8 April to 9 April – Major ‘Setback’ “Am I the ONLY one who is incurable!?”

8 Apr 2017

Oh Robin,I can’t do this. I can’t do it any more. It’ s absolutely overwhelming me today and it won’t go away.  I know I’m looking to you for reassurance and that’s wrong but today is just dreadful and I’m so so disappointed.  I have had such a good week.  My best ever.  Monday I was brilliant and lost myself in gardening. Something I haven’t done for 2 years.  It was wonderful and I was so happy.  I have a large garden and so planned each night what I would do the next day.  Each morning I have felt funny, weird peculiar, and my thoughts have been bizarre but by lunchtime, everything has calmed down and I’m absorbed in the garden.  And each day I’m sure I’ve felt a little better. 

But today, I feel OVERWHELMED by stupid, ridiculous thoughts and I’ve just sat on my back door step and cried.  I feel my thoughts are driving me mad.  No one can EVER have felt like this!  I looked across the fields at the church beyond and I couldn’t recognise the view, despite having seen that view for 30 years.  I can’t recognise my house properly.  I’m doing my best to stay in the garden but quite frankly, if the men in white coats were to turn up, I’d just willingly go with them! 

What has happened to make it this worse?  AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO IS INCURABLE?  I don’t have any real physical symptoms just a feeling like I’m locked in a room in my head and I can’t get out and nothing different has happened to make me feel this way.  Is this still just anxiety.  I am so sorry to bother you but I feel so frightened. I’m sorry if this is all garbled.  I ‘m normally such an articulate person.

Thank you, Robin.  Thank you.  D

Hi Diane

Don’t add too much extra worry on top of the worry

I know it’s tough but still this is very normal and common

You just haven’t yet got the ‘deep down’ realisation that this is ‘just’ exaggerated thoughts due to fight or flight

If you HAD reached that realisation I assure you you wouldn’t be feeling so bad

its as simple and as difficult as that

I am 100% sure that you are still hoping that your thoughts will ‘behave themselves’ and I am 100% sure that you don’t want the thoughts to arise


because you are terrified of them

and the very fact that you are terrified of them means that you are sending out continuous fear signals (even when you are having a ‘great week’)  and if one or two thoughts feel ‘weird’ then all the feeling of ‘normality’ collapses

You still are in no danger whatsoever

You still are not mad – or going mad

Your mind is not damaged in any way

You are locked in a very very common (yet disturbing) cycle of anxiety

You just have to catch it and move on with your practice

Even in your email you can see that rather than ‘catch it’

First you admonish your thoughts (yourself) as ‘stupid and ridiculous’ – lots of tension being produced

Then you say you sat and cried – so instead of staying ‘steady’ and ‘holding’ yourself as the observer letting the weird thoughts do whatever they wanted to do – you ‘became’ the fullness of the thoughts – as if they were the fullness of you and your life experience

Then you said your ‘thoughts are driving you mad!’ – think of the anxiety produced when you exclaim that to yourself

Then you said ‘no one can EVER have felt like this!’ – again that is an extreme anxiety producing statement – and everything you tell yourself is sent out to the body and the body reacts with lots of adrenaline and if the mind is on high alert the fight or flight response increases that alertness – but in the absence of any ‘actual’ danger the alertness is experienced as completely off the scale thoughts and as each thought scares you you add more fear and it keeps escalating

Then you say – ‘if men in white coats turn up I’ll go with them’ – another HUGE anxiety producing statement

and then that final whopper – AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO IS INCURABLE?

This inner dialogue is whats keeping you locked in the cycle

From what you have learned so far how do you think this inner dialogue will affect you. Can you see that given what you know it is very simple to see why you ended up feeling overwhelmed. I understand that the initial anxiety or weirdness may seem to come up without thinking anything but thats not exactly true.

Initially – when you first experienced anxiety years ago – you had no idea what was going on so you unwittingly got caught in the cycle of fear. Because you have had this problem for some time you have become quite sensitized and easily triggered – it wasn’ t going to be over just with some understanding of panic – it needs a LOT of practice and evidence gathering

so you are VERY likely to still get triggered – even if you feel its all gone

and you may get triggered completely out of the blue – no seeming reason


If you CATCH the initial surge in weirdness or anxiety INSTANTLY – and do the flashcard – do the sitting back – do the ‘holding’ yourself in observer mode – don’t fall into the ‘freaking out’ trap – don’t use all the anxiety dialogue – and just WAIT IT OUT

then the initial horrible anxiety WILL die down in time

Its not easy – trust me I know that

and if you didnt catch it and do all that – thats fine and understandable

and you are still no worse off – you are never in any actual danger

nothing ‘actual’ is happening to you

you are simply experiencing weird thoughts and sensations and you are believing in them totally as being 100% dangerous and impossible to live with

and you dont even notice that the REAL you is in the background not wanting these thoughts and sensations – you can describe them very clearly – you clearly know you dont want them – its like you are walking around with 1000 bees swarming around your head

and eventually because the adrenaline comes down you come out of it a bit and then you live in MORE fear of ‘it’ returning

there is no ‘it’

There are no ‘mad thoughts’ that have a separate agenda

there is no actual illness or disease or physical or even emotional or psychological problem

as madening as that sounds – I assure you – nothing is happening except exaggerated thoughts and sensations due to FEAR of the FEAR

its all a BIG false alarm

Here you are – still alive – still able to write emails – still able to feel freaked out – still able to walk around and  beat yourself up – still able to focus on the fear and describe it and give it names

and I imagine still able to make tea and pace up and down and watch Coronation Street

You aren’t drooling and thinking that the CIA is monitoring your phone calls

You are a perfectly normal person who is understandably terrified of the very weird thoughts and sensations which you think are ‘unbearable’

