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Two years down the line, overwhelmed and tired

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Miller, Aug 16, 2020.

  1. Miller

    Miller Peer Supporter

    Let me firstly say I know exactly how I sound - one of those "trouble healers" who is still posting and reading the forum after two years of "trying everything".

    I'm not going to get specific about my exact symptoms because they really don't matter as much as my state of mind right now, and I know how susceptible I was to reading about health conditions etc so I would rather not name them.

    I had my symptoms for years before discovering TMS, managed by antidepressants I lived a pretty full life, I didn't understand my symptoms but I had no desire or idea how to heal them so I just got on with life. I'm not quite sure how I managed this looking back, probably the ADs numbing everything? Plus no one had ever suggested I could or would ever feel better, so I didn't try anything really.

    Anyway, a big life event happened and a brand new random symptom appeared that I truly couldn't handle. This led me to find the tmswiki - and the downward spiral that followed.

    I worked with a TMS therapist who was probably great but one of their suggestions was looking for emotions everytime symptoms were bad... totally get it. But my symptoms were low-level and 24/7. Suddenly I started looking for when they were better/worse etc. and my focus increased on them - they started getting worse.

    I was reading TMS forums obsessively and developed new symptoms I had read about on here - go figure.

    I found a therapist who specialises in neuroplasticity - symptoms get worse yet again. Because I'm panicking that I have these pathways I need to fix. You get the idea. I was totally fine driving until she suggested most people with my symptoms can't drive. Now I have my worst symptoms while driving.

    My point really is ... how the f*ck do I start to undo all this? I never TRIED to feel worse, it just happened over time. My brain is obviously VERY powerful and I'd really like to harness this power for good purposes, but I am just feeling a bit lost. Everything I do seems to reinforce the problem.

    Sidenote: I have truly exhausted the repressed trauma route, I got stuck on past mistakes using this approach and was extremely mentally unhealthy for a period of months. I am VERY aware of my daily emotions, the issues in my life (financial, career, relationships but I truly feel these are a result of the situation I'm in from state of my health i.e. not working, not financially independent anymore etc)

    I have just found out I am pregnant and it's dawned on me that my brain is fully occupied with symptoms to the point where I can't even think about how I feel about it outside of "how will I cope with my symptoms etc"

    Sorry for the ramble, any advice on how to work with a new mindset would be appreciate, given that I truly believe my issues are psychological and not physical in nature.
    Baseball65 likes this.
  2. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Miller.

    I am STILL bugged by 'these' people.
    That's the the Nocebo Sarno warned us about. I don't know if you can tell by my posts, but I am a Sarno Purist. Simple. Concise. Effective. The whole cottage industry around TMS bugs. it reminds me of bored college kids and the genius they're always pumping out.

    I already ranted about 'Neural whatever-ways' so you know my scorn for non-Sarno methods.

    Have you tried getting angry? Going somewhere safe and yelling, cussing breaking things?

    You have the big 3 there... the dependence issue, the Baby coming and the alienation from family and friends. Those three are significant. Sarno said "whenever attacks come out of nowhere to look really close". In retrospect of two decades I can honestly say that my list of 'peeves' e.g.,politics, traffic, personalities, is only frosting, but the cake was IMMEDIATE family, Career and self perception, and ontology (what the fuck am I here for?). The three things you listed would definitely qualify as BIG things as far as our life goes. I can get away from a guy I don't like at work. I cannot get away from my kids, my wife, myself.

    This is interesting:
    I did NOT do that when I got well. Oh, occasionally I would have a satori and go 'AHA!', but mostly I just applied the Sarno described and recommended technique of returning my thoughts to a source of recurrent irritation. I had it prepared beforehand, so I didn't have to fish around or look at the situation I was in. Mine was focusing on a guy who had ripped me off in a music deal.His name was DAVID.

    So... pain hurts when I am out shopping with wife, DAVID. Notice Pain while I am working out, DAVID. I'm reading a book at home and the pain gets my attention, DAVID. I get bad financial news... DAVID. I have always said that the money I lost to him was well worth the recovery I got from fantasizing about beating the snot out of him.

    I didn't sit and try to psycho-analyze each and every pain...some are conditioned and have nothing to do with your environment. More importantly, If we really believe Sarno THEY ARE REPRESSED and UNCONSCIOUS so how the hell are we supposed to get to them?????

    I get the idea that these 'Neural pathways' people think I am finally gonna' dig that shit out and be a Jedi master. Well I am not. I am vain, shallow and petty. I do not need to become a Bodhisattva to get free of pain. Just 'David, David and David'

    One of the most important men in my life who helped me in my spiritual path, first helped me see that I didn't have any faith in God at all. I just had a lot of idea's but no practical faith. It explained my total failures up to that point and was refreshing. It also freed up my time as I no longer had to waste any on the methods I had tried and failed!!! If it doesn't work, chuck it! That ain't your deal. Try something new. I always recommend going back to SARNO and praying for a fresh set of eyes.

