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Daniel L. Should I heal then get a job, or get a job then heal?

Discussion in 'Ask a TMS Therapist' started by ohmsai, Sep 5, 2015.

  1. ohmsai

    ohmsai Newcomer

    This question was submitted via our Ask a TMS Therapist program. To submit your question, click here.

    I quit my computer programmer job six years ago because of shoulder,neck & back pain which led to anxiety ,insomnia and other issues.
    The first 4 years I saw 10 different doctors, 5 physiotherapist,chiropractors,accupuncturist.. etc. Finally they named the condition as Fibromyalgia!
    In past 2 years I recovered from constant,chronic pain on daily basis by doing yoga , trigger point therapy ,healty diet and other relaxation techniques. Now I am able to do all household activites without any symptom and able to walk even for an hour. Most days pain free.

    But I want to go back to same computer job. When i even think about sitting in a chair typing and getting the hand pain & should ,neck pain scares me.
    At home, when I try to sit in a chair and move the mouse even for a brief period ,the pain triggers in the shoulder and hand. The next fews days I will be suffering from anxiety and fear of going back to work with no sleep. Then I convince myself to postpone on going back job as I my son was a preschooler . Like that 2 years passed.

    Recently I heared about TMS and bought three of Dr.Sarno books to read.
    I totally accepted that i have TMS.

    should i search for a job and try TMS technique while working or should i try at home before hunting for a job.
    Anxiety and fear are my main problems.
    pls help.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 2, 2015
  2. Daniel G Lyman LCSW

    Daniel G Lyman LCSW TMS Therapist

    In order for you to be ready to go back to work, you need to focus specifically on the anxiety and fear that is triggered when you sit down at the computer (or when you just think about the computer).

    You might have read about this on the wiki already, but this is a process we call ‘outcome independence.’ What does that even mean? Outcome Independence means that we separate your fear and anxiety from the physical symptoms. For you, that means sitting down at the computer, and not caring even the slightest bit whether or not you get hand or shoulder pain. I know that sounds really difficult, but it is absolutely possible, and it is the key to being out of pain.

    I recently worked with a client who could not go out in the sun for fear of migraines. In the past, every time he went out into the sun, he started getting the aura, which would turn into a migraine. He was very anxious about being outside in the sun for extended periods of time.

    One time, I had him do our session outside in the sun (we met over Skype) and we worked on keeping his nervous system calm (breathing techniques, distraction techniques, etc.), and it turns out he was able to sit for the entire 50 minutes without even the slightest bit of an aura. This proved to him (after years of being convinced otherwise) that it’s possible for him to be in the sun and feel just fine!

    The same process is going to be important for you. Here’s what I’d suggest:

    1. Ease yourself into using the computer. Start off by using it for 5 minutes, and that’s it. Use it for just 5 minutes a few days in a row. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you have pain or not, it’s all about remaining calm and not caring about whether or not pain is there.

    2. Step it up a bit. After a few days (or a week), try and be at the computer for 20-30 minutes. And make sure to do something on the computer that you enjoy. Play a game! Don’t just make it about work.

    3. If you can successfully be at the computer for 20-30 minutes and not care whether or not you have pain, you’ll be ready for step 3, which is to treat your day like it’s a work day. Prove to yourself that you can handle anything that comes your way for the length of an average day at work.

    Seems overly simplistic, I know, but it’s quite difficult to remain outcome independent in the face of pain. So be patient with yourself. It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s similar to building a new muscle at the gym. It takes time, repetition, and an anxiety-free mind.

    Any advice or information provided here does not and is not intended to be and should not be taken to constitute specific professional or psychological advice given to any group or individual. This general advice is provided with the guidance that any person who believes that they may be suffering from any medical, psychological, or mindbody condition should seek professional advice from a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions. No general advice provided here should be taken to replace or in any way contradict advice provided by a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions.

    The general advice and information provided in this format is for informational purposes only and cannot serve as a way to screen for, identify, or diagnose depression, anxiety, or other psychological conditions. If you feel you may be suffering from any of these conditions please contact a licensed mental health practitioner for an in-person consultation.

    Questions may be edited for brevity and/or readability.

