Hypnosis has helped me to overcome nerves on stage

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I’ve been hypnotised three times in my life. The first was to give up smoking. I had to picture myself walking along a beach, away from a massive pile of fag ends and ash, and feeling free.

Twenty minutes later I was down the pub, lighting up as I laughingly told the tale.

The second time was to give up smoking again. I don’t remember too much about that session, except that I went home afterwards and was violently sick.

It was a bug that my son also contracted and we spent a happy couple of days lying on the sofa, watching old James Bond movies and popping out for a quick smoke (me, not him).

So I thought hypnosis was a load of old jelly. Except when I went for something other than smoking, it made an incredible difference (I don’t need to give up smoking now, as I ticked that off the list last year with the aid of Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking – seriously, if you want to stop, go buy that book).

So what have I used hypnosis for? To overcome my nerves about presenting. A hypnotist spotted that I was insecure on stage and offered to help me.

Let me point out here that I wasn’t part of his show, I met him when I was in a workshop about the recent Pompey Bookfest.

For a personal reason, known only to me and a very small and exclusive group of people, I used to be a bag of nerves when standing up in front of people.

I wasn’t worried that I would forget what I was going to say, or that my clothes would fall off, or that my mouth would seize up and I would be unable to mutter a word.

Nope. Basically I assumed the audience would all think that I was rubbish. I worried that people would be sitting there thinking: ‘She’s awful. What’s she on about. Why did I bother?’ or something similar.

But just one short morning later, I can finally put years of pain to rest. The hypnosis itself was all a bit bizarre (sadly there were no swinging watches or other props), but it’s done the trick and helped me to finally realise that, actually, no-one is going to be thinking about throwing rotten tomatoes at me.