    There's a prayer called the 'set aside prayer' and I still use it to this day. Whenever i am stuck in an endeavor and am not getting it, I ask God to set aside everything I think I know about (fill in blank) so I can have a new experience. It has never failed me....and I don't necessarily have the faith to move mountains. I hope to move UP to a mustard seed.

    It's OK to let it go...All of it. If any of it was true it will come back, and it might come back without all of the BS and overthink.

    Idearealist likes this.
  3. Miller

    Miller Peer Supporter

    Okay so that's what's going on right now... But none of this started the symptoms... So they're just prolonging it? I hate to sound so dense but I struggle to get my head around it exactly. I didn't have these issues back then. However I had other issues I probably didn't get angry enough about... So it's more of a habit of mine, than one particular issue?

    I was under the impression that every time I felt symptoms I had to think what could be going on right now that I was repressing and then I'd get lost trying to work it out, and I ended up watching symptoms like crazy trying to work out what the hell was bothering me. Exhausting. It's all exhausting.

    The neural pathways thing seemed great at first and then slowly over time I realise yep I'm obsessing over it and it's all getting worse.

    I have not tried getting angry. I see emotions as scary because apparently they're causing a this pain and suffering. I've got it all backwards I think?
  4. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    That reinforces TMS

    Over evolved coping mechanism... sort of like cancer. Cell growth is good. Unchecked cell growth is NOT.
  5. Miller

    Miller Peer Supporter

    I think at this point I'm just annoyed because while I admit I wasn't totally zen and emotionally balanced, I did NOT have these issues (anxiety, over thinking, worrying constantly) before I started delving into the TMS diagnosis.

    I suppose my "TMS" personality primed me for even more trouble once I engaged with the symptoms even slightly.

    This has been super helpful x
  6. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    I see emotions as scary

    Great thread here! If you think emotions are "causing the problem," and therefore a problem to deal with, and that you probably can't, then this just amps up the loops of fear and fixing. I suggest gently noticing what is up in you emotionally, and letting the feelings and the information come to you.

    Your fear of emotions is natural. Everyone is basically afraid of their emotions, whether they're aware of it or not. It is part of our experience which we don't have control over.

    Also, emotions are overwhelming when we're young, and they are also not usually met with love by our parents ---at least not deeply and perfectly, the way we really wanted. So they are a "ball of trouble" from way back when.

    I think your and Baseball's insight gives you a great way to move forward. If you can simply be with yourself, connect your emotional experiences with some basic Sarno theory, and not have to fix anything, you're on a good path. I would suggest the focus might be on learning to feel more, and the benefits and self-intimacy this can bring, and worry less about curing symptoms. Your knowledge of how repressed emotions are connected to symptoms, without obsessing about them going away, will do a lot for you.

    What you're undertaking is more feeling, and perhaps less thinking. This can be a wonderful opening in life.

  7. Miller

    Miller Peer Supporter

    I think I've approached this whole thing as something to do, fight, fix or whatever the word is. I remember journalling with the specific intention of making my symptoms go away. The frustration and pressure on myself has been there since day one. I'm not "spiritual" and I've felt like I'll never get there because I'll never be this loving, perfect person with no negative emotions.

    I wonder how I've got this so wrong? It's almost funny...
  8. Miller

    Miller Peer Supporter

    Hi everyone,
    I wanted to give an update on the last couple of days.
    I have taken some time each day to sit down and write a few things down - I started off each time with the topic of pregnancy but this ultimately let to writing about friends, family and financial pressures. I'm just writing and then throwing it away.
    I know I have huge inner tension, partly about life in general and partly about symptoms themselves. I have not given myself a break over recent years trying to "fix" myself.
    I'm working on the CONNECTION between the tension and the symptoms without fear that it's all unresolvable because I am that exceptional person with too many emotions, or too complex inside.
    I am noticing that it is not so much the symptoms themselves that bother me, but the constant badgering my mind does about them, and the thoughts and feelings I have ABOUT THEM. I know that both @Forest and @Alan Gordon LCSW have said this multiple times but I was sure it was the actual symptoms themselves... not true in fact.
    The next 7 months are a time where I truly need to put myself and my growing baby first. I pray to God for the wisdom and ability to do that and grow as a person, beyond the need for my symptoms.
    Thanks for all your support. x
  9. Duggit

    Duggit Well known member

    Miller, you just might be on exactly the right path for yourself now, and I will explain why I say that.

    You mention Alan Gordon, and I assume you are referring at least in part to what he calls outcome independence. Howard Schubiner and Alan Gordon take essentially identical approaches to treatment, and I am going to talk about Schubiner. Schubiner's most recent book, coauthored with Intensive Dynamic Short-Term Psychotherapy (ISTDP) psychiatrist Allan Abbass, is a manual instructing clinicians on how to treat patients with psychophysiologic disorders. What they call psychophysiologic disorders are the same thing Sarno called TMS and TMS equivalents.

