28 months along

#15

Postby Exstonerchick » Tue Dec 28, 2021 10:09 pm

PAWSsurvivor, you are quite the brave and inspiring soul. Congratulations on your progress through this awful valley of pain and uncertainty we call PAWS. Thank you for all of the updates and honesty. They matter so much to those of us still facing the recovery road ahead.

I don’t believe you have to justify your journey, progress or username of all things to anyone. We are blessed that this forum is a safe place to share our trauma - be it from PAWS, breakups, accidents, etc. - with the ultimate goal of helping each other heal. While it’s certainly useful to hear perspectives about our stories other than our own, being badgered and doubted is counterintuitive to the idea of community and the goal of healing. YOU are living your experience and recovering in your own way and time. Sharing your journey here deserves nothing but kindness and grace.

Be well and happy holidays!
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#16

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Tue Dec 28, 2021 10:55 pm

Exstonerchick wrote:I don’t believe you have to justify your journey, progress or username of all things to anyone.


100% agree. No one need justify anything. So nice that no member need justify anything to any other member. But, I guess that is the very nature of a public forum.
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#17

Postby tokeless » Tue Dec 28, 2021 11:14 pm

I don’t believe you have to justify your journey, progress or username of all things to anyone.

Ok, that's a valid opinion, but just that. From my perspective, I don't think this forum should just be a place to dump, indulge, seek sympathy without wanting to either do something about your issue, or try and change how you think, behave or whatever. It's not a 12 step meeting after all. That is my opinion. Sometimes we need to be challenged or confronted with what we post for others to see in order to gain power over it, but first we need to strip away the barriers, thinking errors or excuses at times. I'm not here for friends myself but will be friendly towards people and not so much others. It's a forum.
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#18

Postby PAWSsurvivor » Wed Dec 29, 2021 3:02 am

Thanks Exstonerchick, thats very kind. You're right I don't need to. However, I think my responses to Richard and Tokeless are a good snapshot for me too. There was a time in my disorder when I couldn't take any dissenting opinion, it sent me into a bigger spiral of anger and anxiety, and now I'm at the place where it doesn't. We're all growing, including myself.

Yes, I have to say I know very well that this forum is a Public Forum that often gets confused with being a support forum. We find lots of kindred spirits here and thats wonderful, but also it's not a true place for support and help. It's not the mission statement of Uncommon. I'd highly suggest looking into a different kind of forum for support. I'm a part of DARE and they are becoming a 2nd family to me. Truly brave people who are struggling through their anxiety disorders and moving towards recovery. There's much more sympathy and kindness and it's supervised by professionals who HAVE recovered with practices backed by science. Curable is another excellent group to belong to which follows the same practices.

Some people here mean well, even with tough love, but without context or any accountability, there is not much stopping people from fuses getting short. We don't need negativity, with our anxiety recovery, we need to be in loving nurturing environments and step into conflict and adversity one step at a time. One of the best things from my PAWS / anxiety disorder is truly learning the meaning of compassion. Find a place where compassion combined with truth are the principles and you will be in a good place for your recovery.
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#19

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Wed Dec 29, 2021 4:31 am

PAWSsurvivor wrote:Yes, I have to say I know very well that this forum is a Public Forum that often gets confused with being a support forum….Find a place where compassion combined with truth are the principles and you will be in a good place for your recovery.


A public forum and support forum, in my opinion, are not mutually exclusive.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but you are suggesting that a good “support forum” combines compassion + truth. This, in your opinion, is a good place for recovery.

A “public forum” is a place to hash out truth. People present opinions they believe truthful. But, in your opinion the compassion element is missing?

What if it isn’t missing. What if what you label “tough love” is just people being direct and giving you their honest, heartfelt, truthful, passionate opinion? As much as any opinion can be truthful.

What is the difference between a compassionate opinion and a passionate opinion? Look into the etymology of compassion and you will find pity and sorrow. Is that what you think helps, for people to pity you, to feel sorry for you? That helps recovery?

