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Somatic Experiencing for head "pain"

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by velomoose, Jun 15, 2020.

  1. velomoose

    velomoose New Member

    Hi All,

    I put the word "pain" in quotes because my main symptoms are a suffocating kind of anxiety that literally lives in the front of my skull. The physical sensation feels like someone has blown insulation in the front of my head...or poured hot glue in there. So it's profoundly uncomfortable but it doesn't hurt the way, say, really bad back pain hurts, or how terrible sciatica hurts, or any other really painful muscle, nerve, tendon type pain does. In addition to this feeling of something hanging out in my skull is the anxiety. It's not excessive worry. Rather, it's what William Styron called an "unfocused dread," a kind of intense fear of something where no actual physical threat exists. It's just awful.

    I've done years of psychodynamic talk therapy, and frankly, it's not next to nothing for these symptoms. This has been beyond discouraging, especially knowing Dr. Sarno's theories and how so many others go to the bottom of their pain with this kind of therapy. It hasn't worked for me.

    So now I'm curious if a more body-centered psychotherapy might help me. After all, my head is part of my body, at least most of the time.

    If anyone can related to my weird symptoms and has gotten some benefit from somatic-based work, I'd love to know. One other thing to say. For about 7 years I had chronic low back pain. And I mean 24/7 pain. This won't shock anyone to hear that I no longer have that pain, and this anxiety/depression/brain fog, blah blah has taken its place...

    Thanks for any feedback.
  2. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi velomoose,

    I want to encourage you as you consider broadening your approach.

    Somatic-based work includes many modalities, and in my experience they all add something to TMS work.

    The fact this bothers you in your body, the feeling, and the connection to dread ----this makes me think working with the physical sensations as the primary way into your deeper understanding is a fairly clear path for you. I think you're onto something.

    The work I do with people tends to start on the sensations, feelings ---often not the "symptom" directly. Then the knowledge ----emotions, experiences, childhood stuff, personality stuff--- emerges naturally from that simple investigation of body. Then it begins to unwind as it is revealed and digested. I think the sensation in your head has a lot of potential for this kind of investigation.

    So YES, find someone you can connect with, trust, who does their own work on themselves and take the journey!

    Good luck in this work!

  3. velomoose

    velomoose New Member

    Hi Andy,

    Thanks so much for your encouragement. It's really helpful. I have found someone who might be able to work with me from this perspective. It's hard because there are no accurate words to describe this "presence" in my head. It's like trying to describe what a color tastes like. And this presence so far is like a constant, inert energy that has no words. It reminds me of the monolith in the movie 2001 A Space Odyssey. Hopefully trying a more "bottom-up" approach leads somewhere positive.

    Thanks again!
    Russ (aka velomoose)
  4. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Russ,

    Glad my words help you feel you're on the right track. If your connection does not feel right, I would be happy to help. Or, my mentor, who is a Somatic Experiencing trainer (only learning now from me about TMS) is very, very good.

  5. velomoose

    velomoose New Member

    Thanks so much, Andy. That’s very kind of you.

    I keep thinking that if this hellish anxious head fog is an a kind of equivalent to some hidden feelings, then those feelings must horrific. I know it’s not always a one-to-one kind of thing, but this head thing is every bit as chronic and unmoving as my low back pain was. So I look forward to seeing if I can get the mental-physical feeling state to shift to pure emotions. If I had to guess, it’d be some combination of rage and grief.

    I just started listening to some videos of Gabor Mate. That man might just be a genius for his theory on the mind-body. I’m sure you’re familiar with him, but if not, look him up. He’s pretty amazing.
  6. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes, I love Mate's work. His empathy and love come through in interviews... another true healer.
  7. Alan Gordon LCSW

    Alan Gordon LCSW TMS Therapist

    Hi Velomoose,
    Somatic tracking is a technique that can help your brain reinterpret a sensation through a lens of safety. The cool thing about somatic tracking is that it doesn’t matter whether it’s pain, anxiety, fatigue, or some other sensation that you can’t quite describe.

    We as humans love to give labels to things, but the truth is, it’s not even that important to actually identify what category the sensation falls under.

    If it’s an unpleasant sensation, that means that the brain is interpreting it through a lens of danger, and you can successfully use somatic tracking to gradually teach your brain that this sensation is in fact safe.

    We actually just did a podcast episode about how to use somatic tracking. And the TMS wiki just set up a new program so that you can listen to episodes of the podcasts and then ask follow up questions. Then twice a week, TMS therapists will be answering these questions to provide even more info about these techniques.

    Here’s the link:
    https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/forums/tell-me-about-your-pain-q-a.76/ (Tell Me About Your Pain Q&A)

    Forest and plum like this.

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