For years, when I was in so much chronic pain that I couldn’t move, I thought there was no hope for me. There were times when I felt broken and defeated. No one could help me until I helped myself by breaking through into my subconscious mind.
When I gathered my courage and told my brain “No More!” then I truly started my self-recovery process. It took years of pain and great effort as I struggled with misdiagnosis, experimentation with treatments that didn’t work and months of researching and learning.
Family and friends absolutely could not have helped me make my personal breakthrough. However, there are ways in which friends and family members can help once someone who has already made their mental breakthrough and is on the path to self-recovery. The following three tips are how family and friends can help someone as they move through the painful self-recovery process.
#1: Don’t Judge
As our nearest and dearest family members and friends, we understand that deep down, you probably have our best interests at heart. You don’t want to see us suffer in such horrible pain any more than we want to endure it.
However, keep this in mind: your loved one who has TMS is fighting a battle with their own mind in order to be pain-free. In a very real sense, they are constantly playing mind games – with themselves. They are constantly reevaluating and questioning everything that they are thinking, everything that their mind is telling them to do or not to do.
Before sharing any “words of wisdom” with a TMS sufferer on the road to recovery, ask yourself if it is truly necessary for you to speak your mind. Comments about their methods, their mental state or their continued physical pain might not go over well. Whatever methods they are employing are whatever they think will work. When a method doesn’t work for them, no one – absolutely no one – is more devastated than them. They don’t need you to confirm how much it sucks. They know.
So, just be kind. Try not to judge TMS sufferers. They are fighting a battle which you can’t even really see – a battle between their mind and their body. It’s always best not to judge something you really don’t understand.
#2: Assist in Daily Life & Self-Care
There are two types of assistance which TMS sufferers generally need: help with daily care and help with self-care. Depending on the type of personality your loved one has, they may not ask for help due to embarrassment or pride. In that case, it is good to know what to look out for, so you can preemptively prepare for certain situations.
Daily Life – Chronic pain sufferers find many things have changed about the way they interact with their surroundings now. For example, things which are too high up or too down low cause problems. Consider putting all of their most-used items (such as food, makeup, magazines, etc.) in the midrange between hip-height and shoulder-height. It’ll make getting things just a little bit easier for them.
Self-Care – You know your loved ones best. Do they have a certain tea they like? A certain blanket or pillow which is their favorite? A certain type of music? If they are struggling to be pain-free, make sure to have the things they love around, giving them every opportunity to provide their own self-care when and how they want it.
#3: Give the Gift of Silence
Perhaps they didn’t get much rest last night due to pain and are just now in the early afternoon starting to doze off. Perhaps they are trying to write their TMS journal. Perhaps they are trying to practice mindfulness meditation. Whatever the case may be, if you see them doing something which you think they would appreciate silence for, then do your best to be quiet. If that’s impossible due to pets or children, then consider going on an outing. Your loved one will appreciate the gift of silence you’ve given them.