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The Inner Drill Sergeant, The 500 Pound Gorilla and The Agony Of Doubt

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by donavanf, May 21, 2017.

  1. donavanf

    donavanf Well known member

    Been having a very interesting experience with my TMS the last few weeks. Lots of changes in my personal life, at home...gf moved in, and terrible roommate moved out. In addition, my financial troubles have lessened, due to a lot more work coming my way with my career (freelance photographer). Sounds good, right? I mean, my living situation got better, my work is good, and I am exploring cohabitation with my wonderful girlfriend, who is a gem.

    Well, not so fast. Strangely, since these "good stress" things have come, my TMS went BALLISTIC. My neck, right shoulder, upper back and jaw have all been tight and often the pain has been at an 8 or 9, which it hasn't been in a long time (since finding out about TMS). The area between my shoulders feels like a brick hit it. So, to counter, I started reading a new TMS book (this is a pattern for me, when I have a flare up, I seek more information, which my TMS doc, David Schechter says, is me "intellectualizing" the feelings). The book I began reading was "Rapid Recovery From Back & Neck Pain" by Fred Amir. Nothing against the book, but after tearing through it (I forced myself to stay up and read it in two nights), and as I began to incorporate the techniques he advocates (constant repetitive and often disciplinary gestalt type dialogue with inner child, and a commitment to heal as 'fast as possible')...I began to get MUCH WORSE. I then, "switched gears" and began to "speed read" another book, Steve O's new book "Back Pain-Permanent Healing". As I began to read Steve Ozanich again (The Great Pain Deception was very close to being a 'Book Cure' for me), I began to see my TMS go from a 8 to a 4. Within a few days. Before I even finished it.

    I have come to realize two things, that I believe, are why I am not healing.

    1. I still doubt the diagnosis. Despite seeing myself on EVERY PAGE of EVERY BOOK that I EVER READ on TMS, despite one of the best TMS Docs in the country (Dr. Schechter) giving me a thorough exam (TWICE) and telling me "You have TMS, I'm sure of it, not merely 100%, but 107% and I believe you've had it since childhood", despite my pain shifting around (started in 2013 as a four month migraine, moved into TMJ so bad I had to eat shakes through a straw, then moved from neck to right shoulder, bounced between and has lived there ever since, despite ALL the personality traits, ALL the trauma one could imagine, despite EVERY SINGLE FINGER pointing to TMS...I am ashamed and afraid to admit the truth. Which is that I STILL DOUBT THE DIAGNOSIS. My newest desire is that I want to have an MRI of my shoulder and neck (Schechter told me he would run these if I want, but since I don't have great insurance, my X-Rays and physical exams were "normal" and he didn't think it was necessary to go to an MRI, he advised against it). I want there to be a physical cause. Consciously, I think it is TMS, but a TINY VOICE says, 'BUT what if it ISN'T!". In reading Ozanich (and Sarno, Schubiner, and...and...), and from the mouth of my TMS doc, I know (intellectually) that even if I have a "DISC BULGE" or a mild herniation or wear and tear on my shoulder from being a photographer, or whatever, it could not be causing this kind of pain. Yet, I imagine I have structural damage. I am a textbook Catastrophizer.

    2. I am INCREDIBLY hard on myself. My "ID" is not merely the inner child in me, who feels scared, wounded, and abandoned, but also the primal rage of years of not processing emotionally. BUT...the more I "get angry" at myself or "yell" at my TMS to stop, the worse it becomes. Clearly, I already HAVE a drill sergeant in the form of a SUPER-ego, so "commanding" the pain to stop, just makes it worse. The more I tell myself over and over, "I am ok. There is nothing wrong with my back. This pain isn't a sign I am dying. I am safe. I am loved. Etc, etc..." the BETTER I feel. Yet, there is a VICIOUS superego in my head that is constantly telling me I am not doing enough, being enough, earning enough money, loving my gf enough, being a good enough son (even though both my parents are dead), and the list goes on and on and on. I believe that this "I'm not enough" thinking is a direct reflection of the fact that no amount of information, books, practitioners, or all of the above seem to make my pain go away. Or vice-versa. The thing is, I don't know WHERE this Drill Sergeant came from. My dad was a kind, generous, gentle man, till he abandoned me. And my mother, though she was very tough in character, was very lenient, kind, sweet, and generous to a fault. Neither of my parents were anything near disciplinarians. Quite the opposite. When they left (my dad abandoned me after my mom died, then he died), my own "INNER BULLY" took shape and wreaked havoc in my life and in my body. How do I put this bully in his place, while still protecting the abandoned child within?