Note, I’m not knocking compassion. Not at all. I do pity and feel sorry for your 3 months smoking weed. I feel pity and sorrow for how this has taken a toll on your mental health. I have compassion for your accident, your relationship issues, and the student you lost. At the same time, I don’t take you as a person that wants to be treated as some helpless 38 year old, incapable of critical thought about any of these events in your life. It’s not “tough love” or a lack of compassion that leads me to provide the opinion that much of what you are dealing with is self induced and/or psychosomatic.

Understandably, people occasionally want to play savior, protecting the vulnerable 38 year old from the cold, heartless clutches of public dialogue. I get it. That can be a noble endeavor, however misguided. Even though the adult is participating freely in the dialogue and is capable of disengaging at anytime, there are those that seek to rescue others from the harsh, cruel words that dare suggest something less than whatever the savior feels is appropriate.

I have noticed a change from when you originally posted. And I’m glad that you have continued to participate and update us on what’s going on and your thought process. I wonder why? Do you need a savior? I don’t think so. I think this public forum has offered some help, otherwise you would not have been motivated to repeatedly engage in the discussion.
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#20

Postby PAWSsurvivor » Wed Dec 29, 2021 5:26 am

The thing is Richard, while a public forum can indeed "hash out truth", it's not always the optimal place to do so. No more than Facebook or twitter are great forums for the search for truth, more often then not it ends up in arguing and bickering and people just becoming more entrenched.

I've worked with my counselors at DARE, and they take considerable effort to couch truth in compassion, so that the message comes forward in the right way. They don't say much different from you and Tokeless, but there's an exuding of kindness and love. Not just factual discussion. We are given the truth. Perhaps it's a shortcoming of this forum, because we can't see each other and hear each other and discern the tone people are writing their messages with. For example why did you label "Exstonerchick" as playing my "Saviour"? Do you really think thats what she's trying to do? Thats quite melodramatic, and honestly, I would never hear a counselor talking like that on DARE about someone struggling. Thats where the compassion comes in. Be kind, she's working through a hard problem as well.

As for me, I do want the truth. I somewhat disagree when you say self-induced, even though I know what you mean. There is no way I ever meant to harm myself. Claire Weekes says in the one of the first stages of anxiety is "bewilderment", because the symptoms are so real and confusing, that of course we think there is something greatly wrong. It takes time to undo that "bewilderment". So is this self induced? Sort of. Not consciously self-induced. It only came this way because of how real everything felt. Too bad no one taught me how to deal with anxiety disorders when I was in school. I had to learn the hard way. But now I'm focusing on the right things.

One of the tenants of DARE is that we heal anxiety with our hearts, not our heads. So when someone is at state of extreme anxiety, and they are experiencing awful symptoms, yes, they need extra kindness. Because they are indeed fragile and struggling. Yes compassion helps. When in a state of deep anxiety, our brains can confuse negative emotions like anger, frustration, with that of physical pain, which leads to more fear, and the loop continues. The goal is to break those connections so our brains aren't wired to feel pain anymore. Hence yes, in recovery, we need an environment that is truthful, compassionate, and loving and caring. I don't feel this place is the ideal format, because not everyone working under the same code of ethics. It's a good place to initially land for some information, which hopefully will lead people to the right place for a recovery.

I think a good support forum is overseen by moderators with a code of ethics aligning with their mission statement, so that all members are on the same page and are held accountable for following or breaching that code. I have never seen that here. Thats fine. Just for those healing from anxiety, that anyone can say what they want here, and that with anxiety our filters for what is truthful information aren't as good. We can be prone to catastrophizing. Even labelling me with "Pyschosomatic Disorder" is not helpful, even if it is truthful, because it's not conducive to solving the problem. You know what is a better label for my condition? Calling my head a banana. Because it's harmless sounding and doesn't provoke more anxiety, even though we are talking about the same. thing. No one wants to be labelled with a "disorder". It provokes the very feelings that cause more stress and anxiety. Calling my head a banana head helped me out of chronic pain. I got that tip from Curable. So again, a link to Dr. Google labelling me with "Pyschosomatic Disorder" doesn't help much. It's not productive or kind, even if it is truthful. It's an example of why, yes, I'd suggest to others for finding a different place to support your recovery.

