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Will journaling help my anxiety?

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by mindfulliving, Jan 21, 2014.

  1. mindfulliving

    mindfulliving Peer Supporter

    I'm having TMS induced anxiety. Anxiety for no reason at all. Things are going fine in my life- financially, etc. The only thing thats coming up is my wedding and maybe I'm anxious about that but I'm not showing it, I'm not sure. But I have stopped feeling. I just want to feel normal again. It feels like I can only feel good when I think of memories but I don't feel good in the present. I just want to be able to feel thaf again. I have been practicing mindful thinking for 3 weeks now. But my emotions still haven't returned. Its like a loss of emotion.

    Should i start journaling? Can I do it on my laptop or pen n paper? What do you all recommend?
  2. Msunn

    Msunn Well known member

    Welcome. The structured education program SEP on this site is great, you could start with that. In my case journaling has helped to reduce pain symptoms, and understand what emotions I've been repressing, so I find that it does work. It's also one of the main techniques recommended by Dr. Sarno.

    I also had a lot of anxiety like you describe. I think accepting my pain when it happens, meditation, realizing the anxiety makes the TMS worse, watching the fear and anxiety as it happens, without reacting with even more fear/anxiety about my symptoms all have helped.

    I'm sure you'll get other great suggestions here. Being part of the forum has been really helpful for me.

    All the best
    mindfulliving and Ellen like this.
  3. mindfulliving

    mindfulliving Peer Supporter

    Hi my friend...thank you for your kind reply....i have anxiety and depression in an almost chronic manner. It's like my mind is battling itself throughout the day and night. And i keep waking up every 3 hours in my sleep. I also have random outbursts of anger and being frustrated at "i don't know what" apart from the condition i'm in itself. Has anyone battled this anxiety and depression as the only symptom of tms before.

    My symptoms, whether physical or mental have always begun after a short workout. My mind seems programmed that working out causes my pain. Maybe working out might take it away. As i take the fear away maybe the anxiety and depression will diminish.

    Thanks for your reply friend

    Can you journal on your laptop? Just a small question.
    Msunn likes this.
  4. mindfulliving

    mindfulliving Peer Supporter

    Msunn...nice to meet a musician here... I love music!
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2014
    Msunn likes this.
  5. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Mindfulliving,
    I agree with Msunn's excellent advice above. Journaling definitely helps. I haven't tried doing it on the computer, as I like the feel of pen and paper. But I can't think of a reason why journaling on the computer wouldn't work. I'm curious to see what others think about this.

    Anxiety is TMS, and your brain is using it to distract you from emotions you are repressing in the present. Journaling will help you uncover these.

    When I began working on my TMS with journaling and other techniques, I found that I had repressed my emotions for so long that I didn't even know what it felt like to feel emotionally anymore. I had confused thinking about emotions with feeling emotions. What I now know is that emotions are felt in the body, not described with language in the brain. So what you may be experiencing is that with your mindfulness meditation practice your thinking about your emotions has quieted down, leading you to believe that you are feeling less, when you are actually thinking less. This happened to me prior to learning about TMS, when I was doing a lot of meditation. I began to feel like I didn't care about anything anymore. There were advantages to this, as I was much more calm and even-keeled, but life felt very bland. I now believe this was due to the phenomenon I describe above. I was thinking less, but still not really feeling emotionally. Since practicing TMS healing techniques like journaling, I'm now actually feeling my emotions. Initially with the journaling, mostly negative emotions came up and it was difficult. But I now am able to tap more into happiness and joy, and even find myself laughing out loud more and more.

    I hope this makes some sense and is helpful in some way. Best wishes on your journey...
  6. mindfulliving

    mindfulliving Peer Supporter

    "Emotions are felt in the body"

    "There is a difference between thinking about emotions and actually feeling them"

    You don't understand how meaningful those two things ive learnt from what you just said are to me. You nailed it!

    Wow wow wow....ellen...you are a blessing.....just knowing that there are other tms'ers who have been in a similar situation is heartwarming.....its odd but just knowing that you have gotten better by journaling is already putting me in a more relaxed state and i'm feeling better...thank you ellen i will definitely start journaling about all the stresses i have/had .....thank you so much...

    Ellen a small question....sorry for the trouble...did you take you a long time of journaling to start experiencing emotion again or was it a rather quick process. Again, i don't mean to put pressure on myself. The actual question would be, "how long of journaling did it take you to realise that 'it's working'"

    Another question is...my synptoms...which were pelvic pain at first...tend to start after excercising....i LOVE to excercise and for the past six months have been on a workout and diet plan.....and had been overly obsessed with working out....until of course one day my symptoms begun after weight-lifting. After i learnt of tms my physical symptoms all vanished but after a workout they came back very very slightly. But my mind now knows that they arent real...so they faded and were replaced by anxiety and depression and intrusive thinking....which i can control by being mindfull....

