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 TMS on the ropes ... :SuccessStory
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23 Posts

Posted - 02/10/2006 :  13:44:41  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I originally thought I would wait until my symtoms were completely gone to write about the progress I've made lately, but then thought that's being a little too perfectionistic - also I can honestly say I don't fear TMS any more - I'm not concerned that I'm crowing about success now and somehow TMS will rise out of the ashes or anything. If it did I could deal with it.

Here's a timeline to put things in perspective:

- '94: Started getting RSI pain
(Parent died, changing job, getting married, moving, going back to school, new career, buying house ... other than that not much going on)
- '94-99 : Symptoms spreading, neck, back, leg, arm, head, etc. Alternately diagnosed with carpel tunnel, myofacial pain, and fibromyalgia. X-Rays, MRI, nerve conduction - not much conclusive, though enough to get me worried and fixated on pain

2000: Mother in law lent me "healing back pain" ... immediately felt better, put a lot of energy into doing Sarno's recommendations, and ..... the pain decreased, became "manageable", but still lingered. For years. In the back of my head I knew Sarno recommended Psychotherapy, I was very reluctant to do this, because of cost, ego (needing "help"), not sure what it would be like, uncomfortable talking about emotional things, etc. I also really couldn't think of anything that "significant" I'd be repressing from my past - I was fortunate to come from a loving, non abusive family, had good friends ... I really couldn't see what I would get out of it.

2005: Eventually threw in the towel and went to Psychotherapy. After about a few months of therapy had some severe panic attacks. Very unpleasant and scary. Quit drinking - while I was a "controlled" drinker I probably was using it to mask anxiety. After the panic attacks were over I was convinced it was a good sign, mind was trying other strategies to divert attention from emotional issues. Stuck with therapy, though skittish for a while.

2006: Really good progress. My symptoms are small and really laughable compared to what they used to be. If I have a quiet time to think about the things that are bugging me I can make them go away almost completely. Some things that have helped me this year:

1. Really try to stop focusing on the physical. I stopped discussing "pain" in the forums and to others, just call it my "symptoms". Also I thought about how much of my waking day I spent dwelling on my symptoms ... what would it take to get rid of those thoughts? I thought: what if the thoughts are causing the symptoms, not the other way around? Also I had to admit I was still doing some stretches that helped with the symptoms ... I knocked it off.

2. Stopped trying too hard. When I first tried to learn how to play the guitar I threw myself into it, practicing for hours a day for months, got frustrated, and gave up. I then had a period in my life where I was living across the street from some classes I was taking, when class would get out early I would walk across the street, pick up the guitar, and play for 5 minutes or so. After doing this for a few months suddenly somthing "clicked" and I started playing really pretty well. Same thing with TMS - I started doing things like watching 5-10 minutes of Sarno's video a day, reading just a paragraph or two of Sarno's book a day, spending 5 minutes here or there to focus on emotional issues. Just in the last week after several months of this something has really "clicked" ... TMS symptoms aren't gone, but I'm in an amazing amount of control and not scared of the symptoms any more. I'm not suggesting this approach will work for everyone but it seemed to fit with my personality that chafes at strict "9:30-10 pm: write in journal"

3. Got "The MindBody Workbook with Patient Panel DVD (Spiral-bound)
by David Schechter"

These are helpful, though honestly the symptoms were so trivial by the time they showed up from Amazon I was wondering if it was even fair to the TMS to throw this at it. Neither the DVD or the WorkBook are "polished", but the content is good and I really resonated with some of the patient's stories on the DVD. Dr. Schechter has some subtle differences in approach to Sarno I find helpful ... Sarno focuses alot on "rage" and Schechter spreads his focus to other emotions more. One of the most helpful things on the DVD was to hear about people that had had symptoms for many years (like me) and had recovered completely.

Yours in health -



50 Posts

Posted - 02/10/2006 :  19:58:40  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
That was a very helful post. Thank you. A lot of the time I find that if I'm not focused on my emotions, I feel like I'm not doing enough. I think that's indicative of the TMS personality; always putting pressure on ourselves to do more, to do it right. It's good to be reminded that sometimes more and better is too much.

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23 Posts

Posted - 02/10/2006 :  21:25:27  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Glad it was helpful! As you can imagine I'm relieved after 12 years to finally have this thing subdued ... I think a poster a few days back said that he finally "gets it" and I have the same feeling here - kinda a "oh, that's it!" feeling. Best of luck -

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686 Posts

Posted - 02/11/2006 :  22:27:03  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi samthefish,

I'm glad you decided to post your SuccessStory: even though you say you are still on the journey. This is an important point especially for the recent arrivals since we know that fighting TMS is not an event but rather a life long process. As you illustrated there is no quick fix, and you really have to look very hard at yourself in order to make the grade. Keep up the good work!

Take care, -Stryder
"Unpress yourself. Read The Mindbody Prescription"
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210 Posts

Posted - 02/12/2006 :  22:26:06  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

Congratulations on your progress so far! I hope you can soon get to the point where you feel fully recovered.

I agree with you that stretching can really get you focused on the physical. I used to stretch a lot, often 30 to 90 minutes a day. I was proud of myself for having made my own modifications to the stretches from my physical therapist. Now I realize how that was holding me back. I quit my back and hamstring stretches cold turkey and have never regretted it.

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United Kingdom
21 Posts

Posted - 02/13/2006 :  07:29:50  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

Wow, your original situation sound like an exact copy of mine... even the reasons when my RSI issues started.

I have many other odd equivalents but my main RSI symptoms are still lingering, and I have not been able to conquer TMS to the extent where the fear has totally gone This is a few years down the line but I will get there.

Your story gives me hope for the future though. It could be because I have not thrown myself into TMS enough, like the journaling and thinking enough about repressed anger and emotions?

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23 Posts

Posted - 02/13/2006 :  08:00:31  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I feel that Journaling has been very helpful - writing it out and then reading it helps me clarify some issues. I used to keep a Journal prior to having TMS sympoms and when I looked back at things I happened to stop journaling right around the time of my symptoms starting. If you're wondering what to write about Dr. Schechter's workbook would be helpful.

Good luck - SamTheFish
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430 Posts

Posted - 02/13/2006 :  11:34:26  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Great job! Really inspiring post. Just one question though. Did you find that the psychotherapy was the key to your progress? It wasn't totally clear from your post.
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23 Posts

Posted - 02/13/2006 :  12:41:30  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
>Great job! Really inspiring post. Just one question though. Did you find that the psychotherapy was the key to your progress? It wasn't totally clear from your post.

Psychotherapy has definately accelerated things, probably also "unstuck" me from the state I was in. I think where stretching can get you to focus on the physical Psychotherapy is good at getting you to focus on the mental side of things, puts a little dicipline and fresh ideas into the "looking at emotional factors". I'd recommend Psychotherapy to anyone that gets stuck trying to resolve TMS.
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