1. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this updated link: https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/painrecovery/
    Dismiss Notice

Derek Sapico Ups and downs with TMS

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by dabatross, Aug 31, 2012.

  1. dabatross

    dabatross Well known member

    Lately Ive been working on relaxation techniques to treat my anxiety and TMS. The past couple weeks I've been doing progressive muscle relaxation the most. I haven't been doing it as much as I should but I have been consistently doing it which is something I wasn't doing before.

    Its odd because I will have a better day and then the next day it will go back worse again. Then 2 days later I could have a better day and then not have another better day for a week and a half. It's completely random but I link these better days to a more relaxed mind and body. I just don't understand why TMS treatment isn't linear at all.. it seems completely random. You make progress and then it goes back and forth from there with no apparent reasoning.

    My goal is to do around 40 minutes of relaxation techniques every day. Right now Im at 20 minutes a day so I want to double that. I found this is helping more than anything else Ive been doing. I was journaling but that wasn't helping very much and constantly reading about TMS wasn't really helping a lot either because it kept me focused on the pain. Ive been trying to stay away from reading about TMS too much and just do the relaxation techniques. Lately Ive really been looking at the correlations between anxiety and TMS and I realize they are treated pretty much the same way. We all know anxiety is just like TMS in that it can produce physical symptoms in your body like muscle tension, aches, etc. and if you just treat the symptoms you won't get results which is why Im going after the anxiety instead.

    Also doing the progressive muscle relaxation, I can feel how tense my body really is... especially in my shoulders and calf muscles. My eyes also hurt quite a bit when I squeeze them tight and let go. When I let go of the tension, a rush of aching pain goes through and then dissipates from my eyes. Thats the only spot in my body this happens in. I've also been trying to incorporate deep breathing into my daily practices but I found that progressive relaxation helps keep me focused on what Im doing in the present so its a more mindful activity for me personally.

    I try not to get stuck on "why was yesterday better but today its worse again" type of deal but I just wonder why this happens. You would think there would be a consistent linear path of recovery where you start having better days and it progressively keeps getting better but that seems to not be the case with treating anxiety and TMS. I think its best that I stay confident and just keep pushing forward and doing more and more relaxation every day because I feel tense as hell. Lately I've also felt burned out.. the type of feeling where you dont want to do anything, the hobbies that you normally do aren't interesting to you, you just want to sit on the chair and not move. This started a month or two ago and I dont know why. I just feel strung out and burned out/tense most of the time.
  2. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    I don't know either but I've noticed the same thing in myself--I think with any type of growth and change our overall movement is forward but there are always bumps in the road. The unconscious mind doesn't seem to be logical.

    I personally see the anxiety as just another TMS symptom no different than my TMJ pain, headaches, foot pain, etc. I find that the root cause of it is lack of compassion for myself which plays out in how I live and also in repressing feelings.

    It's great that the relaxation techniques are helping--they certainly seem like they would be the "soothe" part of the rage-soothe balance. I don't think TMS is always about not being relaxed enough, though...I teach meditation and I sometimes spend hours a week meditating, going to yoga classes, etc....and I was still in a lot of pain before I knew about TMS. Adding more and more relaxation exercises actually sounds kind of stressful to me ;) Maybe also be kind to yourself and let yourself be anxious and scared sometimes too.

    Glad to see you back here :)
    Forest likes this.
  3. Derek Sapico MFT

    Derek Sapico MFT TMS Therapist

    This is going to be a very non-scientific answer so just bear with me. I think that the reason that TMS recovery tends to be non-linear is because of the subconscious mind's tendency to resist change, especially change that is going to expose something or things that it has been conditioned to mask. When you are dealing with the subconscious, all bets are off because it doesn't really care if you get better or not, it is just working hard to protect the issues or emotions that it thinks it should be concealing. With this in mind, it seems logical that the subconscious is going to resist when we are trying to change it. It is saying "Hey you!!!! I've discovered this super tricky and effective way for you to not have to consciously process these hurtful emotions and it has been working!! Why do you have to go and screw with the program???" It does not realize that it really hasn't been working and that it has created a dynamic within your mind and body that has become more intolerable than the feelings that it has been working to conceal. Therefore, it is going to fight like hell to maintain the status quo and this results in frequent relapse.

