I can't possibly thank all of you enough for the incredible amount of support I received on my last post. You may have noticed I haven't been here - I've simply been 'hunkering down' and dealing with one thing at a time. But last Monday - the event that had sparked off such anxiety - took place.
And I was there!
My gorgeous eldest daughter graduated from King's College in London and I actually made the train journey there and back to attend the ceremony. I knew that if I hadn't gone the guilt would have been almost unbearable, and perhaps it was this that actually spurred me into taking some action.
So - how did I do it?
I had hypnotherapy.
A colleague of my husband had recommended a very well known hypnotherapist who had helped her quit a thirty year smoking habit. And he lived locally.
Worth a try?
I remember saying on my very first session that I would be amazed if it actually worked! But he immediately made me feel as though I wasn't alone, and had complete faith in the fact that my issue was reversible. Through various relaxation and visualisation exercises he handed me the 'tools' to deal with my phobia. Instead of that dreadful feeling of 'fight or flight' I was able to utilise these to minimise it. This handed me back control - and with this confidence - which I was able to summon as needed. There were a couple of times during the day where I did need them - and they worked. My husband didn't even realise I was feeling anxious! Now I know that I can do this I know that I can do it again! It's a bit like setting out on a long bike ride without a puncture repair kit - wouldn't you feel better knowing that you had one just in case?!
There was no magic wand. Every night I squirrelled myself away and practised my visualisation. I can't tell you how much I would recommend this - whether you have a particular anxiety or not it was wonderfully relaxing and, like anything, became easier with practice.
I still have worries about staying away overnight - that is my next 'challenge' if you like - but now I know that I have achieved something I had previously thought impossible, I am willing to accept it can happen.
So - my advice to you? Please never feel that your fear is 'silly'. No matter what it is that makes you anxious it is very real to you. Speak to others. The amount of support and advice that you gave me here showed that people do understand, and that there are so many different ways of tackling an issue.
I apologise that I have not managed to get around to replying to all of your comments but I had no idea how this story would end. As it is it hasn't ended. In fact it's begun a whole new chapter. And it looks brighter than it has done for a very long time!