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TMS Road To Recovery

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Xpeed2644, Nov 28, 2022.

  1. Xpeed2644

    Xpeed2644 New Member

    I've been reading up on TMS and Alan Gordon's methods for a couple months now but never really felt the courage to post about myself for whatever reason. I guess I'm just looking for confirmation that I've come to the right place for help.

    Long story short I'm a 43 year old male that has been dealing with "health" issues for about two years now. Right after or really during Covid I started to develop some weird pelvic floor pains and urinary frequency issues that I had never dealt with before. To frame up myself in a nutshell I've been an obsessive thinker, high anxiety, perfectionist, people pleaser my entire life. I've had high anxiety and obsessive thinking for most of my adult live which has led to being a hypochondriac from time to time. I've been convinced over the past twenty years that I have had or will develop some catastrophic disease that will shorten my life. In the past two years I've been to my GP, urologist, GI and lower back specialist in hopes they would find what is causing me pain in my pelvic floor and lower back. Every single time and every single test I've had comes back negative. Based on my annual blood work I couldn't be healthier for my age. The only thing I had caused, likely through straining to remove discomfort, was I developed an external hemorrhoid. Before this all popped up I was very active athletically and would exercise almost daily. Since that time I've barely done much outside of walking for fear I might due further damage. I became so obsessed with how often I needed to go to the bathroom and every single small sensation I had in my pelvic floor area. Again at numerous times I was convinced it was some form of cancer or terrible disease.

    During all of this I want to also include that I am happily married with two awesome kids and have a very successful full time job. My hobbies for the previous decade or so have consisted almost entirely of coaching my kids athletic teams. I do this tirelessly and feel like I've gotten to the point where I am no longer enjoying it because of the anxiety I'm about to explain.

    As of about three months I felt like I was breaking through the fog by using a combination of several very helpful books including this program. Almost immediately I started developing very weird symptoms that I can only describe as brain fog, dizziness, minor neck pain, lower back pain, eye strain and blurred vision. It started slow and has intensified over the past month or so. I again went for a check up with my GP and she confirmed what I already knew that I was perfectly healthy. I am 95% convinced it's my mind and all the things that go along with TMS because it definitely bounces around and can change from day to day. I thought it was a reaction from a supplement I was taking a couple weeks ago and had myself convinced it was and the symptoms seemed to fade for about a week only to return last week.

    So to summarize I guess I'm just looking for feedback that I'm on the right track with this. I wake up every morning and the first thing that I can think of is I wonder how I'll feel today. I'm going to really focus hard on the steps presented by Alan Gordon and start with the acceptance phase, which I really struggle with. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
    Cap'n Spanky likes this.
  2. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi @Xpeed2644
    You are indeed on the right track. The “extra” symptoms you describe are things I went through at my highest anxiety and panic. They did not subside at first, and some changed.. the brain will try ANYTHING to convince you that your emotions are not the real issue and that fear and anxiety are preferential and protective. But, obviously that’s not working for you. “Happily Married”, two kids (and all that coaching). Resentment = anger.. all places I would work with. Being willing to have multiple emotions at once and understand it’s normal (loving someone while being frustrated by “x” about them), feeling overextended yet loving your kids.. all normal. Recognizing you may need to change some parts of your life to provide time for self care can be hard but worth it. Can you find time, space and place for self-care and to work on your tms in a place you feel unrestricted? Would you be ok with letting some of your current responsibilities go to someone else by realizing that being well does more for those you love than the “things” you currently do? Find fun with the family instead of what you view as responsibility. Sounds like you are already understanding this part of it.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  3. Xpeed2644

    Xpeed2644 New Member


    Thanks so much for your response. It's so interesting to me that the amount of time I spend coaching is generally what most professionals have focused on for me. I've gotten to the point where both of my kids are nearing a time when I won't be able to coach anymore so I keep telling myself "You're almost there just push through." I'm currently coaching three different basketball teams comprised of over 30 different kids. From the outside it looks insane but it's what I've always done (Control Freak =). I've really focused hard on making time for myself. I've gotten back to exercising recently and try to meditate or at least do some deep breathing daily to calm the anxiety. I've gotten to the point now where I feel anxious and stressed about almost any little thing I have to do in a day (practices, games, work, travel) which sucks the joy out of everything. I've been telling myself that if I can just get rid of a couple symptoms everything would be good without realizing how much stress, fear and anxiety that idea of feeling perfect or 100% is both unattainable in reality and destructive. I'm starting down the path of not trying to fix anything and just loving myself for who I am. I recognize it's probably going to be a long journey with a lot of setbacks but I'm hoping I can manage them through the use of the "tools" I've gathered from professionals, literature and forums like this one. Thanks again for the response!
  4. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Welcome, @Xpeed2644.

