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This changed everything for me. If you are in pain, pls read:

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by avik, Nov 28, 2015.

  1. avik

    avik Well known member

    Hello all-

    I think I may have discovered a correlation that (I hope) will bring people some relief from their pain. Granted many of you have already figured this out. At a minimum I hope it will provide you with a better understanding of how we/you “respond” to TMS.

    Let me preface this by saying, I owe A LOT to many of the contributors on this forum (specifically those who run it and many of the book authors who contribute to it-you know who you are). You had mentioned this very thing to me a year or two ago and I simply wasn’t “hearing you”. Ultimately the catalyst for my present understanding was this “description” that I read in a book, that when compounded with the info that many of you had already provided for me…well, it struck me pretty hard and I had my “AH-HA” moment.

    Let me explain:

    About 6 months ago I was dealing with a short (yet very effective) bout of insomnia. Insomnia used to have its way with me for months at a time, even though I definitively knew it was yet another form of TMS. I say “used to” because I finally realized it was simply another divergence from my repressed emotions; me being mentally exhausted during the day was the perfect mechanism for not allowing me to focus on my emotions. I learned a lot about insomnia and the anxiety that causes it, by reading a very well-known book in the psych world called “Hope and Help for Your Nerves” by Dr. Claire Weekes.

    Dr. Weekes was a brilliant GP and health writer who pioneered much of what is now our present treatment (and understanding) of anxiety, via Cognitive Therapy. Mind you she wrote this book about 60 years ago.

    Ok, so what does this all have to do with pain, you ask?

    The very smart and generous people who I refer to above…who had helped me…always used to say to me: “Avik, you need to observe your pain without judgement and accept the situation.”

    Do not fight it”…is what I would repeatedly hear.

    This INFURIATED me.

    What do you mean “accept” the pain?

    How can I not fight it?

    What am I supposed to do then…just sit here in misery?!
    I was annoyed, to say the least. I could not wrap my head around accepting anything, let alone this horrible life of pain.

    Well…unfortunately for me…I wasn’t listening to what people were telling me. I was too busy fighting them and being my usual stubborn, TYPE A self.

    So, Dr. Weekes’ book did wonders for me years back so I picked it up again about 6 months ago for a refresher course on anxiety, in the hopes it would help me with this new bout of insomnia.

    Dr. Weeks talks about how when you are in bed tossing and turning and you begin to feel anxiety (whether it be related to some specific fear in your life or more commonly, just plainly fearing the inability to sleep and function) you are “terrified because your body is in a sensitized state…shooting off exaggerated responses”.

    Ok, this definitely made sense to me…

    She goes on to say that when you feel the panic coming on (and I quote directly from her book in Chapter 20):

    Relax to the best of your ability, then examine the feeling of panic and prepare to let it sweep over you. Relax and go with it. Do not shrink from it or try to control it”.

    This hit me like a ton of bricks.
    This is exactly what I wasn’t doing.
    Dr Weekes was dealing with Anxiety, the way I should be dealing with my pain.

    When any one of the myriad of TMS-related-pains would suddenly come on, I would fight... I would scream at it...I would do essentially anything other than accept the situation I was in.
    I would try to control the situation and push it away.

    This is (according to Weekes), the way that most people deal with anxiety (which includes me). Our natural response to anything fear based is Fight or Flight.
    When I get anxious, I force myself to calm down which in essence, is me trying to quell or push down the fear.

    Now this does occasionally work for me (for both anxiety and pain), but it never lasts. I found the pain would come back soon thereafter. It was a short term fix.

    I finally drew this correlation between what all of these very smart and progressive, TMS-experienced people were telling me for years, with what Dr Weekes wrote in her book….let it sweep over you. Relax and go with it.

    I realized that “observing and accepting the pain” and “relaxing and letting it sweep over you”, were one and the same.

    Words simply cannot express what this realization had/has done for me. It has changed my entire perception of pain and my relationship to it. Now when pain hits me, I automatically relax my whole body and mentally accept that this is TMS trying to just do its thing. I then let it do its thing while I mentally envision the pain sweep over my entire body. Kind of like a wave of warmth. Sounds crazy because who in their right mind would want pain to sweep over their whole body…but by relinquishing my desire to control it, it just dissipates.

    Sometimes it dissipates more slowly than other times, but it ALWAYS dissipates. No matter what happens, I don’t judge it, I don’t try to control it-I just watch/observe it, let it sweep over me and I put up ZERO FIGHT.


    When you don’t fight, you are not engaged!
    And when you are not engaged in the fight, your attention cannot be diverted!
    Not allowing yourself to be pulled into the game of TMS…by not playing with it…by not allowing it to occupy your brain matter...you render the (pain/oxygen deprivation) response powerless.

    Wishing everyone a relaxing and pain-free weekend.

