When I was growing up, I was diagnosed with social anxiety. I couldn’t go out for a meal, couldn’t go to the pub. I never used to eat anything before getting on a bus or in a car, because I’d feel sick. I remember once going to a pub and someone started talking to me, and I had to walk away. That can send the wrong messages to people.
I knew when I joined the fire service, aged 26, that I needed to see a doctor to get something done about it; I knew I wouldn’t be able to go to training school or sit in lecture theatres because I’d feel trapped.
So I went to see a doctor, I had some counselling and medication and it cured me. But because of my anxiety I found it difficult to integrate myself with other people. I couldn’t go out to the pub and socialise, so there was always ‘he’s not one of us, he sits in a corner’.