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Progress... but stuck on one thing

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by colls100, Apr 18, 2018.

  1. colls100

    colls100 Well known member

    Migraines - pretty much gone and when they do come they last a few hours rather than a few days
    Daily head tension - down from a constant 6 to an intermittent 2/3
    RSI in bot hands -pretty much gone

    Remaining... constant lightheaded foggy head and slightly blurred vision
    New symptom - intense anxiety on waking that last a few hours of the day. Pretty much just a tight feeling in my chest and a slightly sick feeling in my stomach

    The constant nature of these particular symptoms is so hard to challenge, I am aware of them all day every day
    I admit that there is a lot of fear involved, they have been constant for about 5 years now (on and off for 10 years in total) and have made life pretty difficult (understatement)

    I feel that discovering TMS has been a good thing in many ways, but has also brought a huge pressure to get rid of my symptoms, when before I was just getting on with life, still hating and fearing my symptoms but not necessarily feeling under any pressure to heal because I didn't think it was possible.

    What is holding me back right now is this -

    If I can manage my headaches why does this not help my lightheadedness too? Instead, it makes it worse.
    I was told years ago by a chinese doctor that I hyperventilate and therefore need to try breathing exercises daily. I didn't take it seriously but that little nugget, and other advice here on the forum around deep breathing is kind of confusing me and making it hard to think truly psychological and not physical.

    I can't help thinking if I do breathing exercises I am doing them to correct a physical problem with my breathing...

    I know the power of TMS work now, but I cannot seem to apply it to this particular symptom.

    And yes, I have worked with a TMS therapist which is how I made such great progress with other symptoms, but I can't afford to keep seeing one for now.
  2. Paigeee

    Paigeee Peer Supporter

    I can totally relate to this, I feel the same. What I try to do with this (even though it's super hard for me sometimes) is block out the future, in a sense. By this I mean block out worrying about my pain and how it relates to my future. I simply focus on the current day and do not think about dealing with the pain the next day. I find that that does help me. Also, is the lightheaded feeling increased since you were able to lessen your other symptoms like migraines, etc? And the intensified anxiety could be from the fact that you are recovering from the other TMS symptoms.
  3. Duggit

    Duggit Well known member

    Another name for TMS is psychophysiologic disorder. That is the name Drs. Abbass & Schubiner use in their new book Hidden from View. Here is their thesis: "[M]edically unexplained illnesses are psychophysiologic: the brain creates these symptoms in response to psychol0gical stress . . . . The physical symptoms are not caused by structural disorders or pathological processes but rather by reversible physiological processes." The physical symptoms are caused by physiological processes, but the physiological processes are caused by psychological stress. Some physical treatments, like breathing exercises, might relieve the physical symptoms--temporarily. But better relief comes from dealing with the originating cause--the psychological stress.

    Here is ISTDP therapist Jon Frederickson on psychological stress that overactivates the part of the sympathetic nervous system that regulates breathing and leads to hyperventilation: "When patients hyperventilate, the blood becomes alkaline, leading blood vessels to constrict, which causes lightheadedness and sometimes fainting." He contrasts this with psychological stress that overactivates the parasympathetic nervous system and leads to nausea, jelly legs, lightheadedness, or fainting: "With smooth muscle activation, blood vessels dilate, reducing blood pressure in the brain, leading to cerebral hypoperfusion." To alleviate the former, Frederickson says the patient should hold her breath for fifteen seconds or should inhale for five seconds and then exhale for five seconds over the course of a minute or two. To alleviate the latter, the patient might tense the muscles of her hand and arms or slowly stand up and then descend to a slightly squatting position with bent knees. These are just ways temporarily to get the patient clearheaded and relaxed enough to focus on psychological stress. They are not a substitute for dealing with the psychological stress.

    In short, don't give up on thinking psychological.

    I wonder if you are being too hard on yourself. I'll start with my favorite passage in Sarno's Healing Back Pain:

    "I do that all the time [repress anger]. I have learned that heartburn means that I'm angry about something and don't know it. So I think about what might be causing the condition, and when I come up with the answer the heartburn disappears. It is remarkable how well buried the anger usually is. Generally for me it is something about which I am annoyed but have no idea how much it has angered me. Sometimes it it something so loaded emotionally, I don't come up with the answer for a long time." (Emphasis added.)
    In The Divided Mind, Sarno tells about going on a long trip with his wife and having heartburn. He tried, with the help of his wife, to figure out what was making him unconsciously angry. He wrote:

    "We obviously did not hit on the right answer, because my symptoms continued unabated for the entire trip. It wasn't until we got home that I realized what had been going on. I had promised the long trip to my wife who loves to travel. I was being a good guy. I was unconsciously furious for having to do something I really didn't want to do. My psyche wouldn't permit me to be consciously furious at my wife, and neither would my reasonable self . . . ."
    If Sarno himself, with years of experience, sometimes could not come up with the answer for a long time, why should you be better than that? Give it time. I'll close with some advice from Jon Frederickson that I put in an earlier post: "I don't need to be fixed. I just need to be accepted. By me." You don't have to be perfect with regard to thinking psychologically. Don't make the process a source of pressure that only increases psychological stress.