    Another way to look at it would be through the lens of classical conditioning. TMS symptoms are a conditioned response that your brain has developed as a kind of flawed coping mechanism. Every time you get closer to being consciously aware and mindful of the emotions that it has been conditioned to conceal, it is going to activate. Think Pavlov's dog. It actually considers it a "reward" that you do not have to process or think about the intolerable emotion. To re-condition your brain takes time, patience, and, unfortunately, periods of relapse. Pavlov's dog is going to continue to salivate for a long time every time he hears a bell. It will take that dog a while to eliminate this conditioned response that has been reinforced for so long. Eventually, though, the bell will become meaningless again. This is the good news. While I do not think that it is as straightforward as this example, I do think that it takes time to "re-wire" your brain to perceive your self, your pain, and your emotions in a completely different way. Until then, though, the brain is going to continue to rely on what it thinks has worked in the past.

    I try to prepare all of my clients for a bumpy road. I tell them that there will be times when you will make amazing leaps and bounds, and there will be times when you may want to throw in the towel. I explain a graph in which the line rises diagonally (improves) but that line could be jagged. I work with them through the difficult times and do my best to help them to remain hopeful that what they are doing is working, even if it doesn't always feel that way. When my clients are hopeless, I tell them that I will carry their hope for them until they are ready to reclaim it. Perseverance and hope are golden and rarely does something as good as recovery come without pitfalls and struggle. So hang in there, warriors.........the best is yet to come.
    PepperGirl, BruceMC, Forest and 2 others like this.
  4. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Dabatross, it's good to hear from you. It sounds like you're in a very different place than a month ago (has it been a month? Or more?). I hope Derek's excellent answer to your question helps, and that you will hang in there, keep believing, and keep progressing!

    Given your history, you might be interested in Steve O's new post which discusses the need (or not) to access buried emotions.

    I've often wondered if anxiety is a TMS symptom, or if it is a mental condition that "ramps up" our TMS symptoms. I have asked the chicken vs. egg question many times regarding anxiety and TMS, but in any case, now that I have a completely different relationship with it, compared to the past, I've decided to treat my anxiety as a TMS symptom.

    Although Dr. Sarno was the start of my TMS journey, I didn't find him particularly helpful for my anxiety. The one resource that changed my relationship with anxiety was Dr. Claire Weekes' little book, "Hope & Help For Your Nerves". Relaxation techniques are certainly helpful. The next step might be to add affirmations during your relaxations.

    Derek Sapico MFT likes this.
  5. honeybear424

    honeybear424 Well known member

    I, too, have anxiety as part of my TMS. Yoga and meditation became a regular part of my life a little over a year ago, but it was disheartening to find that I was getting worse, not better even after 6 months of daily practice. Then I found out about TMS this past February. It is definitely a process. I can so relate to Derek's post about the subconscious' relentless attempt to protect me from my emotions. It keeps throwing new things at me to keep me stuck in the vicious TMS cycle. I am not giving up, though. I see the connection between my emotions and my pain more than ever and am determined to heal.

    Thank you for your post, Derek. I really needed to hear all of this. :)
    JanAtheCPA and Derek Sapico MFT like this.
  6. Beach-Girl

    Beach-Girl Well known member

    Derek - this is really a great portion of your post. I could go on about anxiety as well as it's a big part of what's holding up the path to a pain-free life for me. But this is really a great sentence. Gives me all kinds of hope to get back in the groove towards healing again.

    Dabatross: You do sound different! Hang in there guy, you've kept at this and are an inspiration to others.

    Jan: Interesting that you see anxiety as a TMS symptom. I like this new angle and will have to work with this myself. I have thought of my anxiety as blocking my path - when in fact it may be just another symptom. I think since some of us were hard-wired for anxiety, this is a tough one to work through. But leave it to you to work through it!

