One of my readers recently pointed me to Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS), which appears to explain the ongoing tension headache that I’ve had for the past few years. The idea behind TMS is not new to me: suppressed emotions causing physical tension and pain in our bodies. What is new to me, is that there is a whole community of practitioners and patients out their treating medically unexplainable chronic pain (and presumably other physical symptoms) by dealing with their internalised and repressed emotions.
I can really relate to many of the typical TMS personality traits: perfectionism, people pleasing, legalism (even if I don’t really want to admit to that), stoicism, anxiety and fear, low self-esteem and internalised hostility. They describe my old pre-CFS life to a T.
In particular, I noticed that one of the steps in treating TMS is to resume physical activity. Obviously this needs to be done carefully when you’re dealing with a fatigue condition, especially if over doing physical activity has led to unpleasant emotions in the past as a result of post exertional malaise. I feel very fortunate that I don’t suffer from PEM any more, aside perhaps from the headaches.
I found Dr Sarno’s interview about his book The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders, well worth a listen. It’s very interesting hearing an ex-physician talk about mind/body medicine and the ability of our body to create real physical symptoms in order to distract us from very powerful emotions.
There is also a TMS recovery program on the TMS wiki that I found tremendously helpful. I really relate to a lot of what the various different people say in the sessions with the TMS therapist, especially the one with the guy who is constantly pushing himself. There’s a general theme that people with TMS just aren’t very kind to themselves, and don’t treat their emotions at all well.
If you’re still sceptical in any way about the idea that repressed emotions could be the cause of your suffering, I recommend checking out some of the online TMS resources.