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Daniel L. TMS symptoms randomly vacillating

Discussion in 'Ask a TMS Therapist' started by Guest, Mar 27, 2015.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    This question was submitted via our Ask a TMS Therapist program. To submit your question, click here.

    I’ve been working on my TMS for over 9 months now. I’ve made great progress in terms of improving the quality of my life; I’ve resumed all work and physical activities, resolved or made progress in solving most of the issues on my lists (past events, current stressors and personality traits) and generally feel optimistic about the future.

    Here’s the thing: it seems that the more optimistic I feel, the worse my pain gets. When I am connected to anger, past resentments, pessimistic thinking, sadness, I often feel pain free. One recent example is that I worked through a long-standing problem in my marriage by talking it through with a therapist (not a TMS therapist). I felt like a million bucks after the appointment, since this issue had been weighing down on me. But then, the pain came back with a vengeance. This is a pretty typical pattern at this point.

    What could that mean? I’ve explored my childhood pain many, many times. I cried almost daily for months as part of that process. Another weird thing: every time I would cry, my pain would go away.

    Is this a standard recovery process? Feels like I’m missing something?
  2. Daniel G Lyman LCSW

    Daniel G Lyman LCSW TMS Therapist

    I’ve encountered this before, and the reasons for it aren’t always the same, but there is a common pattern that I find.

    Often times we focus heavily on our emotional issues, thinking that if we work through emotional trauma from earlier in our life, then we will eliminate our pain entirely. While of course this is beneficial, if we become myopic about our emotional issues, we’re entirely neglecting our habituated fear/uncertainty/lack of confidence.

    Alan Gordon talks about how important it is to reframe the meaning of pain. What does that mean and how does one do that?

    First of all, you have to become aware of how you respond to the pain when it flares up. Do you get angry? Do you panic? Do you question your ability to get over the pain? Do you question TMS?

    If yes, then some work needs to be done. When our pain flares up, the worst thing to do is to become preoccupied with the pain and start down a path of anxiety. If you go down that path, you are training your nervous system to respond automatically and become activated when your pain flares up. An activated nervous system will further cause tension and anxiety, solidifying the habit of not feeling safe in our bodies.

    That is all to say that when your pain flares up, I want you to be vigilant with your thoughts. Don’t let yourself have despairing thoughts about your body or your pain.

    A personal story: I love running. I’ve done a handful of long-distance runs, and I try and sign up for organized runs regularly to help me stay in shape. When I was training for the LA Marathon five years ago, I started having knee problems. When my training runs started getting longer than 10 miles, any movement involving my knee would be incredibly painful.

    One day, I planned a 20-mile run as an out-and-back from my house (meaning that I would run 10 miles, and then turn around and run back home to complete the full 20 miles). When I got to mile 10, I had to stop and sit on a park bench for an hour because my knee was in so much pain. Eventually, I took the bus back home because I could barely walk. That said, I was determined not to let this pain stop me from completing the marathon (my first).

    From that point on, every time my knee would start hurting, I’d stop, walk for a while, and focus on my breathing. If I calmed myself down, the pain would subside enough for me to start running again. Sometimes I’d only run for a couple hundred meters before the pain would get so bad that I’d have to stop entirely and just breathe. BUT, I kept going. I didn’t let myself get scared or panicked that I’d never finish my run or be able to run the marathon.

    After a handful of longer training runs, I was able to run 22-23 miles without any debilitating problems. My knee still hurt, but it became easier and easier to manage.

    Honestly, at the time I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing. Fortunately, however, I’m a determined person, and now I can look back and see that I unconsciously knew that letting myself despair about my pain would only backfire and keep me from what I wanted to do be doing (which was enjoying a beer at the finish line). My determination, in conjunction with my patience, proved to be the winning formula. I knew I could run the marathon, but I also knew I had to train my brain not to be scared of knee pain.

