Brendan had discovered CBT4Panic online and reached out to express gratitude at finding help. There were still a few areas of difficulty that we were able to iron out fairly quickly. Even without my help via emails Brendan had done very well just following the programme by himself. This shows just how important it is to put everything into PRACTICE!
I hope this reaches those responsible for the time and dedication to create this content and webspace.
I am truly grateful that after climbing the mountain of panic disorder, there are stellar human beings that would gaze down upon that precipice, and decide to help others conquer that same – seemingly impossible – ascent. Though I am still in the middle of my therapy and am still training myself in these invaluable techniques, I have been able to accomplish tasks that I never thought would be possible. I wanted to obtain help for so long, but never had the financial means to do so. This workbook, videos, and audio files have provided un-explainable relief, understanding, and motivation in my life. I wish I could give someone out there a very big bear hug, but will settle for an email.
Thank you is totally inadequate,
I must say that is the best written thank you I have ever received
You must be a writer or a poet 🙂
I’m so glad the program has helped 🙂
You really made my day – because I know exactly what it feels like to finally find some light at the end of the tunnel
and in only a few weeks too 🙂
good you realise that you still have to keep up the practice – this kind of fear habit doesn’t let go easily – but you are definitely on the right track now
Keep me up to date with your progress
Thank you for the reply! My panic disorder was maintained for years through safety seeking behaviour. I got so good at it I actually found happiness. But through a recent stressful life event, I had a major panic attack three weeks ago, and could not shake the low-level anxiety after several days.
I have had some incredible high points and low points as I am progressing through your program. Your videos brought my anxiety down, but I wasn’t truly investing myself in the practice…so it would return. I came to the understanding recently that I can’t use the techniques just to cope. I think the most challenging part of this has been catching myself getting caught in the panic cycle. It’s difficult to think clearly when your on the look out for danger :). It’s a process!
I wanted to update you on my progress.
I’ve just got myself into Book 3. I really exaggerated the first two books time-wise to insure I mastered all the techniques and understanding. I found myself putting these techniques into practice to push myself toward fear. It’s crazy…I really can’t have a panic attack again. At worst, I’ll get a small, manageable surge of panic when I’m full of adrenaline and experiencing the de-realization part of it, but I am able to catch myself in the act and restore balance with your techniques. You advised that we all need to “get to know” panic, and this statement couldn’t be more true.
One of the things I discovered is that when the FoF sensations are triggered out of no where, and your mind goes on high alert; your mind seems to want to gravitate to something, anything, to tie the feelings to. There was about a 2 week period where my mind wanted to focus intently on my tinnitus (ringing in ear). It took some time, but I was finally able to understand that when I wasn’t anxious, I didn’t notice the ringing in my ears.
Every week there seems to be some new fear that arises, and so I’ll write about it, get a better understanding of it, and then try and meet it half-way. Sometimes it takes longer, but eventually I’m able to face it. Every time this happens I am reinforcing my understanding and realization that none of this is actually harmful.
Needless to say this program has been a watershed moment in my life. I still have a lot of practice to complete, but every day I care less and less about panic itself. Like you said: If it’s going to happen then let it happen. If I start anticipating, I’ll just tell myself “Hey, if you’re going to panic, then we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.” And then nothing ever happens (ha!).
P.S I also found it extremely helpful to reinforce my own understanding by helping others escape the panic cycle. I’ve been helping others on reddit.com/anxiety as I have the time.
Thanks for reading, and I hope it provided some inspiration.
That’s great to hear. I love to hear when the programme really really works for someone
Makes all the hard work – and even the years of panic worthwhile – as I am sure you are discovering helping others
Sounds like you have definitely understood everything very well – it’s very strange when you set out to panic and it doesn’t happen 🙂
Its all just a big evolutionary mistake
Once you are really free of panic attacks you will then be able to use all the techniques for daily life
There are SO many occasions where the best thing you can do is let go – accept – dont resist – be in the present
Panic practice is really practice for life in general 🙂
Keep me up to date as the weeks go by
I had a pretty heavy set-back today, a panic attack at work. Now that the panic has come down, it’s powerful knowledge to go back and objectively understand what really happened.
When I get my low-level sensations coming on, I noticed that I immediately was trying to calm myself down and stop it from happening. One of the safety-seeking behaviors I discovered was not having your emergency panic video/audio available to manage those low-level feelings. I used them frantically to stop the feelings, which would help, but kept the cycle going. I learned a lot from the experience. It made me realize that I can’t just go to your videos and audio to stop it from happening. I just have to let it happen, and it did.
