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Alan G. Tried Everything...I'm Desperate

Discussion in 'Ask a TMS Therapist' started by Guest, Aug 14, 2014.

  1. Derek Sapico MFT

    Derek Sapico MFT TMS Therapist

    Overcoming the fear is a very important component of recovery, but can be difficult because the fear thoughts are so habitual. Change really can start just by making a decision.

  2. dabatross

    dabatross Well known member

    i guess the problem for me lies in i make that decision and i feel empowered by it. sometimes the pain actually goes down after i feel empowered over the fear and that lasts for a little while. then after waking up with the same tension in my eyes every morning, and things don't seem to be changing, thats when i slip up and start fearing again. my natural inclination is towards anxiety for some reason, so i start researching or looking up information to calm myself back down and realize things are okay. but i always feel the need to intellectualize, analyze and information seek when im scared.

    so i feel empowered and i stand up to the fear but when things aren't changing and i keep waking up with the tension in my eyes to start out the day, my confidence dwindles and i go back to my same old habits. what can be done about this?
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  3. Alan Gordon LCSW

    Alan Gordon LCSW TMS Therapist

    You know the answer to that, dabatross. Confidence is a choice. Every time your mind gravitates toward fear, it's an opportunity to alter your neural pathways. You need your mind to gravitate toward fear.

    In order to overcome a fear of flying you need to go up in the air, if you want to face your intimacy issues you have to get into a relationship, and if you want to break an addiction to anxiety, your mind needs to send you fear thoughts. Every one of those fear thoughts is an opportunity to reprogram your brain.

    Are you going to take the easy path? The familiar path? The path that perpetuates the fear cycle and leads you back into pain? Or are you going to refuse to indulge in the fear thought, stand up to it, empower yourself, and literally change your brain?

    It's simply a matter of recognizing the fear thoughts, seeing them as an opportunity to alter the neural connections in your brain, and standing up for yourself. Rinse and repeat.
  4. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    Clicking "like" just doesn't communicate the awesomeness of those words, Alan. Fearful thoughts bring an opportunity to change my brain. (Wanders off repeating new mantra…)

    Thank you!
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  5. dabatross

    dabatross Well known member

    I've never looked at the fear thoughts as an opportunity to reprogram my brain before. I always saw them as kind of the enemy and obviously didn't want them there but over time I learned to accept them more through reading Claire Weekes and stuff. I also didn't understand that by standing up to the fear thoughts when they arise, telling me Im going to be in pain forever, nothing will work, etc. that this was creating new neural pathways as well. Dr. Schubiner first introduced me to neural pathways and I have a rudimentary understanding of them. Am I right in saying that by sheer repetition of having the fear thought come up, standing up to it with empowerment and not indulging in that fear, over and over shuts off those neural pathways of fear and creates new ones of empowerment and confidence?
    How does this then translate to elimination of pain?

    One other question I had relating to these fear thoughts that I'm sure others no the forum have had as well is this: if I quit my job and change my line of work, will the pain disappear? I started having these thoughts a while back and since I work on computers for a living my natural inclination of thought was: "well maybe if I switch jobs, to becoming a landscape guy or something that doesn't involve using my eyes at the computer, then the pain will go away". Is there any truth to this? At the beginning of this year I feared for a few months that I was in the wrong field and that I should be working outside doing landscaping but in all reality I think I'm more curious to see if switching out of this job and moving into one outdoors would cure my eyestrain. The problem is I like my job, I like doing design work on the computer, and if I took a landscape job there's no telling if the eyestrain would go away or not and I would lose like 7 bucks an hour in pay.
  6. njoy

    njoy aka Bugsy

    I am going through something similar, dabatross. After over 20 years as a successful Sarno aficionado, having kicked back pain, fibromyalgia and much more out the door, I am now up against -- omg! -- delusional parasitosis. Yes, bugs biting and crawling all over me. Turns out we "buggers" are a community of thousands, perhaps millions. And, yes, I know it's TMS because it relieved me of acute FEAR about the state the world is. Pure, simple, unadulterated TMS.

