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Symptom Imperatives Keep Reoccurring

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by psychosomatic, Jan 7, 2014.

  1. psychosomatic

    psychosomatic Peer Supporter

    Hello All,

    I recently recovered from 4 years of very severe chronic back pain. It feels great to have my life back but since I've recovered I've noticed my body keeps trying to find new ways to distract my and divert my attention away from my emotions. They are not nearly as bad as the pain way but they certainly are annoying and distracting.

    Since my backpain went away I've had the following occur in the last 6 months.

    1) 4 sinus infections (I'm positive these are psychosomatic, and they date back to early childhood)
    2) Groin Pain (This quickly resolved after 3 weeks and some yoga)
    3) Burning during urination (This resolved immediately after my doctor told me tests were negative)
    4) Ulcer and heartburn (Currently stuggling through this and I've never had one before)

    Every time these sypmtoms pop up, I know 100% that they are psychosomatic and I treat them as so. I try not to let them distract me and continue with my day. I have used the same strategies that initially healed my pain, but I've found they have not been very effective at reducing these symptoms.

    What makes this more strange is I do not exhibit the typical TMS personality. I am by no means a perfectionist, obsessive, or a people pleaser. I've had a great childhood with great parents and no traumatic events. My life is not very stressful and for the most part I'm happy with the way things are. The only trait I can identify with is sometimes I have high standards for myself so perhaps I can be hard on myself, but I wouldn't say I take this to the extreme. I know how to cut myself some slack too.

    For some reason my subconcious is just very sensitive, and is continuing to adopt the distraction strategy.

    Has anybody else struggled with the symptom imperative? If so, any tips and techniques that helped you eventually overcome them would be much appreciated.

    At this point I'm considering psychotherapy, but it just seems strange that with a relatively stress free life and a laid back personality I'd fall into this category.

    Thanks for reading :)
    Bodhigirl likes this.
  2. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think most of us on this forum have struggled with the symptom imperative. Please specify which strategies you are using now. That way we'll know what else to recommend that may be helpful.

  3. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Psychosomatic, it may just be that you have those other symptoms because although you don't think you
    had childhood stresses you have repressed, you may have.

    I suggest you watch Dr. Sarno's video about his book The Mindbody Prescription. It's like a private session with
    a psychotherapist who knows about TMS.

  4. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    oops, that's not the Sarno video url.

    I'll look for it.
  5. Gigalos

    Gigalos Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Psycho,

    Yes, when I am stressed, like for example when the holidays started, I sometimes have several symptoms following each other up rapidly (and disappear). I think it's great, as it is convinces me even more it is all a mind thing. You got it on the run.
    Even when brought up in "perfect" circumstances, you can be angry inside for several reasons. (remembered!) trauma isn't necessary.
    Did you find any relations between symptoms rising and daily life's pressures?
  6. psychosomatic

    psychosomatic Peer Supporter

    Thanks for following up guys.

    Ellen - to answer your question the techniques I have primarily used are:
    a) Not letting the symptoms distract me and worry me
    b) Shifting my attention to the emotional plane such as problems in my life when symptoms occur
    c) Reading success stories and furthering my knowledge about TMS
    d) Journaling and self reflection to gain a deeper understanding about myself.

    Walt - Thanks for the suggestion. I look forward to seeing the video.

    Gigalos - It's been very difficult to make any associations between daily pressures and the symptoms. Life and circumstances are always changing to a certain degree, and there's always going to be certain pressures. If anything, things have improved a lot lately as I am now working again and feel settled again.

    When my pain first started several years ago, I was launching a business, going through a tough break-up, and coming off a failed knee surgery. All these together must have created a lot of unconscious rage and led to the symptoms. It made sense that TMS would occur. However, there really isn't much going on right now. Something has to be triggering it, I just have no idea what it could be.
  7. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    A couple of techniques that work for me that aren't on your list:

    1. Talking to your unconscious brain when the symptoms occur. I think Sarno covers this in his video. I say something like "Stop! There's no need for you to create x symptom". And actually saying it aloud seems to add to its power.
    2. A technique that is called Focusing, where during meditation you actually focus on the pain (or other symptom), but in a totally non-judgmental way, like a curious observer, just experiencing it as pure sensation. I think if you search for the term on this site you will find a better explanation for it. It seems like it's the opposite of ignoring the pain, but the fact that the attention is non-judgmental is critical to its success. So it's a different kind of attention and can take a little practice. But I find that it is also very effective.

    And of course, keep trying to find the trigger(s). There's something there.

    Best wishes....
    Bodhigirl, Gigi and Msunn like this.
  8. Gigalos

    Gigalos Beloved Grand Eagle

    Just some random and poking thoughts, hope it is of any help. Hey, if you spot it, you got it... so it might be more applicable to me than to you ;)
    -Could it be there is too little going on? The less distraction, the more unconscious stuff tends to knock at the door of consciousness (?) Do you unconsciously generate a p'd off (and of course unreasonable) super-ego for being too laid back: "you have everything going for you, so why don't you work your ass off like other people do?".
    -I always honestly thought I have everything going for me and put myself under pressure because of that. But now I know that my parents, even though they meant everything so well, were not perfect and sometimes meaning well can also create anger in a child. It is kind of a relief to realize that now, it makes them more human and therefore more beautiful.
    -What kind of people tend to p' you off? Sometimes the things in other people that p' you off, reveal hidden anger and denial about certain things about yourself. For example, I hate it when people don't listen to me, turns out I am angry at myself for not being a good listener all the time... there are heaps of other examples. Give it a try.
    -what role does fear play in your life? Is it small, is it big? Is fear holding you back somewhere?

