DIALOGUE number 1 – ‘Mental Panic’

DIALOGUE number 1

In this dialogue Julie has been struggling with what I sometimes refer to as ‘Mental Panic’ where the mind catastrophises about everything. The key is to remember that you deal with it exactly as you would with physical symptoms.

J –  I am so scared .. so tired..

R –  why

J –  feel so depressed.

Robin: why

J –  don’t know..

R –  tell me what u are thinking

J –  I wish i was dead right now. very very depressed at the moment. ..crying.. I will be ok after some time.

R –  what thoughts did u have BEFORE u felt this tell me what is going through your head

J –  cant manage anything .. .. John today again talked to me so insultingly .. but i could not say anything.. scared that he would leave .. he threatened that he would leave.. i cant say .. ok go.. i don’t care.. i hate myself for being so weak after he said i will go .. i am shivering.. with panic.. what kind of life is this..

R –  remember I explained to you about ‘mental panic’ –

thoughts spiral – the mind catastrophises about everything

J –  I cant raise melanie independently .. cant earn… cant do anything.. I was thinking i should just give up on everything and go live in a cave somewhere .

R –  ok – do you think you could follow my instruction

J –   I will try..

R –  ok right now i want you to start the same process as with physical panic – let go all over – REALLY do this ok

J –  ok

R –  ok – let go all over

i want u to be a scientist right now

observe how this all works

feel yourself sitting on the chair

let your shoulders drop

J –  ok

Robin: feel yourself breathe from the stomach

observe it rise and fall

now – i want you to let go TOWARDS all thoughts and feelings

whatever they may be

just for this one minute you move TOWARDS them

no resistance

ALLOW the ‘depression’ and all the thoughts to exist

don’t fight it – at all

feel where it comes out on the body

where do the feelings arise in the body –

stomach – shoulders – head?

feel where there is constriction – tightness – or dullness

J –  the thoughts are going on and on .

R –  that’s ok – let them –


they are just thoughts

J –  i feel so frustrated.. can i write what i am thinking.. ?

R –  sometimes the ‘content’ of the thoughts isn’t as much of a problem as our anxiety about having frightening or depressing thoughts.

try labelling them – just say – “i am thinking thoughts ABOUT ……”

then let them go

try to sit BACK and observe rather than get pulled INTO them

see them like clouds drifting in and out

J –  cant sit back right now.

R –  u can sit back enough to say u cant sit back

so u are more able than u think

J –  true – yes

R –  BE that person who is seeing the thoughts going on and on and disliking them – that part of u is perfectly neutral

u cant be the thoughts in fullness because you don’t LIKE them

so they are separate in a sense

I call it ‘mental panic’ – this happens

J –  i am caught up in vicious cycle.. in thoughts .. in life.. don’t know how to stop thinking this way..

R –  its just a variation of the panic cycle

ask yourself are u STIRRING with MORE thoughts ABOUT the thoughts

J –  no .. I feel I am just thinking completely subjectively … and not with much

melodrama.. just pure grief.

R –  that’s what you imagine – but you just wrote

“i am caught up in vicious cycle.. in thoughts .. in life.. don’t know how to stop thinking

this way.”.

can u see that there is a lot of added fear ABOUT how you are thinking

J –  yes.. lol.. felt a little ok.. at this minute.

I could breath…

R –  it really IS just a mental panic attack

Julie: ok

R –  I have had them myself and have seen MANY people with this

J –  ok

R –  they FOOL us because we don’t see them as straightforward panic

we think its ’emotional’ – that it’s the ‘truth’ about us

doesn’t seem like it could be due to adrenaline and the anxiety cycle

J –  ok

ok – I almost felt I could sit back for a second 🙂

R –  if u observe closely u will see that u DO add secondary fearful thoughts ABOUT the thoughts

its exactly same as panic about physical sensations – so it helps if you do the same practice

J –  it did turn into a physical panic attack for me.. i started trembling.. and my throat was dry…

R –  yes – exactly – so let go towards it all – the thoughts and feelings

let go all over like u were letting go of a scrunched up sponge

J –  yes

R –  go LIMP

let shoulders drop

feel yourself in the room

come back to your senses

hear any sounds

look around


seriously 🙂

J –  yes – I can see my mind going round in circles 🙂

R –  go on – u can do it


ok – and always remember to feel your stomach rise and fall

that’s a great anchor – and let ALL thoughts be as bad as they want to be

J –  this is building up since day before yesterday.. when i said i am feeling panic..

but it didn’t reach its peak then.. .

