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Too much trauma?

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Miller, Jun 7, 2020.

  1. Miller

    Miller Peer Supporter

    I've had years of dizziness, headaches etc.
    I worked with a TMS therapist and read this forum alot a couple of years ago but truly I was not ready to admit that I had any unresolved emotions.
    The lastcouple of years my symptoms have got worse and I have lots of anxiety and depression.
    Problem is, whenever I get close to my emotions/thinking about traumas of my past...(mostly things I've done I am ashamed of) I get so over whelmed about what it means about me as a person and I am basically scared of how bad my feelings must be deep down if they've caused me so much pain and illness.
    Do some people just have so much trauma that they never heal?
  2. Dorado

    Dorado Beloved Grand Eagle

    I am so sorry you are feeling so much pain. There is no such thing as a “trauma threshold” where once you’ve been through a certain amount of trauma, your healing abilities are officially revoked and rendered ineligible. There is always a chance to heal, even if you’ve seen the worst of the worst. It’s all about how you deal with trauma. Think about people who have endured extreme amounts long-term trauma such as Elizabeth Smart, holocaust survivors, Nelson Mandela when he lived through apartheid and spent 27 years in prison, etc. These are people who have seen some of the ugliest parts of life, yet a lot of them will/would tell you that they’re optimistic about the future. I’m not saying this to pressure you to deal with trauma the same exact way as these people because we’re all different with unique circumstances and some of us are more sensitive than others; instead, I think it’s helpful to remember that humans are resilient. The good news is that resiliency can be learned and gained over time - you don’t have to be born with it. More good news is that the body is designed to heal and the “TMS”/the mind-body connection is merely your body’s response to heightened emotions (AKA sympathetic nervous system overdrive), which can always be turned off.

    I saw the movie Cast Away in the movie theater with my family when I was 10. I rewatched it in college and distinctly remember thinking that I’d be suicidal if I were Tom Hanks’ character, Jack, at the very end. His entire life was taken away from him and he was totally isolated - how could he ever move past that? I rewatched the ending again last night and saw it in a very different light: while I’d still be devastated in Jack’s shoes, I would also feel very deeply in my core that life has plenty of opportunities for me. I’d start with something simple, like eating a meal I enjoy and listening to sounds that relax me. Little goals such as walking around the block a few times twice a week. If I hadn’t been through all the cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotherapy I have already, I’d find support in that area, too. I’d open up to trusted loved ones. Baby steps because I don’t have to feel 100% back to normal right away. I’d accept that it may take some time, but I’d trust that I’ll get there one day. Then I’d feel the freedom of making my life what I want it to be.

    Regarding shame, you’ll want to learn to be kinder to yourself. When I was younger, I found myself in dangerous situations because of misguided behavior, and some terrible things happened to me. Truly traumatizing things that I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to look in a mirror and forgive myself for. One situation prompted my doctor to call a support hotline on my behalf. It doesn’t make me a bad person. I had to learn how to focus on my future and what’s in my control today. I have freedom and power. My past makes it easier for me to connect with and love people. I’m consistently identified both personally and professionally as a great resource, leader, and team member - I’m not saying this to toot my own horn, but rather to illustrate that I wouldn’t be any of those things if I had lived a perfect life.

    There is always the ability to start a fresh new chapter filled with healing and joy in life. And there are highly-qualified people who can help you handle trauma - you don’t have to do this alone. Many of us have been in your shoes, including me. And I can tell you that I went from wishing I weren’t here to completely flourishing, even when life feels heavy.
  3. Miller

    Miller Peer Supporter

    You know what I think trauma is the wrong word... I think it's guilt and shame... Which means I don't trust myself and I don't feel safe because these are obviously horrible emotions to have.

    I have had some awful things done to me but also done some awful things.

    Some periods of my life were probably "traumatising" in a way because of how awful I was feeling about myself and behaviours that traced back to childhood (I'm not talking about anything sinister, mostly sexual promiscuity and lying/manipulating people but never for spiteful reasons... I didn't even know I was doing it at the time to be honest)

    I have read about people with complex PTSD and deep trauma and that does feel like me, I just feel broken somehow inside and very sick emotionally

    Back when I did TMS style therapy I didn't even touch on these issues as I was so convinced I did not feel emotions around my behaviour or past?!

