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the trouble with my thoughts

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Leslie, Feb 4, 2013.

  1. Leslie

    Leslie Well known member

    The trouble with my thoughts is that I can't seem to recognize them. I read all these wonderful posts, books, and articles. The authors all seem so enlightened and empowered to me. The only thought I seem to be able to recognize for myself is "why can't I think". I read a Byron Katie book recently so the legalist in me jumps right on that one with a judgment of that thought as "stupid". That is not reality Leslie, you're still alive so clearly your brain is still functioning, clearly the capacity to think does exist within. I guess the real trouble is that I can't recognize my thoughts, and without that recognition I cannot make connections between them and my emotions and/or my pain. I feel as though I'm rambling here so perhaps an example will help.

    Today I went to get my hair cut. I recognized my anxiety was on the rise as I was driving to the salon. During the hair service the anxiety changed levels multiple times, as did my pain level. So I tried to go inside and focus on my thoughts, try to figure out where it was coming from. What I ended up with was a bunch more thoughts. So now I was having thoughts about thoughts" like 'maybe I was thinking _____' or ' possibly I'm thinking _____'. I was making suggestions to myself about what the thoughts could be - like I was trying to provide a third-person assist. I could not concretely know what any of my thoughts were or confirm or deny any of the suggestions I made to myself. This seems ridiculous to me...shouldn't I know what I'm thinking? The past few days I feel like I'm chasing my tail with all of this, working like mad to catch it, having no realization that it is part of me, rarely succeeding, and being completely overwhelmed and surprised by the pain when I do succeed and realize I've just sunk my teeth into myself. (apologies for the analogy - I have a cat who seems to be spending much time lately doing this same activity).

    I've been journaling quite a bit. So much so in the past 36 hours that my hand feels like it could fall off and my finger is sore where the pen rests. It doesn't seem to be getting me anywhere. I cannot make any connections. The only realizations I'm making with my journaling is that I write way more questions than anything else, and I don't seem to have the foggiest of ideas about the answers to any of them. I didn't have a "book cure", I'm already on day 34 of the SEP and still in pain so a "SEP cure" seems unlikely to me at this point. Admittedly I am discouraged and the perfectionist in me is relentless in telling me that failure here is NOT an option - MY BRAIN is generating MY PAIN - I am ME - there is ABSOLUTELY NO acceptable reason why I cannot control this perfectly. It's infuriating and exhausting.
  2. gailnyc

    gailnyc Well known member

    Leslie, I think you have to get rid of the idea that you can control the schedule by which you become pain free. You just have to let it go. If you've read the books you know that for some people it can take months and months. Also, I think that holding yourself to a time schedule just puts more stress on you. Learn to be patient.

    Are you by any chance talking to a therapist? Maybe just journaling by yourself isn't going to cut it, if you're having so much trouble making connections.
  3. Leslie

    Leslie Well known member

    Hi Gail
    What you're saying makes sense to me on an intellectual level but there must be some part of the message that isn't getting all the way through. What you are telling me here is basically the same advice I gave to someone else recently. Last night my husband and I were speaking about my progress and I even told him that I know there were many years involved in creating the pain so I don't expect it to go away overnight - even though I truly wish it would (and I did say that last part to him as well). Seems I intellectually know all the right things to be saying and doing but there is a disconnect with the application to myself.

    I have come to realize that I have strongly held feelings of inferiority and unworthiness. Those feelings result in very strong (sometimes overwhelming/paralizing feelings of guilt when I "care" about myself. I believe I can inflict mental (and often physical) anguish on myself beyond anything any other human ever could.

