Ordinary People Helping Ordinary People in Extraordinary circumstances!


Leave a comment

Panic Attacks – Tip – Square Breathing

Why do we have panic attacks and how can we help to control them?

I know I usually write about food but this has come up in my family life and also heard about a few people suffering panic attacks so I thought I would love to give everyone a super simple way to deal with these horrible events. They really are events, because after you have had one you can be left completely exhausted, mentally and physically drained and worst of all for me was the knowledge that I might suffer these for a long time. However, “square breathing” is something I had to learn and want to share with you.

To give a little bit of background as to why this information was shared with me, I had to spend some time in a psychiatric hospital and I was assigned a relaxation therapist for a few weeks after I was discharged. She taught me this and when I had to take it to the real world, I must admit it worked for me.

So before I get into the thing that “worked for me” I did a wee bit of research because that’s how I roll and I was absolutely aware that my experience of a panic attack may differ from everyone else.

Signs of panic attack

Some of the signs you are having a panic attack (btw, everyone is different) you may get all or just a few. Sudden intense anxiety, shaking, crying, feeling disorientated, rapid and irregular heartbeats, dry mouth, breathlessness, sweating, dizziness, chills, hot flashes, tightness in the throat, sense of impending doom or danger, fear of loss or control or even fear of death. .

Are panic and anxiety attacks the same?

This part of my research was actually a learning curve for me because I have always assumed a panic attack and an anxiety attack is the same thing. They aren’t and here is the difference and I absolutely wish I had known this years ago. An anxiety attack is a response to a perceived threat , like you saw an abusive ex or something, you already know the danger, your body responds with anxiety. The difference with a panic attack is it seems to come from nowhere, u don’t see the danger, you just cannot shake this.

Triggers for panic attacks

So triggers for a panic attack are things like over breathing (I researched this because I have never heard this term) so hyperventilation, when you breathe too quickly and you are not getting enough oxygen to the brain, hence the dizziness. Long periods of stress, physical changes after illness, change of environment and lets not forget our main ones, trauma, whatever kind – whether the death of  a loved one to….actually I wont even go there because I guess if you are reading this you know what has made u traumatized. But please be aware and hopeful because life after trauma and panic attacks doesn’t need to be terrifying. Feeling afraid after trauma is absolutely normal and panic attacks can happen when something or someone reminds you of the trauma. Like I said before though, your body is reacting and it is scary.

Square breathing

Here is one of my ways to deal with panic attacks, sorry for boring you with the research but I have never claimed to not be a research nerd.

Find something with 4 corners, anything, it could be a bus when you are waiting at a station, your tv when you feel overwhelmed, anything with 4 corners. What I love about this technique is that we generally all have phones so we are looking at something with 4 corners, or a tv, whatever it is, just find something you can count to 4 with. So focus on the top left hand corner and breathe in all the way along to the top right hand corner, then breathe out to the bottom right hand corner, them breathe back up to the beginning corner and repeat as long as you need.

Don’t even worry about how long it takes for you to get there either, people who think you can keep breathing out for longer than you have breath are not getting the point, your breathing will naturally slow down because your mind isn’t focused on panic. “Square breathing.” Genuinely hope this helps at least one person. Stay safe everyone

Why do we have panic attacks and how can we help to control them?

I know I usually write about food but this has come up in my family life and also heard about a few people suffering panic attacks so I thought I would love to give everyone a super simple way to deal with these horrible events. They really are events, because after you have had one you can be left completely exhausted, mentally and physically drained and worst of all for me was the knowledge that I might suffer these for a long time. However, “square breathing” is something I had to learn and want to share with you.

To give a little bit of background as to why this information was shared with me, I had to spend some time in a psychiatric hospital and I was assigned a relaxation therapist for a few weeks after I was discharged. She taught me this and when I had to take it to the real world, I must admit it worked for me.

So before I get into the thing that “worked for me” I did a wee bit of research because that’s how I roll and I was absolutely aware that my experience of a panic attack may differ from everyone else.

Signs of panic attack

Some of the signs you are having a panic attack (btw, everyone is different) you may get all or just a few. Sudden intense anxiety, shaking, crying, feeling disorientated, rapid and irregular heartbeats, dry mouth, breathlessness, sweating, dizziness, chills, hot flashes, tightness in the throat, sense of impending doom or danger, fear of loss or control or even fear of death. .

Are panic and anxiety attacks the same?

