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TMS controlling my life decisions

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by sarah2254, May 19, 2020.

  1. sarah2254

    sarah2254 Peer Supporter

    Hello everyone,

    Since discovering TMS about a month and a half ago, my hand pain has reduced quite a lot. I went from being in pain 24/7 and not being able to type at all to now being able to type again with no aids (i.e., wrist braces). How I recovered was by talking to my brain, somatic tracking, and also confronting my fear of typing. For the past few weeks, I practiced typing on my laptop every single day and I can now type anywhere between 13, 000 to 19, 000 characters a day. I still get a little to moderate pain, but I just practice observing it without fear and it is now bearable. Not completely gone, but much better than before.

    I am now having to make a difficult decision regarding my career. I had to leave the research job I loved last summer due to my hand pain (I didn't know about TMS at the time). After that, I was able to get another part-time teaching job and used voice recognition software to get by. I was given the opportunity to teach a university course, which was such a rare opportunity for someone my age (I'm 25). But I freaked out and my anxiety got the best of me. I was so worried about doing a good job teaching my first course that I did not sleep for 60 hours in a row for the first time in my life. I finished teaching the course and got amazing feedback from students. However, I realize this is not a full-time career and I would need to do a PhD to continue teaching. On top of that, I put in so much work designing a course, thinking of content, doing research, and delivering lectures - all for little pay. This past year has been a roller coaster of job opportunities and losses and I can't help but think about my TMS when choosing a career option. Here are my options:

    Option 1: Do a PhD.


    • This would be the safest option because I could use voice recognition software should my TMS get as bad as it once did before.
    • I have a suprevisor who I could work with who I absolutely love as a person. We have worked together before.
    • I would be given teaching positions while doing my PhD. (I already work as a teaching assistant so i would just continue doing this while teaching my own course and doing my PhD research).

    • I currently have a Master's degree and can honestly say I absolutely hated grad school. I am now being pressured by everyone around me (supervisors, parents, friends) to do a PhD. Deep down, my heart is screaming DON'T DO IT, YOU'LL BE MISERABLE! The only reason I am even considering it is because I've been conditioned to coddle my hands and doing a PhD would allow me to use voice recognition software. I would essentially be able to work from home, but I don't believe the pain would be proportionate to the tedious work that a PhD requires. I would have to be in school for another 4-6 years, while making very little money and working extremely hard.

    Option 2: Return to my old job that I loved


    • I have proven to myself that I can type up to 19, 000 characters a day on my laptop at home, so I should be able to do this in an office setting full-time.
    • I now have the knowledge of what TMS is and how to treat it
    • If I didn't worry about my hands, I would have taken this job over anything else in a heart beat. This is what I love and what would make me happy if it weren't for the constant worrying about pain.

    • I am worried that the only reason I can type at home is because I'm in a controlled environment with less anxiety. It is really difficult to control my worrying thoughts. Here are a few examples: If I go back to this job, I basically can't leave this time because I already left. If I have another flare-up, what if it doesn't go away? What if my coworkers think I was faking? What will their comments be when they see I don't wear wrist braces or use ergonomic equipment be? What if their constant questions about my hands reinforce the thoughts in my subconscious that there is something wrong with me? What if I have developed a conditioned fear response to the computer at this specific workplace because it's associated with a past experience of debilitating pain?
    • I know these thoughts are everything we're NOT supposed to feed, but I would be lying if I said they haven't crossed my mind.

    Option 3: Apply for new jobs


    • I would have to be trained again, go through the anxiety of starting a new routine, meeting new people, etc. all over again.


    • I could start fresh. Coworkers would not ask me about my hands. I wouldn't feel as much pressure to stay should it not work out/should the pain come back.

    As someone with TMS, what would you do if you were in my shoes? My thoughts are completely clouding my judgment

    Thanks in advance
    Last edited: May 19, 2020
  2. Northwood

    Northwood Well known member

    Hi, Sarah,

    First, I emphasize that I can only say what I would do given the information you've put before me. So here is a little personal thought experiment that you can look at and see how it sits with you.

    Probably I'd risk going for the job I love. Then I'd set up my life a day at a time to help me move into the situation in a positive way. I'd work on visualizing positive outcomes. I'd connect with people I'd trust to support me. As a TMS person, I'd keeping "washing my brain" by reading Sarno and these forums and success stories. Because I'm so bloody intense, I'd give extra attention to self-soothing, breathing, and because I've been such a ruthless self-critic I'd be watchful for any incursions from that voice. I'd say if the Job-I-Love doesn't work out, I can pursue my Plan B (a new job).

