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When is it time to move on?

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by mc1986, Jan 11, 2017.

  1. mc1986

    mc1986 Peer Supporter

    Hi everyone. Hoping for some feedback...

    I have been working on TMS for about 10 months. During this time I have seen minimal improvement in my pelvic pain that I have had for 2.5 years.

    I have returned to work full duty as a firefighter and am basically barely getting through the day. I have severe pain 24/7. I am having a lot of doubts regarding the TMS diagnoses simply because of my lack of success. I am not sure what to do from here.

    I have had a lot of recent stress around my job and the physical nature of it. I love my job but the pain takes most of the joy out of it for me. Unfortunately, it is all I know how to do to provide for my family...

    So my main question is whether there comes a time that I need to move on from this approach. I am having a very difficult time believing 100% due to my lack of success but unfortunately I haven't had success trying anything else either. I am constantly evaluating my symptoms and don't know how to stop the cycle. I've filled up several journals, I had a good childhood but am extremely anxious and am becoming depressed.

    I am beginning to feel like I am destined for a life of pain. I guess I'm just looking for a little support and direction.

  2. AC45

    AC45 Well known member

    Hello mc1986 - Thank you for risking your life to save others. I hear you and I am grateful for your sacrifice. Moving on from TMS is a personal decision. I do have a feeling you may not be here if you do not think it has benefitted you at all. Only you can decide what is best but I want you to know that you are heard and that I send you much warmth and empathy. -AC45
  3. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi mc1986,

    I have not read your posts lately and don't know your efforts with a TMS approach in detail. I would suggest if you have not already done so:

    Get diagnosed by a TMS physician, even if you have to fly to see this person.

    Get support by psychotherapist or life coach. You need support if you're this far along and have had little improvement, in my opinion.

    Plus, in self-compassion you need support for anxiety and depression, which are natural outcomes of prolonged pain experiences. I know this personally. Regardless of success or lack of, with Dr. Sarno's approach.

    I hope you continue, but I am biased...since this approach was successful for me.

    Andy B
    Saoirse likes this.
  4. RichieRich

    RichieRich Well known member


    I'd recommend you read some of Ezer's posts on this site. If anybody knows anything about pelvic pain and overcoming it, Ezer does.

    Not to presume, but it sounds like you view the TMS approach as simply one of many modalities for approaching psychophysiological disorders. That if it doesn't work, you need to pick yet another that may. I think what you're missing here is that they all circle back to focusing on the main issue: your mind is creating a physical response.

    There are plenty of members on here that have used the TMS approach while employing a variety of other modalities in parallel, myself included. Sometimes it requires taking a few steps back to see what you're missing. While I had a somewhat crap upbringing, I know the majority, if not all, of my PPD issues stem from general work-life stress. I kill myself day in and day out, working and worrying about the future. I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder. I've had tons of physical manifestations from my anxiety, but always overcame them in due time.

    The worst experience I've had to date was from an overuse injury during a highly stressful time in my life. I overused my shoulder and ended up with chronic shoulder/arm pain for 1.5+ years. I read the TMS approach, and frequented the boards when it initially happened. I literally could not convince myself that it was my mind that was the main culprit. I would have violent tremors as I'd get worked up stressing myself over why I had yet to overcome my pain. Then one day, I just took a step back to see what I was missing.

    While still keeping TMS in the back of my mind, I decided to approach my issue as more emotional/psychological, and completely rid myself of any physical mindset. I focused more on my anxiety and reassuring myself it was all emotionally driven. I learned to basically chill out and move on with life. It was this change that made the greatest impact and made me normal again.

    Everybody has been there, what with the self-loathing and chronic fear we'll never be the same. You will. Take a step back and evaluate what it is you're thinking, and consider how you can redirect yourself into more opposing and/or positive thought. You'll get there.

    All the best.
    Ellen likes this.
  5. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    @RichieRich has given an excellent response above.

    It is possible to "do" all the right things toward TMS recovery, but if our thoughts don't change, then we won't experience improvement. I would recommend that you focus on developing your belief that TMS is the cause of your symptoms, and on outcome independence. These are two critical elements that require a change in thinking that is fundamental to TMS recovery. As stated above, seeing a good TMS physician and therapist/life coach could really help you with these two issues. Some of us need a little extra help to heal.
    eskimoeskimo likes this.
  6. mc1986

    mc1986 Peer Supporter

    Thank you all for your replies. I have been working with s therapist for quite a while. He believes that my symptoms are anxiety and I agree given the patterns that I find myself in.