    You provided a really great introduction, and you've been given a clean bill of health, so I also am quite sure that you're on the right track. In addition to everything that @Cactusflower said, I'm wondering if you've done anything more structured other than reading and learning? You're well along in your knowledge and acceptance, and I would recommend that you try one of our two free programs in order to go deeper into figuring out the source of your TMS personality traits, if you're not already doing so. I've always felt that doing this can help you decide how, or if, they are providing any benefit to you, and whether you can allow yourself to let them go.

    We don't become "...an obsessive thinker, high anxiety, perfectionist, people pleaser..." on our own - these behaviors are developed in childhood, thanks to family dynamics. I did not have any kind of trauma in my childhood, but I still had lifelong anxiety, some obsessive behaviors, and I'm definitely a goodist and perfectionist. When I initially discovered TMS theory and did this work in 2011 it was really valuable to learn how to get back to my very young self and see how, when, and why those things developed within my family. Before doing that, I'd had a certain amount of success in my recovery from a crisis of symptoms (this was back in 2011) but I didn't really reach the turning point to greater and longer-term recovery until I was able to go back, go deep, and experience myself as a very young child.

    Take the next steps, open yourself to vulnerability, and see what happens. In order to "do the work" effectively, I believe that three things are needed: 1) to make a commitment to keep going, even when your fearful brain starts resisting (and it will); 2) a commitment to doing the work with self-honesty (don't let your brain fool you into thinking you can ignore or skip over anything); and 3) self-compassion.

    As to #3, I'm reading a lot of self-blame in your narrative, which will get in the way of your recovery if you don't get a handle on it first. One of the luminaries of self-compassion is Kristen Neff, with free resources available through her site: https://self-compassion.org/ You can probably get her book Self Compassion from your library.

    For anxiety and fear, you can't do better than Hope & Help for Your Nerves, the little book written in 1969 by Claire Weekes. It's a bit quaint now, but it's a quick and easy read, she's a lovely and compassionate writer with pragmatic advice, and her book is still bringing relief from anxiety to untold numbers of people all over the world. It was literally the second book that saved my life after The Divided Mind. Also available from many if not most libraries.

    If you're not already doing one of our free programs, they are the Structured Educational Program (the SEP, on the main tmswiki.org) and Alan Gordon's Pain Recovery Program here on the forum. Perhaps you've also found the separate site and forum about Alan's Pain Reprocessing Therapy. I see PRT training as a long-term goal after doing the initial emotional work - but that's just me!

    Good luck, I sense that you're well on your way and that you can do this!

    Ellen and TG957 like this.
  5. Xpeed2644

    Xpeed2644 New Member


    Wow I'm totally blown away by the level of detail you provide above to a total stranger. Is there a link to the free programs for figuring out the source of my personality traits or is this something I could discuss and work on with my therapist? I've read a lot about possible repressed emotions from childhood trauma but I honestly don't recall any trauma from that time of my life however I think it would be illuminating to figure out why I am the way I am =)

    I will definitely look into the Self Compassion side of things as I've never really explored that and I'm actively reading through and attempting Alan Gordon's Recovery Program.

    I fully recognize from a distance the goodism and perfectionism traits I have but have an incredibly difficult time saying no to things that I think will help other's, hence the crazy coaching. It's taking me quite awhile to even wrap my head around the fact that how I'm feeling day to day isn't related to my physical health as I've lived my entire life with this cause and effect opinion of things. When something feels off there has to be a physical reason for it. I'm now finally starting to understand how deep the rabbit hole of my mind goes and I really can't waste anymore time and energy searching for something that doesn't exist.