    I have an appointment with a shrink soon and meanwhile am scarfing down the -pams to get some sleep each night. But it's bs and I know it.

    Alan Gordon is right. Fear has got to go. Wow. Won't that be wonderful? Totally worth any hard work it may entail.

    As to changing jobs, unless you have been scared to ditch your computer career and go :happy: landscaping :happy: , changing work is probably not the solution.

    PS: Hey, Forest, the emoticons are predominantly guy-ish. We need more hearts, flowers, hugs, and kissy faces!
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2014
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  7. Alan Gordon LCSW

    Alan Gordon LCSW TMS Therapist

    I wouldn't say that neural pathways shut off but they can become dormant, much like how a child who speaks a second language will lose that language if he ceases to be exposed to it.

    This relates to the pain because the purpose of the pain is to scare you, and if you stop reinforcing a behavior, the behavior fades (or changes).

    I doubt that the pain would go away if you changed jobs. There's a chance that it would move. You might develop back pain if you became a landscape artist and had to carry things, or arm pain if you became a screenwriter, or throat pain if you became an opera singer. It's the nature of the beast.

    In all likelihood though the eye pain would stay. Given that it has such a hold on you, it's the most effective source of preoccupation your mind currently has. The pain usually moves only when a different symptom can become a greater source of preoccupation, or the current symptom becomes less of a source of fear.
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  8. dabatross

    dabatross Well known member

    So if they become dormant they can become reactivated again if you begin to fear correct?

    So you stop reinforcing the pain behavior by not fearing it, and the behavior fades. What do you mean by "or changes"? What would it change into?

    This would make sense because I thought my pain was finally over when I left standing up jobs and went to work on the computer but then the eyestrain began. So since it's the nature of the beast the only way to overcome this is to face the fear head on, discover the underlying emotions/reasons why you have the fears in the first place, and repeat containing the fears by not indulging in them over and over again? "Escapism" is the word I think for thinking that switching jobs would fix the problem. The other thing is that my foot pain didn't go away either... when I walk for longer periods it still hurts so I still have the foot pain after walking for a while and the eye tension 24/7.

    So my only real option is to face the fear. From what I'm reading I can't just find another job, or change careers to do something else, and make this go away. This is generated completely internally. So I have to stop using the neural pathways of fear by not indulging in those fears when they come up by cutting them off like "No, im not going to go there, moving on" "no i have been checked many times, theres nothing wrong with my eyes, move on" and eventually these neural pathways fade and the behavior (pain) is eliminated.

    I guess there is comfort and fear at the same time at the thought of this. On one hand its comforting to know that I don't have to switch my career that I went to college for to rid myself of this anxiety and my symptoms but on the other hand it's scary to know that I have to face this head on for it to go away.. period. There's no escaping from it by trying to run, is that what you're saying? Because you said the eyestrain has such a hold on me my brain doesn't want to let it go, so the only way to eliminate it is to face these fears and not give in to them every day, for as long as it takes, until the pain fades? I'm also doing meditation each day to try and calm my body down from the stress response as well.

    I dont know why I thought that if I switched jobs things would go back to normal, maybe just hoping I guess.
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  9. Alan Gordon LCSW

    Alan Gordon LCSW TMS Therapist

    A. Theoretically, sure.
    B. Change into another physical symptom, or panic attacks, or OCD, or anything else that might try to bait you right back into a state of fight or flight.
    C. Yes, that is what I'm saying. Now, no more questions. No more seeking external comfort by getting left-brain feedback. No more distracting yourself with a sort of superficial instruction guide. You know what you have to do. Do it.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2014
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  10. njoy

    njoy aka Bugsy

    Me, too.
  11. The Fool

    The Fool Peer Supporter

    The initial post on this thread could have been made by me (although it wasn't). I too have been having a tough time with deep down belief that all of my TMS symptoms can truly be eliminated. Even though I've witnessed a classic "book cure" of my friend's chronic and debilitating back pain, I managed to convince myself that my symptoms of neuropathic pain were somehow "different" and more ingrained.