This part of my research was actually a learning curve for me because I have always assumed a panic attack and an anxiety attack is the same thing. They aren’t and here is the difference and I absolutely wish I had known this years ago. An anxiety attack is a response to a perceived threat , like you saw an abusive ex or something, you already know the danger, your body responds with anxiety. The difference with a panic attack is it seems to come from nowhere, u don’t see the danger, you just cannot shake this.

Triggers for panic attacks

So triggers for a panic attack are things like over breathing (I researched this because I have never heard this term) so hyperventilation, when you breathe too quickly and you are not getting enough oxygen to the brain, hence the dizziness. Long periods of stress, physical changes after illness, change of environment and lets not forget our main ones, trauma, whatever kind – whether the death of  a loved one to….actually I wont even go there because I guess if you are reading this you know what has made u traumatized. But please be aware and hopeful because life after trauma and panic attacks doesn’t need to be terrifying. Feeling afraid after trauma is absolutely normal and panic attacks can happen when something or someone reminds you of the trauma. Like I said before though, your body is reacting and it is scary.

Square breathing

Here is one of my ways to deal with panic attacks, sorry for boring you with the research but I have never claimed to not be a research nerd.

Find something with 4 corners, anything, it could be a bus when you are waiting at a station, your tv when you feel overwhelmed, anything with 4 corners. What I love about this technique is that we generally all have phones so we are looking at something with 4 corners, or a tv, whatever it is, just find something you can count to 4 with. So focus on the top left hand corner and breathe in all the way along to the top right hand corner, then breathe out to the bottom right hand corner, them breathe back up to the beginning corner and repeat as long as you need.

Don’t even worry about how long it takes for you to get there either, people who think you can keep breathing out for longer than you have breath are not getting the point, your breathing will naturally slow down because your mind isn’t focused on panic. “Square breathing.” Genuinely hope this helps at least one person. Stay safe everyone


Leave a comment

QUICK UPDATE FOR FAMILIES IN TRAUMA – JULY DURING COVID19

Three and a half months may have gone speedily for some but dragged out for others. For us here at Families in Trauma, it has gone very fast due to the upsurge of interest in our work – which I am glad from that point of view. However, sad also for those who have suffered and families who are mourning.

Our eLearning course is to be launched next week – which seems like it couldn’t be more needed – a leaning post – to get us through these really tough times. We have been getting feedback from a few who have trialed the course. Our first podcast, was released through our social media pages – a discussion around the very supportive method of eCPR – emotional CPR – so so sorely needed just now especially.

We have also been busy developing workshops online (yes we do have a bit of Zoom fatigue too 🙂 ) but it seems to be an ideal way to interact with people at this time. We have a number of podcast discussions arranged to discuss what the different services in Fife are offering during this extremely pressured time period for families on the ground.

And finally, please remember that as well as creating our own resources, we can also help signpost to other organisations who we have worked along with. This often is an unsung service, and yet we have personally spoken with a number of individuals from various services in Fife and Scotland – who just weren’t aware of the vital services in their midst. So please, contact us if you need to – and we can often do the legwork for you – or we may already know exactly who you need to speak to.

“Still I rise” Maya Angelou

Leave a comment

How could I possibly add anything or take anything away from this wonderful piece shared time and again, and which resonates even more strongly during this most difficult time the human race is facing. Needs no explanation.


3 Comments

Death of What??

This blog comes tinged with a bit of sadness today due to having suddenly lost a family member.  It is always a shock to take this in, no matter how long we have been expecting it – but for us we only ended up with 3 weeks – so we are still trying to process this as a family.

Death of a loved one can and does bring very mixed, confusing emotions.  If it is a young person, most people feel that it is unfair and they have been cheated ; if it is death of an older one – there always seems to be that feeling that it was still too soon – no matter what their age.  Yes, death is an age old enemy. For those with faith in something else it can be a sustaining power, but nevertheless the sting of death is powerful for everyone.

However, this recent experience has got me to thinking of individuals I have interviewed who have undergone the cruelest of trauma in their life.  They they often speak of the grief of losing hope,  and, the death of all their hopes and dreams.    This can often be as painful as the sting from losing a loved one in death for example – and is often much misunderstood.

They are often told that they  shouldn’t feel like that  – after all…… we still have life!  But, it really depends on what kind of life we are living and what we have been robbed of.  This could be hopes of a future with another person,  seeing our children grow up strong, healthy and happy, having good health,  strong physical and mental health, a good job, a decent house and so it goes on ……  All of these things are only natural desires in all of us – and yet some have to deal with situations in life that bring them to their knees and hating life itself.  This can lead to suicidal feelings – so please – never underestimate these feelings. .

