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What If The Very Thing That Might Make You Get Better Is One Of Your Biggest Triggers?

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by donavanf, Feb 29, 2016.

  1. donavanf

    donavanf Well known member

    OK, so here is a question for you guys. What if exercise (is one of the biggest triggers?

    Part of my TMS history is that I had a very loving but EXTREMELY overprotective mother. As a young kid, I was as active as any little boy. I loved swimming, bike riding, climbing trees, roller skating, etc. I was never particularly into sports, certainly not into gym or PE (I was bullied constantly and never much for competition) but I loved playing and running around. At 10, I had inguinal hernia surgery, and my mother basically discouraged me from exercising thereafter, despite my doctor's confidence that I not only could, but should get back to being active after my initial short recovery from the surgery. I did the opposite and hardly ever was active. Then puberty hit, I gained weight, and I became quite an "indoor" kid, much more interested in books and computers than activity. I was given an excuse note from PE till graduating high school!

    So here's the deal now, my TMS manifests as chronic pain and muscle tightness in my neck, upper back and especially, my right shoulder blade and arm. I did the PT route before I found Sarno and ALL the work she gave me (fix your posture, strengthen your upper back muscles, fix your core, don't slouch, keep watch on all forward head posture, foam roll, etc...) just made the muscles even tighter and tighter. Even the slightest exercise "for my neck" or "for my shoulders" makes my TMS go into a near paralysis of pain. It got much better after initially reading Sarno, I even had somewhat of a "book cure", and then it came back with a vengeance. I found Dr. David Schechter, became his patient, and he 'officially' diagnosed me with TMS. I've made strides since, but still no full recovery. Outcome independence is helping, but I am very hard on myself in all the wrong ways. Listening to some of Alan Gordon's sessions have helped TREMENDOUSLY. When I listen to some of his audio recordings, my pain disappears for hours. I know I have TMS, but the tiny doubts still nag at me. They won't go away, and I believe that is why my pain won't either. Despite total confirmation from a TMS doctor, a tiny piece of me still believes "There MUST be something wrong with my shoulder and neck". Having formerly been an acupuncturist (I've had a lot of medical training) has not helped me. It's very hard to grasp that the pain isn't structural, though I've also studied psychology, so I know what the mind can do to the body. The mind IS the body and vice-versa. I know this, but I only know it "intellectually". Those are Dr. Schechter's words, who told me that I had to actually BELIEVE the diagnosis 110% and just go back to living my life, taking my focus off of TMS and back onto being happy. I don't even know what that means anymore. I feel like I've lost touch with joy. My mom died in 2000 and my dad died a year ago, and it's been very hard. I struggle with a lot of depression and anxiety, loss and deep abandonment issues. I am just now getting in touch with how much rage I carry as well. I am furious inside. Always.

    I had a ton of "triggers" before finding Sarno (from driving to using a computer to being with family and social events) and those are all getting slowly better as I recondition my mind to not fearing them. It's been a long haul. But I am still VERY inactive. I spend a lot of time in bed, on the couch, or on my computer in PhotoShop, except when I am shooting. I'm a full time photographer, which is a physical job, and I am not getting any younger (I'll be 45 this April). The ONLY activity I do is when I do a shoot, which often involves a lot of awkward postures, moving around, and of course, lifting my camera to my eye again and again, sometimes over 1,000 times per shoot. I've made HUGE progress, as I could barely lift my camera at all 2 years ago, and now I can do a full 2-3 hour shoot with almost no pain. Or I should say, I have no pain WHILE I am preoccupied with shooting, but immediately thereafter, (especially if I say, 'wow, my neck barely hurt at all during that shoot!') I get pain. The next day I feel like a truck ran over me, and I am often sore with delayed onset muscle soreness in my upper back, shoulders and neck for 2-5 days. Sometimes more! If I stretch or do "neck and shoulder" work from my PT, or focus on the pain at all, it just makes it worse. I get into a worry cycle and it just keeps perpetuating. I worry a LOT.

    So here is my question...do I just "Push Through" and do some upper back strengthening exercises or do I do other activities, not targeting my back or neck, like walking? I feel that walking almost never gives me any pain, but I also feel I want to get stronger in my upper back and shoulders, especially considering my profession, but at this point, my muscles are so tight, that even just 10 push ups or a little yoga makes me very sore the next day/s. I am not overweight at all, but my muscle tone (and my posture) is quite poor. I know that stronger muscles tend to go into spasm less. I want stronger muscles! And it would be nice to stand up with confident posture, too, which is a perpetual problem. I've had poor posture since childhood and my mom told me constantly, "Stand up tall!". Is it any wonder I also have a hard time setting boundaries? Standing up for myself? The metaphors are clear.

    I want to exercise, but I'm scared. Any real, executable ideas would help here. Secretly, I hate exercise, but I know I need to force myself.