    Tennis Tom and Time2be like this.
  4. Time2be

    Time2be Well known member

    Colls 100, I think Duggit nails it! I know how frustrating this process can be, I am also in the middle of a flare and ask myself why I am not yet healed - despite what I know and what I do to heal. But I guess we have to take it as it is, we are prone to react physiologically to psychological stress. And we have to learn to deal with it.
    And thanks so much Duggit for pointing to the new book of Abbass and Schubiner. I will order it! I checked it out on Schubiners webpage and it sounds like it could really be helpful!
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2018
  5. colls100

    colls100 Well known member

    Yup, all makes sense.

    Fact is, I have had these symptoms for 10 years! I have been repressing my emotions and being overly self-conscious for 29 years!

    In just 3 months I have learned so much about myself, learned the true cause of my symptoms, and managed to make progress in alleviating my headaches and hand/wrist pain.

    I will keep reminding myself that this is a journey, always evolving and changing. And that I am committing to changing the way I deal with life and process emotions forever, rather than for a short time for the purpose of healing.

    In my heart I know that is key.

    Thanks for your responses, I am limiting myself to checking the wiki every few days rather than spending all day on here obsessing over everyone else's journeys.

    I'll check in sometime next week and read any more responses.

    Love to everyone x
    Time2be likes this.
  6. colls100

    colls100 Well known member

    Guys I'm still so stuck with this dizziness...

    Feel like I'm going round in circles... and just realised what I said there!

    I keep switching between one book and another, one theory to another. Journalling and giving up, trying to speak to my inner child, reducing fear. It feels like there is so much to do.

    I've had so much success with headaches, arm pain, restless legs etc... but I don't seem to be able to make any progress at all with this constant zombie-like feeling, which has never been worse than since I found out about TMS.

    If anything I have more symptoms and anxiety than before. If I really try to think positive I can convince myself that this in itself proves I have TMS, because the symptoms are reacting to my progress in one way or another.

    But I can't seem to stick to one thought process/theory when it comes to TMS.

    I've come so far, but I'm now doubting my ability to recover.

    I have worked with a TMS therapist but I can't afford to see her at the moment and my brain tells me that I had my chance at recovery when I did her program and that I'm now a lost cause :(

    I'm not sure why I am even posting this actually.. I'm just feeling a bit lost
  7. Time2be

    Time2be Well known member

    Colls100, understandable frustration, but also a bit of self pity, which brings you nowhere. What you describe is action without a real strategy and guideline (journaling, reading this and that, restless). This happens in panic. You need to establish some habits that lift your spirit up and this is not necessarily connected to symptom relief. Remember outcome independence? Do what makes you feel good! Forget dizziness for a while. Before sleeping or while doing things like knitting I sometimes listen to Claire Weekes. She almost automatically calms me down.
    The point is: the longer you are chasing the reason for the dizziness the stronger it gets.
    And: if you are not happy with your life for other reasons than your symptom, your symptom will stay. I had to learn this. If I don’t change some things in my life the pain will come back. It is also very difficult for me to do something nice for myself, to make changes and I am not really there yet. But I feel that I am on a good path.
    I wish you a friendly breeze that takes you in the right direction...
    Durga likes this.
  8. colls100

    colls100 Well known member

    Completely, I am feeling sorry for myself, frustrated with myself, angry with myself for not 'getting it' and for not being able to stay on track, let alone recover.

    At one stage I was seeing a lot of progress, feeling better and truly believing the TMS diagnosis. I lost momentum I suppose and now have spiralled into doubt and fear... every second of every day I think about TMS, focus on my symptoms and what I should be doing - there are too many different strategies and theories and books. I am switching from reading Sarno, to Monte Hueftle, to Claire Weekes, Schubiner, Louise Hay on a daily basis. I keep searching and searching. But you're right I have no clear strategy or purpose as I'm not giving myself time to see progress. I am the same in everything in life, I want it all now and I have always been the type of person who can't finish a project because I am distracted by something new.

