1. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this updated link: https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/painrecovery/
    Dismiss Notice

Day 1 Starting My Journey

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by gry0, Aug 20, 2015.

  1. gry0

    gry0 Newcomer

    Hi All,

    I'm writing my first post, as recommended by the Day 1 SEP Wiki page, to tell my story of why I'm here. So here goes...

    For the past 7-8 years I've had tightness, and often pain, in my iliopsoas muscle on the left side of my body. It started out as lower back pain, but after seeing several chiropractors and physical therapists and learning about the iliopsoas we were able to target that muscle as the source of tightness/pain. This muscle is tight almost all of the time, and I get spasms and cramps in my left groin area (the insertion point of the muscle is at the top of the femur) sometimes when walking, or sitting. I also feel pain on the left side of my spine at one of the points the psoas attaches. On top of that I have developed some shoulder pain over the past couple of years - mostly in the rotator cuff areas on both sides. I've had an MRI of my right shoulder and the Orthopedist said that it showed some minor damage to the labrum, and he would operate if I thought I couldn't stand the pain.

    I haven't had surgery for any of these symptoms, but I did have surgery on the left shoulder in 1999 when I was in high school. I played a lot of sports as a kid and ended up with a bunch of dislocations of my left shoulder. Eventually, I had to have surgery to repair the labrum to keep it in its socket so I could continue to play sports. This essentially ended my high school team sports future, as I got out of shape after surgery and didn't have the motivation to get back into it and focused on school instead.

    That was tough, but I accepted it and got into a good college where I had a great time and learned a lot (I got my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology). I started going to the gym more seriously around sophomore year, and have been doing so ever since to stay in shape. I moved out of my parents house a few months after graduation and got a full time insurance job that I didn't like, but it paid OK. After a year of grinding through this cubicle job I decided I couldn't take it anymore, moved back in with my parents, and tried to take pre-Med courses and attempt to apply to medical school. This turned out to be tougher than I thought, as most of my friends were living on their own 40+ minutes away, and I was stuck studying in my childhood bedroom every night. So, after a year of classes I ended up with another job at the SAME company that I originally worked for out of college. While I saved up cash to move out again I hit the gym harder than ever lifting heavier and heavier weight and getting big. At one point I thought I squatted too much, and this is when I first remember noticing the pain in my "lower back" or psoas as I think of it now.

    I did eventually move out again on my own and reestablished my friendships. I met a girl and a couple of years later we were married (we still are, happily). I kept going to the gym, got into martial arts, but still had tightness and pain in the same areas the entire time. I've tried going to the top physical therapists in Manhattan/NYC and New Jersey, overhauling my diet, foam rolling, hot/cold baths, corrective exercises, standing up every 20 minutes at work to stretch, etc. Nothing helped for more than a few hours. In fact, the thing that I could rely on helping the most was physical exertion, which seemed counter-intuitive for the longest time, but now makes total sense - I had something to exhaust the inner-critic in me, release some endorphins, and feel good about myself for a little while. As you can see, it hasn't really held me back from doing things or caused any debilitating pain, but it's extremely annoying and sometimes painful & uncomfortable.

    The way I found out about TMS is actually through the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. He had a guest on by the name of Ethan Nadelmann who is the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance working to end the War on Drugs. During the conversation they ended up talking about back pain somehow, and Ethan had some experience with TMS and Dr. Sarno. I ended up Googling this (as I do many topics from the podcast) because it sounded interesting, although I didn't really think it would help or apply to me.

    After reading some of the Wiki and doing the Week 0/Recovery Program I'm getting closer to accepting TMS as my diagnosis. I know acceptance is critical, but I can't honestly say I'm there 100% yet. There are still some things causing doubt in my head, like: "Why did I severely strain my left hip flexor during martial arts class - is it physically tighter because of TMS, or is there something actually structurally wrong with it or the way I move?", "Why does my hamstring feel tight when I sit certain ways, but not others?". Stuff like that.