    And then after a pretty awful period of TMS symptoms it just hit me like a ton of bricks that I actually DO have all these emotions.. but I panick when I think about how to navigate them. I don't want more therapy as it makes me feel more broken :(
  4. Dorado

    Dorado Beloved Grand Eagle

    I apologize, I added this to my post after posting:

    Regarding shame, you’ll want to learn to be kinder to yourself. When I was younger, I found myself in dangerous situations because of misguided behavior, and some terrible things happened to me. Truly traumatizing things that I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to look in a mirror and forgive myself for. One situation prompted my doctor to call a support hotline on my behalf. It doesn’t make me a bad person. I had to learn how to focus on my future and what’s in my control today. I have freedom and power. My past makes it easier for me to connect with and love people. I’m consistently identified both personally and professionally as a great resource, leader, and team member - I’m not saying this to toot my own horn, but rather to illustrate that I wouldn’t be any of those things if I had lived a perfect life.

    I understand what you mean. I remember feeling so shaken up and like I couldn’t trust myself. Years ago I walked through what was statistically the number one crime-ridden neighborhood in my major city (which is cited by politicians and reporters as being “dangerous” because some areas have quite a few shootings throughout the year). I wanted to visit a family house that my several generations of immigrants on my maternal side grew up in. It was 4 AM and the Uber driver begged me not to do it. Instead of listening to him, I walked around the neighborhood and had him take pictures of me from his car with MY cell phone. I woke up the next morning saying to myself, “What the hell?” That was the weekend I went out with friends to celebrate my 26th birthday and thought I had developed alcoholic neuropathy because strange symptoms suddenly plagued me 24/7. When I wrote about that weekend shortly after joining this forum, I had a member from a nearby neighborhood beg me to stay out and listen to my doctors who said I didn’t have permanent damage.

    Talk therapy can feel redundant. Have you considered cognitive behavioral therapy or an equivalent to address how you handle and process emotions, situations, perceptions, etc.? That’s what ultimately helped me. We didn’t talk about my past 24/7 - we focused on how to establish new routines, habits, and patterns. You are not a lost cause and the brain is neuroplastic - we can always change for the better.
  5. Dorado

    Dorado Beloved Grand Eagle

    It’s also important to recognize that no matter what you’ve done in the past that you’re ashamed of, we all have made mistakes, and we are often the hardest on ourselves. If you wake up today and continue to treat others kindly with empathy and respect, and focus on doing good things in life (without expecting yourself to be perfect - NONE of us are, especially me who was just recently told by a c-suite executive that my temperament, negotiation skills, and problem-solving approaches are “perfect”... little does he freaking know!), you will feel proud. Even just smiling at a stranger or giving someone a compliment helps those happy, calm neurotransmitters increase both for you and the other person.

    Putting all your focus on the past keeps you there and doesn’t allow you give or receive today or tomorrow. Me focusing on shame over what I’ve done and been through doesn’t help anyone. You never know who has made what mistakes in their lives, but you can see the impact they’re having right now.
  6. Miller

    Miller Peer Supporter

    Yeah I had symptoms 24/7 after something awful happened to me but they were low level and manageable. Then I did something awful and felt terrible for it and my symptoms went up a gear hence the anxiety/depression.

    I almost feel like it's "my fault" because I don't want to face these emotions and struggle to be kind to myself. Maybe some people learn about TMS and feel relieved, whereas I feel scared that emotions can do this to me and worry about my future if I can't heal them.
  7. Dorado

    Dorado Beloved Grand Eagle

    TMS/the mind-body connection is normal. All humans, and even many animals, experience it at some point. That’s why people blush when they’re embarrassed, develop headaches after an argument, have stomachaches when nervous, etc. If we didn’t experience it, that would mean we were no longer alive. But the good news is that we can always heal - which consists of nothing more than calming down the nervous system. Some of us are simply more sensitive or susceptible to severe symptoms than others, but even we can always heal.

    I understand sexual promiscuity. I’ve been there many times with plenty of men and women. Some horrible things happened to me because of it - I was taken advantage of physically and/or emotionally by a few bad people. I didn’t deserve it (nobody ever does), but it happened. I had to ask my best friend how I could look in the mirror again. But that doesn’t make me a horrible person. I’ve never assaulted or taken advantage of anyone and I’m not a sociopath. I would never hurt someone the way others have hurt me. I have emotions and feelings, which my cognitive behavioral therapist frequently pointed out to me. Feelings are often reflections of our values. Sometimes we deal with negative consequences and ultimately clash with our values, such as safety.