    Laudisco and Cap'n Spanky like this.
  3. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Ohmsai. Dan Lyman has given you the best advice. Whatever gives you stress, face it and challenge it in short periods of time. Gradually you will be able to conquer the fear and pain it causes. Claire Weekes. MD, writes about it in her wonderful book, HOPE AND HELP FOR YOUR NERVES. The back cover says it all: "Dr. Weekes offers the results of years of experience in treating her many patients... including some who thought they'd never recover. Like them, you can unlearn how to overcome your battle with the anxiety that causes your distress. You can understand and analyzse your own symptoms... learn how to break the cycle of fear... and relax."

    One of the best ways to relax and overcome anxiety is to practice deep breathing. Youtube videos are excellent in showing how to do this.
  4. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes, getting rid of the fear is the first prerequisite to returning to your old job.
  5. Scott.Cameron

    Scott.Cameron Peer Supporter

    If you know you have TMS, you know you have nothing to fear. Get back to it, at home at first. Prove to yourself you cannot do yourself any great harm. I had the experience of having the onset of pain as soon as I initiated the movement of the activity I BELIEVED was going to harm my back. Before I had even done it! If you can catch that happening it should help you, as it did me, to confirm the pain is psychologically induced.

    I too had similar problems in my work. It was the company I was working for that was the problem not the job, but because of the chronic pain I decided to give it up. I have a theory that the brain knows what muscles and tendons we are using the most and picks on them.

    Keep at it & good luck
  6. ohmsai

    ohmsai Newcomer

    Thank you Daniel,Walt,Bruce & Scoot for all your valuable inputs. It means a lot to me. I am going incorporate everything you all mentioned in your reply.
    what are the most effective coping and relaxation techniques among TMS people to calm down immediately when the pain get triggered which we know it is TMS pain?
  7. Scott.Cameron

    Scott.Cameron Peer Supporter

    Well I don't know the exact answer to to and I imagine there i no magical 1 thought and that people are different, but I am finding to just relax about it; I.e don't pay much attention to the actual pain, you KNOW this is NOT career threatening anymore, it cannot distract me from what I am doing and worry me. and keep reminding myself that there can not be anything structurally wrong. Sometimes, to sort of laugh in the face of it and tell it to leave it out provides some relief for me. Also try not to worry about past traumas so much although these undoubtedly shape the fears of your unconscious so it is good to understand them and learn the nature of your id, it is most likely some little things going on right now that you havnt quite consciously acknowledged that your id is trying to stop you realising. Just my 2c but hopefully gives u food for thought!
  8. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Ohmsai -

    Scott hit it on the head when he said that everyone is different - I often say that one size does NOT fit all. I also highly recommend the wonderful book by Dr. Claire Weekes - Hope & Help for Your Nerves. This little book has helped a LOT of people, for many many years, with and without TMS, to overcome their fear and anxiety. It was the second book I read after The Divided Mind, and I could not have reached the level of recovery that I have without it. It will help you practice the things that Daniel Lyman recommended, too.

    In general, mindfulness and self-love are really important keys to recovery - and they tend to be lacking in those of us with perfectionist personalities, because we are often beating ourselves up while our brains are bombarding us with negative self-talk or with worries about the past and the future. As you read more forum posts, you will see mindfulness and self-love mentioned a lot!
    Scott.Cameron likes this.
  9. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think we all need to spend more time enjoying ourselves. Fill each hour of each day with as much "feel good" thinking and doing. It's essential to TMS healing to spend some time each day thinking about what emotions cause our pain, but I think it is at least equally important to find ways to be happy each day.

    I like the suggestion of finding something on the computer to distract us and make us feel good. I don't play computer games but always find some videos on Youtube that are interesting or fun. I also like the relaxation videos. One of my favorites is from a Japanese photographer-musician, Okanokumo called "Relaxing Nature Sounds," 10 minutes of a video of a relaxing mill along a stream in Japan.
    Scott.Cameron likes this.
  10. Scott.Cameron

    Scott.Cameron Peer Supporter

    :headphone: Music is my happy distraction
  11. levfin003

    levfin003 Peer Supporter

    I can completely understand how you feel. Please stay persistent. Wishing you best of luck.

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