    My question is....i feel really restricted by not being able to workout as im afraid it may aggrevate my symptoms. On the other hand it may be the CURE! Facing my fears and telling the tms symptom that i'm not scared may be a long term fix.

    Do you think its okay for me to say....workout for 10 mins a day at first just to see how i feel?

    Because that is something that i can actually feel to a certain extent...maybe that could be my cure...eradicating the fear....eradicating the symptom. Suggestion?
    Msunn likes this.
  7. Msunn

    Msunn Well known member

    Hi mindfulliving, nice to meet you also.

    Before I had physical symptoms I had exactly the type of anxiety you describe for at least 12 or 13 years. I think they call it GAD generalized anxiety disorder. I may not have that exactly right. I called it free floating anxiety.

    Abut 7 years ago I became involved in a twelve step program and through doing the steps and hearing one statement at a meeting the anxiety went away for the most part. The statement was " the opposite of fear is faith". I realized that I was trying to control life to feel safe and when I try to do that I just realize how little control I have. When I'm able to trust a higher power, the universe, it goes much better for me.

    I think the anxiety is and was a TMS equivalent for me even though I had no physical symptoms. Come to think of it I did have chronic neck pain through all those years, but always thought it was due to guitarist bad posture.

    Last year when I started having hand problems, the anxiety returned full force! It's just recently through some of the suggestions given to me here I've gotten back to more of a calm centered feeling.

    I've recently been meeting with a TMS therapist and she has a pretty simple explanation. I get anxiety because I'm very uncomfortable even terrified of anger, which actually makes a lot of sense. I avoid conflicts, don't like being around angry people etc.

    I think you'll find the journaling and other suggestions given here very helpful with anxiety and your physical symptoms. It has worked that way for me.

    I also relate to what Ellen said. It's hard for me to know what I'm feeling many times from repressing emotions so long but I'm making progress.

    What you describe with exercising is a trigger or conditioned response for you. I have some of those too. In my case I've been challenging those triggers a little at a time, and my overall pain is much less than it had been.

    Yes nice to meet another musician. Wishing you well.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2014
    Lily Rose, Anne Walker and russd1818 like this.
  8. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Mindfulliving (love your screen name),
    It's hard for me to say how long it took to start feeling again--maybe a couple of weeks. But it is an incremental process, and I'm still working on it, of course. (It's been about 9 months for me). I had to really get through my defenses and fear. I think it is essential to use one of the structured programs to help with the process. I used Schubiner's Unlearn Your Pain, but there are two free ones on this site--the SEP and Alan Gordon's. I think you may benefit from starting with Alan Gordon's. There is also a recent interview with him that is great:

    As Msunn states above, your exercise issue is likely a conditioned response. The structured programs will help you with how to address this. For me when faced with something that I know to be a trigger, I have to tell myself over and over that xyz (exercise, for you) does not need to create symptoms, that it is just conditioning and learned nerve pathways, and therefore, everything is just fine. If I do have symptoms start, then I sit down and meditate on them mindfully (focus on them in a non-judgmental, just curious way) and do some deep breathing. This has been working well for me.

    I think your plan of approaching exercise with some moderation is a good one--not because it is directly causing your symptoms, but because you need to work on reducing your conditioned response.

    Saturate your conscious brain with TMS knowledge, but without overdoing it. It takes awhile for it to soak in and start impacting your unconscious brain, but it will happen. You are "unlearning your pain". Make the techniques part of your daily routine, again without overdoing it. Do these things, then let go of them and go out and live your life. Have fun and be kind to yourself. You are on the right path. Know you will find healing here. There is a wonderful community of people on this forum to support you. Enjoy!
  9. mindfulliving

    mindfulliving Peer Supporter

    Hi guys thank you so much for your lovely replies...truly mean alot to me....

    Msunn...are there any online tms therapists that can help me over the phone....because i sure could use one....today i picked the pen. Up to journal...and there was something in my head that was stopping me..."what if this is a waste of time" and "how am. I supposed to write what i feel when i barely feel any emotion"

    Now i remember clearly that when my physical symptoms left....so did the anxiety and depression that were milder at the time btw....and all my feelings came back to me.....today i had a down in the dumps day where i kept thinking that suicide would be the easier option...and other catrosophic thinking like..: "do people even get better"....because i seem to be more depressed than most people on this forum...i can't seem to stop the intrusive thinking....it's almost like it's become a part of me....and i'm not sure if a case as severe as me ever does get better...all i need is some real. Hope...someone to tell me they have been out of a similar situation and that really warms my heart...the saddest part is i dont seem to have a reason behind my anxiety and depression...sorry for spzzing out guys...maybe posting this is like a semi-journaling excercise....saddest part is i'm getting married soon and not being able to be happy at my own wedding is one of the saddest and most catrostropgic thought of them all....this really sucks...
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2014
  10. mindfulliving

    mindfulliving Peer Supporter

    I wish i could have fun...i can't spend more than 5 minutes without and intrusive thought or feeling that something is wrong with me mentally....mindfullness did help...but every single day feels like a damn battle....