And to be truthful, I don't know if this forum has helped me. However I am in the habit of popping in from time to time. I like engaging in debate, so this has been enjoyable from that perspective.
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#21

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Wed Dec 29, 2021 2:28 pm

Graham wrote:I've worked with my counselors at DARE, and they take considerable effort to couch truth in compassion, so that the message comes forward in the right way. They don't say much different from you and Tokeless, but there's an exuding of kindness and love. Not just factual discussion. We are given the truth.


If I’m following you correctly, the exuding kindness and love is giving you the truth that you are a banana head.

I offer the opinion that after 3 months of weed, that 28 months later the symptoms you are experiencing are most likely psychosomatic, and that is not compassionate and somehow labels you. But labeling you a “banana head” is compassionate.

The counselors are not saying much different than me or tokeless, just phrasing it in a way that caters to your preference, i.e. it feels better to you to be labeled a banana head.

Here is a thought. Maybe you are still struggling 28 months later, because you are being told you are a banana head. It feels nice and comfortable, but maybe it isn’t actually as helpful as you think it is? It keeps you attending meetings, it builds some nice friendships, but it doesn’t actually resolve much.

Maybe labeling you a banana head makes you feel good, but it isn’t actually very compassionate.

Perhaps it's a shortcoming of this forum, because we can't see each other and hear each other and discern the tone people are writing their messages with. For example why did you label "Exstonerchick" as playing my "Saviour"?


Yes, a text based forum is not ideal. Things do get lost in translation.

I’m not not big on labels. Same as I don’t think you are a banana head, I’m not labeling exstonerchick. I’m only pointing out the stereotypical saviour mentality that some people adopt. In this case, someone taking pity on you and treating you as if you need to be rescued from this discussion.

And to be truthful, I don't know if this forum has helped me. However I am in the habit of popping in from time to time. I like engaging in debate, so this has been enjoyable from that perspective.


I find it enjoyable as well. It is not easy to objectively determine the extent to which any particular thread or discussion is helpful. It is also not possible to state how the experiences you gain across forums interact. Ultimately, whatever progress a person makes, or lack of progress, is a mix of all of these interactions.

Note, regardless if you personally think that it is kind and loving, I will never, ever call you a “silly goose” or point out that you are a “banana head”. I don’t find that compassionate. You are a capable, articulate, near 40 year old man. You deserve to be treated as such. That is compassion.
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#22

Postby PAWSsurvivor » Wed Dec 29, 2021 3:48 pm

No you misunderstand.

You should know if you are counseler it’s called re-appraisal. I don’t walk around saying I have “psychosomatic disorder”. Because that starts to bring a whole lot of catastrophic thinking. Oh no I have a disorder. Oh no this is going to harm me.

Instead you create a new association with your brain. My fuzzy feeling is not a disorder, it’s a banana. Or it’s a cloud. I associate pain / fuzzyness with something that is positive. Overtime my brain says “hey his fuzzy head isn’t a big deal”. And then my brain begins to look for other things to worry about. Real things, not a sillly harmless learned feeling. I don’t know what to say other than once I adopted this mentality my headache started to go away.

When you are in chronic distress and pain, you need to sort of trick your brain into calming down. These methods work. Again it’s called symptom reappraisal. I sometimes call my fuzzy head my crown. It can be really helpful for me to call it these things so I settle into it rather than resisting it.Of course I know it’s psycho somatic, but clinical definitions are cold and are more appropriate for a medical textbook than for helping someone recover. Visual imagery is very powerful. I have a head that “feels” like a banana. It isn’t a banana. Important difference.

As for attending meetings, it’s helped me attend less of them. Because I feel better. I often go to about one out of 5 each month. I used to try to go all of them. My goal is to eventually not need them. I’m not there yet, but the trend is very positive. And also, now when I attend meetings, I’m often not seeking help, I go to help others more often than not. It’s become my own kindness practice. Some people are in so much distress, It’s great to be able to help them recover too.
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#23

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Wed Dec 29, 2021 4:48 pm

PAWSsurvivor wrote: You should know if you are counseler it’s called re-appraisal. I don’t walk around saying I have “psychosomatic disorder”. Because that starts to bring a whole lot of catastrophic thinking. Oh no I have a disorder. Oh no this is going to harm me.

Instead you create a new association with your brain. My fuzzy feeling is not a disorder, it’s a banana.

