THE psychological therapies service run by Dorset HealthCare, has been expanded after moving into new premises in Poole.

Here a Bournemouth woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, explains how the Steps2Wellbeing service helped to get her life back on track...

For a long time I had been experiencing episodes of, what I now recognise to be, panic. Panic at all different situations from a day trip to going to work.

I had this overwhelming fear of either feeling sick, being sick or seeing someone else be sick.

The thoughts were all consuming and as hard as I tried to distract myself, my thoughts always came back to sick. I thought the only place I was safe was in my own home.

Things came to a head in December when I took a day off work because I really didn’t feel well. One day turned into two weeks because at home I was “safe” and it was then I turned to my GP for help.

Without that help and understanding that he gave me, it would have been a struggle to return to the job I love.

I completely broke down in front of my GP. He sat and listened to me for nearly half an hour whilst I cried my eyes out and told me he could help. The relief I felt that I wasn’t going mad and that someone understood was immense.

My GP prescribed me some Beta Blockers to alleviate the actual physical panic attacks and recommended a course of CBT.

From the moment I first met my therapist I was immediately put at ease and felt comfortable telling her exactly how I was feeling, even though in myself I felt ridiculous.

I must admit, at the end of the first session when my therapist told me it wasn’t really about being sick but about other things I was sceptical.

As the sessions went by I too began to realise that my way of thinking about various aspects of my life and situation were changing. I was being shown, through talk and diagrams, how the way I think impacts on my life.

I don’t think the therapy changed who I am, it just gave me a better understanding as to why I think the way I do, how I react to certain situations and therefore provided me with the tools I needed to be able to see the wood for the trees.

For anyone else suffering and putting on a brave face to the world I would say you don’t have to. Help is out there – you just have to ask for it. I’m so glad I did.