Introduction Understand the EXACT process of Anxiety Panic Awarded 5 stars by UK Mental Health Foundation fear panic obsessive worry stress

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'I'm not talking about medication here - I'm talking about REAL recovery - based on understanding. You're not mad, in fact, you're very much the opposite'

'Of course, nobody wants pain in their life. It's really quite normal to want to eradicate it when it 'happens'. However, what we don't realise, is by 'then' trying to consciously eradicate/rectify it, we are trying to intensely and forcibly change something that has already happened (see 'Crux of Recovery' re COPAST Chs 1-8)'

This is the start of quite a long explanation of a problem which Iíve had for most of my life, especially since being a teenager onwards. Itís something which has 'put the blocks' on a lot of happiness Ė I know we all have our own crosses to bear, but this has been what I would call a  'major' problem, because of its frequency and detrimental effect on me and those around me (especially the closest).... This can all start off with just one adverse reaction to a stressful, or  traumatic event, or, indeed, to an extended period of stress, or pressure (see 'Getting Through Those Multiple Negatives' Ch 7). However - this can then lead to the future inability to do anything. We must realise that we can cut through all the ensuing cumulative anxiety and go back to that source - address it and move on. It was probably always in you waiting to happen - so you'll be taking a giant step in your life towards the productive and away from the destructive - if you learn why you over-react and how to avoid it. This certainly becomes an issue of control, which can often lead to repetitive/obsessive/addictive intense-based 'coping' behaviours.

Effectively, we get stuck with our stress/discomfort, as we don't know how to get out of it - we don't like the pain it causes and dig deeper to resolve it. However, we can cope, if we understand why and how the mind works. We may well, indeed, think we always have to 'get it right' or perfectly under control and this is why we then 'extend' any spike caused by our intensity into raging panic!

Hi Will, just a quick email to thankyou again for all your help. I was at a party yesterday and felt this overwhelming feeling again that I was going to tip over the edge. ''However'', I realised immediately what was happening and took my foot off the conscious pedal as you say. Amazing how my life has changed - just understanding this has brought me so much relief. For any sufferers out there, I would simply say Its bark IS louder than its bite! - we can flow through the momentary pain of the imperfection or stress and deal with and even reduce those pauses if we understand the single process that doubles the pain. You've superbly navigated an extremely tricky illness that devastates so many of us. Thanks Will again Karen  

It is certainly not a sob story Ė anything but Ė I feel quite proud that I have 'come out the other side' of this, although I have had many setbacks, but have nevertheless had a very strong will to pull through and lead a happier life. Why should this account be worth reading? Well, I would hope that it is interesting and also informative, especially for those who have had similar experiences of destructive, compulsive panic or, more to the point, knotted tension, which makes life sometimes intolerable and incredibly lonely. 

This is not to say that I am lonely in my 'fight' (by the way Ė I use this term as merely a term Ė as this has been a majorpart of my problem). I had to learn that, being the type of person that I was, meant that there was a strong resistance to help or talking, because I was trying to achieve perfection in my life and this did not mean putting my hands up and admitting I had not got it quite right. 

     'Repetitive' panic is an over-reaction to stress, or negative thinking' 

I suffered with real mental anxiety for, as close as I can remember, near on 26ish years since being a teenager and donít want to go back (I would say I have been recovered now for @ 10 years but please don't 'take this' as meaning I have a perfectly calm, fully controlled life!). I donít believe that this solely reflects on just one particular problem either. I know the main reason that I have literally had a mental illness Ė is that I am a perfectionist, but what I think has happened here is that there is really a contradiction in terms. By trying to achieve, what in my eyes, was a perfect life, I ended up being a miserable, paranoid, nervous wreck. I donít think being a perfectionist is really an exclusive club, either Ė I think there are many of us who have aspects of this in our characters and suffer accordingly Ė if we donít deal with it properly. 

