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Triggered Into A Massive Setback By A Crushing Superego

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by donavanf, Feb 27, 2017.

  1. donavanf

    donavanf Well known member

    Hello friends. I've been doing pretty well with my TMS, for the most part. I still have a daily pain level, but it is always "below a 5". Some months back, I even had a whole week where I was nearly pain free. I'm a photographer, and I've been able to shoot pain free lately. For me, this is huge. For a long while, I would be in pain while shooting. Now, I don't even think about my back while shooting and rather, I find myself getting pain after shoots (nearly immediately after) and I can usually talk myself out of it by realizing it is TMS. Often it comes on the moment I think, "Hey, I did good today! No pain while shooting!". Then it hits. It's almost comical in it's timing.

    My pain always comes in one of several forms, and the worst is muscular pain in the upper back, neck, and right shoulder blade. I hear a lot of clicking and popping, and worry about "good posture", but the more I worry, the worse it gets. I know better. The more I worry about posture, the worse I feel.

    The last month has been very emotionally stressful. Some "good stress" (gf moved in with me, more photography jobs) and some "bad stress" (other high maintenance roommates in transition of moving out, family issues, and several lifelong but distant friends dying, several funerals attended...and now that I think about it, lots of stress all over the place, from nearly every side). Despite all this, my TMS has been not as bad as it used to be! But I've had a relapse. Or what feels like one.

    Last week, I was asked to do a Photoshoot that involved me going to New York to photograph a major corporate client. I've done a lot of freelance work with them locally, and done fine, but this was the first time they asked me to travel. And my "boss" is my niece. Although it would have made me some much needed money (finances are my #1 trigger), I turned it down. I have terrible anxiety around plane travel, and the last time I traveled to NYC, ironically to attend this same Niece's graduation, I basically had a full blown nervous breakdown. This "breakdown" resulted in me coming back home to LA and spiraling down the tubes. At first mentally, then physically. And that trip led into my current "shoulder and upper back/neck" TMS. I have done a LOT of work on my TMS, from reading all the books, to seeing Dr. David Schechter, and beginning (though not finishing) the SEP. I know that I have TMS, and have had it since childhood. But I digress, back to this current flare-up.

    After I turned down this photo gig last week, I was riddled with GUILT, GUILT, GUILT. This is the exact emotion that was most predominant in 2013 about and during my NY trip. I didn't want to go then, but went, out of guilt and goodism. I had to combat my own fear of travel, and take care of my sister the whole trip. It was Goodism & Guilt and many old demons. That trip shook me so bad, it's taken me years to really come to terms with it. And now, here I was last week, being asked to go again, right back to that trip in 2013, in a way. And I would have been going with and for my niece. Just like in 2013. She would also be my boss on this trip, making it even more intense. Everything told me, "DO NOT GO". Including my psychotherapist. But I agonized over it for 24 hours. After I said no, I felt a huge sense of relief (mixed with disappointment and shame and guilt), but knew I had done the right thing. Then, instead of being able to reflect on it, the next three days were filled with a lot of work, physical work, doing three fairly physically demanding photoshoots. One was particularly hard, and I am very out of shape. I went to bed in terrible pain last night. Today, I can barely move. My neck, upper back, shoulder, and whole body hurts. It feels like I ran a marathon with a backpack full of rocks on my shoulders. I feel just like I did in 2013. Only this time, I KNOW it is TMS. Yet still, I doubt. And I hurt.

    How much of this do you think is TMS, and how much is just physical demands of photography? I ask myself this EVERY DAY. I am 45, not overweight but not physically fit at all. I fear I don't have the strength to be a professional photographer, though this year has been the most successful I have ever had. I'm finally doing what I love full time, and photography is now my only source of income. I put tremendous pressure around it, but I feel like I have to, or I can't pay my rent. To me, the "fun" of photography (hobby since 13) is gone. Now, it is just my job. And while I love it, it puts me in pain nearly every time I do it. PARTICULARLY if I have to shoot many days in a row, or if the job is a high pressure one.

    Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I can tell myself, that yes, I have TMS and I had a hard week/month, got triggered and of course my back hurts? I still feel CONVINCED that something is wrong physically, despite being told by numerous docs (including a TMS doc) that I have nothing wrong with my neck, back, shoulder, etc.

