A five-letter word has plagued decades of Andy Pearson’s life.
The usually calm and composed driving instructor originally from Heanor, would break out in a cold sweat, shake uncontrollably and faint at just the mention of the word – blood. But the determined 39 year-old – with the help of a local hypnotherapist – has conquered his fear by giving blood, and is now backing the NHS call for more people to donate a pint of the red stuff to save a life.
Andy, who owns Drive Like a Rockstar, has had the phobia for as long as he can remember.
He said: “Some of my earliest memories are of me fainting as a young child when baby teeth fell out. I’m not sure where the fear came from but it has been such a controlling part of my life which has been able to grow and grow into what it had become until recently.
“It was just something that I lived with, I avoided talking about blood or anything related to it. My family and friends knew not to mention the word to me as they knew what would usually happen once the word had been mentioned. It literally was that bad that I genuinely cannot even remember saying the word ‘blood’ throughout my whole adult life, instead simply referring to it as the ‘B’ word as a way of coping.
“I would start to feel my chest tighten, go pale and feel faint. I would then start to feel panicky and have cold sweats. If I didn’t get away from the situation where blood was being talked about, I would then begin to have panic attacks or faint. It was something that everyone who knew me would joke about, I used to joke about it as a way of dealing with it, but it would upset me deep down. ”My dad Dennis has always given blood for as long as I can remember, but it has always been something that I saw as an impossible achievement for me. In my head if I gave blood I would bleed to death. That was the what my childhood fear had become, a very real phobia of bleeding to death.
“Over the course of 16 years after my son was born in 1999, I have been to blood donation centres and tried, but all attempts have resulted in fainting and panic attacks.
“But it all came to a head six months ago, after a bet with my partner Wendy. If she could conquer her fear of flying and agree to a summer holiday abroad, I would give blood. So I took a leap of faith and contacted hypnotherapist Sally Race.
“After the initial consultation, I had three sessions with Sally, each one different and each one life-changing. I slowly felt the weight of phobia being lifted from me. I’m still not sure what Sally did or said in vast parts of our sessions together, but they have made such an impact on me. I walked away from the first session able to say out loud the word blood – which was a first in at least a decade. On the morning of the donation – August 4 – I felt the usual pains in my chest, the looming darkness of a panic attack clouding my thoughts. But armed with an incredibly supportive partner, and the tools that Sally had equipped my mind with, I attended my first donating session.
“I cannot say it was easy, It wasn’t, but I am persevering and have booked my second donation, and I am proud of what I have achieved. Giving blood is of massive importance. It’s something that most of us can do. I know that I have potentially saved someone’s life now and I will continue to do so for as long as I possibly can.
“For all of those who can, please do. And for those who want to, but are too scared – I am proof that it can be done.”
For more information about Sally Race visit: www.derbyshirehypnotherapy.co.uk.