    I initially made some progress when I first started working with him but I feel the stress of getting ready to return to work and my lack of confidence in my ability to do so have really set me back.

    Lately, my nervous system just feels hyped up all the time. I just have not been able to find a way to calm down.

    Ellen, I think you have more or less summed up my problem. I am having a very difficult time with my thought life. My therapist is great but only I can apply the tools I learn. No one can do it for me.

    Part of my issue is as my return to work date approached I began to obsess over tms and finding a way to fix myself. When I get into this fix it mode I spiral downwards quickly. I seem to be at my best when I just try and move on and live my life... but I'm having a hard time doing that right now for some reason.

    Last edited: Jan 12, 2017
    AC45 likes this.
  7. RichieRich

    RichieRich Well known member

    You gotta stop the obsessing. I can't emphasize that enough. I have been there a few times. It's a brutal cycle once it starts. The ruminating, the depression, the endless internet searches that last for hours and hours, more depression. The most important thing I learned in overcoming my anxiety was when you're finally at your wits end...........just give up. Stop fighting entirely. It's like when you get into an argument that you know you've lost, just accept it for what it is and move on.

    Moving on with life is definitely a step in the right direction, but you have to stop fighting it. Like a perfect stranger - say hi then bye, and give it space to exist for the time being. It will simmer down if you let it.
    eskimoeskimo likes this.
  8. mc1986

    mc1986 Peer Supporter

    Thanks Richie,
    Very insightful and I appreciate your responses. I know that what you say is the truth and have reached the same conclusions myself. Putting it into practice has been difficult.

    How were you able to break the cycle? Did you make a conscious effort to fill your life up with other things to stay occupied?
  9. RichieRich

    RichieRich Well known member


    A combination of things really. I read my anxiety book, which helped me learn to stop fighting and walk towards the discomfort, as well as, learn to redirect myself to the task at hand once I acknowledged it. I would routinely do self-talk therapy to change my reaction to the stressor. I forced myself to get out of the house and away from my computer; I went jogging or went on walks. I had to learn to relax in the evenings and not pick up my computer even though it was a few feet away. It was pretty basic stuff. Then gradually, over the course of 4 months, the sensations just kinda disappeared. I was back to normal. Now, I'm referring to when I had a major panic attack that left me pretty mentally crippled for a few weeks. I had never experienced this before.

    With my shoulder injury, I basically had another melt down. This is 2+ years after the panic attack. I went into yet another downward spiral, but I think having overcome anxiety previously, I was more mentally aware of the emotional and psychological side. My problem was I had never felt physical pain from an emotional issue. That's why I struggled so much longer trying to overcome that. It was a few things people said on the boards here that helped me rethink how I viewed the pain. The concept I had in my mind was simple: the pain IS real, but it's still emotional/psychological just as with anxiety. It was this thought that was really the turning point for my pain. And gradually, the pain just melted away into nothing.

    This is obviously a high level view of my experience. Like I said before, everybody here knows the struggle you're going through because we all went through it or are still going through it. I nearly quit my desk job because I was literally crippled in my dominant hand for a few weeks due to the shoulder injury. Every key stroke elicited excruciating pain. Forget about using a mouse. Taking notes in meetings was a fantastic mess. And the funny thing was, nobody suspected much other than just a typical "you'll heal" injury.

    It literally took every fabric of my being to not quit. And to be honest, I think had I quit because of all of this, I probably would have just gone on to live a miserable existence and probably offed myself. My family was the only reason why I kept showing up to work, because I knew I was the sole provider and had to make sure they were taken care of. It also helped that I had a very good job opportunity for proving myself with my company, and they paid me well to make it happen. I would have been so pissed if I couldn't continue to eat out all the time.
  10. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    You're putting a whole lot of pressure on yourself about going back to work. This is understandable. We've all been there. I suggest trying to counter all those fear thoughts with rational, reasonable thoughts. Something like, "I can do my job just fine even if I have TMS. I don't need to be completely fixed to do a good job." Find what works best for you and your situation. But do this consistently. This is moving toward outcome independence, which is a critical component missing for you. It's also countering our tendency for perfectionist thinking. We don't have to do our jobs perfectly. I realize you have more challenges because of the nature of your work then maybe most of us do, so it is probably harder to get rid of the perfectionism.
    RichieRich likes this.
  11. mc1986

    mc1986 Peer Supporter

    I definitely understand what you're saying about you're job. That is how I feel about mine. No one knows I'm in pain. I just do what's expected of me and suffer through it.

