent and important post, is hard enough for anyone, and tragically sometimes impossible for people suffering from what their brains have determined is life-threatening trauma, which must remain locked down at all costs. Literally at all costs, because the cost of a lifetime of unnecessary physical and emotional suffering is horrendous. All thanks to a primitive brain mechanism that doesn't work for today's world.
    Soph1802, Ellen, tag24 and 1 other person like this.
  12. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

  13. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Sophie,

    I appreciate, as so many others have your important, well articulated post.

    I think your experience is common, and does reflect the TMS personality, or I could say everyone's core personality, in that there is an identification with a deep deficiency. I've sometimes said that we're a deficiency looking for evidence, or experiences to attach this self-deficient experience to. So, like in all endeavors, we can find ways we 'don't measure up' and orient to these, fixate on these, as a way of recreating a familiar sense of identity.

    Your situation reminds me of learning to defend from the Inner Critic, getting some relief, then beating myself up for still having an Inner Critic! There is a circuitous self-reflection with core deficiency the apparent end goal. I don't think this can be helped. It can only be seen, and understood, as you're doing. I think you're seeing the way the Inner Critic, or your shame measures your "progress" and comes out with a pre-determined "deficient" result. That it might be "predetermined" is slippery, because we so often identify around our successes. So we don't always feel like we "lose." If we succeed with a symptom ---or somewhat, we feel success. But the circling around fear of failure, or measuring to find failure I think is more basic, more core in almost everyone's personality.

    In my experience, our egos always circle around this deficiency, and find the concrete examples: "I'm not enlightened enough. I'm not loving enough. I'm not smart enough." It can even get funny such as in my aging I think "I'm not young enough" ---as if there is anything I can do to fix it. But that belief that I can fix it is implicit in the self-depreciation.

    The only way that I work with this myself is to simply see the pattern, the way you so brilliantly write. I can't make it better by hating myself for hating myself. Just accept it as the "conditions we find in this life." If I was to suggest anything, which I don't think you're asking, it might be to "measure" the progress you're making by the learning and expansion in your life, rather than symptom relief. Your sincere practice is really about opening your heart and life, and I can sure feel this in your posting, and less about getting anything, or getting anywhere.

    Thank you for such a beautiful posting. It points to the tenderness and vulnerability of our human lives.
  14. Soph1802

    Soph1802 Peer Supporter

    I just came back on here after some weeks away and read these responses and they all brought a tear to my eye. Thank you all so much for responding in such a validatory and supportive way. This really is a beautiful community!

    @Andy Bayliss i think your suggestion about measuring the progress of my expansion in life makes a lot of sense, and in fact, is relevant to an area I know I haven’t got yet which is outcome independence.

    My situation is hard because my symptoms are very unique and I can’t find any other examples of anyone having them, and whilst they’re diagnosed as POTS, they don’t present like it. It’s one of those classic TMS situations where doctors labelled it for ease rather than accuracy and no one really understands it, they just tell me it’s not dangerous. However I’ve hardly seen a dr for it and had very few tests. So I don’t feel confident in the safety of the diagnosis. And I am still exceptionally afraid of one particular symptom, no matter how much I try and pretend that I’m not. I don’t want it to happen, and when it does, I feel afraid and hurt and defeated. I often think that if I could just understand and know that it wasn’t dangerous I’d be able to heal very quickly, but there isn’t enough evidence of this and I have too much room for doubt that I am struggling to do this at present. Hence, I cycle between fear and disappointment and hope and relief depending on the strength of that one symptom. I am highly outcome dependent. Which makes sense, because having never really felt safe my entire life, even when objectively I had no reason not to feel it, creating my own sense of safety now with something that is genuinely scary and uncertain is a very big ask.

    Thanks everyone again. The self compassion and love is growing, and I am seeing progress. I am starting to accept that this journey may simply be one that lasts much longer for me than for others, and I am doing my best. That’s all I really can do!
  15. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Beloved Grand Eagle

    I don’t recall you ever mentioning symptoms, but I have had some that I have not seen anyone report, they fall into the POTS dysautonomia category as a name given by traditional medicine. Is it really either of these things? No. It’s simply disregulation of the nervous system… TMS. Divorcing our minds from medicalization terms is one of the ways we can distance ourselves from the fear that something is medically “wrong” and some folks just need the extra step of a few tests and consulting a TMS Dr. (You can do this via the internet if you can’t get to anyone) to help their doubt.
    I recently saw a YouTube interview of a woman who healed from migraines over a 5 year period. She didn’t even hear of TMS until, I think her 3rd year of figuring out how to do this work. It was then she began to journal, but she had made improvements before that. What struck me was she said that it’s not shameful to heal in phases, and that for some people it just may be their best path. Wise words.
    Soph1802 and TG957 like this.
  16. Soph1802

