I've posted several times in the last few weeks about feeling like I am one step forward and two steps back with my TMS. I had it at a really good point earlier this year, around March, where it had gone from a 7 or an 8 down to about a 3 or a 4. I was (and still am, when I can afford it) seeing Doctor David Schechter who, after a thorough diagnosis and intake, said, "You have TMS and I am sure of it 110%, there is NOTHING wrong with your shoulders, neck or back". Getting that confirmation sent me towards healing in a big way. That and the journaling, which really made me see how hard I am on myself. Relentlessly hard. I started to get better as I eased up on myself. But I had a big setback in April of this year. It was a very bad month. My father died and I was in a car accident on the same day. About two weeks prior, I had a breakup with my girlfriend who I was crazy about. She did the breaking and we have been on a bit of an off and on again, let's try the friendship train. Like all of life's adulthood adventures, it's complex. I've decided that as hard as it is, I want her in my life as a friend and she has decided the same. It's challenging, but it feels amicable and mature. She also has TMS! And in her shoulders! But I digress... Anyway, a a week ago, I had a fight with her and around this same time, I decided it would be a great plan to start doing some shoulder exercises I found on YouTube to strengthen my shoulders and posture, something specific to photographers (my profession). The more I did the exercises, of course, the WORSE my TMS got. To back up a bit, some form of TMS has been with me my whole life, childhood tummy aches, headaches, teenage and young adulthood IBS, allergies, Chronic Fatigue, depression, anxiety attacks, and more, all jumping around and shifting...but the most recent and serious bout of it has been in the last two and a half years in the form of chronic, daily shoulder and muscle pain and tension in the upper back and neck. It was only about a year ago I realized it was TMS and came upon Sarno. Thank GOD! I carry a lot "on my shoulders". Type T, Goodist, Plenty of repressed rage. PLENTY. The fight between wanting to be a "good guy" and feeling like I want to blow something up with gasoline has a daily battle in my neck. Superego/ID/Superego/ID. Now streaming live. In my body. My neck is like a congested freeway of battling emotions. Anyhow, the day after I did these insane neck and upper back exercises, my back was literally in agony. At first it scared me, a lot, but then I kind of let it go, said, "Ok, well, I overdid it, got some delayed onset muscle soreness that is probably being heightened by my TMS and I also forgot the golden law of Sarno and forgot to think psychologically. No more posture obsession". I knocked off the exercises, rested my back, journaled and the pain went down to a dull roar. Then, about 2 days ago, I went on a blind internet date. The first "date" I had been on since breaking up with my ex. Not to overshare, but I ended up staying the night with her and awoke awash in shame, guilt, anger at myself and fear. That same day, to "burn off some tension", I decided to do some push ups and also do some of the exercises again. What can I say, I am a glutton for punishment. The next day and the day after, my shoulders and neck felt like someone had hit them with a sledgehammer. I mean, the pain was so bad, it literally felt like hot knives were poking me between the scapulas. I ended up having to take the anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants that were prescribed for my accident in April and they BARELY touched it. I tried hot baths, massage, NOTHING. Just PAIN. Then, today, I was tested big time. I had a BIG photoshoot booked with a well known personality. I awoke in agony from the upper back pain and didn't know how I was going to make it. The level of pressure I was putting on myself was legendary. By the time I got half-way to the shoot, I wondered if I was going to even be able to do it. Then something happened. I stopped fighting. I just said to myself, "Well, here we are. My back hurts. A lot. I am scared to death that I am going to fail at this shoot and let down my client. I am swimming in fear. Can I shoot while afraid? Can I shoot in pain? Can I 'play hurt' as they say in athletics?". Yes. I can. I'm a professional photographer, I have a job to do, and I'm going to do it. The pain began to ease just a teeny tiny bit. I figured the Advil and muscle relaxants must be the cause of the pain going away and the pain got worse again. Then I said, "I see you, TMS, and I am not afraid of you. I'm going to stay calm and present. I will focus on the shoot. I will not focus on the pain". The client was marvelously sweet and within a few minutes of shooting, I was so concentrated on the task at hand that the pain that was so severe had gone down to a dull ache. By the time the shoot ended, the pain was basically GONE. I shot over 700 images and carried a heavy camera the whole shoot. Pain was BETTER! But here is the weird part. Right after the shoot, I thought "This CANNOT be something structural, because there is no way in hell that my back would just STOP hurting during the shoot like that. It's TMS!!! I've got this thing!". The moment I said that, the pain returned and when my generous client offered to take me to dinner, I almost said no, but then gracefully accepted. As the dinner progressed, the pain got worse. Then, I decided to really just relax and ALLOW the pain to be there. The shoot was over, I did a great job, the client was happy and I was sitting having a lovely dinner. What was I so worried about? The pain got gradually better, but then came back the moment she insisted on paying for the dinner and telling me that she had the best experience with a photographer ever. I smiled, felt awesome and my TMS stabbed me in the back. I felt I didn't deserve the goodness coming my way. So here is my realization...is there some part of me that feels GUILTY for being happy? For being pain free? Did my back hurt after my all night date the other night from GUILT? Yes, of course. But just knowing that doesn't make the pain go away, I have to somehow let GO of the guilt. This is a serious topic to explore and perhaps maybe someone else can shed some light. Most of the times I've had pain this week were due to fear or guilt. And the more I see this, I feel like I am finally seeing that it TMS is an issue of tension. It's ALL tension. The tension of the ID and Superego. And when we focus on the pain, the tension increases. Big time. Tension, tension, tension. Mental tension causing a physical mirroring of that tension. It's that simple. So, how, friends, do we ease this tension? How do we just "let go". Lastly, it seems that every time I exercise or do push ups or any other form of exercise, (which Dr. Schechter ENCOURAGED me to do) I get pain. Crazy pain. Is DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) worse in TMS cases? Because I feel like where most people feel a "little sore the next day", I feel like a truck ran me over, even from just doing 20 push ups or 1 minute of plank. I seem to recall Steve Ozanich mentioning something like this. How do I push through and exercise and not be in agony the next day? The only exercise that doesn't hurt is walking. But I feel like I need to be STRENGTHENING my shoulders, the area of pain. No? Thank you for listening. I feel guilty for venting. And there it is again. GUILT. GOODISM. Sigh. This is such an odd malady, yet we all know the solution, being easier on ourselves and forgiving our own humanness. Right? Dr. Schechter told me that I got TMS "intellectually" and was very self aware, but I still had not mastered focusing on something else and 1000% ACCEPTED the diagnosis. He told me I had that I have TMS. He's a world expert. I know I had it, but he said that I needed to feel it, not just think it. He felt that I had not quite yet "gotten it deep down in my gut". Or shoulders and neck as the case may be. Thoughts, anyone?