    Abbass and Schubiner make the important point that patients with psychophysiologic disorders fall across a spectrum. They say: "Each patient with psychophysiologic disorders, or PPD, presents with a unique combination of symptoms, histories of adverse life events, reactions to their symptoms, and current life situations. Because of this, PPD can be caused by anything from more easily accessible behavioral, cognitive, and interpersonal factors to more deeply rooted unconscious emotional factors." In short, treatment is not a matter of one-size-fits all. They divide treatment methods into two groups: (1) cognitive and behavioral techniques and (2) deeper emotion-focused therapy. Schubiner wrote the chapters on the former and Abbass wrote those on the latter.

    Schubiner discusses 25 cognitive and behavioral techniques (including but not limited to cognitive education that the cause of persistent pain is not structural). The final such technique he discusses is under the subheading "resume life." This is what Alan Gordon calls outcome independence. Under that subheading, Schubiner wrote:

    "For those patients in whom the symptoms persist, some of the above [cognitive and behavioral] techniques can actually become counterproductive if the patient is putting pressure on themselves to get better and focusing too much on the symptoms. In these cases, it is often necessary to focus less on their recovery and more on resuming their life, despite the persistence of symptoms. Many studies have shown that the keys to health include positive social connections and meaning and purpose in life. Therefore, it is often more important to focus on those issues, rather than the symptoms or their recovery efforts."
    (To digress for a moment, many years ago I started out as a Sarno purist, and that enabled me to overcome more than two decades of chronic low back back. The keys for me were accepting that the pain was psychological rather than structural and then becoming aware of when I was (1) repressing anger at my wife or (2) succumbing to conditioning. I have since broadened my perspective beyond Sarno to include what I call modern pain science, some of which underlies Gordon and Schubiner's approaches. I still think Sarno was right on the mark regarding repressed anger and conditioning, though I now think Sarno missed some mind-boggling things about the molecular biology of persistent pain that were unknown when he did his work.)

    Back to the "resume life/outcome independence" technique that Gordon and Schubiner advocate. Personally, I never became a fan of it. Perhaps that is because I never needed it. For me, paying attention to my symptoms and their possible cause(s) is not a source of pressure. Instead I find doing that to be interesting detective work that is almost fun--a challenging puzzle that I will be able solve with work. But I think Schubiner has a valid point that people with persistent symptoms can make themselves worse by putting too much pressure on themselves to get better and focusing too much on their symptoms. That is why I think you are on the right path by focusing less on recovering and more on resuming life, just as Schubiner calls for when the other cognitive and behavioral techniques he sets out are not working.

    Hopefully resuming life/outcome independence will prove to be all you need to do. I would be Pollyanna, however, if I did not note that one premise of the Abbass and Schubiner book is that some people need more than cognitive and behavioral techniques of one kind or another; they need deep emotional therapy based on ISTDP. You say you have worked with a TMS therapist. I don't know whether that person was also a psychotherapist and, if so, what his or her training was. But I want to point out something Sarno said in the foreword to a book authored by two psychologists who worked with patients of his that were not making good progress with his help alone. Sarno wrote: "In about one quarter of our patients, psychotherapy is essential for success. These patients harbor feelings that are deeply repressed in the unconscious and can only be brought to consciousness with the help of appropriately trained psychotherapists." (Emphasis added by me.) By "appropriately trained," Sarno meant trained in ISTDP. He was not a fan of cognitive behavioral therapy for deep emotional work. ISTPD therapists use finely honed techniques to help patients become consciously aware of, and overcome, habitual defense mechanisms that they automatically and unconsciously (i.e., unknown to them) use to keep certain emotions repressed. Unfortunately, trained ISTDP therapists are hard to find, in part because the training process is long and arduous. There might be therapists that read about ISTDP and then try to practice it, but I am skeptical about that. Prominent ISTDP psychiatrist Nat Kuhn has said: "ISTDP can’t be learned from a book, you definitely need to see video of the therapy [being done by expert practitioners], and you definitely need supervision." The supervision requires the trainee to videotape sessions with his or her patients, and then the supervisor and trainee watch the videos together. Every time the trainee responded to what the patient just said, the supervisor comments on the trainee's response almost sentence by sentence--whether it was good and, if it was not, exactly what the trainee should have said instead. I am not trying to be discouraging here. Rather, I am saying that if all else fails, ISTDP could be a ray of hope even though it might be hard work to find an adequately trained ISTDP therapist.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2020
  10. Miller

    Miller Peer Supporter

    Hi @Duggit thanks for your reply.

    I have to be honest with you - I have not had ISTDP therapy but I have had LOTS of emotional based therapy and identified every possible issue from childhood through to present day.

    I was functioning pretty well despite some symptoms until I discovered the tmswiki and now I see I approached it with the same dedication and obsessive nature I do with everything else. That's where the fear of emotions started for me and the really debilitating focus on my symptoms.

    I am 100% convinced in my heart at this point that reducing my fear and focusing on life again must be my priority. Rather than considering more therapy that makes me feel broken and paranoid about feeling emotions.

    I hope that makes sense! I know it's more about me than the therapy or wiki etc

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