    I know this was a long post, and my hope is, if someone read it, maybe somehow it helped them. This forum, has, at times, literally saved my life. I would earnestly appreciate any wise council and/or thoughts on WHY my TMS seems to literally be "hanging on for dear life" to my neck and shoulders, like a tiny tot who won't ever let go of me, even just so I can catch the slightest breather. This "tiny tot" is a more like an anvil of rage. People say they have a "monkey on their back". Mine is a 500 pound Gorilla. It's crushing me. I can't out-think it, and it has me in it's grip. The grip of doubt.
    Last edited: May 21, 2017
  2. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    gf moved in, and terrible roommate moved out. In addition, my financial troubles have lessened, due to a lot more work coming my way with my career (freelance photographer).

    I am not doing enough, being enough, earning enough money, loving my gf enough, being a good enough son (even though both my parents are dead)

    When they left (my dad abandoned me after my mom died, then he died)

    So what then? Even if the MRI or PET scan or whatever new diagnostic tool finds something? That doesn't mean dirt... it means that what were once normal changes in peoples bodies can now be seen.... and mistakenly attributed through voodoo medicine and shaky logic to be the 'cause' of the symptom you are there to complain about. And then you can go chase your tail on that one for another year....

    Everybody I've read on this forum who isn't getting better has some new 'special' diagnosis and "doesn't deny TMS but has an oversensitive, special snowflake, unique syndrome....blah,blah,blah"...which means they don't believe that THEY have TMS but they appreciate it intellectually.

    Sarno wrote that when people say they are having trouble accepting the diagnosis he thinks they are really afraid of what's inside...

    All of us have had to struggle with doubt at some point... just make sure the struggle ends up with you WINNING. You have a lot of issues there, but nothing more than the average TMSer. I don't want to measure weenies, but there is nothing in your personal history that unusual... your ego/adult mind just hasn't had enough yet.

    Unstable income, having to be responsible for another person (the GF) and your personal history are all Tms-makers. It's inside... stop reading and maybe start looking. I got the directions to recover from Sarno....the work is gonna happen alone. And there is work.

  3. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Oh yeah...and you live in LA... the most RAGE inducing place I can think of aside from NYC.... I am surprised everyone in LA doesn't have back pain!!
    Roxygirl577, Tennis Tom and donavanf like this.
  4. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    Can you explain the circumstances surrounding that. Abandonment is a big TMS trigger.
  5. Boston Redsox

    Boston Redsox Well Known Member

    Hey feel your pain ....of late my daughter moving in my ex going back and fourth from my place bringing daughter belonging and furniture i wanted ..

    Suppose to start new job in a few weeks all over a sudden increase pain now in back and can't walk well anymore was just swimming and jogging a few weeks ago ..Scared shit can't move , walk in constant pain ...all day . Swallowing Xanax like there candy Dr said no more switching med asap started antidepressant feel like i am having a nervous breakdown ...I was in so much pain last night I BEG GOD TO TAKE ME..that's how bad it's getting suppose to go see my tms Dr today but can't walked....SYSTEM IMPERATIVE ? Or what! NOT GOOD
  6. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    See your doctor TODAY!
    donavanf likes this.
  7. Boston Redsox

    Boston Redsox Well Known Member

    I am this afternoon ....can't walk ...
    donavanf and Tennis Tom like this.
  8. Duggit

    Duggit Well known member

    Donavan, I want to comment on what I see as your perfectionism manifesting as constant self-attack.