    I am not talking to a therapist currently. I have been in therapy at other points in my life for anxiety/depression related issues but not for physical pain. Consideration of therapy is where the reality of circumstances and my feelings of inferiority and unworthiness join forces. I had one appointment with a therapist in early December - before I found this wonderful wiki and all the great books that have been recommended here. Therapists in my area range from about $120 - $200/hr and the vast majority of them are cognitive/behavioral types. The one I saw was a psychoanalyst. He seemed quite confidant that I could be helped but he was very candid about the expense and its affect on the stress and pressure in my already suffering life. The reality presented to me here was $180/hr - out of pocket, minimum of once a week hourly appt's for an extended period of time. We have a high deductible health plan so the first $5600.00 is coming out of pocket before the insurance would kick in. Financially I am not in a position to support this treatment. My husband and I have taken a hard look at our finances, as it stands right now there is much planning, discipline, and prioritizing required to keep our noses just a hair above the water and a slight change in the current could cause a drowning. I work as a part-time nanny and my employer recently started maternity leave so my hours will be significantly reduced for the next few months. I am looking for additional income opportunities but options that wouldn't make me completely miserable and add to the vicious tension/pain cycle seem to be few and far between here.

    The very thought of my husband having to make additional sacrifices to free up the money for me to have therapy brings on crushing waves of guilt (we're not talking things like less shopping or dinners out here - we're talking colder, darker house type sacrifices as the others were already made when I had to stop working in Dec 2011 due to the pain). I can't get myself to move past my feelings of unworthiness here. It seems quite logical to me that my feelings of being inferior and unworthy cause me to believe that I am deserving of pain and suffering - which is probably prolonging and worsening the pain. As logical as it seems to me, I have been completely unsuccessful in my attempts to alter, negate, or even just come to terms with the feelings.
  4. Layne

    Layne Well known member

    Haha I smiled when you started talking about "thinking about thinking..." I do that ALL the time. I think it got really bad when I started heavily studying philosophy. :)

    When I hear the voice, it has helped me to realize that you are not your brain. You are not your body. You are not the thoughts. You are the awareness of these things.

    I am inspired to tell you about two books: The Untethered Soul by Micheal Singer and You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. I haven't read Untethered Soul yet, and I just started listening to YCHYL but if you read the first few pages (of Soul) on Amazon, you'll see that the author is talking about the voice. I can't wait to read it.

    I used to feel guilty for being good to myself, too. It's a terrible tug of war knowing that I need to be good to myself and thinking I don't deserve it. But honestly, the affirmations help. Start trying to love yourself and accept yourself. The accepting part is really hard for me right now but it's getting easier. And instead of saying "I completely accept myself," because that may not feel true yet, try "I am learning to completely accept myself" and see if that feels more true and work your way up. :)
  5. honeybear424

    honeybear424 Well known member

    Yes! I was just going to say the same thing. You are not your thoughts! You are the one who sees! :)

    Layne, The Untethered Soul is an amazing book. I read it over the summer. And Louise Hay's book. I read it for the first time back in 1988, and have read it several more times over the years. I also have the movie.

    Leslie, this healing business takes time. I found Dr. Sarno's books a year ago and still am not pain free. BUT...I see the connection between my emotions and my pain more so now than ever, and am just now starting to be able to affect it with self-talk, journaling, and most recently, tapping (there is a science behind this strange thing). Hang in there...and remember to be compassionate to yourself every step of the way.
    Layne likes this.
  6. Layne

    Layne Well known member

    Honeybear - look at fasterEFT on youtube. I really think there's something to it, I just haven't stuck with it long enough to affect any change.
  7. Ollin

    Ollin Peer Supporter

    Yes, I've been using EFT since last April quite regularly, and many times it helped me settle down my anxiety episodes (and I have plenty of these). I tried fasterEFT, but prefer to use the traditional one (after having pain for years I don't feel a need to rush anything). In a nutshell for those who don't know: The first part of a 'tapping session', which BTW everyone can learn quickly to do on themselves, consists of accepting oneself despite the problem one wants to work on. And it is really flexible with how you formulate this statement, as most people have difficulty saying "I deeply and completely love and accept myself". And then you focus on the emotion or an upsetting event and tap on your meridian points while allowing yourself to vent and freely express all your feelings and doubts for as long as you need. Then when you feel the level of distress somewhat decreased you tap in positive affirmations - pre-prepared affirmations or by allowing them to emerge spontaneously. So I use it as a form of journaling, because I'm not a writing type.

