Q&A: How do I handle an acute relapse?

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I totally believe I have TMS since I have used Dr. Sarno's method successfully for 12 years but now find I have bad back pain and sciatica and am having trouble getting rid of it. I went to my internist who suggested pills and physical therapy. I do not want to do those. I think I know what triggered this event but am having trouble getting rid of the pain in my back and legs. I have trouble sleeping because of the pain. I am known in my neighborhood as the walker and am very frustrated that I am unable to do my usual walk because of the pain. I am journaling every day and reading Dr. Sarno everyday. It has been about three weeks since this acute attack.

Answer by Georgie Oldfield, MCSP

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Georgie Oldfield, MCSP

Georgie Oldfield's Profile Page / Survey Response

It's not unusual to experience a recurrence and unfortunately it's not always the case that what you did before will be all that you need next time round and of course you need to be absolutely sure that everything else but TMS has been ruled out. Many people do need much more than an understanding of the concept, reviewing it and acknowledging the repressed emotions, even if this was all that was needed the first time. Remember that although many people do recover on their own, many more do need professional help, or even just a more varied toolbox to choose from.

I assume that you have journaled about what you feel is the trigger and have fully explored this. It can also be helpful to take some time out to meditate, or even just to sit quietly with no distractions and allow any emotion to come up. If you find this hard due to the pain, then try to relax into the pain and be ‘allowing' rather than fight it. If anything does come up then this may lead you into another aspect of what happened that you might not have been aware was causing you concern.

Another tip is to write down a question last thing at night, three times. This may be asking yourself what might be underlying this pain that you may not have addressed yet. Believe it or not this has been a very helpful tip for many of my patients sometimes bringing up things they may not have been aware of and resulting in an easing of the symptoms. Your unconscious mind is processing information at night so as a result of working on this question, things may pop into your head if you wake in the night, in your dreams or the next morning. Deal with whatever then comes up.

Remember, the pain is your inner child saying, “enough's enough”. Is this because he/she can't cope with all the negative inner voices, or are you taking no time out for you? Meditation or even just spending time each day to sit quietly with no distraction can be hugely helpful, as can ‘fun time' for you.

If you feel you have already dealt with everything in your ‘reservoir' from the past and current issues and you're doing everything else, then it may be that you could benefit from some cognitive-behavioural work. The cognitive-behavioural techniques help to change the way you think, feel and behave. If you feel your negative inner chatter is causing you inner turmoil, then this will constantly be being added to your reservoir unless you can learn how to deal with this. Using techniques to stop your negative thoughts, let go of the emotion and develop a positive feeling can help, plus tools such as visualization, positive self talk/affirmations etc.

If you still find you need help, then don't forget that many patients also need analytical Psychotherapy, so finding someone who also understands the TMS concept is another avenue to take. I hope that gives you some ideas to work with.


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