    Derek Sapico MFT likes this.
  7. dabatross

    dabatross Well known member

    thanks everyone

    Thanks Jan its probably been around a month but during that time i was seeing a psychotherapist and doing some relaxation techniques. I think this is definitely true:

    Thats why Im thinking you'll have a good day and then wont have another one for a while.. then you can have 2 good days in a row and then not have another one for a while. Takes some time to retrain the brain not to be so anxious about crap. Im trying not to get myself down when I have a bad day because I know where that leads (doubt, regression back to old habits, etc.) Like other people have said on here if you can have one good day you can have many good days. So just because I dont see a linear progression of success doesn't mean that Im not getting better which is my first instinct of thought.

    I think most of us have had that where you are doing better one day, you feel good and your confidence is up, and then the next day you're like "damn it im back to being in the same pain again maybe this isn't working as well as I thought" and thats a trap.

    Thanks Beach Girl trying my best. I didn't realize i sounded different but its hard to see in yourself what others can see in you.

    Honeybear when you were doing yoga and meditation were you still deathly afraid of your pain while doing them? i think thats one of the pitfalls you can fall into. if you're doing relaxation stuff but still in a ton of fear about pain I dont think its going to help much. Thats one thing I have to overcome to is when im doing relaxation. while doing relaxation ive found myself worrying about pain and other things in my life which is negating the act of relaxation. this is kind of why i like progressive relaxation because you have to focus on various body parts which is a mindful activity instead of breathing exercises where i find myself constantly thinking about stressful events or the pain itself.

    Yeah I dont find Sarno to be helpful for anxiety either. I just got the Hope and help for your nerves book both on audible and the book itself. Have to read through this thing because you recommended it and its got like 150 5 star reviews on amazon so it has to be good. Ever since I realized how much my anxiety has a role in my pain Ive been trying to work on the anxiety as the main problem. There have been many instances in the past where when my anxiety levels rose my pain went along with it. When my anxietyh levels calmed down so did my pain so theres a direct connection there. For instance when I was doing vision therapy I didn't like my vision therapist and when I found out that the doctor that I was seeing at this clinic was going to become my new vision therapist, I had a lot of hope because I was like "im finally going to get fixed because he knows what hes doing". For those two days after I found this out, my pain levels are down significantly. But the next week when we ended up doing the same vision therapy exercises as the other vision therapist was doing, my hope levels went down again and the pain came right back. So my anxiety went down for those two days, I had less pain. When it went back up the next week my pain went up along with it. I found these quotes on another anxiety website interesting:

    "There’s a way for you to know if a symptom is caused by anxiety, which is relatively accurate despite also being intuitive. You see, all manifestations of anxiety have something in common: they clearly get worse when you’re stressed, as well as getting better when you’re feeling more relaxed"

    "Also, keep in mind that anxiety is the actual sickness, whereas sore eyes are just a symptom. Treating the symptom is of no good unless you tackle the underlying sickness; in other words, looking for medication to treat your sore eyes won’t be of much use. You will do better to invest your time and resources in managing your anxiety. Learn new relaxation therapies, or simply get a new hobby you like (that will help keep your mind distracted); make sure to get increased physical activity, and be prepared to make some fundamental changes to your diet: that’s only if you’re really serious about treating your anxiety disorder naturally, of course."
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  8. Shanshu Vampyr

    Shanshu Vampyr Well known member

    I love Derek's post!!! 'Cuz I'm having one of those setbacks. *hugs Bear tightly*
    Derek Sapico MFT likes this.
  9. Derek Sapico MFT

    Derek Sapico MFT TMS Therapist

    Thanks, Shanshu. I'm glad the post was helpful for you! How are you doing with your setback?
  10. Shanshu Vampyr

    Shanshu Vampyr Well known member

    Hi Derek,

    I'm still having the symptom. Trying my damndest not to pay attention to it. I'll get there someday, I hope.

    Thank you.

Share This Page