R –  yes – that happens – ‘Anticipatory Anxiety’

but remember – its ok – u are in no danger AT ALL

it just feels horrible

J –  yes

R –  and even this ‘depressed’ feeling will pass soon

its a bluff

but keep ALLOWING it to exist

J –  i feel as if i have reached a breakdown point.


u haven’t trust me – this is very common

J –  ok

R –  just let go towards EVERYTHING

right now go limp

let go



and when u find yourself ‘stirring’ the pond

step back

withdraw the ADDED thinking

let the first thoughts do their thing

like clouds drifting by

just watch them

they are just thoughts

J –  feel so sad right now. ..

R –  ok – let that feeling BE

where is it in your body

be a scientist

instead of creating FUTURE thoughts

like “I will never get better – my life will ALWAYS be like this..”

just be here RIGHT NOW

with the PHYSICAL outcome of that feeling

J –  ok

R –  so tell me – where is the physical feeling of that

search around

where is sadness right now in your body

as a physical feeling

J –  my eyes are burning… ears are burning.. my neck is hurting.. and i am feeling

funny in my stomach. and my feet are trembling.

R –  right

so let that be as it is – that is all just sensation

J –  ok

R –  let it all happen

cant do u any harm

relax TOWARDS all those feelings

just be with them now

when ‘future’ thinking comes up

see that as ‘stirring’

‘secondary fear’


it just keeps u feeling horrible

so why bother

so again – let go – go limp

observe your stomach rise and fall


feel body sensations as they are

let them be

don’t resist

even with thoughts

stop FOCUSSING in on your SELF

look at something in the room

and really SEE it

feel that you have broken the ‘spell’ of self focus

keep doing that

like snapping out of a dream

let go all over



and take in OTHER things

its ok to feel not ok sometimes

its just an experience

J –  ok .. difficult right now.. but i will try .

R –  its a choice at some stage

J –  yes

R –  as long as you self focus and add negative thoughts u will feel horrible

but if u let go and step back

J –  yes

R –  stop adding thoughts

let thoughts BE

then get on with other things

if i were u i would go for a walk

J –  ok

R –  and practice

J –  i will do that


R –  but remember – don’t walk and ‘stir’ the thoughts


J –  🙂

R –  take this practice very seriously

in the sense of doing it over and over till it works

J –  yes .

R –  u will find yourself drifting into thoughts

then catch it – and practice

J –  ok yes

R –  then u will drift again

then catch it again

J –  yes..

R –  and be MINDFUL

of life OUTSIDE ‘Julie’

J –  yes


R –  life is perfectly ok

but your mind is just racing

J –  yes

R –  but YOU are ok too because YOU are part of life

and YOU don’t even WANT these thoughts

J –  yes

R –  doesn’t that make u wonder

who are YOU that doesn’t want the thoughts

are the thoughts YOU

they cant be if YOU don’t WANT them

YOU are fine – neutral

but you are getting drawn into the thoughts

which are JUST thoughts

then they make you anxious

and then you add MORE thoughts and so on

J –  yes

R –  the key is to stop ADDING to this

and when u ‘get this’ u will be AMAZED

it is the most precious learning ever

to see that thoughts really ARE just thoughts

for the rest of your life u will feel a greater sense of strength

this is best thing i learned from panic

but it was hell learning it

so i know how u feel

J –  🙂

R –  so u catching it a bit?

Julie: yes – will go for walk .

R –  ok – it will take a while

but what i want you to do is to try to not let it go too long without u ‘catching’ it

J –  ok

R –  it will come and go and come and go

J –  yes

R –  but persevere

Julie: yes

R –  and most of all RE FOCUS – to OUTSIDE

and smile

its NOT avoidance

don’t BLOCK the thoughts

just stop giving them ALL your attention

that’s unnatural

be mindful of everything without judging anything

thoughts – body

the ‘depression’

the road



J –  yes

R –  then when the ‘future’ thoughts come in

like “my life is always going to be like this..”

catch it


and straight back to practice

J –  ok

R –  even if you feel really drawn to the thoughts of gloom

J –  🙂

R –  so – this is GREAT practice for u today

J –  🙂

R –  seriously though

this one helped me feel more stable than the practice with physical sensations


once i saw that i could be ok even with these horrible thoughts i felt SO ok

J –  you seem so clear. i wish i were so different .. I wish I felt as clear as you do

R –  u are stirring again – lol

J –  🙂 yes lol

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