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Slight setback but a massive realization...

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by donavanf, Jul 4, 2015.

  1. donavanf

    donavanf Well known member

    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?
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2015
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  2. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Donavan,

    Very well written post. Congratulations on your progress and insights.

    I think there are a couple of things that you include in your post that may be holding you back from complete recovery, though you are very close. There are two ways you are still thinking physical instead of psychological about your pain. The idea that if you use your muscles they will be extremely sore the next day is most likely conditioning rather than a physical phenomenon. And secondly, the idea that you need to strengthen your muscles in order to not have pain. You've been told by an expert TMS doctor that there is nothing wrong with your neck and shoulders. Thinking you need to strengthen these muscles to avoid pain is buying into a physical explanation. Engaging in exercise or yoga for the overall benefit of strengthening and toning the body is good, but if you do it to avoid pain it will be counterproductive for your progress. So I think starting an exercise program for your total body would serve you better than targeting the areas of pain. I believe if you address these two issues and continue all the other methods you describe in your post, you will make it to a full recovery. Great work!
  3. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Donovan. I like Ellen's reply. Believe 100 percent that your symptoms are from TMS and are not structural
    and do not fear you will be hurt by exercise.

    Repeat a positive mantra while you exercise. It will be a very helpful constant companion to relax you.
    Lizzy and donavanf like this.
  4. Camila

    Camila New Member

    Hi Donavan. I agree 100% with what Ellen posted. You are still thinking you have a structural problem and it's no wonder trying to do shoulder exercises triggered a pain response. Think of doing exercise more for psychological relief than for building strength. When you exert yourself with a long hike, bike ride or swim, it naturally reduces your tension level and gives you an overall sense of well being. I would find something more aerobic for now and skip any weight lifting or other exercises focused on your shoulder. It sounds like you learned a ton about your pain yesterday on the photoshoot. You now have a lot of evidence of how the pain is psychological and not physical. I think it was a really successful day for you in your TMS journey. The realization that guilt is one of your triggers gives you new ammunition against the TMS. Plus, you now know you can do a successful shoot and please your client even when you are in pain. This might lower your stress and fear before your next shoot. Congrats!
    donavanf likes this.
  5. donavanf

    donavanf Well known member

    Thank you for the great replies. I am hung up. I feel like I am VERY close to actually getting better. But the last 24 hours, I spent wasted time Googling "Levator Scapula" stretches and other such structural fixes. I know in my gut that this is TMS, but when I have pain in my neck and shoulders and I can actually FEEL the Levator Scapula and traps seizing up, I feel like it IS structural, even if it is being caused by my brain. I get on the "how much of this is structural and how much is TMS?" train of terror and I need to remember that there IS a physical component, as Sarno says, mild O2 deprivation to the muscles, causing them to tense. But I also need to remember that this is nothing serious and is not indicative of a true structural issue. I think my training (I went to acupuncture school and spent years studying the structure and function of the human body) is actually a big cause of me "thinking physical" and not psychological. The more I do "exercises" for my "shoulder pain" and lay on tennis balls, massage it, rub it, stretch it, obsess over it, the WORSE it gets. I need help over this hurdle. Can anyone recommend a mantra or positive affirmation (or anything else) to help me make the leap to total faith in the TMS diagnosis? I really think the reason I am not healing 100% is that I still doubt the diagnosis, and Dr. Schechter agrees. I know this, but how do I KNOW it? Thank GOD for this forum. And thank you all for putting up with my complaining!
  6. donavanf

    donavanf Well known member

    Can you recommend a specific mantra, Walt? Also, thank you for your ever present kindness and wisdom. :)
  7. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    Dr. Sarno's Twelve Daily Reminders:

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  8. lexylucy

    lexylucy Well known member

    Wow your lucky. i don't believe I have TMS 110%

    Have you ever read any Louise Hay? I have been listening to her collaborative book with Mona-Lisa Shultz. I am finding her affirmations very helpful. There are specific affirmations for the neck.

    I think you are doing amazing given what you've been through :)
    donavanf likes this.
  9. Lizzy

    Lizzy Well known member

    Wow! I think you are making huge strides, and with these great suggestions and your understanding you will make it!

    Forgive me if you have tried Claire Weekes, especially if I have suggested her audio to you before. I can't keep up with myself ;)
    Anyway, I have found listening to the audios that Eric "Herbie" Watson posted so helpful to my thinking and emotions. I did mindfulness for about 10 minutes then listened (while driving to work) for 40 minutes. I substituted pain when she said nervous illness. This calmed me on so many levels.

    Whatever path works for you! Your story is very moving, thank you for sharing.
  10. donavanf

    donavanf Well known member

    Thank you! I have listened to some Claire Weeks, she is marvelous. I am about halfway through "Hope & Help For Your Nerves". Her voice is so soothing! Like Mrs. Doubtfire. I would love to listen to the audios that Eric "Herbie" Watson posted. Where do I find them? Thanks again for the kind words of encouragement. And thank you, everyone! I am doing better than when I posted this! We all can heal! :)
    Lizzy likes this.
  11. donavanf

    donavanf Well known member

    Thank you, Tennis Tom, this is very helpful! I've been watching it twice a day!
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  12. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    You're welcome, glad it helped. tiphata

  13. Lizzy

    Lizzy Well known member

    Hi Donavan,
    She is like Mrs. Doubtfire, isn't she!?
    I am sure there are easir ways to find the audios, but here's my way. In the search, type, claire weekes eric watson. Then choose one that the exerpt says "have gotten me through alot" Those are the audios I referred to. There are 4 segments, 20 min each. They are similar to help and healing, but they were the nail on the head for me.
    I am so glad your doing better!
    donavanf likes this.
  14. riv44

    riv44 Well known member

    I AM OK I AM OK I AM OK....
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  15. SunnyinFL

    SunnyinFL Well known member

    Hi Donavan,
    I can relate to everything you said. About the mantras - I've always found it a little silly to do mantras/affirmations; yet, I do it anyways and it is a huge help!
    In my mind, if it helps even though I think it's silly, it must be a pretty powerful tool!
    So, I do affirmations during my workouts - very simple, but I do it instead of counting, and it's very powerful for me.
    You asked for a specific mantra; here is a very simple one that I do in lieu of counting our 12 reps.
    I find it especially powerful to slow down the mantra and say each word in my head with a lot of confidence (I put numbers in parentheses just to help - I do not say the numbers, just the words):
    I am (1)
    Healthy (2)
    I am (3)
    Strong (4)
    I am (5)
    Safe (6)
    I am (7)
    Healthy (8)
    I am (9)
    Strong (10)
    I am (11)
    Safe (12)
    It's also interesting that I can perform more reps with higher weights when I say these things - so I guess they're both emotionally and physically empowering!
    Let me know if you give it a try!
    donavanf, Lizzy and Kris like this.
  16. Lizzy

    Lizzy Well known member

    Like Sunny, mantras feel silly to me, but are so powerful. Awhile back exercise had become burdensome to me. At someones suggestion here, I began to say phrases about how I love to workout, how good it felt, I feel strong etc. You know, it gave me back my enjoyment!

    Also, I have noticed when I am sore from a new movement during a workout, or a really good workout, the soreness I feel after is different, there is almost a pleasantness to the pain/discomfort. Has anyone else noticed that?
    donavanf likes this.

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