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Feeling OLD and looking for others who can relate!

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by suky, Jan 15, 2019.

  1. suky

    suky Peer Supporter

    Greetings to all of you who put so much time and effort into this wiki! I've not been here long, but have spent a lot of time reading your posts, doing Alan's wonderful program and admiring those of you who keep struggling to recover from TMS symptoms! Thank you for sharing in whatever ways you have! You have already helped me a great deal!

    By way of background: I recently turned 75. In some ways it is a surprise to realize that I have lived that long! In other ways, I feel really, really old! For about 35 years of that time I have struggled with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, but the more I learn about TMS, the more I can see symptoms, like migraines starting at about age 10 and severe TMJ at a stressful time in my 30's, that make me realize that I clearly have had TMS for a very long time! I've had a life of caregiving -- my father, then my mother and for the past 8 years I cared for my husband after a stroke. He died in June of 2018.

    I've read a LOT and am now working through Dr. Howard Schubiner's Unlearn Your Pain course and finding it helpful, but oh so slow going!

    Here's what is bothering me most right now: I wonder if I'm just too old! I would love to find someone who is anywhere near my age who has been able to recover -- or is struggling like I am. I need some support! Boy is it hard for me to admit that! I wonder if I can do the work required to get off some of the many medications that I can now see may be making it worse. For so long I have believed that these same meds have kept me going! Fear is a huge thing. I'm clinging to my independence and don't want anyone to have to take care of me. So, I shall struggle on. My hope is to hear from others who are about my age. Are you out there? Or am I the only one?

  2. Marls

    Marls Well known member

    I’m in the senior category Suky and still chasing the dream. I have the odd few good days, start to feel positive, and then whammo, a bit like the brain saying “get back down in the mire”. Oh how I dream of meeting IT in a dark alley hehe. DONT give up. Crikey you could very well have another 30 Christmas dinners yet to come. Are you staying happily interested and busy in stuff around you?
    HattieNC and suky like this.
  3. suky

    suky Peer Supporter

    Thanks so very much, Marls! This is exactly what I need to hear! You give me hope. And I love your sense of humor! It means a lot to me that you responded to my post! Your question about whether I am "staying happily interested and busy in stuff" around me was a wake up call for me! I do feel generally happy, but am so focused on "getting well" and taking care of all the things I put off during my caregiving years, I haven't allowed myself to be socially engaged. (Also, I'm a incorrigible introvert.) Perhaps my reaching out here is the start of being more engaged with others. Also, I think my pain has caused me to feel "old" for years now. Is this TMS too? Time to shed some of those years and count on another 10 Christmas dinners! :)

    Any other thoughts would be more than welcome!
  4. Marls

    Marls Well known member

    I’ve just started a new free course on FutureLearn.com about pain and anxiety. They have heaps of free courses from basic to high-brow so a perfect stimulating hidey-hole for an introvert. When I am having a good day I feel fresh and well dressed but within 24 hours and back to pain I feel sombre and dowdy BUT in the same outfit!! Pain can weaken our resolve and so make us feel (and look) old for our years. I think red lipstick was invented for these days.
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  5. westb

    westb Well known member

    Hi, I'm 69 and understand where you are coming from. The doubts and questions about whether I'm too old to recover do raise their heads at times, particularly when I'm having a flare.

    I agree with @Marls' suggestions (including the lipstick!). I find that being out in the world a bit (and I'm a natural introvert too and I live alone) makes a big difference to the degree to which I'm aware of my symptoms. They don't go away, it's just that I'm less bothered by them when I'm interacting with others. In the past year I've joined three local groups that deal with my interests (self development, languages and art history), one of which meets weekly and the other two once monthly. I've also started learning Italian online here at home. Doing all this has given me encouragement and enjoyment, and helped me to see that I can live as a relatively normal person and I'm not just an old-ish lady who has painful symptoms. For years I thought that when the symptoms abated THEN I would be able to start leading an enjoyable life. Now I understand that I need to take the step of faith and go out into the world and begin to enjoy life first, and the TMS recovery will follow in its own good time (which may not be on my schedule!).

    If you haven't read it I'd recommend Claire Weekes' book "Self Help for Your Nerves". She deals primarily with anxiety but much of her advice is very applicable to the TMS work and many people on this forum have found it helpful. It was written many years ago so it feels a little dated in style, but don't let that put you off, it's a gem.