    What exactly happens when someone discovers an emotion that they have been repressing!!
  11. mindfulliving

    mindfulliving Peer Supporter

    Sorry that was meant to be a question mark in the last statement
  12. Msunn

    Msunn Well known member

    Hi mindfulliving,

    I'm by no means an expert on any of this. All I can share is what is working for me and that I'm also working my way through this TMS process.

    I suffered from deep depression earlier in life and what helped me was to meet with a therapist face to face and work through family of origin, childhood issues. It was very much in line with the TMS therapy. She helped me to cry, grieve, get angry to release repressed emotions. It really helped and allowed me to be more emotionally mature and better able to cope with life.

    I don't know if you've read the Great Pain Deception, but the symptoms he had and his journey to recovery really inspired me.

    You're not alone. Please keep posting here. You will find many kind caring people willing to help.

    I've been in that dark place where I felt no hope and got better. I'm sure the same can happen for you. You'll be in my prayers.

    Take care
    Lily Rose and Ellen like this.
  13. Pingman

    Pingman Well known member

    Mindfull -

    I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone in your thinking. I had a health scare that started back in Oct-Nov that led me to good and associate it to a health issue that scared me bad. TMS set it creating leg pain and tingling which was associated to constant obssessing and symptom checking. I could actually feel the knots in my calf but was unable to get the fear out of my head. Once I applied the TMS logic to my leg the pain was gone but it moved to my head and vision. After all the Dr. tests nothing was found. The visual issues and head pressure brought on the anxiety. I was in a state of anxiety the whole time but the head issues really sent me over the top and I spent a good 3 weeks in December having sporadic panic attacks and a fear of excercising, go out in public etc...

    During this time I was like you, searching for happiness. I questioned if I liked my wife and son, would I ever enjoy anything again. I cuoldn't even get happy memories loaded into my mind. It was my first real encounter with anxiety and it consumed me thinking I was normal just a month before and happy.

    I just want you to know that I am now out of that mindset. It was a dark dark place and I am by no means all the way back but I am laughing again at TV...playing with my son and going out without a ton of fear. I ran yesterday without any issue and my sleep is back on track to some degree.

    You will get there but for me afew key things helped. One was forcing myself to get back into life....it was hard. TMS wanted to keep me scared and on the couch. The second things was positive thinking. I just kept telling myself that I am fine over and over. I still slip into the fear cycle but I am starting to be able to just relax and get out of it before it hits hard. The last thing that has helped me is relaxing and rolling with the flow. TMS personality is that of a perfectionist, problem solver who wants to hurry up and gets better. Initially I was pressing too hard to get better by the next day and when I wasn't I got more anxious. This advice was given to me by many on this forum....so now I am just relaxing and I have stopped talking about it all the time too. In the end the constant thinking and talking about it feads the fear.

    I was just in this whole and it came on quickly like yours. I know it isn't easy but think positive and don't try and fight the anxiety. Treat it like a cold, it sucks but when you ahve a cold you put tissue in your pocket and move on. Once yuo can do that your anxiety will fade cause your not fearing it anymore.
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  14. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I did my journaling with pen and paper, and have always found that what I write longhand on paper
    stays in my mind better than if I type on a computer. Writing makes us focus more about what we're thinking.

    I never married (stuck with dogs instead) but have heard that getting married can create a lot of anxiety.
    One friend of mine took some tranquilizer the morning of his wedding but it wore off after the ceremony
    and while he was at the bar at the reception restaurant he sat at a bar stool and blacked out. His hand flew out
    and knocked over a mountain of glasses on the counter. But he got through the day.

    Another friend came down with a case of hives on his honeymoon. Kind of spoiled things for the bride.

    Take some deep breaths and think how great it is going to be after you say "I do," and you'll get through
    your big day, too.

  15. Pingman

    Pingman Well known member

    Had a really interesting discussion with my therapist last night. She said that with anxiety, she sees that most people's issue is they are way out in front of the issues in life with their thinking about where they need to be on the issue rather than pulling back and living in the moment until it is time for the issue.

    For me, we were looking at it from a faith perspective if you want some context. I want my head and eyes issues and anxiety to be gone so I stress and push and am possibly way ahead of where God wants me to be right now. If I were to just relax and give myself over to God and Jesus now and explore each day as they give it to me it would help to give me some perspective and help regroove my mind. I want to wake up and be 100% better and when I am not each day I get ahead and allow the negative thoughts to come in.