    Today, I had one of those moments when the light bulb in your head suddenly switches on. It was during my daily morning walk with my dog around the perimeter of the golf course at the back of our house. I'd met all the usual people out with their own dogs, had some doggie conversation, and was updated on all the news and gossip in our local community. I was on the last lap home, keeping up a steady walking pace and found myself singing (in my head, not out loud) "Old MacDonald had a Farm, ee aye, ee aye oh!" I then remembered a day the previous week when the exact same song had popped into my head on the way home, and began to wonder where on earth I'd got it from. And then I heard it in the far off distance, barely audible - an ice-cream van somewhere was playing the tune. I'd been engrossed in conversations with my neighbours, and my own thoughts about what I was going to do with the day ahead while keeping an eye out for my own dog who was gambolling along around me, and hadn't consciously clocked the repetitive tune of the ice-cream van in the distance. But my unconscious had picked up the tune, and it was now playing in my head like an "ear worm".

    The ice-cream van must have been in the area on the same day and time the previous week, and it hadn't registered then where the song had come from, but my unconscious mind had picked it up. I then began to wonder about my unconscious, because most of my triggers for pain must be unconscious. The neural pathways begin to signal just as soon as I start to surface from sleep in the morning - "ok guys - she's waking up, this is definitely a dangerous situation - crank up the occipital nerve response". In fact, when pain is evident every waking moment, everything is a trigger. There's an ice-cream van playing my tune of fear all day at various volumes, without my conscious awareness. Although, I do have some very conscious triggers which provoke real fear by just thinking about them. These ones I do face head on from time to time, but the pain is so fierce, it takes a lot of guts to persevere. Other actions produce a more moderate response, which can lead to severity if I pursue them for more than a few hours.

    I want to believe that the rest of my life won't be spent in discomfort, and long for those years previously spent in pain-free luxury. How could I ever have taken them for granted?

    I want my mantras of healing and calm to be solid and real, not hollow and without substance. I want to change my way of thinking, but just don't know how to break the habits of a life-time.
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  12. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is an excellent thread, and a great post @The Fool .

    Practicing mindfulness is the best way I've found so far to achieve real change. Strengthening the observer part of my brain so I am more aware/conscious of my internal state (thoughts and emotions), allows me the space I need to make a choice for change. Each time I do that my new neural pathways are strengthened.

    Further up in this thread is discussion of Joe Dispenza, an interview, and some information about his new book You Are the Placebo. (There is also a TED talk of his under Mindbody Video subforum) He offers some specific ways to change those lifetime habits. I am in the first part of the book still, so haven't tried the methods yet, but sounds like they work for JoelA.
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  13. The Fool

    The Fool Peer Supporter

    Thanks Ellen - I will check out Joe Dispenza's book too.

    I've had a pretty stressful couple of months recently, and haven't had a lot of time to concentrate on healing, but will hopefully be able to get back on track now.
  14. dabatross

    dabatross Well known member

    Sorry I asked so many questions. Well I haven't been changing anything and this is either a good thing or a bad thing... the pain is getting worse. I've done like you've said and have stood up to the fear and the pain by not backing down from it. The tension started getting worse about 3 weeks ago and in the last week has gone up even more, but even though it's been high I've still be watching movies and not avoiding close up activities. This would usually be the time where I start investigating a lot and beginning to freak out as to why things have gotten worse but I'm not going to do that today.
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  15. Huckleberry

    Huckleberry Well known member

    Um wow...this thread is probably the best appraisal of TMS/stress illness/anxiety I've ever read. It has become as clear as day to me that I'm stuck due to fear and all the while the programmed fear response remains then so shall the status quo.

