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 :-).
Good morning Stella,
Thanks so much for that marvelous post - very happy for you ...and also commiserate with all the struggles and disabling pain....on its way out surely! You are brave and I love your commitment. How wonderful that your doctor is open to TMS, and you can get help there. I have a similar commitment, glad to be clear about what really is the matter, the one diagnosis! , grateful for Howard's program . I too am getting more in touch with my emotions on a daily basis, practicing talking to my brain , telling it I know longer need its diversions and attempts to protect me from painful emotions, then tuning into the current status with my emotions. Sometimes I am finding that just doing that , the pain does go away .....This is amazing to me! And gives me hope and encouragement that I am on the right path. The kind of writing model Howard uses seems very powerful and I know it is what I need. I have become clear that given lots of tough things in my past, I need to do this with a therapist. It is now my pursuit to find someone. Things keep unfolding that confirm I am on the right path, so I am confident I will find someone who understands this process.
Messages like yours give me hope and encouragement , so thank you again..... wishing you blessings on this journey!
Thanks for the nice feedback, it feels good to know that we're not alone on this journey :-).
Marion, I've been in therapy for a while, but strangely, it never made any difference to the pain, and the idea of it being psychosomatic never really came up. My therapist was a bit stunned at first when I introduced this second perspective, but she accepted it when I told her about it and it became obvious that it worked. I think the therapy used to make no difference because it's too unspecific, the program and the ISTDP input is much more targeted at our particular condition. But I guess if you'll start therapy now, you'll bring up this issue right away and combine both kinds of approach.
What I've realized during the past weeks is that I'm much more reactive than I thought I was. I take lots of stuff personally, want to make people around me feel good etc. I'm starting to live more and more by my own values, like, if I've treated someone in a nice and appropriate manner, it's not my fault and really none of my business if my friendliness is not returned. I think behind feeling exhausted and empty is often the fear of being judged in some way, at least for me. Only now I've come to understand that the only person who can judge us is ourselves. This is an enormous relief and makes me feel so much better because quite a bit of my anxiety and sadness and hurt has simply evaporated.
I wish you, and everybody else here, much success and progress on this path :-).
Very beautifully put Stella!!
I am continually reminded of the quote from the Bible, when Jesus said:
"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."
Knowing about TMS/MBS is knowing the truth about how our brains and bodies work together. And that truth leads to healing.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!