The devastation of panic canít be under-estimated, and unless youíve suffered it, itís sometimes quite difficult to understand how someone can be so affected by what may appear quite trivial. Like the phrase "donít tell someone who is depressed to snap out of it", I can certainly understand why, as confusion, to me, is a main factor in panic, which I do feel may be a root cause of many other mental illnesses. I have always thought, for example, that Anorexia has very strong similarities with my illness, and have noticed parallels with harming yourself inadvertently (maybe psychologically, or physically) due to your state of confusion Ė whilst to others on the outside, it seems crazy! 

Indeed, you may/may not have a similar character profile to me - sensitive, intense, want everything right etc, but all that matters is that I understand the tendencies/compulsiveness to boil over into 'seize up' reacting can be averted, as I am aware of the damage it causes. Many sufferers are, in fact, 'anything but' perfectionists - but as you may read, for example, in 'Case Studies' Ch 5/8 ''Rob running out of the restaurant to be sick/A escaping social gatherings, just due to just one incident of losing his glasses'', these Flighters react in the same erroneous conscious fashion - by making 'gone by' thoughts/feelings/experiences become big 'issues' as we drop into the abyss of panic analysis. 

Will, Thanks so much for this. I can't tell you what finding your website has meant to me.After 14 years of this illness I still didn't really know what was wrong with me. Therapists couldn't really help me, psychiatrists just put me on drugs and self-help books were too general. Then a guy at Paxil Progress recommended your site. I could have easily just bookmarked it and never got round to looking at it but I'm so glad I didn't. Within seconds of reading I knew I was onto something special. In fact the first page alone made me sit up and take notice. I'd never actually heard the phrase 'obsessive panic' before and I realised that's what I suffered from. Then I realised you were describing the same thought processes I experience. Even describing these thoughts has been something I have found difficult but you do it perfectly. After the generalities of other self-help books I was amazed to connect and identify so strongly with what you were saying. It was like you were saying it right to me! 

For that I am forever in your debt. Yours gratefully, Not only can you describe the thought process but you understand it AND you have a solution. And it works too. Just reading a small portion of your book was enough for me to understand and implement your strategy. Already I am feeling the difference. I am using your 'not do' solution all day every day now. It'll take a while to fully get into this new habit but for the first time in my life there is hope of freedom from this illness that all but literally takes your life away.Murray May '08 

Date: Fri, 26 Jun 2009 17:22:19 +0200
Subject: Re: FW: 'The Mind Works' Final Version
From: Anja

Hi Will, How's life?

Just wanted thank you again for your explanation of obsessive panic.

I e-mailed you a couple of years ago (you placed my comment in your book, about Eckhart Tolle) and was panic free for quite a while. I have a new exciting, yet stress provoking situation coming up in my life which has triggered some obsessiveness again.

I've noticed though how this time I'm dealing with it so much better. I'm exactly one of those 'types' of people you describe (perfectionist, intense etc) yet now I really feel I understand anxiety so much better than 3 years ago. Just wanted to thank you again cause your explanation of primary versus secondary thinking just makes so much sense to me. I've dealt with all kinds of panic/obsessive thoughts in the last week but I realise that I really don't have to go into them AT ALL. Yeah it's really simple. Well... it becomes simple if you truly understand what happens. 

I've read a lot by Eckhart Tolle, buddhism etc...which basically says the exact same thing ('we are not our thoughts') but it was still very helpful in the last week to read your explanation again.

So thank you, and I wish you the best :)  Anja


Great Anja - and always nice to know the 'longevity' of this explanation works. We ALL have trying times and, for us, this can become the biggest test of our understanding and 'resolve' to simply avoid that unnecessary effortful temptation to panic, so stick at it! cheers Will Ps Attached is the final update of my book, which is now out in Ebook and Paperback on my site too.

'If we know it's forced, we don't have to do it'


Hi Will, Thanks. Yes it has felt like a test, the last couple of weeks. Now I feel like I have an even deeper understanding of how it all works, so I'm grateful for that. Thanks for the update. 

Take care :) Anja