If we know of anyone who is feeling like this – its good to remember the old saying “there but for the grace of God, go I”.  We could all be suddenly in a situation we cannot cope with and struggling to find out how we actually got there!  So if we have a friend or family member struggling, don’t just dismiss them and think that “everyone goes through these things – we all just have to man up and get on with life.”   We live in a world that needs more understanding and compassion, not less!!    Reach out to those suffering and share what we can with them – it makes the world a far better place, not only for others – but for ourselves too!!


Leave a comment

Suicide video at “Choose Life” Conference

I was recently asked to speak for 10 minutes at the “Choose Life” conference held in Kirkcaldy.  I was very humbled by many of the speakers and the work they are continuing to do, day in, day out!  It really is amazing to see individuals turn their trauma into something that helps other people.  And it is not done with ease – it is done often through a lot of pain and suffering.  But, it often get right to the heart of matters because it is coming from a place of experience.  Many of the organizations provide support at the most crucial moments in a person’s life – so is invaluable!!

We used the video on “Suicide of a Family Member”  and it certainly held the audience in suspense as they listened to 5 minutes of painful raw emotions, but also a message of courage from Jackie Easton of Curly Star Dream Foundation .  She has used the trauma of losing her daughter to set up a service which supports other families facing suicide of a family member.

This photo was taken at the conference while the video was being shown.

Curly Star Presentation film copy

 

For many people suicide is a word they don’t even want to utter, but it is a sad fact of daily life.  Statistics show there were 6,581 suicides in the Uk and Republic of Ireland in 2014 showing that many families and friends will be affected.  Even if you feel this is not something you have had to deal with, please share the information about the video whenever you can – because you might not even know which one of your friends or family who may need it.

 

http://www.famiiesintrauma.co.uk


Leave a comment

Gearing Up for our Launch – April 18th!

Before I go into the launch of our first 3 videos in April, I thought I’d share with you a little of where I visited in December as I haven’t done that yet.  It was touch and go as to whether we could actually get there, due to one thing and another – but finally we did.  Steve, my husband, had always wanted to get some lessons from a real flamenco guitar  maestro and in December that’s exactly what we did!  The rest and relaxation were just what we needed – and it reminded us also that we are still individuals, and that even if we are going through difficult times, it is essential to try to recharge our batteries.   We visited Malaga and all the other little villages and towns along the Costa Del Sol.  My favourite part was the weather as it was 25 degrees C – no one could complain at that!  Here goes:

 

2015-12-20 16.17.49

Up in Mijas – seems to be a favourite haunt for many visitors.

 

 

 

2015-12-24 17.35.28

Many people come from all over the world to see the lights in Malaga – we can see why!

 

The weather in Marbella was very obliging.  Steve, myself and our sister in law, Tina.

The weather in Marbella was very obliging. Steve, myself and our sister in law, Tina.

 

And finally - Steve and I enjoying a boat trip.  Apparently we look like  70's rockers here :)

And finally – Steve and I enjoying a boat trip. Apparently we look like 70’s rockers here 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So that seems to be  the relaxation over for another few months as we gear up for the launch of the videos.  Just to refresh your memory the subjects of the 3 videos are:

“Suicide of a family Member”

“Stillbirth”

“Rare Genetic Disorders in children – Kabuki Syndrome”

As you can imagine, all families affected by any of the above go through very traumatic experiences trying to cope with the actual event, and the ensuing ripples that always surround these very painful situations.

The videos really highlight the ins and outs of these situations and could be extremely helpful to someone who is suffering – so please, please, please, share all information you can in the lead up to the launch and during the launch, as this is really a pilot project.  Hopefully we will get a good response from this, and it will convince funders to look favourably on the project and help us financially to be able to get out there and create many more and ultimately help families in a way that would never have been possible before social media.

We have a few really good high profile individuals who are keen to support families in Trauma, including Johnny Benjamin from the channel 4 documentary “Stranger on the Bridge” and the Twitter campaign “Find Mike” after a stranger stopped him from committing suicide on a bridge; Claire Baker MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife and also Margaret Hannah, Director of Public Health in Fife.

We have been able to get in a little help with the marketing of the  initial pilot from the social enterprise “Along Came Kirsty” who are based in Dundee and have been really excellent to work with so far.  I’ll keep you updated but was keen to use a local company that has the same type of social values as our own.

As we get closer to the launch – I will try to keep you informed as to what we are up to, but meantime – please share, share, and share again – and if you have any suggestions  on how to help us – by all means – get in touch !!!!