    The modern theory of how EFT works is amygdala desensitization - while focusing on a distressing issue, the tapping sends a healing message to the brain and this way the link between the issue and the physiological response to it (cortisol rise, feeling stress) is dissolved.
    There are many claims about EFT healing chronic pain, which is very consistent with mind-body medicine in that it addresses emotional events which have been 'frozen' in the body and the goal is to free up the built up 'energy'.

    It is amazing for me to quickly settle an emotion but with certain issues the peace doesn't last long. I couldn't yet heal my deep long-standing conflict. I think with the help of EFT I finally zeroed in on THE ISSUE, over 2 years after discovering TMS and Sarno, but now I see how this problem has caused my TMS symptoms (because I could never find a way to overcome the problem, which is quite circular, so I always 'buried it' by telling myself that things are 'not that bad' and moving on). It's really hard to heal my life back to early childhood - I think I will need to work on this with a therapist, at least to the point of it not crushing my self-esteem in most areas of my life. But still, even temporary pain relief is good: I can sit on my lounge, focus on the pain and tap to lower down my distress level about the pain itself, and the pain usually goes down.
  8. honeybear424

    honeybear424 Well known member

    Layne ~ I have seen some fasterEFT stuff on YouTube. The testimonials about people using it to heal from Fibromyalgia were sure encouraging. I'm not planning on finding an EFT therapist, though. I am using this myself as another tool, in addition to my daily journaling.

    Ollin ~ I agree with you in that it is a form of journaling, only you don't need pen and paper. As I tap on the meridian points, stuff comes out of my mouth without my censoring anything whatsoever. It's sort of like telling a little story that helps to get you to the source of the pain or feeling. I think Tapping complements TMS work perfectly.

    I was first introduced to Tapping a couple of years ago when I took my daughter to a therapist for her anxiety. I attempted it, but thought it was too bizarre and didn't understand the science behind it, so I cast it aside. But 10 days ago, my TMS therapist mentioned it during our Skype session, and I immediately started researching it. Like I said, it runs right in line with Dr. Sarno's repressed emotions causing pain, and it seems to be a fantastic way to work through my issues. I have already had some successes with it...enough to keep me tapping!
  9. Stella

    Stella Well known member

    Hi Leslie,
    You are trying so hard to make this work for you. One thing I wonder about is the role your husband plays in all this. I know the wiki suggests talking to your spouse or another important person about your experience. But you have been talking to your husband about this for a long time.

    I wonder if your perfectionism and people pleasing traits are really kicking in with your interaction with him. You want so badly to make him happy. If you know he is going to be asking you "how are things going? Do you feel anything yet?" is this putting even more pressure on you to perform. Maybe take a break from discussing this topic with him for awhile. You are pushing yourself so hard to make it happen.

    I can relate to every single comment you make about the financial pressures. You just don't need to add anything else to your emotionally stress. You are always so very articulate about expressing yourself. It could not have been better said.

    I believe you are much more aware of the mind/body connection then you realize. You just put so much pressure on yourself. As said, be very kind and loving to yourself. The meditation works wonders for me in helping with the anxiety and I also walk everyday as an additional way to deal with anxiety because I have so much of it and both help with the pain.

    Thinking of you.... Sandy
  10. Leslie

    Leslie Well known member

    Sandy -You brought tears to my eyes when I read your response. Thank you for your kind words.

    You are all so very right. It's totally amazing to me that people I have never met in person can see all the pressure I'm putting on myself far better than I can see it. I was actually thinking quite a bit about personality traits today. There is no doubt I'm a perfectionist - I recognized that a few years ago (before I was in pain) when a manager told me she had never known anyone as hard on themselves as I was. She actually told me she was a wreck if she had to bring an error to my attention because she had no doubt that the punishment I was going to inflict on myself was going to be far worse than anything she might have to do (which was usually just make me aware of it).

    I never thought of myself as a people-pleaser before I found this website. I actually had myself (and apparently lots of people close to me) convinced that I didn't care what anyone thought. Boy was I wrong. It seems that the reality is that I care what everyone thinks but for some reason don't want any of them to know it.

    I have learned that I have a REALLY hard time being kind and loving to myself. Truth be told, I'm coming to realize I have absolutely no clue how to do it. The "self-care" days of the SEP have been some of the hardest instructions I've had to follow. I started to tell myself I just need to try harder to care about myself - then I caught myself (actually recognized the extra pressure I was adding for the very first time).