    Soph1802 Peer Supporter

    Hi @Cactusflower

    Thanks so much for this response. I do fundamentally believe that it’s just TMS and dysregulation, in fact I know it is. I’m very aware of my state and when things are worse vs when they’re better. My issue is simply fear: one of my symptoms is angina, and not pain but squeezing, pressure in my chest. It’s a horrendous sensation. As it’s POTS/Dysautonomia related it only happens sometimes when I stand up or stand for too long. And it is getting better over time, albeit slowly. I can’t see anything anywhere that talks of someone else who has this, they all mention chest pain but I don’t get that. I am afraid that this symptom will progress to something worse because angina traditionally is related to so many heart risks. I’m not even sure if it’s possible for mine to progress given the aetiology, but I just haven’t had much medical attention as I’m in the UK and was diagnosed during Covid so only spoke to someone on the phone and the waitlists are so long I’m yet to have my follow up. Anyway, I’ve thought about a TMS dr but being honest with myself, they can’t give me what I want. I know that my current symptoms are TMS. The problem is that I am so traumatised by what happened to me when I got the symptoms that I am so afraid of one day having something worse. Of dying. I’m hyper vigilant and trying to micromanage the things I can’t control in life. And no dr, TMS or otherwise, can guarantee that that won’t happen. I want a certainty that it isn’t possible for me to have. But because I have to give myself safety to resolve the TMS, this is my sticking point, because I just don’t feel safe with that uncertainty yet. I always say that I don’t believe there are many other symptoms I could have that would have been as hard for me to overcome as this one is.

    On a more practical note, it’s also hard for me to just get on with life because these particular symptoms aren’t really ones I can push through in the way you can with some others. When it happens, I can’t just sit down and do something for example otherwise it causes all sorts of other heart rhythm and BP issues. I have to do it all slowly and gently to give my body time to balance. Or at least, i don’t feel comfortable with not doing that yet, even though it might not kill me if I did. So I’m thinking that practicing acceptance is the key for now: it is going to happen for a while, I have got these symptoms and I can’t keep denying and suppressing it, I don’t need to fight or avoid it, I just need to accept it and accept my fear of it, knowing that the fear doesn’t need to be believed. I am really stuck in the 5 Fs with this one and struggling to get out of them, so any ideas you have and thoughts around if this is the right approach would be really helpful.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to reply, I’m so grateful for this forum and all of your support.
  17. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Oh, Sophie, I can't begin to count how many times we have seen this statement here - it is SO MANY! Can I tell you some good news? Your belief that your symptoms are very unique is nothing more than your brain on TMS.

    This is TMS, doing its job, convincing you that you need to stay in your hypervigilant state of fear, because if you don't do that, you won't see the predator hiding behind the next tree, waiting to eat you. Seriously - your TMS brain doesn't know the difference between a primitive predator and your memories of trauma - because those memories produce the same response as seeing a dangerous predator, and that response go straight to the most primitive survival-at-all-costs part of your brain, which starts a massive cascade of complex physiological processes to get you ready for Fight Flight or Freeze.

    The thing is, this physiological response was designed to be temporary. Assuming you are able to safely avoid the predator, your physical functions were designed to go back to normal. The problem in today's world is that you are in this response state all of the time, which your body was not designed to handle. You are not alone, of course - right now a huge proportion of humanity is walking around in a constant state of stress and fear. It's not normal, and it's not healthy.

    Long-term stress leads to chronic inflammation, and chronic inflammation is well-known in the traditional medical world to be implicated in a number of chronic conditions. You, me, and all of us have the power to lower our stress and thus our inflammatory response with mindfulness practices, and to reverse the course of related health conditions.

    This is easier said than done, of course, because our TMS brains always want us to experience maximum stress, so they will fight really hard to get us to avoid doing anything that might reduce that stress. Nonetheless, that is my #1 recommendation. For you, and for me - and I'm finding it very hard!

    TG957 and anacoluthon33 like this.
  18. Soph1802

    Soph1802 Peer Supporter

    Thanks so much Jan. I know that you’re right. My goodness it’s hard though isn’t it?! I notice I am stressed or anxious every second of everyday. I went out for dinner last night spontaneously and was paralysed with indecision about where to eat - like it really matters! I am also going on holiday soon and need to buy some things for my campervan and have spent four days trying to decide because I didn’t know what colour to get - the stress this has caused me is incredible. It’s amazing how deep it all runs and how hard it can be to break free of it. I feel like I need to stop every ten minutes and calm down initially just to break the cycle. It’s so much.
    Of course, this all explains the symptoms. I am just afraid I will never overcome the stress and anxiety and things will only get worse. My belief in myself to do this work is lacking, but I’m trying to work through it with my therapist. Thanks so much for the response I needed to hear - I appreciate it a lot
    TG957 and JanAtheCPA like this.
  19. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is a clear indication that your anxiety is through the roof and you need to focus on it in order to get better. Dr. Claire Weekes' audios are the best treatment for anxiety. You can find them on Amazon.
    Soph1802 and BloodMoon like this.
  20. BloodMoon

    BloodMoon Beloved Grand Eagle

    I used to be somewhat like this - for instance, I remember an episode where I needed to buy a new alarm clock and I simply couldn't choose between two very similar alarm clocks (and then, after I'd somehow decided to plump for one of them, I got home and had a melt down trying to set up the alarm and criticised myself for not choosing the other model... which would have been very similar to set up and just as easy to do so... it was just that my my general anxiety was incredibly high and even the simplest of things was too much for my brain to cope with on top of coping with other things going in my life at the time). What's helped me generally, and particularly when in the throws of indecision and stress, is to bring my attention to focussing on my breath (not necessarily altering it... as merely noticing it tends to slow it down and decrease the level of anxiety felt).
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