Of course I know it’s psycho somatic, but clinical definitions are cold and are more appropriate for a medical textbook than for helping someone recover.


I agree that framing and/or reframing can be useful, but it can also be counterproductive. Note, I’m not calling you or anyone else a child. I’m only using the following to offer up a “reappraisal” for consideration.

A child gets an “ouchie” or a “boo boo”.
An adult suffers a cut or a bruise.
A doctor might refer to these things as a laceration or hematoma.

You are nearly 40 years old. And you know you suffered a cut, ie you know it’s psycho somatic. But, you think it is more productive for you to be told you have an ouchie rather than be told you suffered a cut or laceration?

Again, I’m not calling you or anyone a child. I’m only questioning how compassionate, kind, or loving it is to treat an adult as if they are emotionally incapable of processing things as an adult.
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#24

Postby PAWSsurvivor » Wed Dec 29, 2021 4:56 pm

When you are in chronic pain for a year, and out of answers, and then trying reappraisal and finding out it works. Yes I do.

Much of the anxiety we experience is produced in our unconscious mind. Which is why lots of anxiety symptoms don't make sense to people. It's utterly confusing. Thoughts have to be reorganized, and if reappraising something works, it works.

So yes, I could care less that my fuzzy head is being called a banana. Or rather that I choose to call it a banana (I made the decision to call it that) I would take that over a 2nd year of chronic headache pain any day.
Last edited by PAWSsurvivor on Wed Dec 29, 2021 5:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#25

Postby PAWSsurvivor » Wed Dec 29, 2021 4:59 pm

Here is a description of the book from Curable called: The Way Out. This where this reappraisal method comes from. They have an excellent podcast as well. It can be found on Amazon, I can't post a link here.

"Chronic pain is an epidemic. Fifty million Americans struggle with back pain, headaches, or some other pain that resists all treatment. Desperate pain sufferers are told again and again that there is no cure for chronic pain.

Alan Gordon, a psychotherapist and the founder of the Pain Psychology Center in Los Angeles, was in grad school when he started experiencing chronic pain and it completely derailed his life. He saw multiple doctors and received many diagnoses, but none of the medical treatments helped. Frustrated with conventional pain management, he developed Pain Reprocessing Therapy (PRT), a mind-body protocol that eliminated his own chronic pain and has transformed the lives of thousands of his patients.

PRT is rooted in neuroscience, which has shown that while chronic pain feels like it's coming from the body, in most cases it's generated by misfiring pain circuits in the brain. PRT is a system of psychological techniques that rewires the brain to break out of the cycle of chronic pain.

The University of Colorado-Boulder recently conducted a large randomized controlled study on PRT, and the results are remarkable. By the end of the study, the majority of patients were pain-free or nearly pain-free. What's more, these dramatic changes held up over time.

The Way Out brings PRT to readers. It combines accessible science with a concrete, step-by-step plan to teach sufferers how to heal their own chronic pain."
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#26

Postby Exstonerchick » Wed Dec 29, 2021 5:16 pm

Richard, you’re reaching. I’m no one’s savior, nor do I possess a “stereotypical” savior mentality. I commended someone in recovery for a job well done and stated my opinion that he shouldn’t feel compelled to justify his journey. No life raft to see here.

I don’t have time to get lost in the minutiae of elaborate polemical threads like this, but I do have time to give props where they’re due. Two plus years of sobriety and anxiety recovery deserves praise and support in my opinion, but perhaps you’re all correct that this is the wrong forum to extend such without blowback. My bad and noted.

PAWSsurvivor, you are clearly an articulate, composed individual with zero need for a public defender. I trust you know my true intent - a proverbial pat on the back. I admire that your reactions and actions have mellowed during your recovery. I’ve experienced the same. It’s truly liberating to regain control over one’s emotions and intellect after they’ve been scrambled all over the place. I have the DARE app but definitely could do to engage with it more. I’ve had 2 surgeries this year, a precious kindergartner home during the holidays, and my family is in the midst of an international move, so my anxiety is high at the moment regardless of PAWS looming in the background. But overall I continue my recovery and life is rich and good.

I look forward to your ongoing updates!

