Fear of Waking in panic
We have discussed in the first workbook that many people wake up in panic.
This is due to the physical changes that take place as the body relaxes – if our mind is already on high alert for symptoms if we are awoken by bodily sensations we can quickly misinterpret and catastrophise and go into panic.
We imagine that we wake up IN panic – actually we don’t – and this is a VERY important distinction to make. Unusual physical sensations may awaken us – but panic is what we ADD ON because we MISTAKENLY believe something is seriously wrong with us
Our thoughts ABOUT the sensations happen SO quickly we may not even be aware of doing it – but we DO do it. Many people in therapy say “I wasn’t thinking anything” – but when questioned further they realise that they DID think thoughts like “I wondered what was wrong”, “I thought I was going to die”, I thought that I have to get up and get help” and so on.
It is THESE thoughts that rapidly escalate the symptoms. If instead, on awakening we had quickly restructured our thoughts and let the sensations ‘do their thing’ for a while they would have died down. This practice is the key to eliminating fear of panic on awakening.