    Just don't give up. Start small, but take that first step. Faith and patience are needed but that's all part of the process. All the very best to you.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2019
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  6. suky

    suky Peer Supporter

    It has always been amazing to me how much we all impact each other, often with no idea! I want three women to know how very much you have helped me this past week.

    @Marls, you answered my post right away. That meant so very much to me. I felt so vulnerable posting what I did and kept looking for a response. You made me feel seen and not alone. Thank you. Beyond that, what you said about getting out in the world was something I didn't want to hear. I love being home alone. But I did hear you. Your sense of humor helped me to not go into my usual mode of feeling criticized at every suggestion! Amazing! I'm finally seeing that taking suggestions as criticism is certainly coming from my parent-brain and is not helpful! My perfectionist self was telling me that no one must see anything "wrong" with me! Now I can see that clearly. Your post and the work I have been doing made that clear. It was a real breakthrough, I think.

    Then you added your wonderful post, @westb, and I began to see why I was stuck. Way too much time alone and thinking about myself! I had read about half of Claire Weekes' book but had moved on to something else. I went back to her and her gentle approach really helped! You are right. Her book IS a gem!
    You wrote, "Just don't give up. Start small, but take that first step. Faith and patience are needed but that's all part of the process." How wise you are! I needed to hear that! And your quote from Anne Lamott in your signature says it all!!!!
    I also needed to hear that you and Marls were both still struggling and had similar thoughts to mine. Wonderful support! Thank you!

    @HattieNC, you are the third. You liked the posts from Marls and westb, so I became curious about you. I read your story and some of your posts and realized that I had read them and even "liked" them before. You inspire me! Thank you for sharing yourself on the forums.

    Okay. Here's my update. On Wednesday of last week I had a big dental appointment to begin to repair the damage caused by my neglect of myself during the years of caring for my husband. I was really anxious about it! I did ask my son to drive me, which I hated to do, but am glad that I did. I thought a lot about what you had all written about being out in the world. I also committed to using some of the tools I had learned to control my anxiety. At the end of the appointment, I shocked my dentist, who I had been seeing for 35 years, by telling him that I had had a "good time'! I really meant it. His assistant had been with him for 30 years and I knew and liked them both. We talked like friends through the two hours I was there. My first experience "out in the world" with all you three have written in my heart and mind was amazing! I actually let go of any discomfort of the procedures and connected with both of them. It really was a positive experience!

    There's more. I've had a wonderful little dog who has been a tremendous comfort to me, always ready to cuddle. She had cancer and this past week it got steadily worse and I knew I had to take her to the vet and probably let her go. This is not something I would "normally" be "able" to do! Two people had offered to take her when it was time. But on the strength of my newfound confidence and understanding (and I must say control of my symptoms!) I decided that I could do it. And I did! It was awful and I was devastated. I cried all the way home, but felt quite safe driving in spite of it. I could pull myself out of it well enough to get home safely without feeling out of control. This is something I never would have attempted before I started my TMS work. I wonder if I could have done it without the encouragement and examples of you three wonderful women!

    I wanted you to know, especially westb, why I hadn't responded to your wonderful post. And I wanted all three of you to know what your response, your words and your example meant to me! We've all had an important week, I feel. I am full of gratitude. I know that I will be stuck again. But I also know that I am not alone. I needed that. Thank you.


    P.S. My next outing is going to be something FUN — even if I need to don my red lipstick!
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2019
  7. Lainey

    Lainey Well known member

    You have been under a lot of stress. The loss of your husband after your long term caregiving, and then the loss of your beloved little dog are very recent and either one alone could trigger TMS pains. Please allow yourself to take the time you need to venture out and beyond your usual situation. You can heal. You can be pain free. You are not too old for this. Read the books, do whatever it is that helps, e.g. journaling, meditating, talking to a close friend. Talk to your brain, live your life. You are still here and there are lots of adventures that could be part of your future.
    I have been there, we are close in age, life CAN go on, and with JOY.
  8. Marls

    Marls Well known member

    So Suky, I wake up, do my meditation, my gratefulness, my acceptance; anything to avoid getting out of my cocoon. Next is to check in on my wiki friends and there’s a lovely message from you which made me realise, deeply, that we are all more than words on a forum. We are the power another person may need, if only for a day

    I can understand your “vulnerability”. I don’t post often and when I do I triple check. And your words re feeling criticised and perfectionist were like the proverbial slap (gentle) which became an ah-ha moment.