    It all makes sense when I read about it or listen to Alan's recorded sessions - I have a perfectionist attitude at times. Sometimes I have low self-esteem - I've always been quiet and hate when people point it out and ask me why I'm not talking, which causes me to become even more closed up and self-critical. I've become better at opening up over the years, but it's still a part of me that I don't fully accept or like. I'm definitely a people pleaser, although a lot of the time I don't WANT to please certain people. I'm definitely stoic (quiet/thoughtful), and I definitely repress anger that I'm feeling in certain situation - although, nothing evident has come to mind as to why I do that yet. I did have 3 other siblings as a middle child, but I don't think I felt neglected, and I don't think my parents discouraged me from being angry. But I do have that closed-off thing that people see.

    I think if you were to ask even my closest friends and family what I was like they would say that I'm an extremely nice and caring guy that's really quiet. This is weird for me because I don't like this description of myself - I want people to describe me as open and opinionated and funny and creative and happy and fun to be around. I guess that's more of the perfectionist thinking and being too critical of myself, but there you have it.

    So, I guess these are the things that I'm struggling with at the moment, and hoping that this program will help me figure some stuff out, as well as take care of the lower back/psoas/shoulder pain that I've had for years now. I was going to write "Sorry for the long post", but I'm not really - I just kinda started typing and I'm trying to be more honest.

    Happy to hear your thoughts, advice, or whatever else. After re-reading this maybe it'd be a good idea to see a specialist in person that knows strategies dealing with TMS. I do live right near NYC, so I have many good options, I'm sure.

    JanAtheCPA and Stella like this.
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi gry0 and welcome! And that's right, don't apologize for the long post - that's part of the exercise, and it looks to me like you got some really good stuff out there. I mostly concentrated on the later paragraphs about your perfectionism, family life, and self-criticism. Sounds strangely familiar, in fact.

    I didn't ever see a TMS doctor (at the time there was only one in the entire Puget Sound area), but I feel like I spent my whole life being assured by doctors that there wasn't anything wrong with me that they could see, and that perhaps I could work on my anxiety. Each time I heard this, the symptom in question would go away. To be replaced by something else later on, which I would worry about for another stretch of time before going back to a doctor and being told there was nothing wrong but anxiety. And so on.

    When I finally found Dr. Sarno (while perusing a forum about migraine diets) it all made sense, so I felt like I had 99% belief just reading The Divided Mind. Doing the SEP, joining the forum, and expanding my reading all helped to get me to 100% belief in short order. Which is not to say that I don't still have symptoms, but as I say often, my relationship with them when they pop up is totally different now.

    You have good awareness about your self-criticism and perfectionist tendencies. It sounds like your childhood was like mine - not hideously dysfunctional or traumatic - just normal human stuff. And yet, by doing the SEP, I was able to uncover some old minor grievances and fears that the little child in me had never let go of, and I was also able to write unsent letters to each of my parents (do they ever live up to the expectations of the little child?). All of this helped, and the techniques I learned have changed how I live my life, greatly for the better.

    Most people here who see a TMS doc are really glad they did so, and there are many others around the country and around the world who aren't near one, so I would take advantage of your location and see one of them! As with any TMS-oriented activity, it can't possibly hurt!

    Good luck, and keep posting. We're all in this together!

    Stella likes this.
  3. gry0

    gry0 Newcomer

    Hi Jan,

    Thank you for the kind words and sharing your experiences. We do seem to have had similar experiences with TMS. Yes, I'm guessing (and tentatively hoping) that doing the SEP will uncover some things that I didn't realize were lurking under the surface.

    Have your symptoms become less frequent since doing the SEP? I agree that changing one's attitude towards symptoms is important and helpful, but how much does that really matter if symptoms still occur on a regular basis?
  4. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I found that my severe back pain went away when I began the SEP and worked on believing 100 percent in TMS causing my pain.
    I healed about 90 percent but still believed the rest was from aging, since I was 82 when the pain came on. When I finally believed
    100 percent in TMS, I healed 100 percent. Be patient, but also be persistent in your belief in TMS.

