Panic attacks can ruin your life - but it lies within your power to overcome your fears. Sue Breton - clinical psychologist, researcher into panic attacks and former sufferer - shows you how you can help yourself by understanding what type of task you have; taking short-term avoiding action to suit your personal needs; learning more about your own personality - which will give you power over panic for good. She includes practical excercises to control breathing and help you gain personal control, and provides advice for friends and families of sufferers.
I originally became a clinical psychologist almost without intending to. That statement probably makes those currently trying to gain one of the limited training places green with envy, but although it may have been much easier then to start, it was much harder to access the learning that was needed to finally qualify.
I grew up in the 50's and 60's in a Surrey village but left home to attend University in Swansea. In those days the Welsh universities didn't make you commit to your Honours subject until the end of the first year. I didn't know what I wanted to do. At one time I had wanted to join the Diplomatic Service but when I discovered that women were expected to leave if they married I decided it wasn't for me. Polite society would shun you if you lived with a man to whom you weren't married!
My 'A' Levels were in French, German and Latin. I'd wanted to do Maths but you couldn't mix arts and science subjects. So in my first year I studied French, Politics and took Psychology partly because I was curious about it, but also, as I discovered, because it included maths (statistics). I suppose I had some background in mental health in that my mother worked as a secretary at a local psychiatric hospital and one of the psychiatrists lived next door.
After my first degree I went on to do in-service training in Clinical Psychology because I needed a job and it was offered. I thought I really wanted to do educational psychology and at that point intended one day to go back to it. For the first year of the three-year post-graduate clinical training I hated it. Then one day it was as if a light switched on in my head and I never looked back. I have since worked in all sorts of environments. My current (and last) post is in helping to set up the recently developed Primary Care mental health service in parts of the South Wales valleys.
I raised five children, learnt to sail yachts in races and on long trips across the world, kept and still have horses, ring church bells, and could once do the Highland Fling and the Scottish sword dance (not very well). I have also learnt photography and have dabbled in astrology. I am planning to use my knowledge in these to make and sell various things I have created when I retire from the NHS. I have also had to learn about renovation techniques for old buildings to transform my cottage. It was hard work, every spare moment for over two years. But now I have an intimate connection to my home as I know just about every inch of it.
Fortunately from childhood I had my own anxiety and obsessive tendencies. These later enabled me to use my own experiences to work out what did and didn't work therapeutically. When Jon Kabat Zinn introduced the concept of Mindfulness I took it up and then later when Acceptance and Commitment Therapy developed I felt I had come home.
At one time I attempted to write fiction - romances. I did get one title published by Rainbow Romances but I soon realised that I was unable to make my characters suffer sufficiently so reluctantly I gave up. I do still have a steamy novel about a riding school lurking somewhere on my hard drive and maybe one day I might feel a desire to revisit it and see if i can adapt it at all...
I would also like to maybe write psychological thrillers, but never seem to find a plot that satisfies me. So for now I stick to what I can do - writing psychology self help texts when I feel inspired.
I am currently trying to help a wider audience through my own website - anxaid