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Daniel L. Losing hope

Discussion in 'Ask a TMS Therapist' started by creekerchick, Nov 11, 2014.

  1. creekerchick

    creekerchick Newcomer

    This question was submitted via our Ask a TMS Therapist program. To submit your question, click here.

    Help, I'm losing hope. It's been a year since I had a lumbar and then pelvic MRI and I am back to square one after improving maybe 60% in the spring and summer. The thought that keeps replaying in my mind is that all the negative thoughts and fear that I still experience may have manifested some real physical problem that could cause pain (like cancer or a colon disease) and I should go have tests done again.

    I went to a neurologist in Sept. who did an x-ray and recommended PT and a pain clinic. I went to 4 PT appts and the pain is so much worse. I wear one of those heat patches to work to help me through the day and now that is not helping (my brain is getting what it wants right?) I am going to a Jungian psychotherapist, journaling, obsessively reading mind-body books, reading tms pain forums for inspiration (I have printed up posts all over my house) and am not getting even remotely better.

    The pain doesn't move around much from my buttock/sacrum area and I'm having a hard time sitting/walking for long. Am I conditioned to have increased symptoms because it's Nov and I was a wreck last fall? If I do go and have tests done will I be worse off because I'm doing something physical or will I have a renewed sense that this is definitely TMS?
  2. Daniel G Lyman LCSW

    Daniel G Lyman LCSW TMS Therapist

    Hope. Probably the most important thing to remember in times of extreme, long-lasting pain is that there is ALWAYS hope.

    I’ve got a couple of thoughts right away:

    - First of all, the thoughts that you might have cancer or a colon problem ARE negative, fear-based thoughts. You have to eliminate fear-thoughts from your life. They are not useful. This is perhaps the most important thing you can do for yourself right now. When you have fear, you encourage tension in your body. That tension will only cause more pain. So if you want to eliminate pain, eliminate the root cause of the pain: fear (as it is with nearly all TMSers).

    - If you have eliminated any possible structural diagnosis, then your TMS symptoms will not get any better over the long-term with PT, heat patches, or any other structural intervention. It sounds like you’ve done your homework and have a great understanding of what TMS is, so take a step back and relax. You’re pushing yourself SO HARD (and if you are a TMSer, then you most likely have a tendency to push yourself hard in all areas), and it’s actually to your detriment. Take a step back, breathe, tell yourself that you’re proud of the work you’ve done but need a break. Don’t overthink this – you need to relax. “Obsessively” doing anything isn’t going to help you.

    - If you want to go to the doctor to eliminate possible structural causes for the pain (which you should definitely do if you haven’t already), then by all means, please do! But if you’re a TMSer, chances are that you’ve already been to the doctor (probably many of them) and are still scaring yourself about what’s going wrong with you. This speaks to the first point – you’re addicted to fear. Every step you take scares the crap out of you. You’ll never get better until you reign in the fear.

    As I’m reading your post and writing this response I’m getting anxious, so let’s take a moment and practice some mindfulness, shall we? Here’s what we do:

    STOP. Stop whatever you’re doing right at this moment (other than reading this reply), and as soon as you reach the period at the end of this sentence, take a deep breath.

    Did you do it? Good. Now do it again, but this time I want you to think about the nose hairs in your nostrils as you breathe in. Weird, I know, but just do it. Now.

    Did you do that? If not, go back and take a breath and only stop taking a breath when you are able to think about your nose hairs and only your nose hairs (no other thoughts!) as they wiggle with the air going in and out of your nose. It’s harder than it sounds, so keep trying. Take a minute or two and see how many times you can do it.


    Now that you’ve got it mastered, do it every single time you have a thought that scares you. That’s right – Every. Single. Time.

    “Are all of my negative thoughts and worry turning this into colon cancer?!?” STOP. Nose hair time. Take that breath - only thinking about the way your nose hairs feel as the air goes in and out of your nose. If you can’t do it on the first breath, take another. And another one. Do it until you have one successful breath where you only think about your nose hairs and don’t have any other thoughts enter your brain.

    If you start having another thought that scares you – time to breathe again. Do this five thousand times a day if necessary. The goal is to detach yourself from these thoughts. These thoughts do not need to have an effect on how you feel. They are ridiculous, bullying thoughts that do not define you.