    In journaling, I discovered repressed emotions from my childhood and that seemed to heal me.

    We, all of us whether in pain or not, are a work in progress. We gain and lose pain at various times as life's stresses come along.
    I am very grateful that I had the back pain because it led me to learn about Dr. Sarno and TMS. It has changed my life, and
    totally for the better in all possible ways. Good luck as you begin the SEP. You've definitely come to the right place to heal.
  5. gry0

    gry0 Newcomer

    Thanks for your perspective, Walt. It seems that pain is our mind's default way of dealing with repressed emotions and stress, and the strategies laid out in SEP and through various books/guides/etc. on TMS are ways to change that and face emotions head on. I can see how after a while that our mind could slip back into those old patterns if we aren't 100% aware all the time.

    It also seems that these techniques of dealing with repressed emotions can be invaluable once learned (even if we might need a review ever now and again). And the stuff that can be learned along the way, as you said, lead you to a better place.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  6. SunnyinFL

    SunnyinFL Well known member

    Hi gry0,
    Welcome! This is definitely a journey that will help you "figure some stuff out," as you put it. It's a fascinating journey of self discovery, of understanding, of deciding what kind of person you want to be and what type of life you want to have. The only advice I have is to keep at it - I highly recommend the SEP. Don't feel like you have to buy every book or do every approach or do everything immediately or just right. Instead, trust that you have found a wonderful resource that can only make your life better. If you start being more kind and gentle of yourself, you're well on your way. Looking forward to hearing more about your journey!
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  7. SunnyinFL

    SunnyinFL Well known member

    Good question, gry0. Indeed, it matters a lot - do you want to live in fear (can't do this, I might hurt myself again, etc.) - or - would you rather be indifferent to your symptoms and live a full and happy life? I'm aiming for the second! Keep asking questions! The answers may float up at the strangest times, but open up space and allow them and they will come!
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  8. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Sunny is right on, gry0, I love her response.

    And my own answer is that yes, these days I'm pretty much at about 90%, meaning that my symptoms are probably about 10% of what they were four years ago, when I was in danger of becoming housebound with debilitating pain and neuro symptoms, and I was teetering on the edge of serious depression. You can read my profile page for the whole story. I consider 90% to be success, because I'm convinced of two things: 1) that the mechanism of TMS is part of the human condition, for whatever weird reason, and 2) that those of us with perfectionist and goodist personalities combined with anxiety will probably be dealing with TMS flare-ups the rest of our lives.

    With a great amount of work and time spent and sheer will power, I'm sure I could conquer that last 10%, but I'm kind of too lazy, and I get distracted too easily - and right now, I'm okay with that. I've got too many other things going on to be obsessive about getting to 100%.

    I've got my techniques for dealing with anything sudden and intense (see my post about one incident here). I will definitely sit down to do some writing exercises if I feel the need, and I do have one chronic symptom (vague dizziness/fogginess) which has been very hard for me to banish completely, but it's much less intense than four years ago - plus it's not combined with about a dozen other symptoms. I just accept that it comes on when I'm feeling stressed, and goes away when I'm exercising or doing anything fun - so I don't have any problem telling myself that it's just TMS, and there's nothing to fear.

    SunnyinFL likes this.
  9. alicemae1

    alicemae1 New Member

    Just happened to select your story from the group as I am on Day 0. I can relate as despite my pain, I do many physical things. I was wearing a kneeband prior to being on this site. It seemed to decrease the knee pain but after reading a little from Dr. Sarno's The Divided Mind, I took it off. Recently had knees X-Rayed and was advised the looked pretty good and no reason for my pain could be seen...so, because of that and after readings and CD's, I figured there was no need for the band. So far, I have been doing my life without it. I was born in New York and raised in Whitestone. Now I live in Los Angeles.

Share This Page