Sometimes I get hung up in my recovery and it’s invaluable to have a different prospective help me identify Safety Seeking behaviors or misinterpretations. I would like to purchase the full-fledged program (so I can get the hard-copies and also have a chat with you from time to time to help me decipher fears along the way); but I’m not sure how to upgrade my account from the “standard version.” Just take my money haha! 🙂
I wrote my last email in a bit of a panic. I wanted to update you on my progress.
I have been going through your program for about 6 weeks now, but I wasn’t fully committing for the first 5 weeks. I was dipping my toe in the water – so to speak – and using your emergency audio and flash cards to quickly stop panic when it arose. It was only maintaining low-level adrenaline, so I kept having peaks. One day last week – by accident – I dropped that safety-seeking behavior by leaving my headphones at my apartment. As soon as the anxiety arose, I prepared myself to listen to your audios to manage the panic and…oops “they aren’t here!” I had a mental panic attack, followed by a walk outside and a physical panic attack.
I thought it was a setback at the time but it was truly my first panic attack since I started your program FIVE weeks ago! So last week was the true beginning to my real recovery. I’ve had panic attacks, some mental and some physical, every single day. I have gotten to the point where I am able to face the external situations and endure the sensations. Sometimes I am able to practice during the panic, sometimes I just can’t think and I endure it until I come down. Obsessional thoughts have really become exaggerated during this process, and so I have moved to that book to learn more.
I can’t even begin to explain how bad obsessional thoughts have been for me before and after CBT. I’ve got some deep scary thoughts that have been in the back of my mind, so I have my work cut out for me. My plan is to expose myself to them gradually every day.
I can only imagine how busy you are, the thousands of emails you probably receive. I really do appreciate you reading, I know it’s long. Thank you for making this program accessible through the web, it truly is helping me. Now it’s up to me to make sense of all these tools you have provided and begin my exposure.
Sorry I missed your previous email – I have been having some email problems in general
That was a great discovery – there are so many people who get confused between practice and safety behaviour
which is why CBT became so successful over other treatments that advocated relaxation and breathing techniques
CBT is all about exposure and behavioural experiments – which really speed up the recovery
Can I suggest that you also carefully read the interoceptive exposure exercises – many people find them too silly – but they REALLy work and in a very easily controlled way
Anyway – sounds like you are right on target
Yes the Obsessional thoughts can be very scary – please read carefully the part in my books about shifting to observer mode – when I really ‘got’ that it was the end of the scary thoughts – for good!
If you can shift your awareness to the part of you that can BE aware of the thoughts and HOLD your self there while allowing the scary thoughts to swirl around then they will die down very quickly and even if they dont you will feel much better because you will sense that YOU are ok regardless of what thoughts are churning – they are just thoughts after all
try it and see – it takes a while to really get it but when it clicks its like you just know everything is ok – you become the calm in the centre of the storm
Keep me posted
It’s been a few weeks since we last spoke. My anxiety levels have come way down, to the point where I can function “normally” on a day to day basis. Per our last discussion, obsessional thoughts were causing me some distress. The thoughts have definitely come down in terms of frequency, but they still will pop up here and there. I am still practicing, though not as much as I should :-).
I wanted to ask your opinion on depression as it arises from panic disorder. I can definitely make the connection that it’s almost impossible to feel “happy” or “contempt” when your under the presence of anxiety. If enough time passes under that kind of psychological stress, you’re naturally going to feel bad. Should I be putting much weight on some of the depressive thoughts I have, or do these feelings start to lift as you experience less and less “mistake” anxiety each day?
My depressive thoughts aren’t extreme. It’s more of a situation where I can catch myself seeing things in a pessimistic, or negative way. Or just a lack of positive energy (if that makes sense). So, just as obsessional thoughts can bring on panic; these thoughts bring on a sense of “non-excitement” which can cause me to panic, slightly. Did you experience this during your journey? Should I perhaps look into exposure on the depressive front?
Thanks for reading. My girlfriend calls you my “Robin Hood” :-P. We both can’t express our appreciation for your time and efforts. We both send you a big hug!
