Our agony aunt comes to the aid of reader who is terrified of heights

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Fiona Caine deals with your problems

Q It’s probably stupid to write to you about this because there’s nothing you can do, I know.

The thing is, I’m terrified of heights – not just tall buildings or cliffs, but anything above ground level. It’s mad, but I can’t even stand on a chair to change a light bulb.

Over the years, things have got worse and worse and now my husband has died and I’m on my own, it’s really bad.

My daughter wanted me to go away with her and her family on holiday this summer, but when I saw where they were planning to go, I had to decline as it was all cliffs!

I need help and information as this is ruining my life. Please don’t suggest I go to my doctor because I am sure he will laugh at me.

A It sounds as if a very rational fear of falling from something high has become an irrational phobia. Like other phobias, it can be treated, but I’m afraid I am going to say ‘see your doctor’ because that’s the best person to help you find what kind of treatment is right for you.

Some people respond to counselling, others might find psychotherapy, hypnotherapy or other treatments suit them best.

Your doctor won’t laugh at you as millions of people are affected by phobias of all kinds.

Anxiety UK (anxietyuk.org.uk), formerly known as the National Phobics Society, is well worth your while contacting too.

The organisation provides one-to-one counselling and details of local self-help groups.

Q I’ve a friend from college who I met last September. We’re both 19 but her life is very different to mine as her mum is an alcoholic.

She clearly finds this very difficult and has told me about an organisation she’s joined to help the relatives of alcoholics, which has really helped her.

I know it’s hard for her to talk about, but she’s become a good friend and I’d like to understand more about what she’s going through.Where would be a reliable place to get more information from?

A Your friend may belong to Alateen which is the young person’s part of Al-Anon Family Groups UK, for those affected by alcoholism. The organisation provides help and support for relatives and close friends of people with a drink problem.

You may find it helpful to look at the website (al-anonuk.org.uk).

It does you great credit that you want to help and support your friend, but tread cautiously.

It may be that, although your friend has told you about her mother, she may not want to talk any more about it.

Show her you’re willing to talk, but if she doesn’t respond, be prepared to respect her privacy.

Q My daughter struggled to do her GCSEs because they coincided with her period. She suffers badly and usually takes painkillers to cope with the cramps. As a single dad, I don’t know enough to be able to help.

AThere’s strong evidence that girls who are menstruating, or who are pre-menstrual, perform less well in exams, so your concern is completely justified. Get your daughter to talk to her doctor and don’t be surprised if it is suggested she goes on the pill. This is not encouraging her to start engaging in sexual activity, but because it will help regularise her periods and make them less painful.