How I stopped my driving anxiety – and my swearing problem
For every Stig wannabe there are dozens of people who find the roads really scary. Here’s how one writer fixed her fear of driving
Worse than A Levels, dissertations, spending 10 hours in stilettos or reading my first James Joyce book, learning to drive was the hardest thing I have ever done. At its best it was thrilling, and at its worst it felt like I was catastrophe-prone Maureen from the Nineties TV hit Driving School.
Lowlights of the seven-month saga included me getting my brake and gas pedal mixed up and nearly plowing into the back of a parked car, and being yelled at by a very old man in a flat cap who could barely see over his own steering wheel. Tight, shallow breathing became all too familiar when I was at the helm of that Vauxhall Corsa and one lesson ended with me getting out of the car, sobbing, saying I was never going to do it again.
I dreaded every lesson. Learning to drive didn’t make me feel like I was gaining new skills, but just picking at the things I already knew I was rubbish at. It seemed so unfair.
There was something about doing hill starts that brought out the navvy in me…
One of the most vivid embarrassing moments of my life involved me getting very drunk at a wedding when I was 18 and another guest telling my mother: “Your daughter swears like a navvy.” Well there was something about doing hill starts in Streatham and Croydon that brought out the navvy in me.
Swearing is bad when you’re driving, everyone says, as it generally makes you even more tense. When I called a van driver the worst swear there is (don’t make me spell it out) I thought my instructor was going to faint. I sat up straight behind the wheel and attempted some girlish charm: “Is my language a little too salty?” I simpered. He glared. “VERY salty, Helen.”
Sigh. So, something was going wrong. I was crying and swearing like an 18-year-old who’d encountered her first free bar. If I was going to stop chucking hundreds and hundreds of pounds at lessons without improving or gaining any confidence, I was going to need to do something.
She put me under hypnosis, encouraging me to visualise leaving the test centre feeling calm
A friend suggested hypnotherapy, so I booked myself into Shirley Scott’s clinic in Clapham Common. I know, I know. Clapham, right? But my test was two weeks away and I was desperate. Telling people about my fear of driving often elicited snorts of disbelief, but Shirley was incredibly understanding and said she’d seen other clients with the same fear.
We talked about how I needed to understand what I could control and what I couldn’t, and in between the two hour-long sessions she gave me some exercises to do at home to help me understand the power of my mind when I was driving. She briefly put me under hypnosis, encouraging me to visualise leaving the test centre feeling calm.
And would you believe it, I passed first time with three minors. I’m now doing a Pass Plus course and while I don’t love it, I know I can do it. Even if I still do let the 18-year-old navvy in me out from time to time.
Try hypnotherapy in October which has now become the annual StopTober campaign, where people are encouraged to try to quit smoking.
The month of October has now become the annual StopTober campaign, where people are encouraged to try to give up smoking.
The risks associated with smoking are widely advertised and include lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, other cancers, infertility and gum disease.Despite this, however, many people really do struggle to stop smoking. They may feel that smoking helps them deal with stress or worry that stopping will make them gain weight; it may also be all their friends smoke.
A great number of people find hypnotherapy for smoking is an extremely effective treatment for breaking the habit for good. The reason hypnotherapy can be so helpful in stopping smoking is that a key aspect is letting go of the routine you once had and looking at cigarettes differently.
If you are considering stop smoking hypnosis, the first step is to make sure you are choosing to quit for yourself. Hypnotherapy is most effective when you really want to quit. For example, if you are stopping because friends or a family member is pushing you, you may not get the results you want.
Hypnotherapy works by putting you in a deep, relaxed state where your mind is more open to suggestion. At this point your hypnotherapist will look to change your thought patterns by making suggestions such as ‘I do not want a cigarette’ or ‘I am repelled by the smell of cigarette smoke’. You may also be taught various tools and techniques, which you can practise at home.
Some people find stop smoking hypnosis is enough to break the habit, while others prefer to combine the treatment with other supportive remedies.
If it was helpful for that, then it could certainly be helpful for nicotine withdrawal.
Additional help could also come from a herb called Lobelia, supportive in two ways.
Firstly, it could help to clear mucus from your chest, improving breathing quite quickly, according to herbalists. Secondly, Lobelia actually binds to nicotine receptors and therefore can stop the cravings.
WHEN her best friend decided to hold a wedding party on a boat, Emma Carter knew she had to finally overcome her lifelong fear of water.
Just a few weeks ago, Miss Carter was so gripped by fear she would even avoid the waterside parts of Princes Quay Shopping Centre.