    I went to our local tip shop this morning and what was on the top of a pile of books. Claire Weekes! And for $1! Even my guardian listens to you.

    I’ve been smiling all day over you talking to your dentist. “How’s your day been Suky?” “Arggghau”. “Really, any holidays planned” “Argghhu”.

    So yes Suky, I’ve had an important week as well. I WILL NOT shy from asking for help, I WILL appreciate the vast difference between criticism and advice, and knowing that not being perfect is perfectly OK. Guess I just needed to read it within my personal circle, not just in a book.

    You’ve given me sage advice, a giggle and a new(ish) book. Thank you x
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  9. westb

    westb Well known member

    Ah @suky, what a lovely post. Thank you so much for reporting back. And first I want to send my love and condolences on the loss of your little dog and to say what an achievement that was to go with your friend on her final physical journey and to be with her at the end. There has to be a sense of loss but I'm sure you have many, many good memories. I know how it is - I had to have my beautiful cat put to sleep in 2012 after 15 years. I missed him terribly but I know it was the right decision, and you know I still talk to him out loud occasionally when I'm at home and something reminds me of him.

    The trip to the dentist sounds as if it was wonderful (strange to write that about a dental visit!). I believe that things like dental visits, shopping, even appointments with the solicitor can be beneficial for us TMS types because we often encounter pleasant people and it's just the small exchanges of energy with other humans, such as you describe at the dental surgery, that help keep us balanced and healthy (I seem to remember reading somewhere that studies have shown that this is a fact).

    So more power to you. Two major chapters of your life have closed in recent times and you are in the adjustment process so allow yourself space and time to settle again. You are now at the start of a new chapter. I wonder what pleasures and surprises it will bring?

    NB: I only put that Anne Lamott quote up yesterday, so I'm glad it resonated with you. Perfectionism is something I have to be constantly aware of.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2019
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  10. suky

    suky Peer Supporter

    Oh @westb, Thank you so very much for your wisdom and for sharing your journey. It helps more than I can tell you!

    Thanks for understanding my pain over losing my dear Lily. I’m sorry that you know how that feels having lost your beloved cat, but it does help to know that someone gets it! Our little friends have a way of breaking our hearts, but how much they do to fill them before that happens. I do have lovely memories of times with her. Luckily for me, I have a “spare”, a little Westie who is so pleased to have my attention again! She is a great comfort to me and does tend to absorb some of my anxiety and pain — both emotional and physical!

    Since you have said such kind and gentle things about what I am going through right now, I have to tell you that yesterday was the 52nd anniversary of my marriage, the first without my husband. At this point, I think I am just a bit numb. I’m taking it one day at a time and trying to follow all the advice that you and other members have shared both on this thread and elsewhere on the forums. I find that opening my heart, while risky and difficult, is the thing I seem to need most to heal right now.

    Tomorrow is another dentist appointment — my punishment for neglecting myself for so long. I’m not looking forward to it, but am looking forward to seeing if I can remember all that Drs Claire Weekes, Sarno and Schubiner — and all of you are helping me learn. I love that you said that you thought you would wait until after the pain was gone to start your life again. That was a wake up call for me, as I was doing the same thing!

    I do have a question for you: after your jaunts into the world, are you exhausted? I find that I am having to pace myself, something I learned in a fibromyalgia course years ago. So, as I plan an outing, I also need to plan a day of some rest before the event and a day to semi-crash the next day. Should I just ignore the fatigue as another TMS symptom and get on with it, or do I honor what my body is telling me? I find the fatigue issue very confusing. I don’t remember you mentioning that you struggle with it too, but I would love to hear your thoughts on it — or what has helped anyone else who might have read this post.

    My heart is full of gratitude for this amazing wiki and for all who make it so very helpful and for you, Westb, for your wonderfully helpful and supportive posts. Bless you!