    I think I am happy with my life, I am always thinking that if it wasn't for my symptoms I would be perfectly happy. Truth is maybe that is not the case. I have always worked in sales in central London, and the fact is actually I'm sick of commuting every day, sick of the pressure. But I can't tell if I would feel this way if I didn't have the symptoms.. everything comes back to the symptoms all the time.

    I am so analytical. I want to understand everything about TMS, but that holds me back from the practical application. I lie down to do breathing exercises or meditation and my brain simply will not let me and I convince myself there is no point, it's not helping and not going to help. I am too scared of 'doing it wrong' and not recovering.

    Thank you for your kind wishes. I am considering some hypnotherapy to root out some of those deep seated beliefs and negative thought patterns I have... I can't do this on my own
  9. Time2be

    Time2be Well known member

    Hi Colls, I think I know the state you are in. And I am also familiar with not finishing projects or delaying things unnecessarily. For me it is about perfection and not trusting myself. Instead doing what I think can live up to the expectations of others, I should do what I love to do. If I focus on myself, if my actions are centered in myself it is much easier.
    I know that commuting to central London is really tiresome. And with a normal income you could never buy a decent flat in central London. Is there any possibility to find a similar job where you live? Sometimes a change in life is good. Not if you are happy with your job!
    And sometimes it is the attitude. Maybe you could use commuting time differently? Listening to audio books, music. If you are in a train, reading is great (read something you really love to read). You see, I think of making life more lovable, also small things.
    All the reading and analyzing seems to paralyze you now. Maybe you should stop for a while and give yourself some space and comfort!
  10. colls100

    colls100 Well known member

    It's like a constant panic. If I relax to read a book I can feel the dizziness and I feel like I should be doing something to fix it. That's when I start searching, find the next book or program that I think will cure me, and give that a half-hearted attempt before I'm back in the cycle.

    How can I be able to see so clearly what's going on and not break the cycle?!

    I am also worried about living up to the expectations of others.. I have always been the girl who had everything due to a previous relationship with somebody very wealthy. My life now is very different - paying rent, realising how long it will take me to buy a house, saving up for holidays and not having the money to spend on clothes, make up etc. that I used to. (I know these are all very 'first world' problems but I had a certain lifestyle and reputation which I now can't afford and it is hard to get used to)

    I also worry a lot about my boyfriend and how he perceives me. When we met I had regular headaches and low-level dizziness but since finding out about TMS the anxiety about it all has increase ten-fold and almost taken over my life. That's why I get frustrated. When I didn't know about TMS I wasn't as bad as I am now. It's the pressure of knowing I could fix it and not being able to.

    I don't exactly love my job but it pays well and I worry that i'll be even more unhappy if I do take a pay cut. That comes down to always striving to have more of everything I guess. I was at my last job for 7 years and thought I needed a change so joined a tech company which I thought would challenge myself and take my focus off my symptoms. If anything now I have symptoms and also a job I don't necessarily feel suited to, or even understand at times. I guess it's early days though.

    I think whatever job I was doing I would still manage to stress myself out.

    You're totally right in that I feel paralysed. I have always connected more with the freeze response, as opposed to fight or flight.

    I think I am going to sit down today and be clear on the strategy I am taking - maybe I'll just make a few notes on things that do help, like going spinning for example (this REALLY helps lower my anxiety actually) and one particular guided relaxation I seem to be able to manage without freaking out and stopping halfway.

    I guess sometimes it feels like the things I love doing are all compromised by this dizziness.
  11. Time2be

    Time2be Well known member

    oh, I know this feeling of suddenly falling down the social ladder. My ex-husband had a fortune from his parents. I never spent a lot of money, but if I wanted something more expensive, then there was money. And he could easily afford a nice house. (Of course we had a pre-nup, left me with basically nothing) And now: I have a good income but I cannot afford the kind of house I had before. I had to get used to it and I sometimes resent and envy others for their luck. But that doesn't really help, does it? So, basically I am proud of what I could achieve on my own.
    I recognize this panicking mode because I also used it for some time. I learned that all this looking for help outside is not what is decisive for getting better.
    There is no textbook or meditation that makes the dizziness go away. These are only helping aids. The main point lies in yourself. That I learned. I am not always good at practicing it. It is a paradoxical state, not easy to describe. Because being grounded doesn't mean that you are occupied with yourself all the time. Actually, it has also to do with to 'forget yourself' in activities, being in flow.
    Three years ago I started to have anxiety attacks, before that I would have never thought of me having anxiety. Now, I learned to deal with it and it is almost gone. Sometimes, when the feeling comes, I think: Oh, here it comes, anxiety, well, I walk right through it. And then I ask myself what has brought me into such insecurity that I get anxious. Usually it is small things.
    So, no, don't let dizziness and anxiety steer your life! The things you love to do are still the things you love to do!
  12. colls100

    colls100 Well known member

    Yes I am definitely in panic mode. I think it's because I was doing a program with a therapist, I had some great success almost eliminating headaches and hand pain. But I can't afford to keep seeing her and I guess I lost my way a bit, I decided to just have a break from trying to heal but I must have gone too far and now I feel everything is out of control and I'm just clutching at straws.

