Home' Aurora : Aurora September 2013 Contents 8
Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle www.mn.catholic.org.au
WITH TANYA RUSSELL
BY TRACEY EDSTEIN
New CatholicCare Director
"passionate about social justice"
BY TRACEY EDSTEIN
QI recently experienced what
I believe to be my first panic
attack. This has not happened
again but I am concerned that it could
take me by surprise next time. When
should I seek help?
APanic attacks tend to follow
symptoms of anxiety and escalate
significantly, sometimes without
warning and other times following a
prolonged period of stress. During a
panic attack, the following symptoms are
• Crushing chest pain or heaviness in the
• An increase in heart rate
• Difficulty breathing, including short
breaths and feeling unable to take a deep
• Difficulty swallowing or a 'choking'
sensation in your throat
• Feelings of dizziness and possibly nausea
• Occasionally, fear or terror that you are
going crazy or may be having a heart
• In rare cases, a momentary lapse in
If you can identify with most of these
symptoms, it is likely that you experienced a
There are many psychological reasons
why people experience anxiety and panic
attacks. However, on a physical level, the
reason anxiety escalates into a panic attack
is that when feeling anxious, many people
tend to breathe in short shallow breaths
through their mouths. This results in too
much oxygen being taken in and leads to
a chain reaction of changes in many of the
body's organs, concluding with increased
anxiety and potentially, a panic attack. Can
you ever have too much oxygen? In this
case, you can.
In order to correct the imbalance in your
body caused by too much oxygen, you
could firstly try to slow down your breathing
rate: breathing in through your nose for
3 seconds and then breathing out for 3
seconds (nose or mouth is fine). If you are
in the middle of a distressing panic attack,
you can cup your hands, hold them up to
your mouth and breathe in your stale air.
This allows in more carbon dioxide, which is
reduced (and necessary for a stable body
system) when over-breathing oxygen.
Also, try the following to bring your thoughts
and body back to the 'here and now':
• Push your feet firmly into the ground so
you notice and observe the pressure.
• Look around you and pick something else
to focus on. When you identify an object,
talk yourself through what you are visually
seeing or touching, describing it (out loud
or in your mind) in great detail.
• Look around and say five things you can
see, then five things you can physically
feel and then five things you can hear.
Repeat this with four things, three things
and so on, until you start to feel calmer.
• Distract your worrying thoughts by going
through alphabetical lists of boys' names,
girls' names and foods.
The above techniques should provide
some instant relief but if the panic attacks
continue, it is worthwhile looking deeper
into the causes through counselling or self
help options including books, web based
programs and personal development
Recently a new Director of CatholicCare
Social Services Hunter Manning (CCSS) was
appointed. Lisa Short has not been in the
role for long but feels at home in more ways
Q1 You're a Novocastrian Lisa -- please
share something of your early years.
A1 I was born Lisa McGowan in Waratah
and grew up in Swansea. I attended St
Patrick's Primary there along with my four
siblings. I then attended St Mary's High
School, Gateshead; I remember the hats,
gloves and the box pleated tunics. I also
remember St Pius X and Marist Brothers
boys stealing and hiding our hats on the bus!
I have fond memories of St Mary's where
I made loads of friends, many of whom
Q2 What was your first job, and where did
A2 When I left school I went to work at
Stockton Hospital and trained there as a
Registered Nurse (RN) for three years. I
then moved to Royal Newcastle Hospital
and completed general nursing. I worked
at the Royal for about five years. By then I
had married and was planning a family and
decided to study, so I undertook a Bachelor
of Social Work at Newcastle University.
Q3 What has been the main 'stepping stone'
on your career journey?
A3 'Stepping' from nursing people's physical
selves, to caring for their emotional and
Q4 What led you into the field of social
A4 I have always known that I belonged
in a helping profession, and my earlier
experiences have confirmed that sense and
prepared me for what I'm doing now.
Q5 What appealed to you about the position
of Director of CCSS?
A5 For the last few years I had been thinking
about what I would do if I left Mission
Australia and the role I now have was always
at the forefront of my thinking. It was time for
a change, and here was the very position I
had thought about. I'm a firm believer that
things happen for a reason!
Q6 CCSS is a well established service
provider in the areas of Out of Home Care,
counselling and youth services. What are
your hopes and dreams for developing
CCSS? What challenges do you expect to
A6 I have high hopes for CatholicCare!
I want it to be a preferred provider for
government funding bodies in the Hunter
and Manning regions. I want growth,
especially in the areas of disability and
OOHC. I want us to be able to provide
innovative solutions to local issues. I want
CCSS to be the first organisation that
parishioners support, financially and by
volunteering. I want all agencies across
the diocese to work together to improve
opportunities and outcomes for local
individuals, families and communities. There
will be many challenges along the way, some
relating to the current climate of the Special
Inquiry and the Royal Commission. Some
relate to building new bridges and mending
old ones. Whatever the challenge, we will
Q7 How is CCSS responding to members
of the local community with a disability and
A7 CCSS is currently providing
accommodation and support services to
people with disability and their families/
carers across the region. We've just
opened a new Disability Services office
in Charlestown, we're building new
accommodation options and planning a
range of new and innovative services that we
can provide to enhance people's day to day
living and improve their health and wellbeing.
Q8 What are you passionate about?
A8 I am passionate about social justice. I
believe that all people, regardless of race,
religion, gender, sexual preference, age,
ability level or political persuasion, deserve
to be treated fairly and with respect.
CatholicCare works hard to address
inequalities on a daily basis and we strive for
justice in everything we do.
Q9 What are you most proud of,
A9 I have to say the growth of the business
that I achieved with my previous employer.
I led the division from a small team in
Newcastle and Taree to a $20m business
across northern NSW. Along that journey, we
were able to provide much needed services
Registered psychologist, Tanya
Russell, is CatholicCare's
Counselling Team Leader. Each
month Tanya will address an
issue. The advice provided
is general in nature and does
not replace ongoing support
and advice from your health
professional. To talk to someone
about counselling support,
P 4979 1172. Email your
question to email@example.com.
org.au or write to Aurora-
PO Box 756
CatholicCare's new Director, Lisa Short.
to children, young people, families, people
experiencing mental distress and loss of
emotional wellbeing, young offenders,
problem gamblers, Aboriginal communities
and people experiencing homelessness. I
am committed to 'closing the gap' and have
worked hard to engage and be trusted by
Elders in a range of communities. Recently
I was awarded a handmade didgeridoo by
the CEO of Awabakal Lands Council for
Service to Aboriginal communities. I was
deeply honoured and humbled.
Q10 What do you like about living in
A10 I love Newcastle -- it's home! There
is no place like it. In my previous position
I managed services from Bega to the
Queensland border, so I was on the road a
lot. The best part about travelling for work is
coming home. When I hit Raymond Terrace
if I am coming from the north, or Catho from
the south, I feel this sense of comfort. I'm
Please visit www.catholiccare.org.au.
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