    Ellen's advice #2 is pretty great btw
    Bodhigirl and Ellen like this.
  9. psychosomatic

    psychosomatic Peer Supporter

    Thanks guys. I'll look into these techniques.
  10. Mala

    Mala Well known member

    Psychosomatic, i noticed that u have recently posted 7 videos on you tube detailing your success using Sarno's techniques.


    I've watched them and they are very good. You came across as being completely cured. Am I to believe that you still consider yourself cured despite the symptoms imperatives that you have mentioned here & are still ongoing?


  11. psychosomatic

    psychosomatic Peer Supporter

    Hey Mala,

    Thanks for watching the video's. I'm glad you liked them :)

    You raise a good question. I would say I consider myself completely cured from my chronic pain. It has vanished and hasn't come back.

    I am currently dealing with certain symptom imperatives which tells me my mind is still trying to use the same distraction strategy it has used in the past. These new symptoms however are far less intense and troublesome than the chronic pain ever was, so I do considered myself cured. Just trying to figure out the final pieces in the puzzle.
    DanielleMRD likes this.
  12. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think it's great if you're completely cured, and consider you really lucky that it came from just reading Dr. Sarno and accepting his philosophy that our pain is TMS from repressed emotions. You said you didn't even have any of those.

    The final pieces of the puzzle may still be in your past, or something recent that is triggering your remaining or new symptoms.

    The main thing is, you sound like you're feeling great. Keep it up.
  13. bagofwater

    bagofwater Peer Supporter

    I too consider myself 8-years cured, but continue to experience the symptom imperative. Sometimes to a ridiculous degree. Heel pain, tooth pain, hearing issues, hip pain, numbness. It goes on and on. I've had a few relapses of back pain that were as bad as my original condition, but they were each short lived.

    My questions are 1] Why does this happen? I know the TMS books and the approach back to front and believe in it on every level, yet my brain is still able to successfully distract using the same old tricks. And 2] Can I get past it, or is this my new, permanent normal? Why are so many TMSers stuck at this stage? It's hard believe that people like me, and many others, that have had such life changing success, can't make it the extra inch to set the symptoms aside.

    Almost all the resources out there are aimed at newcomers to the approach and spend the majority of their effort convincing people that it works. I'm wondering what books or resources are out there for TMS veterans experiencing SI? One that doesn't spend time on laying out proof that the approach works, and concentrates on how to stop chronic SI.
  14. Ewok

    Ewok Peer Supporter

    Hello @Walt Oleksy :)

    I am wondering if you were able to locate the video you mentioned. It sounds really interesting.

  15. searching4bre

    searching4bre New Member

    This is a big struggle for me too, but I'm trying my best to keep digging at what these repressed feelings might be. I totally understand that I don't necessarily need to "fix" anything, just realize that this is what's causing my symptoms. I still just can't shake the absolute annoyance though of all these other symptoms I have aside of the pain. Most days I just wish for the back pain compared to the rest. The biggest one right now is the constant ear ringing that I have had for over a month now. How on earth do you ignore symptoms and not have them bother you when they are so disturbing. It's horrible. I've read some of the suggestions on here and will try the focusing one. I'm just so frustrated and feel like I'm never going to get over all this garbage (I know that doesn't help my case either). I hope some of these suggestions work for you :)
  16. bagofwater

    bagofwater Peer Supporter

    Bumping my response to this old thread. Are there any For-Us-By-Us resources out there yet for veterans that are already on board, that anyone's seen?

    I'm again having an old school back pain episode triggered by a regular family situation in my life that, even though I've identified it as a "trigger", manages to successfully produce TMS symptoms nearly every time the situation occurs. I can practically set my watch to it. I'm a TMS veteran, but I can't manage to avoid symptoms even when I'm aware I'm entering the dangerous (to my subconscious only) situation.
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
  17. Dario3

    Dario3 New Member

    Hey Psychosomatic. Not sure if you’re still on here (hopefully not!), but I’m in pretty much the same boat that you were in. Was completely cured soon after reading Sarno’s book for about 2 years and now am getting symptoms again. Things are going well and I consider myself a pretty happy/laid back person, so I’m struggling to figure out why this is happening. Just curious if you ever figured it out?
  18. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Could it possibly be the result of significant world changes in the last decade, especially the last, oh, six years or so?

    Getting real, it's well-know that the entire world is suffering a severe mental health crisis that started before 2020, has increased alarmingly since then, and shows no sign of declining. And there's very little that the average person can do about it, which is pretty hard for the perfectionist and control-loving TMS personality. The number of young people with severe TMS symptoms is shocking and distressing, and there was a recent article about climate anxiety as the latest mental health diagnosis. Plus we're all on technological/informational overload, which can't be good for our equanimity.

    Just sayin'. It's awesome that you achieved recovery and went on to experience fulfillment and satisfaction - that's the goal of this work! The thing is, when we're fully-engaged in life, it's easy for our brains to repress any nagging concerns about other things that might be going on around us. But repression is repression, no matter the source, and it has the same ultimate result. The multiple uncertainties that humanity is experiencing as a result of the pandemic, climate change, environmental losses, and general societal dysfunction are not insignificant.

    Fortunately, we have the tools to stop, listen to what's going on in our unconscious thoughts, and engage in a renewed practice of mindfulness and self-care. I would start by going back to some of the most basic exercise of writing a list of concerns. Just get it out on paper and see what you've got.

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