    Repeat this process a hundred thousand times until you no longer have an attachment to your thoughts. Thoughts will come and go, but the way we feel is held in our bodies for a long time.

    Any advice or information provided here does not and is not intended to be and should not be taken to constitute specific professional or psychological advice given to any group or individual. This general advice is provided with the guidance that any person who believes that they may be suffering from any medical, psychological, or mindbody condition should seek professional advice from a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions. No general advice provided here should be taken to replace or in any way contradict advice provided by a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions.

    The general advice and information provided in this format is for informational purposes only and cannot serve as a way to screen for, identify, or diagnose depression, anxiety, or other psychological conditions. If you feel you may be suffering from any of these conditions please contact a licensed mental health practitioner for an in-person consultation.

    Questions may be edited for brevity and/or readability.

  3. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks,. Dan. That's a great breathing technique.
    I am constantly amazed at the relaxing, calming benefits of deep breathing.
    It works every time.
  4. Alan Gordon LCSW

    Alan Gordon LCSW TMS Therapist

    This may be my favorite post yet. Practical, beautifully written. An all-timer for sure. Great job, Daniel.
    MWsunin12 and lorrie like this.
  5. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I love the nose hair exercise. It's just goofy enough to totally take your mind off of what is scaring you. Brilliant!

    lorrie likes this.
  6. chickenbone

    chickenbone Well known member

    I agree this is really fabulous. It is this mindfulness technique that really works to separate yourself from your scary thoughts. I had tried different "mantras" to use to avoid becoming identified with my scary thoughts. The one that has worked best for me is to repeat to myself, when I am aware that I am feeling pain, "Don't let my mind talk to me about my pain". I just let the pain be, let myself feel it, but I never let my mind say anything to me about it, I never let my mind discuss the pain with me. The scary thoughts stop and before I know it, the pain is gone.

    Mindfullness is so difficult when we first start and seems so weird because we are not used to realizing that "we" are not our "minds". Since we are conscious beings, we can become the "watcher" of our minds. After doing this for awhile, we can really see what our minds do to us. I have noticed that one moment, my mind is saying it is unconcerned about pain and in the next moment trying to drive the last nail in my coffin. It is really crazy to realize what our minds do. Fear is really just negative imagination.
    Walt Oleksy and Ellen like this.
  7. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    I like your post, too, Chickenbone. Your mantra is a very good "mind talk to" to drive pain thoughts away.
  8. chickenbone

    chickenbone Well known member

    Thanks, Walt. Boy, this TMS stuff is the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with.
  9. Sheree

    Sheree Well known member

    Couldn't agree more, Chickenbone.
  10. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    It isn't easy working on our TMS but it is sure worth the time and effort.
    Before I learned about Dr. Sarno and TMS, I was lost in anxiety and fear.
    Now I know they're a natural part of living, but we learn ways to live without either of them.
    I wish I had known about TMS 40 years ago, but for me it was never to late to learn and heal.
    I didn't look upon TMS as work but a way to become healthier and happier and it helped.
  11. speedysel

    speedysel Peer Supporter

    Thank you so much Daniel. I am reading through some posts trying to get a few tips. Thinking about my nose hairs is brilliant. I will definitely do this. It not only has a calming aspect taking my attention, it also has a humorous twinge which appeals to my sense of humour. Thx
  12. Daniel G Lyman LCSW

    Daniel G Lyman LCSW TMS Therapist

    Glad to hear it! I always enjoy the slightly humorous ways of reminding ourselves to calm down. Humor works for me.
    ashoo79, speedysel and Forest like this.
  13. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    I love the nose hair deep breathing, too. Thanks again to Dan Lyman for telling us about it.
    It is funny and goes along with what I find very helpful in getting rid of fear... Laughing!
    I tell myself that what is worrying me is just a piece of s--t, and then laugh at it.
    I feel better right away! Now I'm combining the nose hair deep breathing with some laughing.
  14. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    So glad you woke up this thread with your comment, Walt. I missed it before and now I too am chuckling and empowered with a fun tool when my worry tendencies start to pick up speed.

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