    I honestly feel that nothing more need be added to the subject above and beyond what is written in these two pages...all the smarts and ammunition is there it's just about choosing to M (or) LTFU and deciding to walk the walk.

    Really needed to read this...amazing.
    North Star likes this.
  16. njoy

    njoy aka Bugsy

    Huckleberry, I agree this is a fascinating thread. In rereading some of the posts, I noticed dabatross said, " So since it's the nature of the beast the only way to overcome this is to face the fear head on, discover the underlying emotions/reasons why you have the fears in the first place, and repeat containing the fears by not indulging in them over and over again?"

    Makes sense. Dr. Sarno seems to feel the underlying emotion is rage (a rage so deep it really can't be let out) -- at least that's my understanding of what he says. I think I disagree with Sarno to the extent that fear came first and then my reaction was rage.

    As to "face the fear head on, discover the underlying emotions/reasons why you have the fears in the first place" this seems obvious to me. This world is one heck of a scary place. Any sensible person is constantly feeling fear and, yes, rage to follow. The worst of this rage must be contained because it is so destructive BUT we have considerable leeway in the "goodist" pressures we place on ourselves. Being a goodist is quite possibly a tactic of the mind to try to make life easier.

    I'll give you an example: my daughter is paranoid schizophrenic and there are people in our small town who like to tease her. Many times a group of people surround her and watch with a smirk on their faces or even join in the name-calling. This hurts her feelings and she is finding fewer and fewer people who have never "stood and watched" the bullying. She is starting to run out of people she would actually like to be friends with. That's her problem, as she described it and I understood it.

    We talked about various things she might try but she'd already thought of them (this is why advice giving often a waste of time but you never know). Then I thought I'd better tell her MY truth which is that no one messes with me like that and almost never has, even in school. I have some good verbal skills (mostly quite civilized) for deflecting critical attack. My final defence isn't all that civilized, however. I have a very quick, sarcastic tongue and can thoroughly humiliate anyone who annoys me. And I do. So, they don't bother because they look stupid in front of whoever is watching. Maybe I do, too, but the difference is I don't care. I just want them to stop and it works. I don't care what anyone else thinks as long as they keep it to themselves.

    The interesting part is I usually end up having quite a respectful relationship with bullies but if not at least they avoid me. Problem solved. My husband (we've been married nearly 50 years!) has seen me in action many times and disapproves profoundly. When he was a kid, he just stood there and thought about why this other kid was pounding on him. No fight. No flight. As an adult man, he (even at age 70) he looks tough and dangerous so nobody bothers him, either.

    I don't look all that tough and dangerous so I needed to approach the problem a bit differently. He disapproves but, frankly, I don't care. It works and it's mostly kind of fun.

    Btw, both my daughter and I intervene when someone else is being bullied. Very few people do because of fear. If we (my daughter and I) are afraid of the getting hurt, we call a cop to stop whatever is happening, or call on some big guy to help. That's what they are for.

    Sorry to blather on about this but the point is we all have to deal with fear. It's not necessarily fear of physical harm, but words hurt, scornful looks hurt, losing someone or something you care about hurts, etc. etc. etc. Everybody has plenty to fear.

    So, my question is: HOW to face fear and overcome it. Let's talk method now that we all get it that fear is the enemy. Is there more to it than just "not indulging it"? Let's get into specifics of what works.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2014
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  17. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    Njoy, here's some girley ones: :oops: :dummy1: :kiss: :nurse: :shame: :cat: :clown:
  18. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Wow, @njoy ! I have always thought of Canada as such a peaceful, civilized place with the nicest people in the world. Is there really that much bullying going on there? That is sad. :(
  19. njoy

    njoy aka Bugsy

    There is that much bullying going on everywhere, @Ellen. The nicest people in the world also live everywhere, I think.
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2014
  20. njoy

    njoy aka Bugsy

    Last edited: Aug 28, 2014

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