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Nicoles Story

My story starts back some 22 years ago…
As seems so common my anxiety was undiagnosed for several years but my problems
began when I was 17 and still at school. By the age of 20 I found myself unable to work and living a home with my parents. I tried many different treatments and spent time in hospital undergoing behavioural therapy however I just became worse and worse

… I finally came to a full stop unable to go out or stay in the house alone, as you can imagine this was a terrible strain on my parents. The anxiety took over my life I couldn't do anything felt trapped even boiling the kettle and terrified in case my parents left me. I often felt that life was not worth living and that I was just a burden to everyone. I could never imagine living a 'normal' life in fact I spent most days convinced I was going to die. I was too scared to take any medication as I thought it would make me worse which used to frustrate all my carers.

Anyway, at the age of 23 I ended up as an in-patient at a small psychiatric hospital in North London. You cannot imagine the pure hell I went through those first few weeks. I was not allowed to contact my parents my 'safe' people and knew that there was more behavioural/exposure treatment ahead. I sometimes think that one of the reasons we resist treatment is the fear of failure – certainly true in my case. Well the treatment started, first short walks in the grounds with a member of staff, then further away but very gradual. After six months I was able to take short bus journeys, go shopping and go to the cinema. It was very hard work and I had so much anxiety but I slowly gained in confidence and enjoyment of life.

After almost a year of in-patient treatment I moved into a flatshare near the hospital and was accepted on a three year course to become a radiographer. For me it was a holistic treatment as they helped me sort out my life.

During the next four years I met Alex, later to become my husband and qualified as a radiographer. In 1993 I gave birth to our first daughter who was followed by her sisters in 1996 and 2000.

So, what is life been like in the last few years? Yes, I still have panic attacks and I still have good and bad days. I see myself as a 'reformed agoraphobic' and this means I have always be aware of what I'm doing. I am
determined to carry on my life although sometimes it seems so hard. When I look back I thought I'd never get married, have children, go abroad on holiday, travel by fast train, drive and I have and continue to do these things. We have just returned from Christmas and New Year in Scotland where my sister lives. I never do these things without anxiety but to me the most important thing is I can do them.

The most important thing is never give up if I can do you can too. I would be happy if anyone wants to contact me my email