    I do recommend working with someone who can help you - not to wallow in the past and get caught up in loops, but work on changing how you perceive and manage situations as well as your self-esteem. Regarding your sympathetic nervous system being overactive from emotions such as stress, what helps you feel relaxed? What support do you have right now? What are you proud of or excited about in your life?
  8. Miller

    Miller Peer Supporter

    I'm not proud of much, or excited about much. I have been working less for the last year (I'm a freelance consultant) and letting symptoms, anxiety and rumination rule my life if I'm honest.

    Not sure when I feel relaxed either.. that's not a good sign is it?! (Light hearted)
  9. Dorado

    Dorado Beloved Grand Eagle

    That is truly where I think something like CBT, DBT, or an equivalent can help you. As someone who has had OCD (I no longer meet the criteria, but was diagnosed during childhood and again when I was 27), talk therapy made me highly susceptible to therapists who meant well but engaged in reassurance seeking with me. We would go over and over the same situations again and again. I’d feel better for maybe a day or so but then go right back down those same thought loops shortly after. It made me dwell on the past and dread the future even more. Also, have you read anything from Claire Weekes?

    Again, the brain is neuroplastic and we can literally shrink the amygdala in our brains that is responsible for processing certain emotions such as fear. You have far more power than you realize. It may take some time, but it’s worth it. My cognitive behavioral therapist taught me to view my anxious or negative thoughts as “trolls.” It was incredibly helpful and actually started making me “rebel” against the “trolls” because I realized there was another way for me to perceive and manage my life.

    Habits and patterned thinking are responsible for a lot of what we experience and go through in life. Understanding that can help us regain our sense of power and stability again.
  10. Miller

    Miller Peer Supporter

    I've never had CBT, I had hypnotherapy and he gave me some techniques for letting go of thinking but I do feel like I have emotions that need to be addressed. Feels like a jigsaw puzzle I can't put together... I'm afraid. And I don't know how to support myself. I'm not actually worried that my symptoms are anything sinister, I'm worried that it's TMS and I won't figure out the answer!
  11. Dorado

    Dorado Beloved Grand Eagle

    It’s okay that hypnotherapy wasn’t your thing. Help isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. There are people and other forms of therapy that absolutely can help you address, process, and manage your thoughts and emotions, including feelings of shame and guilt. Maybe talk therapy is part of that. Maybe other forms of therapy would benefit you, in addition to and/or in place of talk therapy. You don’t have to put together a jigsaw puzzle alone. That may be part of what’s scaring you - feeling like you have to come up with the answers on your own. You don’t.

    With TMS/the mind-body connection, it’s about calming and relaxing your sympathetic nervous system, which is a natural process that will take place on its own as you work on emotions and patterns. There is no point of “not going back” with TMS - the body is designed to heal and you have not reached any trauma, shame, guilt, etc. threshold. You are safe and okay today. There’s a whole sub forum filled with Success Stories from people who also felt lost, hopeless, and filled with guilt and shame, including me. I went from having a hospital debate whether to put me in the psych ward because I was in so much distress over my symptoms and in such pain from life in general (they ultimately told me to go to Mayo Clinic or Johns Hopkins, which I did) to healing and coming back to life. And life has only gotten better for me.
  12. Miller

    Miller Peer Supporter

    Thanks @Dorado

    I've felt so paralysed with all the options, therapies, books, meditations etc that to be honest I have actually done nothing towards "healing" except think about it for the last year... And that's not helping me feel safe!

    I have periods (like right now) where I'm pretty chilled despite background symptoms - watching a movie eating pizza with my cat (no pizza for him lol) and this is where I could practice meditation, breathing etc but I usually wait until symptoms really ramp up until I try and calm myself which I'm not very practiced in... Silly of me really. Guess it's part of the journey to learn these things about myself and be more proactive with my relaxation and calming my system.

    Appreciate your words of advice. X
    Dorado likes this.
  13. Dorado

    Dorado Beloved Grand Eagle

    It’s less about addressing the symptoms once they hit severely and more about managing your day-to-day emotions and thought patterns on an ongoing basis. That’s ultimately what got me out of my deep hole and that’s what prevents the severe moments from ever popping up. And I’d been there since childhood - diary entries contemplating death when I was 9 years old can attest to this. That means years and decades of shame, guilt, trauma, etc. I was not beyond hope, and neither are you. :)

    Enjoy that pizza! My cat hates human food (except for butter, of course), but goes absolutely nuts if I eat pepperoni pizza. No idea why. That’s one thing I just don’t have an answer or strategy for in life!
    Boston Redsox likes this.
  14. Miller