    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019
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  11. westb

    westb Well known member

    You're so welcome @suky. Yesterday must have been challenging, I can only imagine what it was like and do allow yourself to feel emotions if you can - though periods of numbness are all part of the process and in my experience they come and go, just like the actual emotions themselves. I'm very glad you have another little Westie to be with you.

    Re exhaustion after my "jaunts". I have found that it works best for me if I make my trip into town, or whatever, the main goal of that particular day. It's as much a mental as physical thing. If I try and pack other major activities into the day then I get overwhelmed and nervously frazzled. Whether this is a TMS symptom or simply a sign of ageing (I'll be 70 in a few months time) I don't know, but right now I'm concentrating on what works and what doesn't. Re "pacing" I think your idea of having a down day before and rest after is fine. You are just starting out on this adventure so it may be as you and your body and mind get used to these activities and trips that the fatigue will lessen. Just keep going and try and enjoy the process as you discover what does and doesn't work for you.

    I'm still at the stage where I'm still trying to work out what I am comfortable doing. This morning I caught the local bus into town, took some old books to the Oxfam bookshop, and then went to my weekly social get-together at lunch time. Then, I caught the bus back home and here I am. My next trip is in the calendar for Friday when I have to go the dentist as well! But even on my quiet days I do try and get some physical exercise, generally a walk - which I love - which may be shorter or longer depending on energy levels, weather etc.

    I don't have it all figured out yet and I'm still a work in progress. I do try not to be deterred if I'm getting a symptom flare when I've got a social activity planned but now and again I do cancel if the symptoms or the fatigue (and yes, I do get periodic bouts of fatigue) are severe. The thing is that I do get an energy boost from being around congenial people and it does take me out of my own head and stops any rumination in its tracks. But again, if I have cancelled I have to be vigilant that the perfectionism doesn't kick in and I start getting depressed and beating myself up for cancelling. We're doing our best and we're human and deserve plaudits for the action we are taking to combat our own particular mind/body issue.

    Blessings to you, you're doing so well ........
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  12. suky

    suky Peer Supporter

    Thanks so very much @Lainey! Your encouragement and support mean so much to me! You hit the nail on the head when you knew that I needed to hear that life goes on. While I was caregiving, I never really thought about life after that, especially as I thought there was no “cure” for the pain and fatigue that has definined most of my life! I just wanted to get through my “job” as best I could and then didn’t care much about what happened after that. Well, the time does come, doesn’t it! I feel so very lucky to have learned about Dr. Sarno and found this wonderful resource! It has totally changed how I see my life going forward — and in the present! I’m beginning to believe you that “life CAN go on, and with JOY.” How wise you are. Thank you! I hear you and I shall keep on keeping on!

  13. suky

    suky Peer Supporter

    @Marls, you have such a wonderful sense of humor! Thank you! It helps so much to be able to laugh, especially on the tough days!

    Thanks for what you said about the perfectionist issue resonating with you! I like your quote: “You don’t have to be perfect to be perfect.” That says it all, doesn’t it? Did you have critical parents, by any chance? Mine were good parents, but I think that “back then” they believed that to be good parents, you had to teach your children by pushing them to be better, no matter what was going on. I can forgive mine for doing this to me as I don’t think they knew any better, but I think it set me up to be a perfectionist. I can now see that it is that trait that gets me into the most trouble! In fact, I’m beginning to wonder if that isn’t what my pain is all about. If I’m in a lot of pain, of course I can’t do everything that I SHOULD be doing! Does that make any sense? That thought came out of a writing exercise I did today and I’m just turning it over in my mind to see if feels reasonable.

    I like thinking of myself as “within [your] personal circle”! Perhaps we should form a club. We could call it the “Gray Foxes.” (I can’t wait to see your reaction to that!!!!)

    Thanks for making me smile,
  14. HattieNC

    HattieNC Well known member

    I would love to join Gray Foxes! Even though I plan on keeping my roots dyed for the foreseeable future. Smile.