    Last edited: Nov 28, 2015
    Balsa11, Neil, gailnyc and 40 others like this.
  2. Misha

    Misha Peer Supporter

    That's a really great explanation, thank you :) It's so hard to 'accept' the pain when you want to change it so badly but I see what you mean about not engaging with it like Weeks talks about in reference to anxiety symptoms.
    Balsa11, Alyssa5 and laradara like this.
  3. Simplicity

    Simplicity Guest

    This is so true! Weekes advice changed everything for me; with the pain and the anxiety. Having this mindset makes a huge difference! I'm well on my way to recovery because of her book. What a life changer.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 7, 2015
  4. Rsoup

    Rsoup New Member

    I found this approach works as well, however it was much easier for me to do when I was dealing with extreme pain(9-10) and not so well with my occasional acute attacks or lower echelon pain(3-5) which just annoys me and I try to ignore it which doesn't work. not sure if it makes sense, just my experience. thanks for the post
    Balsa11 likes this.
  5. avik

    avik Well known member

    Thats really interesting Rsoup, as I had/have a similar response to these "smaller attacks".
    Ive ironically found that a combo of ignoring and accepting works best.
    Meaning, I just dial down the "letting it sweep over me and acceptance" mindset as too much of that for a small bout of pain gives it too much attention.
    I make myself cognizant of acceptance, then I quickly ignore and go back to doing what i was doing prior.
  6. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi avik,

    Thanks for this fine post, and explanation.

    My experience agrees with yours on this. To just tell myself "Of course there is a little foot pain, you are prone to TMS" relaxes me, soothes me so that I am not in the fight mode anymore, or Inner Critic mode about my condition in the moment. Then any pain usually goes away quickly. It is when I hang onto my pushing away/fixing relationship, and make myself wrong for having TMS, and experiencing some pain ---that the pain does not melt away.

    It is so natural to push away what we don't want. Anxiety, fear, pain, helplessness. I think it is also helpful to accept that we are pushing something away. Feel this, play with it. To actually "do acceptance" is a huge important piece, but eludes most of us most of the time. It might be helpful to start with "not accepting acceptance!" I always like the paradoxical theory of change, which is "don't attempt to change, and things will flow and change." Even non-acceptance!

    Andy B.
  7. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Really great explanation @avik ! Thanks for sharing it with us. Yes, acceptance is the key to TMS recovery. It also works on all the other pain, suffering, and aggravation that shows up in our life.
    Balsa11 likes this.
  8. Lexington

    Lexington Peer Supporter

    Hi Avik,
    I read this yesterday and felt that you are really onto something. Since then I've tried repeating "I accept this pain" instead of my usual mantras about strength and fitness. That didn't help much pain wise but must be positive background instead of inner critic stuff, right? I did have a couple of brief moments today where I tried to relax into it and it definitely felt different from when I tense up and resist the pain and then the panic spiral starts. I got a very small glimpse of a few seconds of how acceptance might be the key to moving on from the pain and it easing. Sadly this afternoon I had a diificult interaction with my elderly mother in law and have spent the rest of the afternoon furious and in agony. It's hard because I do have to repress to some extent it's not OK to be weeping and cursing while I'm collecting my son from school :( my therapy sessions start tomorrow thank God. I really want to explore acceptance in so many things. Thanks Avik a really great insight and one I know that I did read before and like yourself couldn't take it in. Maybe it's time, nothing is changing as things stand.
  9. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is a really wonderful exchange of postings. So much helpful sharing of pains and healing techniques. I think acceptance of pain and the the whammies life throws at us are a big part of TMS healing. I try to follow Jesus' advice, not to worry about tomorrow''s problems or anxieties,
    today's are enough. And to be positive that today's problems will pass. Live in the present moment, but keep hope alive that the best is yet to come.
    Lunarlass66 and laradara like this.
  10. avik

    avik Well known member


    I hear you.
    Keep in mind this stuff takes time.
    Be kind to yourself and allow yourself the time needed to figure this out. That in itself should alleviate some stress and subsequent pain.

    I wrote in a previous post (may be in another thread) that I think "accepting" requires the most amount of work, but provides the longest lasting effects (and potentially permanent ones). Acceptance with most things in life that we initially dont like, take time to digest.
    On the other hand, yelling at it, talking to it, ignoring all work really well, but for me never lasted.

    I find that anything that prevents me from engaging the TMS on an ongoing basis, serves me the best.
    When I talk to it or yell at it, im engaged for lengthy periods of time, which gives my TMS exactly what it wants: attention.
    On the other hand when I accept, I am basically saying "hey, I know you're here and go ahead, do what you gotta do! dont let me get in your way".
    This allows me to quickly go back to what i was doing prior (regardless of how much pain I might be in) which in effect, is me disengaging form the TMS, rendering it powerless.
    Balsa11 and Neil like this.
  11. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Well put!

