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Throat/voice Pain related to an action, going round in circles!

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by thecomputer, Aug 31, 2019.

  1. thecomputer

    thecomputer Well known member


    It's been a long time since I posted here. I got a lot of support from this forum 2 years ago when I found it, but then realised I was obsessing and tried to let go of reading TMS books or thinking about pain. It didn't work unfortunately. I'll try and give a brief history...

    - 3.5 years ago suddenly couldn't use my voice without pain, burning, aching, dryness, voice breaking up
    - Was almost completely silent for months, saw endless doctors, had a tonsillectomy
    - I have redness and irritation on my throat wall (doctors say its unrelated!?)
    - Found John Sarnos book and had some relief but only for a few days, have followed TMS ever since without any real progress... I have the quintessential TMS personality.
    - Saw 13 ENT doctors and specialists, voice therapists, singing teachers, massage, Chiro, diets for reflux, drugs, operations, etc. etc.
    - Got extremely isolated, lonely, depressed and suicidal. Without being able to talk or sing life feels very meaningless. Friends became distant, could not sustain relationship with partner without my voice. So now I feel very alone.
    - I went to Italy for months, spending all my time alone apart from an hour or two a day with these classical singing teachers who have helped me more than anyone. Not with pain, but with voice production.
    - Having felt suicidal earlier this year I decided to go to Peru for a month to do an intensive Ayahuasca retreat. I was very hopeful for at least some change if it was indeed TMS, and the people who ran the place knew about Sarno and had healed too. So they were confident. But no change.
    - Now I'm feeling incredibly lost again, and extremely confused. I've done everything I can to do with TMS, and rarely seen any change apart from when I first read Sarnos Book.

    Two things cause me endless confusion... firstly the irritation I see in my throat where I feel the pain. Of course maybe this could be TMS too, like a flare up or over active immune system, or maybe it is unrelated?

    But the second thing is just how consistent the pain is with voice use. If I am silent for days, I can live basically pain free, and mentally I feel reasonably strong and stable (apart from the depressing fact of living like this), but in the moments I forget, when I am busy or travelling and the pain isn't present I can feel good.

    When I talk the pain builds, I feel it as soon as I start, like something grating on my throat, and it gets worse. There is also a delayed effect and I can feel much worse afterwards. If I end up speaking for an hour or so, then I can spend all day in pain, waking up through the night, and it can take 24 to 48 hours to recover. In those 48 hours, it feels so sensitive and tight, like now, and even a word or two feels like it can trigger extreme pain and tension. The only way to recover is time and a night or twos good sleep. These are the hardest times, of having to hide away alone waiting to recover, only to do it all over again.

    I know my condition is a bit rarer than many TMS ones, like back pain. But do other people have anything similar? Do you only get pain when performing an action, and is it very consistent, and does it continue to hurt for days and you must recover, and in that recovery time do you feel any slight action could make it 'flare up' again? Because I get the impression most TMS pain is more random and mysterious.

    I guess I can't help but think if it's only happening when I use my voice, surely I can use my voice differently. But I've been practising for years now with the best teachers available, doing the most basic exercises around breathing and humming, but I never seem to get very far. Or could it be that TMS is making it so no matter what I try, and how much I practise, that it will cause pain and tightness in those muscles every time I speak?

    God, listening to myself now I feel like I'm going back over the same questions I was asking years ago, such confusion. I want to 100% believe in the TMS diagnosis, it's all I have to go on. I've tried pushing myself, speaking without any regard to pain, for weeks I tried and I just ended up in bed for 10 hours every day and in agony constantly! I've journaled, seen and spoken to TMS therapists.

    I'd be interested to know if anyone relates, or if any TMS gurus can recognise what I'm describing or the way I'm talking as classic TMS behaviour and thinking.

    Last edited: Aug 31, 2019
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi TC, and I'm sorry you're still struggling.

    I guess I have to ask how committed were you, to really doing the emotional work? You mention journaling just once, but you don't mention actually having committed to doing one of the programs all the way through. What is your brain still hiding from your conscious awareness? I know that MY brain is really really good at convincing me that I don't need to look at certain things - it's like a whole other voice in my head saying "oh, no, you don't need to think about that - that's not important". Or, perhaps "that's too embarassing, and it really doesn't matter anyway, you can think of something else".

    Here are some things that were turning points for me:

    When I did the SEP, I had to force myself to write certain things down as they popped into my head, because my brain was trying to convince me that I could skip them. I didn't, and it was healthy and helpful to write them down, and face them. They weren't earth-shattering (although for some people, it's possible that they could be). But they were old icky things that my brain had been repressing for decades. It was very freeing to see them, accept them, and let them go.