    What I have is a VICIOUS superego that is relentless in beating me up inside. I know this, but yet, I hurt. I hurt. I hurt. I don't want to give up photography. I want to give up being so hard on myself. And I want to wake up one day and not feel like I am carrying the weight of the world on my 45 year old shoulders.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2017
  2. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Donovan. I think it is perfectly normal that you felt anxiety and pain after turning down the photo shoot in New York. Try not to feel guilty... you just feared you would have another nervous breakdown. You can't always push yourself. I love photography but never made a career out of it. That can be stressful. Try not to think your pain is at all structural. That may be the main reason you are not healing as you would like. Believe 100 percent in TMS.
  3. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Donavan,
    I think you know the root of this for you. TMS is a distraction. So too is the superego. It keeps us up in its orbit, which seems so important, and compelling. You might gently inquire into "If I was not feeling guilty, what would I feel?"
    Andy B
    donavanf likes this.
  4. donavanf

    donavanf Well known member

    Andy, thank you so much. Do you think that "guilt" is really perhaps a mask for deeper, more primal emotions? Because when I dug a bit, I heard, "I feel sad. I feel angry" I feel afraid". Guilt seems like a very "grown up" emotion, and one that the Superego likes. I would imagine the ID and even the EGO might feel something quite different.
  5. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes, I think your inquiry is immediately taking you deeper. Then you can learn to hang with the sad and angry. This takes disengaging from the superego, which wants to keep you in the "familiar outer layers of guilt." It also takes an intimacy with the sad and angry, an allowing.
    Ellen and donavanf like this.
  6. donavanf

    donavanf Well known member

    Walt, thanks for the thoughtful response. Yes, photography can be stressful but it didn't used to be. Honestly, it only became really stressful when I had to fight through pain to do it. Dr. Schechter told me, "I am certain your camera is not causing you neck and back pain, because it never did before. You have conditioned yourself to believe this. Lifting this weight could not possibly be causing the level of neck pain you have, and even if it was soreness from lifting a weight, it would not present like this. This is TMS, 100%." I think my camera is a trigger because I make a living with it. It is very hard to "un-believe" it when my neck starts killing me after every big shoot. I need to do some work on DE-conditioning. I would love any arrows in the direction of where to begin doing that. I did it with my car seat (though it took getting a new car!). For years, it hurt to drive. I hated my old clunker. When I bought a new car, I just focused on the joy of driving it, the freedom I felt and the pride I had in a new car. I rarely hurt from driving now. But if I get in my office chair to do photoshop (which is basically my car seat inside, lol) I have pain. And when I shoot, I have pain. How would you recommend me CONVINCING myself it is NOT structural. I have to be honest, this last week, I started up my old PT exercises, and thought, "Well, I have really overdone it this time. I guess I cannot shoot several days in a row". This is terrible because I know it isn't true, and also, for my work, I often need to shoot a few days in a row. You are correct, I think the main reason I am having relapses when I shoot a lot is because I am still thinking structurally.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2017
  7. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I need to do some work on DE-conditioning. I would love any arrows in the direction of where to begin doing that. I did it with my car seat (though it took getting a new car!). [/QUOTE]

    Get a new desk chair. Problem solved :D

    But Seriously, what we need to do is re-program our brains--write a new program over the old one. It can be done by using our rational, conscious brain to override the primitive brain. Every time you are aware of pain, talk to your brain--"Stop it brain! There is no reason that sitting at this computer should cause pain. There is nothing wrong with my body. I'm healthy and strong enough. " or something to that effect. I usually add something like "I'm willing to look at and feel all my feelings, so there is no need to distract me. " This takes much repetition and persistence. I do think it is helpful to change other aspects of our environment and/or routine while starting on this. So my recommendation of getting a new desk chair is serious. Or move your desk. Change the time of day you sit at your desk, etc. Same idea for the pain you get when doing a shoot.

    Do a search on this site for "conditioning" and you will find lots of good tips on this. It's a very common problem.

    You're really doing great, you know........
    donavanf likes this.
  8. David88

    David88 Well known member

    It sounds like your unconscious is not giving up the pain, even though you know it's TMS. Sometimes knowing is not enough. The pain is still serving a purpose.

    Have you ever tried not fighting the pain, but embracing it? It sounds paradoxical, but it was helpful to me. Embrace the pain as a message that something in your life is out of balance and needs attending to. Try to hear the message.

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