    My stress management skills suck. I'm interested in hearing the self talk that you did. I feel like if I could get out of my head I'd be well on the way to recovery. But living in my head dares all the way back to when I was a kid.

    Did you just learn to view your shoulder pain as a manifestation of anxiety? Did you notice symptoms wax and wane depending on how anxious you were at a given time?

    Thanks again for responding
  12. mc1986

    mc1986 Peer Supporter

    Thanks Ellen,
    Yes I recognize the pressure about my job. I also recognize it is completely self imposed. Over the summer I got to the point where I was "good enough" to go back to work. Then I got it in my head I had to defeat this thing before I returned. That's when things went downhill.

    The difficulty I have is recommiting to the belief I had when I first started. It seems as though most people heal rapidly once they realize what is going on. It causing me to doubt that I can heal after all this time.

    Your advice about not needing to be 100% to do the job is dead on. I'm in great shape. I just hurt all the time so it sucks.
  13. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi mc1986,

    It seems you're getting some great advice about "not worrying" about your experience so much, and you understand that your desire to fix things leads to more symptoms, less progress. This is tricky because while we have to practice, to retrain our thinking patterns and this takes effort, we best do this by being non-attached to the results. The so-called "outcome independence." This is a delicate balance in a way: to put forth effort, thousands of times to "think psychological" and at the same time, not measure and monitor the results so closely.

    Another fine line which comes up in this discussion, as I read it is the question of how much we need to fix or change our personality patterns vs just seeing how our personality pressures and habits are linked to Dr. Sarno's theory to explain the true cause of our symptoms. There is a tension between trying to change vs simply connecting the dots. The real edge here is seeing that our personality is causing the symptoms, and yet also knowing that we cannot change our personality. Dr. Sarno tells us that it is the seeing itself which is the cure. Trying to fix and change inner or outer realities is a typical TMS personality activity. Again, simply seeing these personality patterns, as they operate in us, is enough.

    You have so much evidence about what causes your increased symptoms. Each item can be inquired into asking the Sarno questions: How does this experience (pressuring myself to be perfectly healthy, fixing my TMS, learning to not be obsessive, etc for examples) impact my Inner Child? "How might my Inner Child feel about (this experience)? OK, then, I understand this feeling of the Inner Child does not want to be felt, and therefore I have __________symptoms."

    In my opinion, this basic practice, done every time your mind goes to symptoms/worry about symptoms may help. It can become much shorter too, as I think Richie suggests: "I am experiencing TMS right now." See your TMS reality clearly, then dismiss it, and direct your attention to something else. Anything else in your awareness. Even though this is mechanical and can feel "rote," this is part of what builds belief. It is a form of self-talk. And it can be done very slipshod too, because you're doing it over time. It does not have to be done perfectly. You don't need to find a magic bullet!

    The same "name it and move on" can work with obsessive thinking, worrying, anxiety: "I see I am doing obsessive thinking right now. OK. What else am I aware of right now?" No one does this perfectly, but we get better when we practice.

    I had a wonderful breakthrough when I simply acknowledged that my Inner Critic caused me so much inner tension. TMS is caused by psychological tension. Just knowing my inner life as I did, I knew there was a war going on. Knowing myself as I did, I had all the evidence I needed that I had enough inner tension, enough inner forces to cause any kind of physical symptoms like pain ---if that is the way the mind-body works. And Dr. Sarno assured me in his books that this is the way we are built. As Richie says, he had a hard time believing the inner life could cause so much physical pain. But this is in fact true. Thousands of people, tens of thousands probably, know this is true, first hand.

    In your case, your post is full of evidence of inner tension and pressures. This "sky view" connection between your everyday personality activity and the pain can be very simple for you really. You have all the believable evidence you need.

    With Respect,

    Andy B
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2017
  14. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I believe this awareness of our personality traits' role in causing our TMS symptoms can result in change. By becoming aware we are no longer on "automatic pilot", and this awareness creates a space that allows us to choose a different way to respond. From a neuroscience perspective, this is how we build new neuro-pathways.
  15. Eric79

    Eric79 Newcomer

    Move on to WHAT? All the other stuff out there doesn't work.
    Click#7 likes this.
  16. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes, Ellen, I agree. Awareness leads to understanding which leads to attuned change.
  17. Click#7

    Click#7 Well known member

    spot on

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