Fear of cramp and panic attacks whilst driving

Forums General Discussions and Specific Issues Tell us About your PSTEC Story Fear of cramp and panic attacks whilst driving

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  • #21516
    Avatarstevieboyz
    PSTEC User

    Hi,
    I am new to PSTEC and have been suffering from fear of leg cramp whilst driving, bathing and sleeping (places where I have experienced painful calf cramps in the past).

    To make things worse my fear/anxiety manifest in somatic pain/numbness and weird sensations in my calf which I am having difficulty switching off. This becomes more evident when I am nervous about future events.

    I have had some success alternating the basic PSTEC click tracks enabling me to drive further and bath and would like to say a big thank you for you. However the fear of cramp is proving more difficult and still experiencing somatic sensations.

    I started using smaller events relating to past cramps as per the instructions; however I am unsure how to move forward.

    Please can you give me some advice?

    Kind Regards

    #23120
    AvatarPeter Bunyan
    PSTEC User

    Hi Stevie
    Glad you have given PSTEC a go and made some progress so far. Can you give us some more history and perhaps some more detail on some recent incidents.

    Have you explored the route of any physical neural damage causing these problems or perhaps nutrient deficiency? Also changing posture do you do any exercise?

    If theses symptoms are brought about by fear of future events, are there any particular sorts of events?

    Apologies for lots of questions we just need something more to work with. Why in particular do you have a fear of these cramps. Mostly these cramps are forgotten about like other minor illnesses. Did you these cramps from when you were young?
    Anything you care to share might help.
    Peter

    #23121
    Avatarstevieboyz
    PSTEC User

    Hi Peter,
    Thank you for your reply.
    I am awaiting tests on my legs for a 'potential' running injury to investigate 'odd' sensations/numbness. These odd sensations are with me most of the time(even when I sleep) fueling the fear.

    I have a good diet and I am mindful of ensuring I drink enough water/ potassium/magnesium and salt in my diet. I exercise and stretch but cannot run far any more due to the past running injury.

    However it is the actual pain from cramp while sleeping (being woken from my sleep, wondering what is happening)/driving and bathing that is my biggest fear. I have had several past episodes where I have woken up from sleep screaming and then I find it difficult to walk for normally two days which also impacts on my daily life.

    I have also had past experiences (both as a child and adult) having cramp while swimming and struggling to get back to shore and fear of drowning. I also had driving episodes bringing on panic attacks as my leg become stiff and I am frozen with the fear that I cannot stop the car and will have an accident. This feels worse if I have passengers in the car.

    Some anticipation fears of future events also make things worse, such as not being able to hold down my job because I am potentially not able to drive from the fear. This leads to financial worry.
    Regards
    Steve

    #23122
    AvatarPeter Bunyan
    PSTEC User

    Hi Stevie
    As a runner myself, also a UKA running coach and POSE Method running coach and having some personal experience with cramps and numbness you have my full support.  Not just to get past the fears but get you back to running fully again.
    Still more questions before I feel confident of my advice.
    How have you used PSTEC so far?
    Can you bring on cramps just by thinking of the fear and mentally building it up?
    Are the cramps always in the same place or do they move? Where do they occur?
    Do you also have “restless leg”syndrome stopping you sleeping?

    One thing: Do not stretch! By that I mean static yoga type extended stretching to improve range of movement. What you need is elasticity not flexibility.
    Two: If you get cramp then contracting the opposing muscle will relax the cramped one. This is a reflex action outside conscious control. However the cramps quite often come back again so you have to really focus on working the opposing muscle.

    You have mentioned several related issues that might need to be worked on.
    Fear of loss of control
    Anxiety bringing on symptoms
    Anxiety that your problems will create a worse situation in the future
    Those past experiences.

    There seems to be a mix of fear and “fear of fear” which form a positive feedback situation which escalates past a threshold and triggering an incident.
    Does any of this sound about right?

    #23123
    Avatarstevieboyz
    PSTEC User

    Hi Peter,

    Thank you for taking the time to reply to me. Nice to speak to a fellow runner.
    I have answered as best I can your questions laid out below:

    How have you used PSTEC so far?