    If you haven't made a run through Gordon Allen's Pain Recovery Program, he's got some great stuff in there about decision making. Check out Day 13: Overcoming Uncertainty. That may lower your blood pressure a bit. :)

    Finally, it's instructive to imagine making one choice or the other--as a thought experiment--as if you've really made the choice--then sleep on it for the night, and when you wake up in the morning see how you feel about it with your whole body. Happy? Disappointed? Relieved? What feelings are there? Why? Write it down. What comes up?

    I wish you the best. I hope something here gives you a fresh angle on your considerations.
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  3. sarah2254

    sarah2254 Peer Supporter

    Hi Northwood,

    Thank you so much for your reply. This is extremely helpful. I am working hard to completely eradicate my pain to the point of feeling confident enough to work full-time. In my gut, I know doing a PhD would bring on many other mental health issues, because of my personality type (i.e., perfectionist, self-critical, etc.).

    I think your thought experiment is such an interesting idea. I am going to try it tonight! I will definitely continue to retrain my brain and read success stories. Most importantly, I am going to try to practice patience and just accept my pain without fear. I have told myself that I don't want to allow the pain to control my life anymore. If I get a job I enjoy and the pain comes back, I am going to apply the principles I've learned her and practice outcome independence. I would rather be working with pain than at home being unproductive with pain.

    I hope you have a great day!

    Kind regards,
  4. BloodMoon

    BloodMoon Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Sara,

    In considering your dilemma, I found myself asking questions...

    Is there any possibility that the elements that you loved in your old research job could be found in a new job? And, when you look to the future, can you see yourself continuing to be happy and fulfilled in the long term if you were to go back to your old research job?
    sarah2254 likes this.
  5. sarah2254

    sarah2254 Peer Supporter

    Hi BloodMoon,

    Thank you for your reply. Yes, I think what I liked about my old research job is that it was structured and extremely repetitive. I know most people would not like this, but as someone who deals with anxiety, I don't like uncertainty. It's just a regular job with descent pay, but I guess I also liked it because of the people there being so welcoming. I imagine I can find this again with other jobs and I may actually take that route. I may feel too much pressure if I return to the old job because I would constantly be worried about the excruciating pain returning and then putting the employers through that whole ordeal all over again. This pressure may make my anxiety worse. In some ways, I want to start fresh without the identity of someone who had such severe hand problems, she had to leave her job. I hope that makes sense. If it weren't for my hand situation, I would have loved to return to my previous office job.

    Kind regards,
  6. BloodMoon

    BloodMoon Beloved Grand Eagle

    Okay, so, these are my thoughts...

    Is it a possibility that you could go back to your old research job on a temporary rolling-contract type basis, with a view to your old employer taking you on permanently? This would provide less/no job security for you of course (which might be too much of a worry for you?) but it could greatly lessen pressure and anxiety in other respects...You would be free to relax and to just see how it goes and if it didn't work out (for whatever reason) you wouldn't have to say on your CV that you left because of your hands, you could list the position as being 'transitionary' while you looked for other work with better/different prospects or whatever (and, indeed, such an option would give you the opportunity/freedom/lightness of heart to look for other opportunities that might 'light your fire'). With regard to the curiosity of you colleagues in respect of your hands, they could just be told that your hands feel better now - the meditation you've been doing (or whatever you decide to reveal/tell to them, should you not want to mention TMS in case they might not understand) has helped you enormously, but you're taking it steady and seeing how it goes...although, as you'd be going back on a temporary trial-type basis, you could just say they are better and leave it at that.

    The fact that your old job has nice, welcoming people is a big bonus (from experience, a good working atmosphere in an office can be hard to come by!) but, also from experience, I know that the climate can change as quick as flash when people leave and new staff - and new bosses - arrive...So, something else to consider I think, is whether you would like your old job if the atmosphere changed - would the repetitive work be as attractive to you, and comfortable for you, as it would be now with the nice staff around you? Okay, you could just move on and do similar work elsewhere if the atmosphere changed and if similar work is available with another employer, but something to possibly bear in mind I think is that as you recover from TMS maybe your need/liking for the safety of 'extremely repetitive' 'structured' work might be liable to change to some degree. (And maybe this type of work, although it has its 'up sides' in making you feel relatively safe, may actually be something that your brain/mind actually wants you to 'escape' from? - That might be something to think/journal about, perhaps?)

    It also occurred to me that you could consider opting to use your skills in doing temporary/transitional work elsewhere, but I do appreciate that that maybe a step too far with regard to your anxieties concerning meeting new people, getting to know the ropes etc., and then possibly having to move on and then start all over again...But on the other hand, knowing that you're not permanently stuck somewhere - and that you won't be letting anyone down if you decided that you have to leave - might balance those anxieties out and you would be able type/use a keyboard with a relatively free heart.

