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Struggling with feeling helpless to TMS

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Kris, Sep 27, 2015.

  1. Kris

    Kris New Member

    Hello everyone! I've been still fighting through my relapse. It's been about two months now, and the pain is getting steadily worse, which I know means that my fear of it is giving it a nice hospitable home.
    This relapse was so different than the first time I "beat" TMS. The first time, right after I discovered TMS and Sarno, I was just SO incredibly relieved to have a reason for my pain and to no longer go around in circles believing in a structural cause and cure. I immediately 100% believed my pain was TMS because it just made sense. About two weeks after discovering TMS, I was cured and felt great. I started by resuming normal activities, removing my "crutches" - pillows and blankets I was using while sitting and sleeping - and challenged myself by taking a long car ride to visit family. Once I conquered that car ride, I felt like I had conquered the ultimate challenge and told my pain I had won. And I did for about three months. Until it came back and came back in a new place in a whole new type of pain.
    This time, the pain is in the opposite side and its actually more intense most of the time, which I didn't think was possible after last time. I've known from the very beginning of this relapse that it is 100% TMS. Not only because I understand how TMS works, but I also know I didn't even DO anything physically that could have remotely caused this. The problem this time around is that I have 100% fallen VICTIM to TMS. I have tried so many things- journaling, being more in touch with my emotions, focusing on my breathing (I'm a breath holder), reading TMS books, visiting the forums, watching success videos, guided meditation, tapping. I even get acupuncture, but not for the pain - I've been working with my acupuncture doctor to focus on the mind/body connection. He doesn't even put the needles in my "trouble spot." And before you say I'm working too hard, I've also been NOT working on TMS. I've been working out, focusing on getting back in shape (I'm very into fitness and through my pain journey over the past year, I've gained 10 lbs and lost some of my stamina and muscle tone), keeping busy, traveling, spending time with family and friends, never canceling plans or letting my pain stop me from doing things. I've even been staying away from this site lately because I felt that I was spending too much time working on TMS. Lately, I've been telling myself that I know the pain and incredibly tight muscles (like a tightly stretched rubber band from my butt to calf) are from oxygen deprivation and it'll go away once my mind lets go.
    The problem is, I've begun to feel helpless to my mind and TMS. Throughout this relapse, I've really felt like I'm just at the mercy of whenever my mind decides to let me be pain free. TMS, for such a planner and solver, is so challenging for me because there are all these vague "rules" you're supposed to follow, but you're still never guaranteed when it's going to all click and give you relief. I just have such a hard time with that and it has resulted in me feeling helpless to TMS, which I know just means that it will keep sticking around.
    Today is a perfect example- we had friends in town visiting us and we were really looking forward to it. I had pain throughout the week, but I told myself that I wasn't going to let TMS affect my weekend. I had a really fun time. It bothered me sitting in our patio chairs on Friday night, but I didn't dwell on it. We went out to a bar/restaurant last night and I sat the whole night and talked and laughed and didn't think about my pain once. Our friends were leaving this morning, and as I rolled over in bed to get moving to see them off, I had an excruciating spasm in my glute that took my breath away. All day today, my pain has been at a 9. I told myself that I knew what it was doing- it was hitting back at me for ignoring it and having a fun night last night- but even though I KNOW what it's doing, it's not letting up.
    So after this long-winded story, my question is- how do I work on not feeling like a victim to TMS and so at its mercy? I've given it power, and I'm not sure how to take it back. Talking to or yelling at my brain has NOT helped throughout all of this.
    One more thing- I know everyone will ask me if I've done the SEP. The truth is, I did it for a few weeks the first time I beat TMS, and I tried to go back to it again during this relapse, but I really didn't get much value out of it. I don't really believe that my TMS comes from repressed emotions. I think mine is more based on personality traits and the very fearful personality. And I'm also very in touch with how I have come to develop those personality traits and fear, so I don't really feel like searching for something deeper from my childhood is the answer.
    If you've read this far, thanks, and I look forward to your thoughts.
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Kris - this sounds really frustrating, especially after having such great success the first time around.

    I get that you don't think you have any repressed emotions, but the thing is, this mechanism is inherent in our psyches, and it is going on all the time. Unless you are incredibly enlightened and 100% mindful 100% of the time, your brain is going to keep repressing anything negative, whether it's past or present, and whether it's big or small.

    Whatever is being repressed, it's not obvious. Like a year ago when I was hit by a blinding and scary headache that woke me at 2 in the morning on the last night of cleaning out my 92-year-old mother's condo down in California after her death. I recovered by taking a few moments to first calm myself down and stop the fear messages that my brain was bombarding me with, which gave my conscious brain some room to really examine how I was feeling - which was that I felt guilty at taking apart my mother's life and throwing so much of it away. Kind of obvious, right? It had nothing to do with a trauma in my past, it wasn't shameful, and not earth-shattering. It was simply guilt, probably mixed up with old parental stuff, and which my primitive brain felt was necessary to repress. Just yelling at my brain was not enough. I had to identify the emotion, and I had to forgive myself, and tell myself that my mother also forgave me. I also needed to spend some time comforting the little girl in me who had lost her mom.