    I find this summary can also be applied to the Inner Bully. This sense of awareness, then disengagement, without a need to fight or argue or justify, or obliterate.
    Balsa11 likes this.
  12. Lexington

    Lexington Peer Supporter

    Thanks Avik for your kind message i have still not cracked the being kind to self bit!!! There seems to be so much else to think about that it goes quickly by the by as I am not used to doing it. But it cheers me that you, Andy B and Walt have all found ways to do this and are so wise and caring. I am impatient today as very preoccupied with whether I should attempt a third return to work in 3 months. There is nowhere to hide in my job (I'm a teacher) so would have to stand up a lot and be on view. Currently 5 consecutive minutes of standing is very hard. I feel in the spirit of many TMS writers I should "just do it" but I'm already worried that colleagues and students think I'm losing the plot. Oh for an office job!!!! Should I stay off to new year and hope my new understanding will pay off with a bit more time? It's making me very anxious tonight. Any advice gratefully received. Thanks
  13. avik

    avik Well known member

    Theres a lot of fear associated with your situation Lexington.
    Maybe focus on what you think you are afraid of, first and foremost.
    I can confidently say that fear is at the root of all my TMS pains. All my anger, insecurities, stresses...fear, fear, fear.

    Fear is an incredibly effective divergent.
    You obviously have some fears associated with going back to work...
    Maybe you are fearful of being kinder and more patient with yourself?

    My point is-stare the fear in the face.
    Anything that you would normally do but maybe you arent doing now out of fear of some sort of TMS-related repercussion, do. And do it now.
    The longer you wait, the longer your mind is occupied with thoughts of TMS, which is exactly what it wants.
    The sooner you stare it in the face, the sooner you let TMS know that it is simply no longer effective at occupying your attention and it WILL give up.,
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2015
  14. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Lexington,
    If it was me, I would take more time off, and work your TMS program. Let the pain subside before returning to standing and the stress of teaching. I was a teacher, so I know. "No place to hide." That is just my opinion. What does your inner guidance tell you?
    Andy B.
  15. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Lexington,
    Being kind to myself has taken practice, and still I fail. Since you are turning your heart this way, you will see more, and understand what blocks you. Busy-ness is apparently one thing, or not being in the practice of "valuing what's going on with me." Even 5 minutes a day of practice builds the muscle and habit. You can sit down, sense into your body, give yourself kind messages with a timer set for 5 minutes...just attuning to your own difficulties and soothing yourself with words. It is quite doable. And takes practice.
    Andy B.
  16. Lexington

    Lexington Peer Supporter

    Hi Andy,
    Thanks for both of those messages, the 5 minute idea is a good one. I think I am going to have to stay off. I am a bit of mess and not sure I could do a whole lesson without having some sort of panic attack brought on by pain. It's scary and pain wise I'm as bad as I have been at any time in the 3 months. But at home I just think about how my career and reputation are sliding down the toilet! It seems impossible that I could be off work so long and anyone ever take me seriously again. This was to be my last school year anyhow as I am going to do a masters degree. My husband says this is a mid life crisis and my body telling me that I need to change to face the next phase of my life and I'll look back on it as a new start. I'm sure this is true but at the moment this doesn't feel like a gift, I'm really down a hole psychologically and can't wait to start my therapy tonight. I am just so scared. Thanks it really helps to know the community is out there and knows what this is like.
    juderocketqueen likes this.
  17. Maribel

    Maribel New Member

    I pay my son 50 cents when I curse so he loves it when I curse!!! :)
    brendan537 likes this.
  18. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Avik, your post is exactly what I was looking for this morning! I was so proud of myself, being off xanax and sleeping well without it for 3+ months! Last night, third time in the last week, woke up at 2 am and could not go back to sleep for 2 hours, with anxiety rising as I tossed and turned, while trying to meditate and calm down. I finally freaked out and took xanax. Boy, was that stupid! I woke up tired and zombie-like, engulfed in anxiety and ashamed of myself for giving in. Not that I didn't know that fear is the cause, not that I didn't listen to Dr. Weekes talks - it was just an instant act of surrender to my fear of insomnia that I though I had learned how to keep at bay. Thank you for telling me that I am not alone in the moment of weakness and that I do have a chance to get better next time!
  19. bennet

    bennet Peer Supporter

    I found Claire Weekes a few weeks ago-- I got an audiobook of the same book you used. It has changed everything for me, in just days. Pain still comes, but it doesn't cause me to panic any more. I basically stopped doing the recommended TMS journaling because it was keeping me too preoccupied with getting rid of my pain. I still journal and go to therapy, which is really important, but I don't view it as steps for getting rid of my pain. It's just another part of overall health. Really the self-talk I learned from Claire Weekes is the most important thing right now.
    plum and Yinlin like this.
  20. CarboNeVo

    CarboNeVo Well known member

    How's this been going for you so far?
    Boston Redsox likes this.

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