Miss Carter, who was chief bridesmaid for her friend, Amy Usher’s wedding to David Goldsmith in Cyprus last moth, said: “The jelly legs have gone.
“Never in a billion years did I think I’d be sunbathing on the mesh part of a catamaran with the sea lapping underneath me.”
It is thought her phobia – or hydrophobia to give it its correct name – was sparked as a youngster at Hull Marina.
“My grandad Ray worked the docks,” said Miss Carter, 34. “I remember as a kid being really scared of the water.
“Because he worked there, he’d try and push me to like the water, but it never worked.
“Nothing ever happened to give me the phobia, like falling in or anything. It’s completely illogical, like a lot of phobias.”
In desperation and after receiving her friend’s wedding invite, Miss Carter contacted Thak’a Na’ama, a hypnotist based in East Yorkshire.
She said: “I was sceptical about hypnotherapy, but I was desperate.
“I knew that I didn’t want to miss out on a big section of Amy’s wedding just because I couldn’t face my fear of water.
“A party was to be held on a catamaran with a bit of sunbathing the day after the wedding.
“My friend told me she’d happily change her plans for me, but I couldn’t let her do that. This was her wedding – it wasn’t mine.”
Miss Carter was visited at her home by Ms Na’ama.
“I was put into a trance,” she said. “While I was under, Thak’a taught me to make sense of water. It gives life. It’s safe. It’s comforting – the opposite of my phobia.”
Miss Carter says she woke up feeling refreshed and later tested herself at Gym 24 Seven at Princes Quay.
“There’s a balcony there, overlooking the water, that I have never been able to walk out onto,” she said. “About a week about the hypnotherapy session I decided to test myself.
“I saw a guy walk over to the balcony, learn up against it and rest his arms on the glass.
“Normally, even that would have been enough for the fear to kick in, but this time nothing happened.
“So I walked up on the balcony and looked out at the water. I felt fine. I was so happy I wanted to cry. I never thought I’d be able to do this.”
After returning from the wedding, Miss Carter decided to book a holiday – island-hopping in Thailand – at the end of the year.
“Thailand is my dream holiday,” she said. “I didn’t think I’d ever be able to go as you can’t go really go to Thailand and no go on boats.
“I am so grateful to Thak’a. She has changed my life.”
Katey Loughran, 37, from Coventry, is cured of food phobia after hypnotherapy
There’s no denying we’re a nation of chip lovers. But for one mum, her obsession with the fried potato sticks was ruining her life.
Katey Loughran, from Coventry, lived on nothing but egg and chips for a staggering 30 years.
The mum-of-two developed the habit aged six and found that the thoughts of putting any other foods in her mouth would make her gag.
So severe was the situation, that she even tucked into a plate of fried eggs and chips on her wedding day in 2013, while new hubby John and their guests enjoyed something more fitting.
The 37-year-old mum-of-two told the Daily Mail Online : “On the day, everyone thought it was hysterical – it was the highlight of the wedding.
“The only way to cover up my embarrassment was to laugh about it, but I was upset.”
But finally Katey has beaten her food demons. Having been diagnosed with Selective Eating Disorder (SED), she sought help from hypnotherapist David Kilmurry, and is now excitedly experimenting with a refreshing new diet.
Katey said: “It feels out of this world to finally put something different in my mouth.
“Now, I’ve tried baked beans, broccoli, green beans. My plate is growing every day! It’s massively changed my life for the better.”
Our guest, Dr. Robert Sapien, is responsible for the current NIH research involving hypnotherapy, which is getting a lot of attention. This is the most thorough and exciting hypnotherapy research, with controlled methodology, and represents the growing movement of acceptance of hypnotherapy as a mainstream modality for health care and personal change.
Robert E. Sapién, MD, MMM, FAAP is a Distinguished Professor of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, is Chief, Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine and Associate Dean for Admission at the School of Medicine. Dr. Sapién, a native of NM, received his bachelors of science and medical degrees from the University of New Mexico and a Master’s in Medical Management at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.
He has also been a practicing clinical hypnotherapist for the past 8 years, receiving training at the Hypnotherapy of Academy in Santa Fe, NM and mentorship from Timothy Simmerman. Dr. Sapien also incorporates hypnotherapy into his medical practice, and is currently helping conduct a National Institutes of Health Randomized Control Clinical Trial on women with overactive bladder to compare the efficacy of hypnotherapy with medications.
Hypnotic Radio Hour can be heard on Dreamvisions 7 Radio Network.