Very fortunately, I hit on a book by John E. Sarnow and signed up to this program. Since then, I've been getting better all the time and I'm back to the gym, dancing and exercising three times a week, and I'm also able to go hiking again :-). Not pain-free by any means, but certainly in the process of getting my life back.
All the while, I had been waiting for an appointment at the Berlin Charité, our medical university, which is basically where you are sent when no regular doctor can help you. I finally got to go there a few days ago and described my symptoms and the way I've been approaching this issue, and after a thorough diagnosis, the doctor confirmed my illness to be psychosomatic. This sort of stunned me, since I had expected her to take a more physical approach, but she was quite frank in her assessment and even told me she was extremely glad I had already made this mental jump, since, in her experience, many patients are unwilling to accept this diagnosis and this makes it difficult to help them.
What this outcome means for me is that I get access to competent medical support, in the form of psychosomatic examination and treatment. It also shows that the medical establishment is very aware of the kind of condition we find ourselves suffering from. There's still this deep collusionary relationship between patients and doctors, though, of patients not wanting to face their emotional issues, and doctors needing to use their expensive equipment.
Personally, I'm not only doing Howard's program, I've also adopted the ISTDP techniques described in the course and am doing my best every single day to accept, feel and express my emotions, especially anger, which was something I hardly ever consciously felt. Only gradually I'm realizing the extent of my emotional defenses and blocks, and I understand that there's a long path ahead of me, but since I already see the rewards, I am very motivated to continue. I've also started talking openly about my condition, and although some people seem embarrassed by this, many others respond with interest and sympathy.
I've become convinced that we all can and will get better if we learn to accept our feelings, however overwhelming they may seem. The other day, when a colleague was being rude for no reason, I spontaneously felt a surge of resentment that would never have occurred three months ago. I'm starting to see my own truth that was hidden behind all the emotions I could never admit, and I'm also, step by step, beginning to express it. We are all on the same journey, and I can only encourage every one who’s still struggling with this issue to not give up and take it one step at a time. Most of all I want to express my gratitude and appreciation for Howard and all his colleagues keeping up the good work, and making such a difference in so many people’s lives :-).