My name is Colin Hammond.

I had my first panic attack in 1982.

My wife Marion and I were driving home one evening from Birmingham to London

and I got stuck in Coventry.

Marion managed to get me to the local police station,

who summoned an ambulance,

and I was rushed into the local hospital,

blue lights flashing and everything.

And after various medical tests

they diagnosed that I'd had my first major panic attack.


No Panic, Colin speaking.

The whole illness that I suffered

could be classed very simply as panic attacks

which led to agoraphobia and monophobia,

which totally devastated my life, my partner's life,

and we lost all our friends and became hermits.

There is a popular misconception that agoraphobia is a fear of open spaces.

It's not strictly true, it does encompass that,

but it also means being anywhere where you don't feel safe

or where you feel trapped,

where you haven't got a quick exit, quick way home.

So I developed monophobia at the same time,

which was a fear of being on my own or without Marion.

So consequently Marion couldn't go out and about either.

So we were virtually stuck in the house and Marion became a prisoner of my fear.

It took me 18 months to see a properly qualified cognitive behaviour therapist

who understood my illness and knew the way forward for me.

And so over a period of two and a half years, with his help and support,

I managed to break down the barriers

and we got a reasonable semblance of our life back.

We were able to travel around, go and do various bits and pieces,

even back onto motorways and things,

I think people have to understand

that the therapist doesn't do anything to you.

He gives you the tools to paint the picture

and you use those tools to make your recovery.

After about six months, as I started to recover,

we thought, "I can't go out to work for a while."

"Let's see if we can help a few people

understand and overcome anxiety and panic and phobias

in the way that my CBT therapist had helped me to do it."

And so we put a little advert in a local paper

and we had about four replies

and No Panic was born.

One of our main ideas was to start local self-help groups.

But we soon realised that if a person can't get out,

how are they going to get to a support group in the first place?

So we've tended to veer away from that

and we offer recovery groups by telephone

where people who perhaps are trapped in their home,

perhaps through their agoraphobia or another anxiety illness,

can still get help without having to travel any distance to get that help.

I think the feeling that you're helping somebody else

is the best feeling in the world.