    She suggested I use the text from Psalm 46 : "Be still, and know that I am God."

    Instead of simply telling myself I am ok when I get anxious, she suggested I reflect on this verse and say each word, then again adding a new word all the way up until I complete the sentence.
  16. Msunn

    Msunn Well known member

    I can relate pingman. As I've been increasing normal activities with less physical symptoms I've been having more anxiety. Seems like it should be the opposite!

    I think anxiety was a TMS symptom for me long before I knew about TMS.

    When I just watch and don't resist, using deep breathing, positive self talk etc. it seems to just pass though.
    I also relate to turning it over to a higher power.

    Let go, let God is a good one for me since trying to take control is a minor issue:) for me!
  17. Pingman

    Pingman Well known member

    For me, TMS came first which caused the anxiety. Like you, when I feel good the anxiety seems to be higher. Steve O said that is what happened to him at the end of his TMS, he would flip ebtween TMS and anxiety until he finally won the battle.

    I think for me, the anxiety is a side effect when I have no symptoms because my mind flips off the pain to when will the pain come back.

    Another thing my therpaist told me which kinda of made me take notice on how I have been thinking. She told me she has patients who have real life health issues that produce way way way more physical pain than I am in and yet their perspective and outlook is truly positive. You wouldn't know they are sick.

    She thinks my TMS is a product of me entering my late 30's and realizing that my old way of life is unable to sustain me anymore. Things had come easy to me in the past so I never really had to develop a grounding in life or perspective if you wish. I never had to think about mortality, family responsibility so I was able to bypass God to some degree even though I have always believed and tried to live a moral life. My health scares were the trigger and I had no foundation in thought to help keep me in reality.

    Good stuff. She asked me to read a book called 'Inner Voice of Love' by Henri Nouwen.
  18. Lily Rose

    Lily Rose Beloved Grand Eagle

    This. Ohh this. Expressed with exquisite perfection. Like the resonance of a flawlessly played musical sequence.

    General Anxiety Disorder - or in my world, Social Anxiety Disorder. Labels to feed the mind, enhancing the distraction away from the source.

    Terrified of anger, not just external anger, but the deep internal anger held at bay by the clever twists of the subconscious.

    Faith. A beautiful word, and a frightening one, as well. Faith is a loss of control. More, it is an acknowledgment of that loss. Faith is a deliberate and conscious release of the very thing that has kept us safe ... even though that safety has been an illusion. The need for control is a need to create a web of protection within the chaos around us. Giving that up ... is stepping off the cliff and trusting not only that we have wings, but that those wings will carry us safely into a new territory.

    Too often, we need reminders of just how powerful we really are. Thank you.

    with grace and gratitude,
    Msunn likes this.
  19. Lily Rose

    Lily Rose Beloved Grand Eagle

    Association is one of the power-tools that our mind uses against us. The word 'programming' is appropriate. Using that analogy, our task, then, is to re-program.

    When I teach a yoga class, my body does not experience pain. When I practice on my own, very often, pain arises. This makes me aware that I have been lax in my true practice. It also makes me aware that my mind is deceiving me.

    During your workout, you might create a mental dialog that you are safe and that your body is painlessly powerful ... which is our true, natural state. When we are in this state, we are in the NOW, fully present.

    It is not so much 'taking the fear away', as it is ... dissolving the fear, transforming it.

    My journaling is done only on my computer. I do not yet know if this is the best choice. Many prefer the handwriting, as it may use different aspects of the brain. I prefer using both my hands in this process. Handwriting slows me down. Typing, though ... it may bypass some of the actual emotion. Thinking the emotion, rather than feeling it, as Ellen so aptly reminds us. Do either, or both ... experiment. You'll find your path.

    with grace and gratitude,
    Ellen and Msunn like this.
  20. nowtimecoach

    nowtimecoach Well known member

    This is the perfect thread for me today!! Thank you mindfulliving for sharing all that is going on. You could be in my brain for all I know!!! I wasn't aware of how anxious I was until TMS took over my life. I loved this statement from Ellen, "Anxiety is TMS" Right to the point and exactly what I needed to be reminded of.
    Journalling has really really helped me. Especially in getting out the inner child's conversation. Because I grew up "perfect" there was no outlet for an angry tantrum'y little girl. I have a physical energy release when I let her have her words and spill them out of my body on to paper. Writing the old fashioned way works best for me. I am also doing Schubiner's journaling book and getting a lot out of it. I'm been shocked when I start writing something and am thinking its not got much punch, then by the end with just free form writing - the nuggets, the more hidden pieces start getting revealed. So I'm not rid of my anxiety by any means, but slowly I am getting more aware and taking the time to quiet down to hear its deeper messages.
    I don't know about you, but getting married would bring up a ton of free floating anxiety!! Keep writing Mindfulliving!!!
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