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

One Process


On Tue Jun 26 14:23 2007, 'Jason Pegler' sent: Hi Will, Just wanted to say I think your COPAST analogy is very good. There is a lot of truth in what you are saying. I like combining NLP with being and I see that as an example of mental health empowerment. Jason Pegler Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2005 CEO of Chipmunka (The Mental Health Group)

So, on to the main focus of this website, which is to understand why my panic was a symptom of a desire for perfection, which can be truly devastating. As said, in my case, I have found that coping with my mind has, at times, been a real problem. Though I know a lot of my problems have been focused on my being a perfectionist - I am well aware that not all panic sufferers are perfectionists. Nevertheless, COPAST is still central to recovery where mind flow and our momentary positive flowing state is interrupted.

This has sometimes led me to believe I am mad, or not normal, which has then caused the panic. The fact is, I consider myself to be intelligent and have all sorts of thoughts/feelings and have slowly, through time, developed the self-confidence to live with my own mind! There may well be a certain type of person that develops this behaviour mainly, in my case, someone who is very intense and sensitive and who wants things right/struggles with things 'outside of the box'. Alternatively, when it comes to flighter panic - this is very much an opposite reaction shown by a more externalised 'loss' of control - coping strategies/releases such as compulsive comfort-taking and repetitive addictive habits such as smoking/drug/alcohol/food excess etc, all ways of taking this 'comfort' (see MORD pt 4 and Chapters 2 - 4 inc Advice Columns with Rob/James and 5, 7, 8). 

There are many situations that have arisen where I really have felt so low and depressed, that I wondered if I was ever going to pull through. I may get stressed, for example, my young son needed daily physiotherapy and when I got home from work I found myself tied in a mental knot about whether to relax and do his exercises later (as I had to do them for the foreseeable future anyway) or do them as soon as I got in, so that were done with and I could then relax. What would then ensue was a flurry of after panic, that I shouldn't be thinking in this confused/stressed way and I entered a downward spiral of analysis/checking/controlling my every thought because of initially thinking about just one issue - (see also 'Grey Areas' - Ch 6 and 'Our Incorrect And Forced Response' - Ch 8). 

I would then find myself trapped in this obsessive checking or analysing with no way out a typical situation of complete and utter panic. As you will see from the Recovery page, I isolate the process which developed in these circumstances and give further examples/situations in the book, as well as other people's experiences. 

So, I recognised the very important secondary process taking place at this stage in my thought. There was a strong temptation to explain my thoughts, because I 'spiked' when stressed and didn't know what to 'do' in this situation - resulting in a tension surge and mind race of analysis. We then try too hard to crush this feeling.. This was may be due to me thinking they were wrong/I didn't like them/felt uncomfortable with them/were confusing and wanted clarity etc. The confusion/subsequent whirr I would experience would be quite horrifying, but now I can understand that the problem here, is quite separate and distinct from my initial (normal) thoughts ... it was very subtle (hence why so many of us get caught up in this) but forced

As said, these, I refer to as primary thoughts, as this is where we function as normal human beings, but when we feel stressed, we may be tempted to re-run those thoughts (our panic) spurred on by that spike - developing a secondary thought process, which can easily become obsessive due to the fact that you cannot understand that you've actually left those thoughts - the problem is, that spike makes us 'hit' an awareness point - and it is at this conscious choice point that our confusion leaves us trapped, as we don't 'know' what to do and then start that recurrent forced explaining/head talking, or over-controlling EVEN if that is to calm ourselves for example - we overplay even any positive thoughts and start a prolonged tensing battle (see Ch 4 Obsessive Behaviours)

As you will see from the COPAST diagram - when we feel uncomfortable with a particular thought/feeling, the cut-offs which subconsciously bring us out of that thought/line of thoughts stand out. What we do next is very important...only understanding can help us to make that choice at that awareness 'point'.

Panic is, a separate/distinct forcing back into thoughts/feelings after they have happened. As said, primary thinking is all we should be aiming to achieve and we will get more control than we ever imagined. If I now encounter stressful situations etc, I simply recognise my temptation to force myself into a more intense panic mode of explaining/checking obsessively and calm down from it.

'The 'skill' is accepting that this should just be an awareness to calm away from that temporary temptation to force react (Ch 7  - Advice Column - 'Beth's Recovery Trail')

On Tue 30/09/08 2:45 PM , Michael sent:

Will, i have been reading your journals and they are very beneficial.  I did have one question though.  I am a control freak and i find myself analyzing my situation all the time.i am always trying to figure out how the different parts of the brain work and certain chemicals and their reaction that cause and support my condition.  Is this part of the fighting process that i need to resist?  Once again i appreciate your feedback!  Thanks M


On Wed 1/10/08 11:03 AM , sent: Hi Michael - yes I used to think was there something wrong with my chemical make-up, but this just becomes part of the repetitive anxious fight, as you say. Whilst we shouldn't be afraid of having ANY thought initially - its when we 'consciously' enter this further intense 'forced' panic process that really counts. However, the fact that you then start to 'repetitively and intensively analyse' this will be the best indication that you are now 'fighting back'. Hence, you are going back into that initial thought and making an unnecessary 'issue' of it when you had already come out of it. There is a subtle, yet very distinct difference - one is trying too hard to fix. cheers Will