    Wow, I knew I was a perfectionist with my last job, but I had NO IDEA how deep it ran
    Thank you all so very much for all of your insight. I am truly grateful!
  11. honeybear424

    honeybear424 Well known member

    Leslie, there is a great book by Kristin Neff called Self-Compassion. Very helpful! Also good is The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion by Christopher Germer.
    veronica73 likes this.
  12. Irish

    Irish New Member

    I am glad you mentioned those books, I just got them and am trying to be hopeful that they will help. I know I have had TMS for at least the past two years, but have had very little relief in my pain.
  13. Leslie

    Leslie Well known member

    Thanks for the suggestions, I'll add them to my library list!
  14. Dear Lianne

    Dear Lianne Peer Supporter

    Hi Leslie,
    I am sorry that you've been in so much pain despite your awareness of TMS. I think there have been some great pieces of advice here. I can also see that finances are really tough for you and are central in your thoughts. I might even make a guess that perhaps the tough finances are causing the tension of TMS? I think a few others alluded to this here as well.

    I have an expertise that perhaps can be of assistance to you. I am a professionally certified handwriting analyst. My web site is www.DearLianne.com I tell you this because I have TMS and am nearly free of pain. I do have setbacks and I simply tell my brain that I know what it's doing when the pain begins. I still have TMJ (Jaw pain syndrome) and Dr. Sarno hypothesizes that he believes TMJ is part of the TMS process; I agree, so that's why I know I still have some work to do. I posted a few days ago the story of my TMS and how I can help others with this illness. With handwriting analysis I can literally see what your mind is repressing - it's interpreted in your handwritten notes. I've helped myself with this skill set because as we all know TMS is a disease of emotional repression whereby our subconscious mind distracts us from threatening emotional feelings by causing back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, etc. We therefore are focussing on the body and are being "protected" by the mind - or so this is what the mind "thinks" by creating the pain.

    The reason that we cannot figure out what thoughts are creating the pain is because we are using our conscious mind to try to understand the subconscious mind. It would be like telling the fish to understand water. Our handwriting shows both conscious and subconscious beliefs held by its author.

    Leslie, I am not just looking to promote my expertise here. My costs are moderate and I truly believe I could be of assistance to you. You seem so frustrated that I can't help but think that the emotion of frustration is feeding the subconscious mind with more reason to distract you with more pain. Your husband is probably exasperated, too. My husband has dealt with my back pain episodes for years. He has been a sweetheart. However there does come a point where loved ones cannot understand the intensity of the pain and the terrible fear that the pain will return. It's the fear that makes it so infuriating and the anger you feel toward yourself makes it a vicious cycle. Like others here say, "Love Yourself." I also have found it important to "Forgive Myself" for the pain I caused myself all of these 20 past years, on and off. I think "forgiving yourself" of TMS is critical to your success in healing. Read my website and let me know if you have an interest. Tell me that you came from the TMS wiki. Maybe we could work something out to help you.

    I wish you the best.
  15. Dear Lianne

    Dear Lianne Peer Supporter

    Hi Leslie,
    I received your email just now - glad you liked my website. I am sorry to hear about today's latest setback. Contact me through my website and I will give you a free handwriting analysis assessment of your handwriting if you desire this to be done. No pressure. Just send me a pdf of your handwriting. You can reach me by sending an email with an attachment of your handwriting to: WriteLianne@gmail.com. I am doing a free analysis for you because I feel it's the right thing to do :) One of my brothers is out of work and he doesn't have money for gas for his home; they're without hot water and a working oven and they're in the middle of this snowstorm.

    If I don't respond to you right away, please know that it could be because I am in the middle of this blizzard and the lights are flickering as I type; I think we may lose electricity from this blizzard. All is well, however. We have a gas fireplace that can override the electricity with battery powered thermostats.

    You don't have to send me your signature if you'd rather not. I realize that people are wary of that, and for good reason.

    Hope this gift of a free handwriting analysis lifts your spirits.



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