09 Dec All the Rage Spotlight Forest Smith
What pushed you to help others out of their suffering from emotional repression related symptoms?
My involvement with TMS activism came out of my 18 year experience with TMS. My symptoms started when I was 16 and was diagnosed with Repetitive Strain Injuries in my hands and forearms. Within the next four years, the symptoms spread to other areas in ways that made it difficult to use a computer, write, speak, walk, sit, or maintain other static positions such as standing. Symptoms affected every aspect of my life, from education, to work, family, and many activities of daily living. For 18 years, I feared for my ability to support myself and wondered if I could ever be a good husband or father.
Then, in 2008, Kim Martell, one of several people I had hired to write and type for me, showed me several TMS success stories that she found online. I had never seen stories of anyone who was like me before, let alone people who had gotten better, so finding these stories was a revelations. It was clear that the authors weren’t making any money from telling their stories, so I trusted that they were telling what they believed to be the truth. I realized that if they could get better, maybe I could, too.
Even a couple weeks in to my recovery, I had already realized that I wanted to create a wiki (a wiki is just a website that is written by a community) in order to help people tell their own stories, so that others would be able to find stories of people just like them, as I did. Our visitors could have their lives transformed as well.
Because now I could type for myself, I asked Kim if she wanted to switch from being my amanuensis/scribe to helping me create a wiki. We came up with the username “ForestForTrees” because she often made fun of my perfectionism, and the TMS Wiki was born in December of 2008.
What would you tell those suffering from these issues, but who don’t know it yet?
The big thing that I would want to say is that there is hope. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen come through the TMS Wiki’s forums who have gotten better and whose lives have changed dramatically. You can heal too.
When you do heal, just remember that the symptoms will always be trying to distract you. According to Dr. Sarno, that’s what they’re for. As you’re healing, this may manifest itself as symptoms shifting or even getting worse. It may manifest itself as preoccupation with how long it is taking to heal, or trying too hard to get better. These distractions are just another way that the TMS attempts to pull you in. Don’t let it! Your job is to let the symptoms know that they can’t distract you. Learn to be completely present in the moment, compassionately self-aware of your emotions. A key is finding the real joy that is there in your life (despite the adversity), if you will just take the time to find it.
What advice would you give others who want to spread the word, what would be the best way to tell others about these issues?
Right now, the most important thing that you can do to support the TMS movement is to support this Kickstarter. This documentary will be a powerful way to spread the word and raise awareness of TMS. It has the potential to reach many people who might otherwise think that their only option is ineffective surgery and drugs. The RUMUR team is completely committed to the cause and is passionate about spreading the message.
The business model and mission of the PPD/TMS Peer Network is to empower people like Michael, myself, and possibly you as well to tell our stories and share what we’ve learned as cooperative partners in the larger TMS movement. (The Peer Network is the 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that sponsors the TMS Wiki, its forums, and its sister projects such as the Thank You, Dr. Sarno project.) It was random, compassionate strangers on the internet telling their stories who saved my life, and the point of our nonprofit is that we are far more effective when we are organized and work together. With an enduring IRS-approved 501(c)(3), we can convey much more stability and scientific and professional respectability, greatly magnifying our ability to help people.
TMS practitioners regularly refer patients to me for advice on how to become more active within the TMS community. Often, the newcomer and I will have a phone call, up to an hour long, in which we discuss ways that they can participate and contribute. Some people want precisely defined tasks and others want to create a project that they design. If you are interested in helping, we want to work with you to find a way to volunteer that is personally meaningful to you.
Right now we have people translating wiki pages into French and Spanish, moderating our drop-in chat, providing peer support on our forum, and managing other volunteers. Some people prefer to make purely financial contributions (though, during this Kickstarter, all donations will be re-routed to the Kickstarter fundraising campaign for All the Rage).
Perhaps the simplest thing to do is to contribute your own personal success story in our success stories subforum. By sharing your story, you can give hope to someone in their time of need. If you are feeling courageous, you may consider posting a YouTube video success story in the subforum. YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, so making a video is a terrific way to reach people who don’t yet know about TMS.
If anyone would like to talk about how to get more involved, feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can set up a time to talk! Alternatively, feel free to hit me up on LinkedIn or Facebook.
What are your thoughts on how community helps others who are suffering, and how would someone suffering find such a community?
Peer support and community was vital to my recovery, and http://www.tmswiki.org/
Acceptance that your symptoms are not structural is key to recovering from TMS, and being part of a community of people working towards and supporting that acceptance can be crucial to the healing process. Knowing other people who have recovered and getting reassurance from them is like a very special sort of medicine. It can be an antidote to the negative messages that we can be surrounded by.
If you would like to join the TMS Wiki’s community, it only takes 60 seconds to make an account. You can introduce yourself in the Support Subforum to say hi, and then discuss All the Rage in our special subforum about the documentary. For a video walking you through the entire process, click here.