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TMS is no relief for me

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by tomparke, Jun 10, 2023.

  1. tomparke

    tomparke Newcomer

    Hello everyone,

    I am venting a bit but I hope you will understand where I am coming from here. I’ve been in the TMS space for a couple of months now after discovering Dr Sarno’s books, and have been reading a lot of people’s experiences online. Something is seriously bugging me. I don’t understand how people feel relieved when they find out they have TMS instead of structural issues.

    I’m convinced I have TMS but for me it is almost a death sentence. Working out problems in my head is so much harder than just going to physio therapy sessions a couple of times a week.

    I am Mr Suppressed Emotions. I have 3 kids and a wife and a long history of Suicide attempts before I met my wife, created a family and learned to suppress this all. Suppression has gotten me far and I was happy to keep doing it. I have a high paying job and I fucking provide for my family. It’s what I do to feel useful. Having chronic back pain that is getting worse has stopped me being able to do my job well and finding out its TMS has made me even more stressed and depressed about it.

    I’ve tried journaling and I’m obviously missing something because I’m still in pain and I still can’t sleep. And now I’m worried that no matter how strong my body is my brain can fuck it all up for me whenever it wants to and I’m fucked for a few months again. It just keeps happening. Is this my life now?
  2. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Couple months is not enough if you are so good at suppressing your emotions, except for anger, which your post is full of. It took me 2 years of work on my emotions to fully recover. You may want to find a TMS therapist to help you learn how to FEEL through your emotions and not be afraid of them. It can be done!

    BTW, I was greatly relieved when I learned that my pain was my own creation and so I could undo it by controlling my mind.
    Cap'n Spanky likes this.
  3. Louise D

    Louise D New Member

    @tomparke , I think I can say that I understand. For me, the emotional issues are profound and very long-term. I have read other posts here where people also discuss that although repressed emotion, especially anger, is at the heart of much TMS, there can still be active TMS manifestations from emotions that are not repressed. I feel that is where I am. I no longer repress my emotions, but from five decades of abuse, I am overwhelmed by fear and anger (and complex PTSD). I work very hard to overcome this and am not making much progress.
    Soph1802 and Cap'n Spanky like this.
  4. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I understand how you feel. I could have written this statement as well. Not to get too technical here, but there is a difference between suppression and repression of emotions. Suppression is when you are consciously aware of an emotion, but choose to not express it. Repression is an unconscious defense mechanism. It happens outside our conscious awareness. Sarno wrote that repression is the problem in TMS. Suppression of emotions is something we need to do often for social and other reasons, like suppressing our anger at work.

    Uncovering repressed emotions is very hard, painful work. It took me 18 months (without a therapist) to recover from TMS, and now 10 years later I still have relapses once or twice a year. It is my life's work to uncover it all. But I've had many times of high resistance to doing just that.

    But what is the alternative? There is no easy fix. The only way out is through.
    Cactusflower, Cap'n Spanky and TG957 like this.
  5. Cap'n Spanky

    Cap'n Spanky Well known member

    I agree with what others have said. Just a note that I found this YouTube series extremely helpful with feeling and processing my emotions.
    The first 7 or 8 videos in the series were particularly powerful for me. Like anything, I had to really dig in and embrace the concepts for it to be helpful.
  6. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Beloved Grand Eagle

    @Ellen “ Not to get too technical here, but there is a difference between suppression and repression of emotions. Suppression is when you are consciously aware of an emotion, but choose to not express it. Repression is an unconscious defense mechanism. It happens outside our conscious awareness. Sarno wrote that repression is the problem in TMS. Suppression of emotions is something we need to do often for social and other reasons, like suppressing our anger at work.”

    Thank-you Ellen! I have seen these words used interchangeably…and have been trying to feel emotions I suppress instead of repressed emotions!
    I have been stuck.
    I have also read a few psychologists say there is no way to “get” to repressed (subconscious) emotions and that was a bit confusing. Sometimes semantics are everything.
    Would you say “triggers” are often repressed emotions? Triggers is another word that gets thrown around a lot. Thank-you!
  7. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    In my experience it is possible to access repressed emotions by identifying and exploring triggers, as well as dysfunctional patterns of behavior present since childhood. Exploring conflicting emotions is also fertile ground (I have anger toward this person that I SHOULD love). I have occasionally been able to have an "A-ha" moment while journaling where I am able to access an old repressed emotion. It doesn't happen every time or even often, but it does happen and I immediately know it and feel it when it does.