    By listening to programs about self-acceptance and self-love, I learned to soften and open my heart to my need to be nurtured. Again, by honestly doing the writing exercises without "editing", I discovered that as a small child, I felt very isolated and awkward, and that I missed being nurtured by my mother, who by then had two more children (and another yet to come). By acknowledging that, I could reconcile it with the fact that this is part of growing up, and integrate it into the fact that I actually had an excellent childhood and a loving family - but now, when I really need to, I can go back to that time when I was my mother's only child, and feel her attention and love. This was also a freeing experience, but it wasn't easy for me to open myself up to it, because I see myself as being very self-reliant and very pragmatic! It's good to open and to soften and to allow yourself to experience real emotion.

    I got a LOT of value from just learning about a practice called Existential Psychotherapy, in which every emotion that we experience can be explained by our relationship to the four "core" human issues, which are: Isolation(or Abandonment), Freedom, Meaning, and Mortality. For example, the year that I experienced two very tragic (and unrelated) personal losses, it was not too hard (thanks to my TMS knowledge) to see that my own mortality was certainly an issue - but it wasn't until I realized that I was experiencing abandonment, by the two people who died, that I actually felt that my grief was truly explained. Without my TMS knowledge, these emotions would have been buried by my fearful primitive brain, as being too dangerous for me to wallow in. Fortunately, I was able to cope much better by acknowledging and accepting them. And I have used the EP concept many times since then, as it is surprisingly applicable to so many experiences which generate strong emotions and fear. I can even apply it to my emotions about current world affairs - think about it! (but to yourself, not on this forum please :)

    Some specific resources:

    An audio program called "Meditations to Change Your Brain" was immensely helpful in understanding how our brains are wired to be constantly fearful and on edge, and how to train ourselves to hear the fear messages, and turn them around.

    "The Meaning Of Truth" by @Nicole J. Sachs LCSW along with her podcasts, videos, and program.

    The latest episode of The Mind And Fitness Podcast, with Eddy Lindenstein (aka @LindenSwole ) in which he interviews Dr. Schubiner, who answers a lot of questions that people have about the subtle ways in which the TMS mechanism can start out as emotional repression, but over time can also become a "learned" response - I'm not explaining it well, so I advise just listening to it, it's really great.

    Finally, in order to accept the TMS diagnosis, which is what you are attempting to do by posting on our TMS forum, I advise that you get in the habit of describing your symptoms in the shortest, most generic way possible, and accept the fact that the long list of tedious details are completely irrelevant in TMS. Also, on this forum, you need to stop asking others if they have experienced something similar. By doing this, you are succumbing to the trap of "reassurance-seeking" which means that you are still looking for an answer outside of yourself. This is your brain, sabotaging you and keeping you stuck. You are not in control right now - so the question is, when are you going to be ready to take control?

    Good luck, @thecomputer !
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2019
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  3. thecomputer

    thecomputer Well known member


    Thanks for the long and thoughtful reply. I also like that you are quite firm, thats always good for me and not enough people just say 'stop doing that!'.

    I have done the SEP, and the two Alan Gordon programs twice. I have journaled every day for years, and gone in to every event that I can remember, without holding back. I have had a lot of therapy in my life, lived in a mindful community for years with therapy and group work. I feel that I always wanted to meet my issues head on, and did not avoid them. Saying that I am the exact TMS personality! I think I've read and reread every book on TMS, I will check out that Podcast though. I will also look into EP more.

    Also doing the Ayahuasca in Peru recently is being forced to deal and face your deepest darkest stuff, and its incredibly intense and scary. I think the fact that doing that provided no real change has left me questioning again, as I did deal with a lot a emotional stuff on that retreat, but my voice remains unchanged.

    Your final paragraph, I fully understand that what I am doing by being stuck on my symptoms and asking about others experience is not the way to deal with TMS. And what I'm saying right now may just be more of the same. I just can't help but wonder if my issue is now habitual and mechanical, one of co ordination. Maybe it doesn't matter, but many TMS people have said you shouldn't do vocal exercises or see voice teachers because you are focussing on the physical. But I have had more (slight) progress from working on my voice than from TMS work. It just seems possible to me that years and years of stress and worry can make you perform actions in the wrong way, causing pain, tension etc.

    Maybe the two aren't incompatible and I need to keep doing the emotional work and working on my voice exercises. Its hard when you aren't getting anywhere after so long despite your best efforts.

    I just cant help but think if I'm not in pain at all, and then only when I speak do I get pain, surely I can speak differently to not get pain! But again I could just be buying in to my brains tricks

    I'm still interested if anyone else has anything to add
    Thanks very much for the reply ;)

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