    Perhaps I should go back to basics, although I do struggle with the emotional awareness part of TMS. I read a lot about feeling and identifying emotions, but when I try to practice this, I can only feel fear and frustration at my symptoms, and pretty much nothing else. Everything comes back to the symptoms, which I know are distracting me but CAN'T look beyond to feel my feelings.

    I was successful once, at connecting with my inner child, saying out loud how sad and scared I was about leaving my job and greatly reduced my anxiety and symptoms in that exact moment, but have never been able to replicate the experience.

    I suppose I feel good at spinning because there is no time or energy to feel dizzy, I am too busy keeping up. The same with swimming, too busy trying not to drown :) And at times I can lose myself in work when I am really focused, but that awareness of the dizziness does always seem to be there.

    I guess it's hard to be patient with something that bothers me so much. But you're right, I still have the things I love and will focus on bringing more of that back into my life.
    KevinB likes this.
  13. PainNoMore

    PainNoMore Peer Supporter

    hi colls100. i've had similar experiences. after getting rid of symptoms such as RSI, back pain and hip pain - well here comes anxiety and lightheadedness and even some blurred vision. it's symptom substitution and quite effective because it can be pretty scary. so it does a good job of keeping you in fear which is what the purpose of TMS is. have you looked at Alan Gordon's program on this site? if not, check it out. Day 10 in particluar. when you have anxiety or dizziness, it's important to lean in to those feelings. let your brain know that you are not in danger. there is nothing wrong with your body. you are safe. believe it 100% - because it's true. it takes practice but it works. and it will most likely come back at you again. just keep leaning into it.
  14. colls100

    colls100 Well known member

    So I lean into the dizziness? I think I get somatic tracking confused with feeling my feelings.. I always thought the symptoms was masking an emotion I needed to try and feel.. hmmmm confused
  15. PainNoMore

    PainNoMore Peer Supporter

    definitely use somatic tracking. what has worked well for me is to lean into it with a sense of curiosity (which helps take the fear away) and confidence. try your best to have a winning, enthusiastic and optimistic attitude.
  16. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Somatic tracking is where we feel into the sensations of the body, so for you this equates with feeling the sensation of dizziness. You don't need to lean into it. Just feel it.

    Somatic Tracking is paired with Cognitive Soothing where you counter negative and fearful self-talk with positive assurance that you are ok. This takes the place of catastrophic thinking. Together these practices teach the brain that we are safe and it need not perpetuate this state of high alarm.

    These two are a modern spin on classic Claire Weekes.

    Nope. This is old school Sarno and is where countless people get stuck unneccesarily. It leads to trying too hard to heal and can exacerbate your problems.
  17. colls100

    colls100 Well known member

    Oh @plum - this is exactly the explanation I needed.

    I'm sure it's on the wiki a million times over but I guess I needed someone to break it down even further for me, so thank you for taking the time.

    The TMS therapist I was seeing was great, really helped me in some ways but the focus on feeling emotions and journalling actually made me depressed I think. I have had lots of trauma and re-visiting all of it, and focusing on the things that were upsetting me from day to day was just not helping me. I ended up really confused and sad about my life and everything that has happened to me.

    It makes sense that the experience I had with my 'inner child' relieved some of my symptoms... perhaps it was not because I had accessed some deep emotion, but because for once I was soothing myself, saying it's okay and I'm here and I care about you and I know you are scared.

    I have begun to notice so many 'fear' thoughts, and I am no longer trying to wish the symptoms away but just notice and be with them, while telling myself simply 'Everything is going to be okay. Everything is okay'

    It's interesting that this approach has evolved from the old school Sarno emotion-based stuff. Perhaps believing that simply helped people understand there was nothing physical to be scared of, and moved their attention elsewhere, reduced fear is the result I presume.

    One way or another this does all come down to fear, which I am creating and therefore perpetuating my symptoms.

    This is a much simpler way to look at it :)
  18. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    I had a similar experience of feeling re-traumatised and deeply saddened when I followed the 'repressed emotions' paradigm. It also made me feel utterly hopeless about what had happened to me and my partner, and it lead to times of terrible depression.