    Miller Peer Supporter

    My cat LOVES human food, he will eat bread, toast, cereal, even crisps if I let him! But I think that's because he was a stray who had been living under a deserted building for the first 5 weeks of his life, which is when I found him and rescued him! So he got used to human food from the trash I guess. There are no rules when it comes to cats, except the ones they make and we follow haha
    Dorado likes this.
  15. Dorado

    Dorado Beloved Grand Eagle

    See? In your cat’s eyes you’re a total lifesaver and superhero. And the same goes for people whom you have good connections with by showing them kindness and support - it doesn’t matter what shame you carry from your past, they love you. We just have to learn how to give ourselves the same appreciation because none of us are perfect.

    (Also, I adopted my cat from a family that didn’t appreciate her. She knows I absolutely adore her and takes advantage of it by bossing me around all day, sigh. That’s the one relationship in my life that isn’t 50/50, but I’ll take it!)
  16. Havehope

    Havehope New Member

    Thank you both Miller and Dorado for this thread! I too am feeling lots of shame and guilt about things from my past. I’ve had lots of pain symptoms that have moved around over the years...not realising it was TMS as I only discovered this site earlier in the year. I went to the doctors for everything and they never found anything wrong - I’m sure my record must be thicker than the yellow pages!

    Anyway now my pain has been replaced with panic and anxiety. I can’t seem to stop ruminating about embarrassing things I’ve said and done in the past. Everytime I manage to stop obsessing about one memory, a new one replaces it. It’s horrible and I almost wish the pain would come back instead.

    My big fear too is will I ever be ‘normal’ and be able to just relax without having something to obsess about? Be it pain or anxiety. I really don’t think I know how to relax.

    One thing I am grateful for is that everything that’s happened in the past has made me who I am today. I’m grateful that it’s made me a better person, but it’s not enough to make me stop obsessing and feeling so much shame about my past.
  17. Dorado

    Dorado Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes, you can absolutely feel normal and have the ability to relax without needing something to obsess about! It's all about calming down the sympathetic nervous system. The best thing I can recommend is cognitive behavioral therapy or an equivalent. I have a connective tissue disease (Ehlers-Danlos) that causes dysautonomia, which is dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system. I'm naturally prone to going into fight-or-flight mode and sympathetic nervous system overdrive, yet even I have managed to overcome both physical and emotional symptoms, including - but certainly not limited to - anxiety.
    Havehope likes this.
  18. Havehope

    Havehope New Member

    Thank you, Dorado. I’ve actually had CBT before OCD and it worked and I managed to get past that so I will look into it again.

    Thank you for giving me hope!
  19. Miller

    Miller Peer Supporter

    Thanks for saying that about my cat @Dorado - it really lifted my mood and gave me some perspective
    I also have thought a lot about the reassurance-seeking you referenced.
    I think I'm the same here - I have unloaded many thoughts and feelings on therapists, friends and my husband, looking for reassurance that I am not a bad person etc.
    It helps so much for a few days and then I just end up needing more of it, from somewhere else.
    I think I assumed I was "feeling my feelings" this whole time, when really I was just thinking about them. 32 years of keeping it all bottled up and living in my head... no wonder I feel dizzy and scared.
    My thoughts are STRONG and can really get a hold of me, but I have many moments of respite that prove I don't need to feel like this all the time. It's mainly a pattern when I look for the negative thought because I'm so used to it... I've read some stuff from Steve O - he seems to think my brain is giving me thoughts to protect me from what it perceives to be dangerous feelings? Is that the right interpretation?
    Sorry for the ramble...
  20. Ashley A

    Ashley A New Member

    Hi Dorado! This thread caught my eye specifically because you mentioned you thought at one point you had alcoholic neuropathy, but that it was of course TMS. I’m just curious why you thought that and what symptoms you had? My main TMS symptoms are back pain but I’ve had my share of phantom pains move around over the years. I recently started getting some tingling sensation on my fingers and I too automatically thought alcoholic neuropathy. To be honest I have used alcohol to lessen the pain in the evenings (never during the day) - usually 2 glasses but there have definitely been nights where it’s more. So of course my fearful obsessive mind goes here. I’m trying to tell myself that it is just another TMS symptom popping up to distract me. That it knows what to prey on, fears of mine from the past. I had numb fingers last year that went away too after I ignored it, but I did initially freak out and google alcoholic neuropathy. Now anytime I have any sensation in my fingers I freak out. Any advice? Thanks so much! ☺️

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