Wishing all a happy New Year!
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#27

Postby PAWSsurvivor » Wed Dec 29, 2021 5:23 pm

I'll also add, here's why I wouldn't live my life with the label that I have : Pyscho-Somatic Disorder. Feel free to try this exercise.

Write 10 words you think of when you think of the word Psycho
Write 10 words you think of when you think of the word Disorder

Write 10 words that come to mind when you think of the word : Banana
Write 10 words that come to mind when you think of the word : Cloud
----------------

Which questions brought up more associations of calm, joy peace, etc? Which method of labeling do you think will induce less anxiety and more feelings of calm and safety? Which pattern of thinking will help break the fear loop in the mind?

I get to choose the story I tell myself about my sensations. No way I'm going to walk around calling myself Psychosomatic. Not helpful. I have night disturbances as well still where I see occasional flashes of light, unbelievably the condition is called Exploding Head Syndrome. It's benign. But, please tell me do you think that clinical definition is helpful for me? Thats an awful name for a condition. Wouldn't it better to just call it my "light show"? What will induce more calm? Firsthand account, now i can sleep again, because I'm not worried about my "exploding" head. :)
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#28

Postby PAWSsurvivor » Wed Dec 29, 2021 5:28 pm

Exstonerchick wrote:Richard, you’re reaching. I’m no one’s savior, nor do I possess a “stereotypical” savior mentality. I commended someone in recovery for a job well done and stated my opinion that he shouldn’t feel compelled to justify his journey. No life raft to see here.

I don’t have time to get lost in the minutiae of elaborate polemical threads like this, but I do have time to give props where they’re due. Two plus years of sobriety and anxiety recovery deserves praise and support in my opinion, but perhaps you’re all correct that this is the wrong forum to extend such without blowback. My bad and noted.

PAWSsurvivor, you are clearly an articulate, composed individual with zero need for a public defender. I trust you know my true intent - a proverbial pat on the back. I admire that your reactions and actions have mellowed during your recovery. I’ve experienced the same. It’s truly liberating to regain control over one’s emotions and intellect after they’ve been scrambled all over the place. I have the DARE app but definitely could do to engage with it more. I’ve had 2 surgeries this year, a precious kindergartner home during the holidays, and my family is in the midst of an international move, so my anxiety is high at the moment regardless of PAWS looming in the background. But overall I continue my recovery and life is rich and good.

I look forward to your ongoing updates!

Wishing all a happy New Year!


Congratulations to you too. Yes I do know your intent. Thank you so much. My knock was more on the forum and not on you. You've done amazing as well. Anyone who was walked on this journey is immensely brave and courageous. Adding your surgeries, wow, amazing work. :) I sincerely wish you the best. I admit, I get too caught up in these debates :) I have too much time to fill on holidays right now. I'll let it go today.
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#29

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Wed Dec 29, 2021 5:32 pm

PAWSsurvivor wrote:…and then trying reappraisal and finding out it works.


Yes. Reappraisal or reframing can work. It was one of our first discussions, that you were not actually suffering from PAWS. It was reappraised as symptoms being caused by your own thoughts. I can’t remember precisely, but I think a reappraisal was offered that it was a form of hypochondria or psycho somatic issue.

Again my memory might falter a bit here, but I recall reappraising that you could relax as most certainly your brain was fine. Having smoked all of 3 months, I provided some reassurance that your body would have healed. I still stand by that opinion.

That someone offers up that you are a “banana head” and that seems to work for you…okay. We agree beliefs hold power. I get that. I’m glad it works for you. At the same time, I don’t necessarily subscribe to that being the baseline for what it means to be compassionate.

As an example, I’m sure dentists deal with patients suffering from a wide range of anxiety. This doesn’t mean the baseline for compassion is to treat a patient as if they are incapable of hearing the dentist’s straightforward opinion of what is going on, the available treatment options, and the precise nature of the procedure. It is compassionate for the dentist to explain there is a cavity, it requires numbing the area with a needle, drilling out the tooth, and then filling it in. If a patient is exceedingly anxious, the dentist might decide to use different terms, to leave out details, to tell the patient they will “feel a pinch” but not explain what will take place. Different paths for different patients.

The big difference is that this is a public forum. It isn’t nearly as intimate as the dentist, the therapist, or a counselor trying to customize for you specifically.
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