    All of that is to say – when your pain shows up, it doesn’t matter what just happened or what is about to happen, all that matters is that you treat yourself well in that moment. And breathe. Always remember to breathe.

    Any advice or information provided here does not and is not intended to be and should not be taken to constitute specific professional or psychological advice given to any group or individual. This general advice is provided with the guidance that any person who believes that they may be suffering from any medical, psychological, or mindbody condition should seek professional advice from a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions. No general advice provided here should be taken to replace or in any way contradict advice provided by a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions.

    The general advice and information provided in this format is for informational purposes only and cannot serve as a way to screen for, identify, or diagnose depression, anxiety, or other psychological conditions. If you feel you may be suffering from any of these conditions please contact a licensed mental health practitioner for an in-person consultation.

    Questions may be edited for brevity and/or readability.

  3. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Guest, you say your pain went away after talking about your unhappy marriage, but then came back again.
    I think it's because you haven't totally forgiven the other person in the marriage, and maybe even yourself.

    Forgiveness is very important in healing from any psychological (TMS) symptom.
    You may have been able to forgive on a small level but not entirely, and not been able to forget.
    True forgiveness leads to forgetting.

    And don't live in the past, try to live in the present moment and enjoy every minute of your day.
    Ryan likes this.
  4. Ryan

    Ryan Well known member


    What great words of wisdom you give in a short precise manor. Well Said my friend, have a good easter.
  5. blake

    blake Well known member


    Victimized by the pain is how I feel when it strikes. And therein lies the whole problem. First time I have had such clarity about this. Extremely useful response. I will be reading it several more times to get it to sink in. And thank you for sharing your personal story about your marathon training. I'm very inspired by it.

    Thank you so very much!
  6. blake

    blake Well known member


    Thank you for reminding me of the importance of forgiveness. It's a work in progress for me, but it's coming along.
  7. balto

    balto Beloved Grand Eagle

    Some psychologist would call this an "extinction burst". Your symptom is trying to hold you back. it tried to scare you, it tried to grab your attention. It creates fear and anxiety to your body keep producing "fight or flight" respond and keep your symptoms alive.

    Others would say this is a case of victim mentality. If you subject yourself to a routine. whether that routine is bad or good, if you do it often enough and long enough, it will become the norm for you. It will become your safe zone. Leaving that "safe zone" will be a challenge. The "unknown" out there is "scary". We all heard about people who keep staying in an abusive relationship. They are not happy. They are suffering tremendously and yet they can not leave. Some how that abusive relationship became their safe zone. To them it is better to stay in it than to face the "unknown" without it. We tmser's have endure all these symptoms for so long, to many of us the symptoms became the norm. Sadness, health worry, depression, despair are the norm for us. We don't know what happiness is anymore. We don't know what life feel like without stress and without these symptoms anymore. And when we starting to feel good, feel relax, feel confidence... the damn pain get worst. It get worst because we are stepping out of our "safe zone". Because we're trying to leave the norm and facing the unknown out there...

    Just be persistence and patient like Daniel say above and you will get over this. Face your fear and the death of fear is certain. You have to build a new norm. A new you. A strong, healthy, confidence, and fearless you.
  8. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Balto. More great insight and suggestions from you. You've been one of the most helpful.
    I think you;re right that most people don't really know what happiness is anymore.
    They think it has to do with possessing what they see advertised on television.

    Fearing the unknown is a waste of time and energy. Accepting the unknown brings inner peace.

    Happy Easter to you and your loved ones, and to Ryan and Blake and Daniel and Guest and everyone.
    Seraphina and blake like this.
  9. blake

    blake Well known member

    I am so empowered by your message, balto. Thank you. I've been giving this a lot of thought in the last few days and I now better understand and see how I react when the pain comes. Now I know that I need to counter my fear with positive messages: this is only tms, it's not dangerous, I am safe. Got it now! Will be practising this the next time the pain comes.

    Warm regards,

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