Thursday, 29 May 2008

POWER OVER PANIC, by Bronwyn Fox

In preparation for the 6-week cancer treatment my dad starts today, I dug this book out from my hoard. Having gone through an era of psychotherapy (make than an eon, or an aeon if you're particular) I was familiar with a lot of the information on panic and anxiety related disorders, so tended to skim through those parts. But I also found some wonderfully inspiring words that I must save here, to read and read again. Here are some excerpts, and if you like what you read then please do go ahead and get the book. Lots of useful stuff for anyone who has a panic/anxiety disorder. Of course, I always recommend 2nd hand!! Let's re-use the old ones before the publishers have to go out and cut down more trees for new editions!

" .. The need to be in control is the main obstacle towards recovery. Recovery means the opposite. Recovery means we need to let go of the need to be in control. We don't realise our overwhelming need to be in control perpetuates our disorder ..

.. The difference between panic disorder and recovery means we have taken the power back and are no longer afraid of the attack or anxiety. We have shifted the power balance. There are no more 'what ifs', but instead we have developed an attitude of 'so what' ..

.. A major obstacle to taking back the power is the lack of compassion we have for ourselves .. we negate and invalidate our own suffering and pain. Most of us cannot see, let alone acknowledge or appreciate our own strength and courage, which has brought us thus far ..

.. We never take time to examine our thoughts. We don't even realise we can. We never watch the internal world of our thoughts as it spins this way and thought. We react to our thoughts without realising they are actually separate fleeting moments in time. We don't see this separateness. Instead, we believe we have no power over the continual progression of these thoughts, and the feelings caused by them .. We need to be in control of ourselves and our environment, yet the only thing we do not control is our thinking. We need to change this by letting go of the overall need to be in control, and control our thinking ..

.. It isn't the symptoms which create the fear. The way we think creates the fear, which creates the symptoms, which creates further thoughts, which creates further fear and the cycle continues ..

.. we cannot let the fear of what other people think get in our way of full recovery. If our face turns bright red, then our face turns bright red. If we feel faint, then sit down on a chair, on the floor, on the footpath, if need be. If we vomit or have an attack of diarrhoea, then we vomit or have an attack of diarrhoea. Let it happen. When we let it happen, we turn off the adrenalin and it will be over as quick as it starts. We will not have to waste all of our energy trying to keep it under control and thereby turning on more adrenalin. Our mental health needs to be more important than other peoples' opinions ..

.. Learning to be patient with ourselves is learning to be kind to ourselves. Being kind to ourselves means we are not putting ourselves under any further unnecessary stress ..

.. Most people do not give their recovery priority. Although everyone wants to recover, there can seem a million more important things to be done first. Our recovery has to become the most important thing in our life. Our loyalty has to be to ourselves. This can be very difficult for many of us because we feel we are being selfish in putting our own needs first ..

.. Making allowances is not giving in; it is working with the disorder. Doing nothing is giving in ..

.. Begin again. These two words can mean so much .. If we feel that we are not making progress, if we feel that some our attempts didn't quite work out the way we would have liked, let them go and begin again ..

.. Our ultra-sensitivity also increases the sense of guilt we feel towards our families because we can't do everything we would like to do. We need to be aware of the extra stress caused by this. We can spend a week worrying and feeling guilty over one small incident which we think of as a failure. Guilt only increases our anxiety. It keeps us locked into the cycle. We need to let it go, so we can move forward to recovery and to the time when we will be able to do everything we haven't been able to do ..

.. Despite the image we had of ourselves, we have always known that we never felt any sense of who we are. We never had a real sense of self. This essential element was always lacking in our lives, and it is from this that our feelings of inadequacy, lack of confidence and lack of self-esteem arose ..

.. Over the years we built the image of who we thought we should be. We lived our lives with an uneasy feeling that we were not who we appeared to be. If we were not who we appeared to be, then who were we? We didn't know. We were never able to answer the question ..

.. The seemingly inherent negativity of the disorder can actually be the most positive experience of our life. How many other people are given such an opportunity? The disorder has done so much of the hard work for us. It has stripped away the image of who we thought we should be, and has returned us to the basis of who we could be ..

.. Life isn't just about growing up, having a career, getting married, having children and so on. These are things we do during life, but they are not life. Life is continual evolution and development ..

.. We begin to see that responsibility for our peace and happiness is ours, and ours alone. We cannot shift the responsibility of ourselves to other people or other factors ..

.. As we become aware of these insights we begin to see we are letting go of more than the disorder. Life begins to take on a different meaning. Our ideals and values change. Things which were once important to us no longer seem so, yet it appears there is nothing else to take its place ..

.. we are walking into unknown territory and it can seem easier to stop where we are, despite our unresolved difficulties. What we don't know is that the unknown territory is that of the self. As the 'disordered' self breaks down it can mean the birth of our real self ..

.. In the beginning it is difficult; there is fear, there is anger, there is frustration. 'Why do I have to go through this, why can't I just be normal like everyone else?' What is 'normal' anyway? Use the anger, the fear and frustration to push past these new fears. With each step, we gain new awareness, new knowledge and increased strength. The process becomes easier and more tolerable. This is life, this is growth, a continual evolution ..

.. It is a time of learning to listen to the inner voice of the self, which is more than willing to help us. If we stop and take the time to listen, the inner voice will be our guide. All too often we do not hear ourselves ..

.. We have to become aware we do have a choice in everything. In making the choice we need to be aware of its implications. We can choose and set limits if we need to. We can choose to move at our own pace. It is going to feel unfamiliar, we will feel vulnerable and the fear will be there, but so too is the self's determination to grow ..

.. Being afraid is all right. Being hesitant is all right. Feeling vulnerable and defenceless is all right. They are all part of the ongoing development of our self. When we begin to work with it, we won't know where we are, where we are going and what will happen to us along the way. This is all right too ..

.. all the resources necessary will be found in our self and we will find them waiting for us at each step. Not only will we find them waiting, we will find they have been there all along."

- from Bronwyn Fox's Power Over Panic