    Sarno regarded perfectionism as a personality trait that one cannot do much about. As you probably know, Sarno referred his relatively few patients who failed to make progress for psychotherapy. His chief psychologist, Arlene Feinblatt, and other psychologists she trained for Sarno practiced a branch of analytic psychotherapy called ISTDP (Intensive Short Term Dynamic psychotherapy). This is unlike both nonanalytic psychotherapy (such as cognitive behavioral therapy) and Freudian analytic therapy. Feinblatt wrote in The Divided Mind: "Because our therapeutic methods are deliberately challenging, patients who have already had experience in psychotherapy with other mental health professionals have to adjust to the more rigorous character of our program."

    ISTDP regards perfectionism as a coping mechanism that served a useful purpose in childhood when it was learned and repeated habitually. By such repetition, it became a reflex that continues into adulthood. More importantly, ISTDP regards perfectionism as something that is changeable in adulthood. I urge you to read the following about perfectionism written by ISTDP therapist Jon Frederickson (he wrote it for another therapist, but given your familiarity with Freudian structural theory I recommend it to you): http://istdpinstitute.com/2013/perfectionism/
    donavanf and Tennis Tom like this.
  9. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    Agree that PERFECTIONISM is hard to change. But with a little effort or a lot one can deconditon themselves from the automatic impulse to be perfect--preferably with just a little effort--as little as possible. Just practice f'ing up and learning to enjoy it. Make mistakes and learn to enjoy them--they are experiences to learn from, not to get frustrated by and feel like a failure. Practice f'ing up today--most of the world is just one big f'up anyway, why not join the party? If you really want to do something perfectly, wait for something important that you can monetize.
    donavanf likes this.
  10. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Great feedback on perfectionism above. I'll add this: The child develops his or her own strategies to deal with the environment, and these may seem to not be linear with the character or behavior of the parents. Part of this is explained in the Enneagram system, which names the "perfectionist," as the Type One. This type, of the nine types, has the most active and vicious superego. In this theory of personality, the types we are is an imprint at birth, not based on upbringing.

    I am saying this because for we Ones, there is a tendency to reject our superego, and make ourselves wrong for this painful, persistent structure. By knowing this Enneagram system (and the goodist is type Two), this may help us simply accept the conditions we live with day-to-day. We are not to blame for the superego. We can drop the attacks which "make ourselves wrong for making ourselves wrong." A kinder approach is to simply see the superego activity, understand the inner conflicts and pressures it creates, connect this to Dr. Sarno's work, touch the root of the problem, and thereby disarm the TMS cycle through understanding.

    This was one of the key pieces in my recovery from TMS. I simply acknowledged the superego activity as a "cause of pain," aligning with Dr. Sarno's theory.

    Ones believe that being strict with themselves (and eventually becoming “perfect”) will justify them in their own eyes and in the eyes of others.

    https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-1 (Type One)
    Last edited: May 22, 2017
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  11. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    For a personality with an very active superego, there is also the background anxiety which is often there, an amorphous dread about being "wrong." This undifferentiated anxiety also leads to uncertainty and doubt, which you address too Donavan.
    donavanf likes this.
  12. donavanf

    donavanf Well known member

    Boston Redsox, I'm glad you are seeing a doc! I am on several medications (a low dose SSRI- Zoloft) and a low dose Benzo (Klonipin). I am VERY sensitive to meds, and I know that you CANNOT be your own doc when it comes to drugs, ESPECIALLY ones that affect brain chemistry. If I even shift or skip either of my meds in the tiniest ways, I go bananas. Please, Boston Redsox, let your doc (hopefully a Psychiatrist, who understands the medicines well) adjust your doses, and if necessary, wean you down or off gently. You should be very careful with Xanax, it has a short half-life, and "wears off" quickly, which is why it can be very addictive and create paradoxical increase in anxiety. I know from first hand experience with it. It also sounds like you are being hard on yourself. A LOT of stress is going on in your life. Be easy and good to yourself. Hope you have a good doctor visit and you feel better!
    Boston Redsox likes this.
  13. donavanf