    (note: as I typed this, I began to have pain in my left arm and I have NEVER had pain there before, PRESSURE on myself is the main trigger of my TMS. If I 'force' anything, or feel 'forced', my TMS goes nuclear)

    The affirmation that helps me the most every time is, "I am strong. There is nothing wrong with me and there never has been. I am causing this pain, it is just a sensation, coming from neural pathways, and I can undo it, by allowing it, not worrying about it, and focusing my mind on more fun things. I am safe. I'm not in danger. I am a strong person. NOTHING is wrong with me. I am ok."

    My whole life, I have feared that I have an incurable disease, and I have somatized since childhood. To hear, "Nothing is wrong with me", or "I am ok" feels like taking a 100 pound pile of chains from my shoulders and neck.

    TMS is VERY cunning, wiley and will try anything to make us believe we are injured, hurt, broken or un-fixable. I believe it all comes down to self-worth. Am I worthy of getting better? Big question. I'm slowly answering a quiet, "Yes. I am". If you are reading this, you are too!

    I would love to hear any ideas on how I can get stronger physically. Dr. Schechter told me that besides journaling, regular activity was my homework. I've done the former, which has helped a great deal, but have yet to tackle the latter. I am a very "above the neck" kind of guy. I'm a bookworm intellectual, but exercise scares the hell out of me. I need to get fit. But how?

    End note: I edited this 8 times before posting. See also: (not so) secret PERFECTIONIST!

    (make that nine times...:)....:banghead:)
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2016
  2. Gigi

    Gigi Well known member

    Hi Donovan. I'm so sorry to hear about your parents' deaths. My second major bout of TMS was triggered by my Dad's death in 2011. Therr's just no easy way to lose a parent.
    With regard to the exercising, it seems as if you've been cleared medically, so it's a case of jumping in. Is there a particular type of activity you enjoy? I'd suggest starting there-- a short walk, or whatever works for you initially.
    I think your affirmations are great! Those are strong positive messages.
    Also, are you working the SEP (found on this wiki)? It guides you through journaling exercises, takes you to various success stories, and leads you to many wonderful TMS
    Resources. After working through the SEP I became pain-free, which feels miraculous.
    I also had to laugh about your editing; I type on my iPad and have to edit, because it loves to insert words-- many of which make no sense!
    Blessings on your journey.
    Daffy Duck and donavanf like this.
  3. Daffy Duck

    Daffy Duck Peer Supporter

    Hello there Donovanf,

    I appreciate your writing your experiences about your difficulties of exercise. I resonate with your story Donovanf. You said that you were an "above the neck kind of guy" and your pain is all your neck and below, right? My favorite author, Eckhart Tolle, said in one of his talks, "The ego knows nothing of the body".

    I was working with a life-coach once about 7 years ago and he was emphasizing exercise because it was the one thing I wouldn't do. The resistance was so very strong that I had to approach it from a mental strength stand point. I actually decided that no matter what I was "feeling" that nothing was actually preventing me from walking for a set amount of time. So with great, great effort I bypassed my feelings of resistance and actually decided that I was going to force myself to walk for an hour. What I encountered next was absolutely profound. There was so much inner frustration I hadn't ever felt before in my life... it was like a frustration that I didn't even know what to "do" with. I felt it in my body and mentally at the same time. When I finally got back from the hour of fast walking... I felt the inner frustration even stronger and sat there just feeling it. I was aware of how exhausted I was from the frustration and finally went to lay down. As soon as I laid down I felt a strong, powerful vibration or rocking back and forth inside my body and it was accompanied by a feeling of euphoria I had never ever felt before or since then. I've learned since then that it was probably "life-force energy"... my cells must have been so suppressed by mental focus that when I actually focused on my body I felt both release on the physical and the mental. I had someone tell me I probably healed my body of cancer at that point.

    Donovanf, I actually hated my body and the restrictions and problems that result from having one. I had felt the pain of humiliation and shame (in my body), people physically abuse your body, my body gave me fibromyalgia after a life-time of crap allready. So... I'm not sure what the solution is... but I do know that there are many references from many sources that talk about how the body is very important to healing.

    As much as I do not understand this - I think that focusing on the body is the key. I can't analyze and be aware of my body at the same time, anyway. I believe that my body holds the key to my healing. I appreciate your writing.
    donavanf likes this.
  4. Gigi

    Gigi Well known member

    Daffy, what a neat release you had following your intense walking! Kudos to you for being receptive to what your body had to say!
    Blessings to you.
    donavanf likes this.
  5. donavanf

    donavanf Well known member

    Gigi, thank you for your kind comment. Sorry to hear about your dad's death. No, there is no easy way.

    I like walking, so I am going to try to go with that, although it does trigger my neck pain, but I always feel better after. I love swimming, and there is a YMCA not far from my house with a pool, but my PT told me that "swimming may aggravate my shoulder". Pretty certain I have to ignore that. I love swimming, and I know it is a safe, low impact, relaxing exercise.