    Dr. Sarno figured out that Freud really knew what he was talking about when he focused on the small child in our unconscious psyches. As children, we universally experience anger, disappointment, guilt, and shame - all experienced early on within our family relationships. Our childish Id turns these emotions into rage at the unfairness of it all, and our brains start repressing the rage because in a primitive world we could die if we're wallowing in rage. Emotional repression is a fact of human life, so believe me, it's there.

    If you were to go back to one of the writing exercises, particularly the ones where you list stresses and/or memories, I am going to suggest that you really listen to what is going on in your head as you quickly write things down. Is your brain trying to convince you that something isn't important enough to write down? Or even that something is too embarrassing to write down, and not important anyway? I would be very surprised if that is not the case. Because those are the things you need to write down and examine.

    When I did the SEP four years ago, I forced myself to do this, and when I examined those items, they were not very pleasant, and perhaps a little embarrassing, BUT they were very revealing about my childish fears, and especially about who I really was as a child. For the first time ever, I experienced myself at a very young age. Something inside of me softened, and gave way, and I was able to feel an emotional connection to the little girl that I was then, and to forgive myself for my insecurities and anxieties, and to give myself the comfort that somehow I lacked because I felt awkward and isolated (in spite of actually having a very secure and loving family)(but the Id doesn't appreciate that!) It was the first time that I understood that I deserved to recover.

    So I wonder, in that long list of work that you've done for yourself, whether you have ever managed to get in touch with your childhood self? Have you ever nurtured and comforted that little girl? Do you love yourself enough to want to love and comfort that little girl? Do you love yourself enough to know that you deserve to be nurtured and to heal?

    These are not easy questions for many of us to even hear, much less answer positively. It's very very risky for us to open up in this way. But true self-love and self-acceptance have been shown without a doubt to be a powerful avenue to healing.

    I highly recommend that you go back to some of the SEP writing exercises, and do them with complete honesty. Don't listen to your brain trying to influence you. The second a thought hits you, write it down without hesitation, especially if you don't want to. You might find yourself writing something about current events and current relationships, and it might not be pretty, but you're not going to get past this if you don't get it all out where you can consciously acknowledge it, accept it, and forgive it.

    Good luck!
  3. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Kris,
    Congratulations on all you're doing to work on your TMS. I have suffered through relapses and can empathize with the frustration you feel.

    Your statement above reflects a common TMS personality trait of wanting life to be controllable and to fit into defined rules. Unfortunately, since we're dealing with the human psyche, emotion, and behavior it will instead be full of ambiguity and inconsistencies. TMS manifests in myriad ways and everyone's path to recovery is unique. Accepting this is difficult, but it is an important step in healing. So much of TMS recovery is about letting go.
    This statement is reflecting your feeling of being a victim. Per Sarno, TMS is not punishing us, it is a defense mechanism. The issue of what it is protecting us from, or distracting us from, is much debated on this site. For me, I find it useful to view it as a distraction from internal conflict, much of which has its origins in childhood. Your expression that you are being punished for having a good time, may reflect a strong internalized inner parent (superego) that is in conflict with your inner child (id). Exploring that may be useful for you.

    Wishing you the best.......
    SunnyinFL, David88 and JanAtheCPA like this.
  4. Fabi

    Fabi Well known member

    I came into Kris story on a special day. To Kris I can say you don´t sound like you are "accepting", just accept that this is what it is today, and it doesn´t matter why or how.
    My therapist asked me a question What would it be like to not need the symptoms? And my answer was just exactly doing all the fun things you did, except that there seems you were somehow expecting your body to harm you for having a good time, and I have that fear too.
    Hope you can feel better soon!
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  5. Kris

    Kris New Member

    Thank you for all your replies. In addition to always being a very fearful and a "worst case scenario" thinker, another personality trait that I know contributes greatly to my TMS is that I put an incredible amount of pressure on myself and I feel pressure from others, whether it's real or perceived. I know this comes from my childhood and having pretty strict parents and always feeling pressure to keep up with my brilliant sister.
    As an adult, I have a successful career, wonderful loving marriage, a dog who is my child, a house I love, and really everything I want in life. Yet I still put a lot of pressure on myself- to be the best at my job, to be the best wife, to be the best daughter, to be fit and in shape. Just one example of how hard I am on myself- I've always been very thin and fit, and over the past year my TMS pain has affected my workouts (mostly before I knew it was TMS) and I wasn't as careful with eating healthy because I was using food to soothe myself. I gained ten pounds, and I'm still at a weight and body shape that most people would "kill to have" but because I know it's not my best, I'm not happy with it. This is just one clear example of how high my expectations of myself are.
    Anyway, does anyone have any tips or programs for working on loving yourself and accepting yourself just as you are? I know that is something I need to work on- not just for TMS, but for my own peace and happiness.
  6. Fabi

    Fabi Well known member

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