    Thanks again for your response!
  6. LMB

    LMB Peer Supporter

    I came across posts that were listed in the ‘best post’. Name is Tattvamasi
    If you search this name by member he has amazing write ups, it was back in 2017 but I still read them.
    Miffybunny is also very good post to read on this TMSwiki
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  7. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    In addition to Alan's program, which you're already doing (yay!) just go to the main tmswiki.org site, and find the SEP on the menu bar. It has writing exercises that start within the first few "days". The first ones have you create lists on various general topics that you can then explore in more detail. You should be able to skim the Days to find them.

    The idea is to quickly write things down as they pop into your head. The hardest thing I found is that my brain tried to convince me that I didn't need to write certain things down for whatever flimsy reason. It was really hard to force myself to write them down anyway. When I examined them in more detail, I did not find anything horrible, but I did find "Ah hah!" interactions and emotions that I had repressed for a long time, usually related to childhood guilt or shame for things that were quite significant to me a child, but easily (and finally!) forgiven by me as an adult. I discovered other things related to my family relationships that I had been unaware of for decades - it was good to reveal them and think about how they shaped me for life. An example was realizing that I felt very isolated and awkward from about age four, during the years my parents were raising three younger siblings (two of them unintended). They were great parents, but the reality is that a self-sufficient oldest kid will inevitably suffer some neglect when there are so many other kids. I also realized how they managed to make it up to me later. Awareness, and forgiveness. I had no idea that was buried in my psyche.

    Anyway, those list-writing exercises might give you some ideas about topics for exploration if your therapist doesn't already employ something similar.
  8. Xpeed2644

    Xpeed2644 New Member

    Just wanted to check back in and maybe get some feedback. I never realized how hard it would be to accept TMS and move forward with the process. I find myself doing really well for a couple days at a time and then an episode sends me back to square one. I'm assuming this is the case with almost everyone dealing with this. I'm at a time in my life where I can't up and quit what I'm doing to create some balance for myself so it's hard to stay on track when the inner stress and anxiety surfaces during events like games or practices. I started the journaling process and will keep pushing forward with that and the somatic tracking/cognitive soothing. It's so crazy as it seems like the process would be really simple but I get pulled back in so easily and get back on the path of catastrophizing about the future. I guess I'm just looking for a little pep talk from some of you who have been through the process!! Thanks as always.
  9. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Recovery is never linear. Ups and downs are normal. Don't let the flare-ups throw you into a tailspin. As you progress with your program, good days will become longer and more frequent, but there will be bad days for a while. It is ok and normal, as letting go of fears is never easy.
  10. Xpeed2644

    Xpeed2644 New Member

    @JanAtheCPA @Cactusflower

    I've read some of your other posts and noticed you both also went through some symptoms of brain fog, eye strain, focus issues, etc. I was curious if you could describe what you went through and how you handled it?

    Mine is a very weird fogginess almost like I've had a drink but I haven't. I have no cognitive issues or balance issue but I do feel pressure behind my eyes and when I go from looking at my phone to up sometimes it's blurry for a second. I also get extremely lightheaded and fatigued after coaching. I know that's the stress and anxiety of the game and moment. My blood pressure is perfect based on my last check up. Could it be just a lack of oxygen getting to the brain like other types of pain with TMS? Any suggestions on what helped you minimize your symptoms until you got them under control? Thanks
  11. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Breathing, journaling, getting anxiety under control. Talking back to and soothing my fear brain. Doing the work. And accepting that this is a symptom that reoccurs when I'm anxious. And Claire Weekes!

    There's a great forum discussion thread about PPDD (psycho-physiological dizziness disorder) that I have a link to in my profile story resources, I'll add it later.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2022
  12. Xpeed2644

    Xpeed2644 New Member


    I'm about 55 pages into Claire Weekes and can say it's eye opening. Thanks for the recommendation!
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  13. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

  14. Xpeed2644

    Xpeed2644 New Member


    Thank you so much for that post above. It really meshes perfectly with the Claire Weekes stuff. I recognize that the fear has always been driving the car for me and that I just need to lean into it an let it pass without thought. Practice makes perfect!
    JanAtheCPA likes this.

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