    Regarding the PhD option: would you feel any differently about it if the PhD were in a subject / on a topic that you were more interested in, maybe even passionate about? And something to consider perhaps is what a PhD would be likely to do for you afterwards career-wise. If you can't see it opening any doors for your future work happiness (albeit that it's not easy to know when qualifications might come in handy!) then I guess the lack of money, the tedium etc., over so many years would be likely to be not worth the sacrifice, even if the subject/topic really interested you.

    I hope my comments won't have muddled things even more for you...It's just that I have found that approaching things from different angles can sometimes throw up a good solution to a dilemma.

    Kind wishes,
    Last edited: May 22, 2020
  7. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    TMS is an inside job . Since it is largely generated inside of us, the 'what it conflicts' in the outside is a little incidental. I used to get a mild case of sciatica on EVERY first day of a job, regardless of the size, whether I liked it or not, or any of it's outside circumstances...... so it's got something to do with my own lack of confidence/fear. The job was just THERE... I brought my TMS to it (me)

    Your question is valid. But which decision you make isn't necessarily going to give or not give you symptoms... there are too many factors that only YOU could possible know. It took me two years Post Recovery from TMS to realize I loathed my career... it took me another couple of years to realize, it wasn't WHAT I did for a living, but WHO I did it for. I also have one of those jobs that Sarno mentioned "People seek non challenging work , that neither engages nor uses their talents and abilities" and yet I have remained painfree... because I have stayed aware.

    TMS might point us towards our likes and dislikes, BUT if you remain aware you can do whatever you want. In this day and age nothing is permanent anyways. You can get a PhD and change your mind... you can not get one and later get one. TMS recovery isn't about doing or not doing, it is about remaining aware of our own conflicts with our mental environment on a fairly regular basis. ....and at some point there is also an element of not taking ourselves too seriously. In fact, when I read "Healing Back Pain" it was the first time in my life I was hoping and praying I wasn't special ...and I wasn't. Thank God.

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  8. BloodMoon

    BloodMoon Beloved Grand Eagle

    So true! What you say reminded me of the profound title of Jon Kabat-Zinn's book "Wherever You Go, There You Are".
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  9. sarah2254

    sarah2254 Peer Supporter

    Thanks so much for your reply. You raise a really good point about not having to treat my decision as permanent. This has helped alleviate a lot of the pressure that I was feeling! The night before starting my old job, I had a few fear-based thoughts about whether I would be liked, if I would perform well, etc. but I don't think my thoughts were too abnormal. After the first day, I felt very comfortable and realized I loved the job. What has left me puzzled is that, to my knowledge, I had nothing to fear while on the job, but maybe there is something going on subconsciously that I still haven't figured out. The only thing I can really think of is that the night before starting, I was a LITTLE worried that I had forgotten to tell my employer I had carpal tunnel and would bring in my wrist braces (at the time, I did not know about TMS - a nerve test ruled out carpal tunnel). I wasn't worried about experiencing pain, just about not concealing my "condition." This thought came and passed quickly and I didn't harp on it too much. Once I started working, I didn't worry about my hands until the pain started. When you experienced sciatica on every first day of a job, how did you respond and what helped you get through? Thanks in advance
  10. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    That's usually the case for me.

    Yep... TMS sort of like a snowball rolling down hill.. getting treatments we can't afford and then missing work because of the treatments...

    With the "attitude of disdain" that Dr. Sarno encouraged. When it got my attention I would treat it like a really annoying little sibling who won't stop whining. "Oh... YOU again. What do you want NOW? What are you afraid of this time? Well, I am busy, so go away"

    and it did.

    come to think of it, I never have 'noticed' TMS leaving.... If I was 'noticing' it wouldn't leave. It's only by becoming exasperated and bored with it that it eventually loses it's gravity. You'll just catch yourself going "Hey! This used to be when that stuff bugged me... but it isn't, I am fine."

    You sound like your in a good place with this now.

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  11. BloodMoon

    BloodMoon Beloved Grand Eagle

    @sarah2254 Apparently, what happened to Baseball65, i.e. him not noticing TMS leaving, sounds kind of surprising, but is a fairly common thing. Christie Uipi (who recovered from, amongst other TMS symptoms, wrist and hand pain and who is now a TMS therapist) says in this podcast that the road to recovery from chronic pain is unique for everyone, but the journey almost always holds a few predictable twists, one of them being not really realising the moment when you got out of pain: https://www.curablehealth.com/podcast/5-things-pain-sufferers-learn (5 Things All Chronic Pain Sufferers Learn the Hard Way).

    Christie's own recovery story is in this thread on the forum, if you're interested in reading about it https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/day-5-changing-your-brain.16477/ (New Program - Day 5: Changing Your Brain)
    Last edited: May 27, 2020
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  12. sarah2254

    sarah2254 Peer Supporter

    thanks so much, I am going to check these out now!
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  13. sarah2254

    sarah2254 Peer Supporter

    very informative. thanks for all of your input :)
    Baseball65 likes this.

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