    I used a mind map to separate my cramp fears into different areas such as driving, water, sleep and future fears. Within each area I concentrated first on recent smaller, less intense fear episodes working back to older intense ‘root’ memories. I alternated between the two click tracks. I concentrated on both the memory and the feelings each thing evoked.

    Can you bring on cramps just by thinking of the fear and mentally building it up?

    I think if I really wanted to and tried hard, I probably could, however I wouldn’t want to.

    Are the cramps always in the same place or do they move? Where do they occur?
    They are generally in the same place (the middle of the calf muscle) and normally the right leg although historically I have had them in both legs at the same time many years ago. The cramps 98% of the time happen when I am a sleep. When driving/bathing I just have an unsettling fear they are going to happen although whist driving my right leg has tightened up like a peg leg before having panic attacks, but hasn’t actually cramped. I have had cramps in the hamstrings and leg adductor muscles before after marathons but this does not evoke the same level of fear response.

    Do you also have “restless leg”syndrome (RLS) stopping you sleeping?

    I do not belief I have restless leg syndrome. I don’t have an overwhelming urge to move my legs which seems to be the main characteristic of RLS. When I think about myself it seems to be I am afraid to straighten or move my legs whilst sleeping in case I bend my toes back the wrong way or catch the blankets and initiate a cramp. When I move my legs whist sleeping it’s as if an alarm goes off in my head telling me not to move to sudden or be careful which wakes me up and then I find it difficult to get comfortable and then get back to sleep as it has activated the cramp fear again.

    One thing: Do not stretch! By that I mean static yoga type extended stretching to improve range of movement. What you need is elasticity not flexibility. [/b]

    Peter, I am not sure what you mean by a static yoga stretch. I do not do any ballistic or dynamic. I generally stretch after exercise, not before. Do you mean classic yoga moves such as salute to the sun, that sort of thing?

    There seems to be a mix of fear and “fear of fear” which form a positive feedback situation which escalates past a threshold and triggering an incident.
    Does any of this sound about right?

    Peter, yes this does sound right, it appears to be a vicious circle, one I am finding it difficult to break.
    I know cramp won’t kill me  ::), but the pain and after effects are so unsettling it interferes with many aspects of my life. I believe fear is fear whether its fear of a shark or cramp.
    I will be asking Father Christmas to get me the PSTEC level 1 course as I think this will be a worthwhile personal investment. :)
    Thank you
    Regards
    Steve

    #23124
    AvatarPeter Bunyan
    PSTEC User

    Hi Stevie
    Thanks for answering questions. Lots of stuff to talk about but I had better keep on topic.

    As a runner are you a “heel striker” or do you land on your forefoot?
    Do you also have any anger towards you body for “letting you down” for example? Or anger towards any other person? Or just the unfairness or it all?

    You have already gone back to past incidents and click tracked some of those. It seems like you have used a fairly cautious approach so far with some success, so I propose that you now get a bit more “full on”.

    When you are ready for your next CT session, instead of looking backwards imagine a possible future situation that you are sure would bring on your symptoms. a worst case scenario. You want to really feel the fear but not actually bring on any symptoms. This time CT on this fear of an imagined future event. Are you OK with this?

    Re: Stretching, static stretching as in stretch and hold, but in your case I think no stretching of any sort is better. I suspect every time you stretch you are doing it to prevent injury, but while you do it you remind yourself that you have this problem and it re-enforces the worry and fear.

    Re: Level 1. A great value package which include enhanced CTs and PSTEC Positive. Positive will be a useful tool later on once you have got further with the CTs.

    BTW I use Freeplane Mind mapping myself.
    Peter

    #23125
    Avatarstevieboyz
    PSTEC User

    Hi Peter,

    Thanks again.

    While running I am a heel striker generally.

    I am probably annoyed and frustrated that I cannot do what I would like to do, like I used to and enjoy life. I am afraid if I overdo the running, the leg will feel worse, and amplify the sensations and further fuel the fear.

    I have no anger towards anyone else just annoyed at the situation and not being able to move forward. I may have cursed at my leg and blamed it in the past.

    I am prepared to use the full on approach you have suggested.

    Thanks, I will do as suggested and see how it goes.
    Regards

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