    I listened to the advice of others who insisted that healing was to be found in continuing this search. But it wasn't. I came to see that all those years of old school Sarno didn't work because all they did was enmesh me ever deeper into The Fear Matrix (Day 6 of Alan's program).

    Here is a quote from Alan:

    "From my experience, the true defense is not the pain itself, but the constant level of preoccupation that the pain brings along. This in my opinion is why often after reading Sarno, when people do stop caring about/fearing the pain, it tends to fade. Because the preoccupation about the pain is the true defense."

    (http://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/behaviorism-conditioning-and-breaking-the-pain-cycle.2200/ (Behaviorism, Conditioning, and Breaking the Pain Cycle))

    It's ironic really that if the 'book cure' fails the next approach (journalling, trying to fathom obscure emotional states...) leads to preoccupation. That is where people get royally stuck.

    The other thing that made absolutely no sense to me was that my pain levels went down and my mood improved every time I did Yin Yoga. According to the orthodoxy this was the wrong thing to do and I was storing up trouble. Again, not so. Cue Somatic Tracking and the realisation that I had been doing this naturally during my yin practice.

    I'd been keeping myself stuck and in horrible pain because I was reinforcing fear and neglecting my body. I had become preoccupied with negative emotions (and my past), and on recoiling from and rejecting the messages of my body because they were to be ignored. Such nonsense! Once that penny dropped everything became easier.

    I completely agree with your thoughts on soothing as opposed to accessing some deep and mysterious emotion. Self-soothing and self-care are the backbone of recovery. Healing is nothing more than learning to feel safe again and feeling good in your own skin. Anything that takes you away from that is Fool's Gold.

    Plum x
    readytoheal likes this.
  19. colls100

    colls100 Well known member

    My first attempt at soothing my nervous system (although I didn't know that's what I was doing at the time) was breathing exercises for supposed hyperventilation.

    It helped a little, but didn't work completely. I suppose because I was still scared.

    Same with the emotional awareness approach. The frustration of trying to link a headache with an emotion, or the even more impossible feat of trying to link a CONSTANT feeling of lightheadedness with an emotion... I began to wonder how sad, depressed and to be honest f*cked up I must be if my emotions were fuelling this constant feeling.

    If I listen to my heart, I've always been drawn to Claire Weekes and also Monte Hueftle, who focuses more on day-to-day thoughts and not necessarily ignoring the pain but acknowledging it, finding awareness of how you're being in that moment and then finding what he calls a 'better feeling thought'. I suppose that approach is inter-changeable with accepting symptoms, noticing fear thoughts, and soothing myself.

    And honestly I woke up this morning with absolutely no anxiety for the first time in so many months. Without the panicky feeling that I'm not doing enough, that I have to journal later which I absolutely hate because it makes me sad and feel so hopeless. This is pretty epic actually, and explains why my anxiety actually developed during the period of journalling and desperately trying to feel all my emotions.

    I think I will keep up with a bit of journalling actually, but more of a 'thoughts and feelings diary' than a book of my saddest and most traumatic experiences!

    Interesting you mention yin yoga... this is the same as restorative yoga? I have a clear memory a few years back where I went to a restorative yoga class and left feeling emotionally and physically better than I had in years. I went back a couple of times and didn't have the same outcome, so I chalked it up to a coincidence and kept going down the medical route.

    I think it's time to start a daily yoga practice - do you recommend any online resources?
  20. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    The beautiful highlight of your reply is how you felt upon waking this morning. Really, that's all you need to know and from this point onward you ought hold that experience close to your heart and take flight.

    The self-insight is a lovely souvenir of more traditional TMS healing and is not wasted, and the idea of a thoughts and feelings book is gorgeous, something that supports your growth and healing. I do something similar. It's also a scrapbook of images that I like, that I find uplifting and joyful.

    Yin and Restorative Yoga are similar in that they both involve holding simple poses for a handful of minutes. Restorative Yoga focuses more on inducing profound relaxation whereas Yin does this incidentally. Yin is more focused on tension release primarily from the joints so it creates flexibility and calm. Because it involves the joints, it encourages mindfulness and this naturally lends itself to somatic tracking. I can feel my nervous system calm down as I do it. I generally do an hour 2 or 3 times a week. By the end of the class I'm a contented kitten blissfully enjoying shavasana. My body laps up the peace and goodness.

    If you scroll to the end of 'My Story' you'll find a link to the teacher I follow. There are others on YouTube but I like her. Interesting that you mention the one-off experience as I've found the benefits pretty consistent and accumulative so maybe, hopefully you can find something similar. I have always disliked yoga and tried different styles and teachers over a 20 year period but I fell in love with Yin straight away (still don't much like the other styles).

    Here's to your healing my dear. xxx

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