Yet you bore them – you did it – you’re still here – you’re ok

yes you are fed up and still terrified but thats all

otherwise you are fine

You just have to go over it all again

When you say – ‘am I the only one who is uncurable?’ you are probably thinking – ‘here I am doing all the right things – accepting and studying and practising and then it all comes back!  so that proves that I am uncurable’

but – actually you AREN’T doing all the practice – your entire reaction is the OPPOSITE of practice and is the very simple obvious reason why you are still very much in the cycle

This is not a criticism – its just a fact – the FACT that you are still reacting like this is EXACTLY the reason you are still stuck

and thats good to know – its not that you are uncurable

if I give someone medicine and they dont take it and say they are uncurable – I would say but you didn’t take the medicine

it’s the same same with you – the medicine is to accept – allow – understand – face – not fight – nor resist – not use language that provokes more anxiety (ESPECIALLY when its at its peak) – not to want it to be ‘gone’ because that is not losing the fear – being willing to attempt to have ANY amount of anxiety or weird thoughts because its just a false alarm – experimenting – finding proof   – UNTIL you get that ‘ah ha!’ moment where you realise ‘deep deep down’ that this really IS just anxiety and its just your own reactions that are keeping it going – and even after that realising that you still have to put in lots more work and setbacks are normal

so – are you REALLY taking your medicine?

NONE of us do for a LONG LONG time

but you just get back to the drawing board

realise that you have CLEARLY made progress compared to how you felt long back – and that its BECAUSE you have felt good for a few days that when you feel crappy again it makes it all seem even worse

ask yourself how on earth did I write all these exact scenarios in the books unless they were absolutely common to EVERY person who has had this problem – I have heard it all a thousand times

EVERYONE tells me that ‘they are the only one who is incurable’

Back to the practice 😉

8 Apr 2017

Hello Robin,

I’m so sorry I contacted you.  I hope I didn’t spoil your sunny afternoon and take you away from things you should have been enjoying – like maybe watching The Grand National!!!  It’s so kind of you to respond the way you do and with such a detailed explanation. I feel you have a real personal passion to get me well and I am truly very grateful.  Thank you for replying. 

I understand EVERYTHING you have written here.  I guess I’m being VERY IMPATIENT and I mistakenly thought that because I had a new understanding of anxiety, it would NEVER suck ME back in!!! Especially to the extent it did today….  How wrong I was today to fear every thought and feeling. I know that now from your lovely explanation. You have just given me an even better understanding of what was happening.  I was so positive I was NOT adding fear.  NOT FUELLING MY FIGHT OR FLIGHT.  Clearly I was. But now, from a position of calmer reflection, and with the aid of your graphic explanation, I can understand EXACTLY how, why and where I went wrong.

Thank you so much, Robin.  This explanation has been like gold dust to me.  I promise to keep taking my “medicine”, and do everything you have asked of me in your paragraph about medicine.  Thank you for sharing all this information with me.  More than anything, I PROMISE not to keep troubling you.  But I would just like to say, “thank you for being there for me this afternoon”. 

YOU have given me the greatest of hope that I will overcome anxiety. YOU have made me believe in myself that I can do this.   Other than today, this week had been really promising and, as you can appreciate, after suffering with crippling anxiety for so many years on a daily basis, to be able to enjoy gardening and doing “normal” living is a breath of fresh air…..

Bless you, Robin. Thank you – from the bottom of my heart.


Hi D

I have no problem with you contacting me – I know you are practicing in between times 🙂

I know how scary it can be

and please never think from my ‘straight talk’ that I am irritated

I know I have to speak to your brain in a certain way – not harsh but not too sympathetic either

I’m sure you know what I mean

I sympathise but I also know that there’s nothing ‘actually’ happening to you (although I appreciate how horrible you feel)

so my job is to get you back on track and get you off the ‘symptoms’ trip and the ‘why me’s back to the TRUTH and the practice

I also know this will take many many times

You WILL have more such episodes – accept that – its just the way it goes

and the more clear spells you get the worse any setbacks will feel

and so on and so on

I also know with ABSOLUTE certainty that this will resolve for you – eventually

I dont say that lightly – with other ‘disorders’ I rarely make promises – but with what you are suffering from I have no qualms about saying you will be free of it completely – eventually

It is ALL built around FALSE alarms – mistakes – misinterpretations and catastrophisations that cause very very predictable outcomes – I have heard your entire experience almost word for word from so many people – all of whom recovered – ‘eventually’ (each one taking their own time depending on how long they had suffered and how deeply they had reacted)

so this is ALL reversible

its not some ‘problem’ with your body or mind – the problem is ONLY your fear of the fear and the more you practice that simply HAS to change – it’s impossible for you to totally forget everything you now know – so you can never go back to total confusion and ignorance about what is happening – even though it can feel that way when the fear is extreme


9 Apr 2017

Dearest Robin,  Thank you.   

As you’ve already taught me, I have wasted so much time on adopting safety behaviours which I thought was helping me get over my anxiety but instead had the opposite effect of only masking it, putting a temporary plaster over it, and “cementing” my anxiety firmly into my subconscious instead of removing it and consequently my anxiety has gone on and on and on….  That was a great eye opener for me. A real “aha” moment.  In the short time I have come to know you, you have taught me so, so much.  I don’t mind how you speak to me or what you say to me.  I have such confidence in you and I know it is “said” with the best of intentions. X

For the first time in years, Robin, I know that with the information you have given me thus far, I CAN OVERCOME THIS ONCE AND FOR ALL.  And, boy, am I looking forward to it.

“Thank you” are words which seem too inadequate to express how I feel at this moment in time, but I know of no other words to deeply and humbly express my gratitude for your invaluable help.

BLESS YOU, ROBIN.  You are my life saver.   D

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