    donavanf Well known member

    Thank you for that link! I have a background in psychotherapy, both as a student in graduate school and a longtime patient. I just reached out to Alan Gordon here in LA, for seeing someone there. I know that ISTDP would help me. GREAT article. I will read it more than once.
  14. donavanf

    donavanf Well known member

    Tennis Tom, this is such a deep subject that I thought about sending a private message, but I will try to be concise, transparent and real, and leave it here. First, who I lost. My parents. My parents were no "ordinary" parents, they were superhuman to me. They were incredible. They were my heroes. Talk about a projected sense of perfectionism, my father was a millionaire before he was 21, won 21 Clio awards (the Academy Award of advertising), 2 Emmy's, an honorary Academy award (in memorium) and has a star on Hollywood's walk of fame. I am the son of a legend. From a young age I knew that I was "his son" and NOTHING I EVER DID could fill his shoes, even if he told me again and again (which he did) that I was brilliant and a good son. My MOTHER was her own piece of work, a perfectionist to the core, a Hollywood producer, and the woman who helped launch not only my father's career, but Frank Sinatra's, and pretty much, the entire Rat Pack. My parents were Hollywood royalty, and I, the young prince, born into total mayhem. At 29, my mother died a protracted death of cancer, after attempting suicide (I found her and saved her life). My father, shortly thereafter, unraveled completely. My mother was my father's producer, and wife of over 40 years. When she went, he "went" and literally left me and my sister and his granddaughter, marrying a younger woman who told us we would "never see him again as long as we lived". Unfortunately, she was correct. After seeing my dad every day of my life, I spent the last 15 years of his life, completely unable to talk to him or see him. Not to be grim, but it goes much deeper and worse. She turned out to be mentally ill, and elder abusing my dad (covertly, in ways that involved taking all his money and leaving him penniless when he died). She also dug up my mother's grave and sold the plot, and I found out by accident, as I went to leave flowers on my mom's grave for her birthday, only to find a mound of dirt, her grave marker in a dumpster. I wish I was making this up. She made Kathy Bate's character in Stephen King's "Misery" look like Mrs. Doubtfire. At least I still have my sense of humor, inherited from the funniest, kindest man I ever knew. Till he wasn't. So, yeah. Abandonment. Total, complete, abandonment. I lost both my parents within a span of a year. In 2013, the inner suppressed sorrow broke out into complete TMS. With work, I basically put my TMS into "remission", but it "came back" in 2015, when I was in a car accident, the day after my father's death and I had to forgo my own grief processing, in order to put on a "brave face" for the public, as every media organization from CNN to Newsweek called me as the "next of kin". I don't know how to be mad at my dad, or mom, I just know that the fact that I have unrelenting neck and shoulder pain is a direct result of the burden of being the son of celebrity, and the bearer of untold sadness, and anger. I am "shouldering" a burden I cannot seem to let go.
  15. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    Wow, just wow! I can see that if your mother managed your dad's business affairs, he would become lost without her taking care him. I believe Robin William's recent suicide was due to his financial problems.
    Your story is amazing, it could be a movie. Have you ever thought of that? Maybe getting it out would be a catharsis for your TMS. It could also be a lesson in elder abuse and life in Hollywood.

    You are brave to tell it,
    donavanf likes this.
  16. donavanf

    donavanf Well known member

    Andy, this is interesting. I have always fancied myself a type 9 on the enneagram, with shades of two and one. Now, I see, I am much more of a one than I had thought. It reminds me of how, as I aged into my forties, my longstanding ENFP personality in Myers Briggs, became more of an INFP, or even an INFJ.
  17. Boston Redsox

    Boston Redsox Well Known Member

    Thx D

    Dr put me on 20mg of Paxil and 1
    Mg of klonpin for a month till Paxil kickin ...my tms Dr said my system is in overload and need to calm down.

    He said I am way beyond deep breath stage even though he said it would help.

    Yes I am going threw a lot and it as taken its toll. I just need to make piece with myself my ex and my brother
    Tennis Tom likes this.

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