    So glad you are getting out Suky. And, let me add my condolences on the loss of your pet and the grief you endured on your anniversary. I've been married for 35 years. I've never had a moment in my life where I didn't live with someone. Living alone strikes terror in my heart. My husband is older than I am and has a lot of health issues, so I know that being alone is something I'll face in the not too distance future. Brave ladies like you - makes the inevitable easier to accept.
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  15. suky

    suky Peer Supporter

    Oh Hattie! You are such a brave and capable woma!. You’ll be fine living alone. My husband was 10 years older, so I understand what you mean about feeling that it is inevitable. I had never lived alone either and dreaded it as well. My husband had always taken care of me: took the kids places, did the grocery shopping, cooking, drove me where I needed to go, etc! I was so lucky. After the stroke I had a big learning curve to discover that i could either have things delivered, ask for help from others or do things myself! It turned out to be a good interim time to shift from being “incapable” and “sick” to being ‘sick” but coping (but certainly not the way my perfectionist self wanted to!) Now that I’m alone, I wonder what I was worried about! I’m so grateful to have found this TMS Wiki and all the people who make it such a tremendous resource!

    I admire you a great deal, Hattie! Thanks for your support and understanding!

    I’m back from the dentist having driven myself this week! Gosh, if it weren’t against my “goodist” self, I’d be proud of myself! Oh heck, I AM proud of myself! As you said in your wonderful story, it’s that self compassion that helps to break through the whole pain, blame, anxiety loop! Actually, what you said was: “Self-care and self acceptance have been crucial in my recovery. Along with learning to stand up for myself and realizing that it's okay that I'm not the perfect person I thought I was.”

    I think I had a bit of a breakthrough yesterday while working on the third week of Dr. Howard Schubiner’s Unlearn Your Pain program. The instruction was to dialogue with a person or entity, writing both parts of the dialogue. I chose to “talk with” my pain. I started by asking it what it was trying to tell me. It said (sounds odd, but I was able to feel that side of the dialogue and write it down...) It said that it was about my perfectionism and my parent mind. I kept asking it questions and it said that my parent mind thinks I should be perfect and that my pain, along with severe fatigue, lets me off the hook so that I don’t have to feel guilty that I’m not doing all the things that I “should” do! I’m not sure what to do with that, but it was a real eye opener for me!

    Hattie, or anyone else who may have read this far, have thoughts? If so, I’d love to hear them!

    Now, I know this post is way too long, but I want to tell you that I’m glad that you would like to be part of the “Gray (or Grey) Foxes!” Should we limit it to Perfectionists of a “certain age” or do you have other thoughts for qualifications? :)

    Bless you for posting here, Hattie, and for sharing your struggles and recovery! You give me hope!
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  16. karinabrown

    karinabrown Well known member


    I’ve read your post and was so touched.
    I am in my 50ties, so not ‘your’ age as you asked for but still feel the urge to aswer.

    So impressed by your courage and all the life stuff’ you have lived thru.
    And even we are not the same age : so much i can relate to. I will not expand to far on that. But i want to let you know that many people on this earth would be honered to have a friend like you. The way you cared for the people you loved , including your dog (so sorry : ours is 15 so also preparing for that, i felt that pain in your story..)
    is so touching. If only now you could take care for yourself that way too?
    And that means : being kind to yourself. Taking it one step at the time.
    You do not sound ‘old’ ..far from that ! . I just hear someone who wants to connect.
    Not old : but tired i guess. and ofcourse you are. You have been through a lot.
    As far as the perfectionisme : maybe its time now to stop the ‘i should ‘ and start thinking and acting on the ‘i want’
    Instead of ‘surviving’ going to : ‘living’
    Doing some stuff that brings a smile to your face.

    Just wanted to let you know that on the other side of the world , a woman read your post and felt impressed and inspired by you !
    Thanks for that. And i think its great that the internet gives us this extra way of connecting

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  17. suky

    suky Peer Supporter

    Greetings Karina!

    If I had a daughter, I hope she would be as kind and compassionate as you are! Thank you so much for responding to me here in such a lovely way! I'm honored that you took the time to write! I find that "young" people can be very wise. ;)

    While I appreciate your being "impressed", I doubt that I have done anything that you wouldn't have done (or will do) as well under the circumstances. But thanks for what you said.

    You make a number of great points about shifting my focus and I do hear you! With the encouragement of people here on the forum and others in my life, I'm beginning to live again! In fact, I took my surviving dog to the dog park for the first time today. A wonderful friend asked me to join her and it was so much fun! Yes, FUN!

    My heart is full of gratitude that you reached out across the seas to tell me everything you packed into your thoughtful post!

    May you be healthy and happy!
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2019

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