    As an example of exploring a trigger, I noticed that every time after an
    interaction with a friend of mine, I became upset and angry. There was nothing obviously upsetting in the interaction. I journaled about it a few times and one day I had the "A-ha" experience where I realized that this friend was treating me in a very similar way to how to my mother had treated me throughout much of my childhood. After my parents divorced my mother unloaded all her thoughts and emotions on me, a child. She showed no regard whatsoever for how this was impacting me and never had any interest in my feelings or experiences. I realized my friend was doing the same thing and it was triggering these old unconscious emotions of feeling like I didn't matter. Bingo!

    I still have much more to unpack. I have found the writing prompts in the SEP and Dr. Schubiner's book Unlearn Your Pain to be very helpful in this regard.
  8. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thank you @Ellen
    I have a lot of the type of aha moments where I recognize my reaction pattern: without journalling at all. I have returned to journalling because my reactions seem to be thoughts. And I have constant returns of fear, can not stop thinking about symptoms (I even dream or wake myself up about them!) and recognize much more fear in life but haven’t been able to dial it back. I am hoping its origins come to light so I can process more and more of it.
    TG957 likes this.
  9. Soph1802

    Soph1802 Peer Supporter

    Hi Tom

    I just want to say: I totally see and feel you. I completely agree and understand - it does suck. It totally sucks. The idea that we have to feel all the pain and suffering is terrifying - especially when it is so huge for many of us. I have been doing this work for years and am only about 50% recovered and mostly, this is because I am used to the symptoms now and so I’ve relaxed quite a lot. All of my pain just feels too huge to bear. So working through it has been long, slow and very hard.

    We are all different, and I think for many people, the relief of TMS comes from knowing they can heal when they thought they couldn’t, or from knowing that their ailments are not harmful when they thought they were. But it’s also totally OK and justified to feel angry and devastated at the solution being something which, for you, feels so much more daunting and terrifying than 6 months of strengthening and stretches and a load of acupuncture.

    So I get it, I feel you, and your anger is totally valid. So: feel angry! Allow it, journal about the anger and let it out. Maybe the first step of your journey is just to be angry about it. Let that be as long as it needs to be there and when it is ready, it will step aside and the next emotion will come. Eventually, you will accept what you need to do for you to move forward and do that. That might be to do the TMS work, or it might be to manage your symptoms a different way to still be able to live a life that you feel is good enough for you. Neither decision is right or wrong, both are valid. It’s simply a choice, and both choices are equally brave, equally valid, and equally understandable. Just know that there is always hope, always another choice, another way. And that as long as you choose to move forward, not backwards, and look out for yourself and care for yourself along the way, you will be OK.

    As an aside, I actually strongly believe that there are many different ways to skin a cat, so to speak, and that you can heal your pain without directly trying to uncover the repressed emotions. You do need to learn to accept your current emotions, but this doesn’t require looking backwards. Have a look into Alan Gordon’s work, or any work that looks at polyvagal theory and somatic embodiment. None of this requires you to look too deeply into your past, but instead, gives you the skills to teach your body how to regulate better in the moment and build resilience to stress. This work is also extremely effective for alleviating pain and symptoms without directly tackling the deep emotional processing that you are afraid of. I can’t promise that the repressed emotions will never arise, but by taking this approach, you will feel much more resilient, capable and prepared to feel and process them if and when they do, and trust that your body will not allow you to feel them until you do.

    Just promise yourself to not give up on life or yourself and to do what you need to do to feel as whole and as cared for as is possible for you at that moment, seek help when you need it, and stay curious and open minded to the possibilities that TMS work offers you, if ever you feel ready to do it. It will always be there, and given you now know that your pain isn’t dangerous, you have all the time in the world to come to the work and to do the emotional discovery slowly, in your own time, as and when you feel ready. Just having this perspective will create a lot of space and relief in your system which in turn, will help to ease your pain.

    I hope this has helped somewhat. Sending all my best to you on this rollercoaster of a journey!
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