    I have not done the SEP, though I have done Dr. Schechter's workbook and am working through Dr. Schubiners. I plan on doing the SEP and also re-visiting Alan Gordon's stuff. Do you have any thought as whether to do the SEP first, then Alan's? Or both at same time? I know they are working on incorporating the two, which I think is a fantastic idea. Can you do too many programs at once? Lol. Thank you again for your comment. Very encouraging to hear the SEP helped you. I'm going for it.
  6. donavanf

    donavanf Well known member

    Daffy, Wow! This seriously hits home. A few years back, before TMS became pain in my neck, upper back and shoulders, I had a lot of IBS, which I know realize was also TMS. I decided to take a "restorative" yoga class. The teacher was very kind and the class was a lot less about holding poses and more about just getting in touch with your body, deep breathing, meditation, stretching, being on the floor and allowing yourself the space to just be present and do gentle exercises at your own pace and ability. After the class, everyone was glowing and saying how amazing they felt. But not me. I felt like I had uncaged a demon. An hour after the class, I had a huge fit of rage, where I kicked a hole in the wall of my apartment. SO much rage was surfacing and I began to cry, realizing that basically my whole life, I had lived "in my head" and never really had a relationship with my body other than constant symptoms and hypochondria. I was afraid of my body! I still am. Thank you for reminding me of this and making me feel less alone. Ironically, I just went for a walk after I posted this and though it was just an easy half hour walk, I came back feeling exhausted, as if I was fighting it the whole time. I was. My resistance to exercise is major, and I'm sure my chronically tight neck and back muscles is a physical manifestation of my stubbornness and fear of letting go. It's like the muscles are holding tight because I am holding tight. Thank you again for giving me much to think about and sharing your cool story, it sounds like you had a major breakthrough. It's interesting, I mentioned acupuncture and my study of Chinese medicine, and we say in that field, "what we repress, must express", so I think when you have a lot of suppression of life force, it's exhausting. And life force is creativity, sexuality, joy, sorrow, anger, resentment, rage, fear, pleasure, all the primal things that make us human. Suppressing that force like sitting on a huge geyser of power. Much to ponder, and better yet, a call to really go into our bodies and get out of our own way, out of our own heads. It's a hard thing, because so many people with TMS (me included) have associated the body with pain. Maybe the secret is to seek pleasure, and seek feeling good in our own skin, in whatever way that can happen. It's self-soothing and expression vs. repression and resistance. This is key, I think.
  7. Gigi

    Gigi Well known member

    Yes, I think you can do too many programs at once. At least I could! I think that would feed right into my perfectionistic streak! I had to make a conscious effort to take it slowly when I worked my way through the SEP.
    I would probably do the SEP first, but they're both great programs.
    I too love to swim, and do so 3 times a week. I think you've hit the nail on the head; you'll have to ignore, and tell your subC to ignore, the comment from your PT. Just take it easy, since your dr. has cleared you to exercise.
    In the past 10 years I've battled severe debilitating foot pain, shoulder pain, elbow pain, severe headaches, and even neuromas. They've all turned out to be TMS. Thank God for this wiki and the support we give each other!!
  8. Daffy Duck

    Daffy Duck Peer Supporter

    Seriously?? I mean, your report of the Yoga classes you had and what happened with your rage after that is very cool. Well, I mean, not "cool" like I'm glad you had rage but I am very glad that you had that experience and that you told me about it because I don't know anyone who has "body" issues like me. Resistance to exercise is a major issue for me too, Donovanf. Body issues are a major part of my anger in life and not being able to connect with others, not having people understand me and having no friends AND - not being able to connect with myself either. So, thank you for writing here. And... that sentence you wrote "I basically lived in my head." Wow... and, "....never had a relationship with my body" and "I was afraid of my body!", and "I still am." Now that is just like me. And again, thank you for writing it. I'm sorry that it's been that way for you. I sure do appreciate your writing here about your experience. I know somewhere else on here just the other day I saw something about "resistance to exercise" (I have no idea where I saw it, now) and since I saw your post this time... I thought I would write. It's a poignant issue for me like I said. By the way, I have a stomach disorder and systemic candida... and I'm doing the GAPS Diet currently. I try and do breathing exercises and from the first breath I hold I cry and have no idea why. None... I start sobbing. That was just the other day. And it's every time though... which I don't try and lot. When I first came down with Fibromyalgia symptoms I started to panic from the body pain and I demanded to my body that I was going to do whatever was necessary to get rid of the pain and mentally I was geared up for a fight. Well, I woke up several hours later and my whole body was in one big huge muscle spasm!! I was like OH MY GOD! So I started doing EFT (tapping) to alleviate it. In my humble opinion... ya gotta respect the process, ya know? Geez!

    You went out for a walk right after the post you wrote??? Wow! Yes... suppression of the life force is exhausting. I'm glad you have a background in Chinese Medicine because I wasn't sure if you'd know what I meant by "life-force energy". (Whew!)
    Yes... Yes... yes...
    Very good here. You've got me thinking about this now. I honest to goodness got on here tonight to post/write about how to gain self-compassion when the capacity for it seems unattainable. And when I saw your post I had to respond to you. I was kind of hesitant but I thank you for your writing. You are not alone and now I am learning that I am not either. Until I read your post I had no idea that anybody would understand my scenario. Thank You very much, my friend,

    P.S. by the way, that totally would have been me if I had the nerve to take a yoga class!!
    donavanf likes this.

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