The word ‘panic’ has its origins in Greek Mythology. The Greek deity, Pan, with the body and head of a man and the legs and feet of a goat, used to frequent the forests of Arcadia where he would rustle the leaves in trees in the forest. Unwitting passers-by would hasten their pace, scared at the sudden eerie noise in the trees. The passers-by would be scared, for no apparent reason – they would panic!
The classic symptoms of a panic attack which include shortness of breath, a lump in the throat, tightness of the chest, racing heartbeat are very scary for the person having the attack and for the people witnessing it. When it is your child having the attack it can be absolutely terrifying for child and parent/carer alike. I have first-hand experience of this and felt totally powerless and helpless the first time it happened. That is why I now train adults how to help children manage their fears and anxieties, and be able to step in with confidence if their child has a panic attack.
In 2016 my youngest child, 11 years then, who has always been very sensitive, had her first panic attack. It was horrific for her, her elder sister, me and my husband. My husband was on the phone to NHS 111. My daughter’s symptoms, breathing difficulties, inability to speak (lump in her throat and dry mouth), inability to walk (pins and needles caused by a lack of carbon dioxide in the body) worsened; she said she couldn’t see anything. At that point the call handler said she was sending an ambulance. It felt like the bottom was dropping out of my world. If an ambulance was coming, it was serious, right?
Interestingly enough when my daughter heard the ambulance was on its way it had a calming effect on her. It made her feel safer, her sight returned over the next 10 minutes. The paramedics spoke kindly but informatively to her. They calmly told her, much to her parents’ dread, that the reason she couldn’t’ see was because the lack of oxygen due to her breathing was depriving her organs of oxygen and if it had continued they would have started to shut down. She got better, the ambulance went. She was fine. On the other hand, we, her parents, were quite shaken!
Shortly after this I trained in how to teach children mindfulness and meditation with Lorraine E. Murray, founder of the award winning Connected Kids program. I then trained with her to be able to train adults how to teach children these valuable skills. I wanted to be able to empower parents, carers and teachers to help children deal with their panic attacks calmly, effectively and confidently.
Fast forward to now, the 7th week of lockdown (or is it the 8th?) due to Covid-19, and unsurprisingly my daughter’s panic attacks have returned. They usually occur when she, now 15 and in year 10, is settling to sleep. Instead of feeling powerless to help her I have a range of tools at my disposal which I use to help her and to keep myself calm whilst doing so. Breathing exercises, guided meditation and knowledge of the fight/flight/freeze response and how my tools counter this have given me the confidence to help my daughter during the scariest of times. And she has confidence in me.
If you are interested in training online via Zoom with me, Tara Russo, to help your child manage their fears and anxieties, process uncomfortable emotions in a positive manner and self-regulate their behaviour then please do not hesitate to get in touch with me via email email@example.com, on 07761140855. My next course for adults will be in June 2020. Groups are very small so early booking is advised to avoid disappointment. The course costs £199.
I also work with children directly, running my 6 week online Mindful Me course which is tailored to the individual needs of the child (£299). This helps children develop a mindful practice that will help them for the rest of their lives.