Sounds like you are right on track 🙂
Honestly don’t worry about feeling depressed at the minute – that really is par for the course
You would probably not even be bothered writing about your anxiety if you had clinical depression – its very different
as you have realised – it’s just hard to feel up when you have a constant worry about anxiety
Exposure is good but with thoughts people can get it wrong very easily and start to ruminate
Mindfulness is the best exposure for this
simply be aware – thousands of times if necessary – that these thoughts come in – do their thing then change and pass and then it starts again
Observe how the thoughts trigger the body – then ALLOW that to exist and relax with it – let it do what it wants – no need to focus on it – just see the process and accept and move on and do normal stuff
observe how you resist the thoughts and feelings – thats fine – just notice then try to resist slightly less – no pressure just inch forward
Keep allowing ALL of life – past present and future to be whatever it has been – is – or may be – relax into that – let go – shrug your shoulders – get a sense of – ok it is as it is – its been as its been – it will be as it will be – I’ll learn as I move on – smile – let go all over – totally allow all sensation to be as best as you can
if at any time you need to distract thats fine too
its ALL fine – ultimately you aren’t in any actual danger – your body and mind are just mistaken and are trying to solve and protect
and keep in mind that YOU – the inner observer of the ups and downs and the thoughts and feelings – is ALWAYS fine and safe – like a person in a cinema getting caught up in a movie – when you get sucked in you can feel all the drama – but actually you are ok – the viewer
You are doing well
keep at it 🙂
Never thought I’d end up being thankful for a setback.
I decided to start over from scratch due to a constant low-level anxiety feeling. I went into book 1 again and found how I was mis-understanding anticipatory anxiety, and I identified more safety-behaviors (A safety behavior – for me – is immediately trying to “work out” scary thoughts, rather than just accepting them, observing them, and then moving forward).
It’s tricky identifying these safety behaviors when I’ve been relying on them for so long. My understanding is building more and more, Robin. I’m finally beginning to believe the truth. It has been such a difficult journey, I’ve put myself through such torment for so long. Thanks for sticking with me, and continually replying.
Great catch 🙂
It’s very natural to try to ‘work out’ the why’s – thats part of fight or flight – if we are in real danger it could be very important
The whole problem revolves around the fact that when we aren’t in any actual life threatening danger all these safety behaviours confuse the fight or flight process and then it increases
It would be funny if it wasn’t so scary 🙂
and please dont underestimate the value of deliberately choosing to bring the fight or flight up so you can work with it
WILLINGLY choosing to face it is VERY empowering and almost switches off the fight or flight because the mind and body feels we must be totally in charge if we aren’t resisting, fighting or hiding
I know its easier said than done but exposure is key
thats 100% acceptance
Anyway – you know you are on the homeward stretch of the journey 🙂
Wow Robin, you’re right!
I just replaced mindfulness techniques with exposure practice as a means to stop the anxiety and it worked! It’s actually kind of fun. I don’t even need mindfulness. I’ve weathered the storm so many times at this point I don’t even care!
This feels great!
It’s always been a point of discussion with therapists – should it be pure exposure or should we give ‘some’ coping strategies
My feeling is that early on pure exposure is too much for people and if they have no coping strategies at all they give up
but if you learn a few tricks then full on exposure doesnt seem like such a scary thing
Sounds like you are at the point where you can ‘bring it on!!’ 🙂
just keep this in mind because later on you probably will help someone else who has this problem and it’s good to know how to pace it correctly
Later on you will use Mindfulness as a way of enjoying life more fully
and even later on you will realise that the whole world is almost in a continuous state of panic (over relationships, money, security, unhappiness, guilt, shame, regret, hopes, desires and so on) and it is SO helpful to know how to ‘let go’ towards all that and how to stop resisting reality
Panic Disorder is a great teacher 🙂
Keep doing what you are doing..
That’s such an incredible insight and one I will carry for the rest of my life.
The true reason for my problem comes from resisting what life truly is. Not every day is going to be fun, exciting, and engaging. If I can resist the temptation of avoiding down moods and feelings, I would likely experience them far less and when I do, be able to move on from it much quicker.
By the way I went to a festival today and didn’t panic a single time. I actually enjoyed myself. Hooray for progress :).
Online therapy ought to be the new norm. It can touch so many people! You do great work Robin!
Happy Holidays Robin!
I wanted to thank you again for the content you put together. I have been doing quite well since our last email. I have enjoyed pushing what I thought were my limits further and further out. I have also been studying and learning more about Mindfulness and how valuable it can be when used in conjunction with acceptance. In all honesty, I can’t recall the last time I had a panic attack. I never thought I would say that.
Nice to hear from you and good to hear that you are still moving forwards
actually once you learn the truth you cant ever really go backwards
sometimes its 5 steps forwards 1 step backwards – but you can’t undo knowing the truth
and good you embraced exposure – it is the quickest way out
Keep me up to date
I hope all is well. Since I worked with you I have put my panic to rest for good. You’re right, there’s no going back.
If you haven’t already, I would highly suggest making some of your content available on YouTube. There’s simply no greater return of investment I have ever made or will ever make than with the money I spent on your program. Thank you for producing this life changing knowledge and practice in your own form and releasing it.
This will likely be my last correspondence, unless of course you ever need any kind of assistance from me. May God bless you good sir!