| I was in a "whiplash" accident in Oct 98 that I thought caused my neck/shoulder pain. It got progressively worse so that by spring 02 I was starting to think I had "fibro." I never truly contemplated suicide but soetimes the pain and resulting depression/confusion were so bad that I used the thought of suicide to comfort myself. "I can always kill myself if the pain gets too bad..." It's hard to type that now and remember how hopeless I felt.
I read HBP and MBP in Oct of 2002. Someone had recommended them years prior but I wasn't ready then.
What made me ready in fall 02? I fell and had a very real, physical injury to my hand, which enabled me to feel the difference between pain and TMS pain. And I was fired (nepotism) so I had a lot of time to read.
The books made immediate sense. I so recognized myself in them. I wanted to see Sarno but when I emailed him, he replied that I probably didn't need to.
In Nov 02, I saw a therapist in my hometown who wasn't familiar with TMS per se but who said she believed very strongly in the mindbody connection. I stopped seeing her after a couple of months because she didn't seem as "on board" with Sarno's theories and what I was trying to do as I'd hoped she would.
By December of 02 I gotten rid of the "sciatica" and the "fibro" twinges in my arms just by constantly repeating to myself the knowledge that it was TMS. And my neck/shoulder pain was 60% better or so.
Jan 03, got Sarno's videos and really got serious about the journaling. (Digging into my conflicts with my parents was key. I had always been "the good kid" and I had a lot of rage at the pressure and responsibility they put on me at a young age.)
By Mar 03, I was 75% better. I'd resumed all my "bad" activities like biking and had taken up downhill skiing over the winter.
May 03. Bought Stan Lee's Facing the Fire and started doing his "anger release" exercises.
August 03. Felt 90% better and started to realize that the remaining 10% was due to two things 1) a deep seated fear that my recovery had been "too easy" though it had been a trip through hell and back and 2) a reservoir of grief that I'd neglected with all my focus on rage.
Sep - Oct 03. Let myself cry for "no reason" several times, just bawling like a baby for all that I'd lost in my life however "trivial" or "irrational."
Nov 03. 100% better!!!
I still get the very occasional flare up - usually August and January, in anxiety of the new semester starting up and having to face a room full of strange new students who expect me to teach them how to write. The nerve! But I'm doing what I like and would keep doing it even if they didn't pay me. By the end of the first week of school, I'm fine again.
I count myself so lucky to be in grad school: writing fiction and creative nonfiction and teaching undergrads about writing.
Writing was "the dream" that I had abandoned in high school and I believe, this dream was the "sliver" or the "shrapnel" that was at the root of my TMS. This was what was working its way up to the surface during my four years of pain, a time when I was working at a series of less and less creative and more and more administrative jobs.
I was suppressing a lot of creative energy that draws upon the unconscious as its fuel.
I also have minor, cyclical depression now that is a TMS equivalent but I regard it as I did TMS, something that comes and goes and is nothing to fear in itself. It's just a sign. I know when it hits me hard that it's time to cry it out or hit the couch with a baseball bat. And it's way past time to WRITE something.
Thanks to the good doc, I'm not only pain free but I am a writer, something I haven't been able to say with conviction since I was in the 8th grade. I wish there was something I could do for Dr. Sarno to express my deep gratitude to him. Flowers just aren't going to cut it.