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Journalist Hilary Freeman says phobia of face masks causes her to 'feel dizzy and hyperventilate'

A woman has revealed how a phobia of face masks which causes her to 'panic and hyperventilate' means it feels like the 'lockdown is just beginning'. 

Young adult novelist Hilary Freeman from North London, appeared on This Morning today where she revealed she has severe claustrophobia, which is triggered by wearing a face covering, and causes her to 'feel dizzy and sick'. 

The author said that following the news shops and supermarkets will be making face coverings mandatory later this month, she fears that she'll struggle to leave her home at all, aside from going for a walk outside. 

Journalist Hilary Freeman, pictured on This Morning in 2018, says her phobia of face masks which causes her to 'panic and hyperventilate' means to her it feels like the 'lockdown is just beginning'

Author Hilary, from North London, appeared on This Morning today where she revealed she has severe claustrophobia which is triggered by wearing a face covering

'Before you could go to the supermarket without a mask', said Hilary, 'I thought life was getting a bit more back to normal, with everything opening up .

'But for me, because I find wearing masks so absolutely awful, I feel now I won't really be able to go out at all, apart from a walk outside. 

'I won't be able to go to shops or supermarkets or travel anywhere. So for me it feels like the lockdown is just starting properly.' 

While Hilary has always suffered from claustrophobia, she felt she was able to control her fear before the pandemic. 

Hilary told hosts Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes (both pictured) that wearing a mask makes her feel 'horrible'

'I knew I was claustrophobic,' she explained, 'But it was never a huge problem because I was never in a situation I couldn't control before. 

'I'm not someone particularly bothered by being in a lift or something. It's more just my face covered and feeling trapped, and the fact I can't choose whether or not to wear one.' 

Hilary told that wearing a mask makes her feel 'horrible' and argued that she and others with phobias have had no time to adjust to the new rules about face coverings.  

'It makes me totally panic', she said. 'I just feel like I can't breathe, I find myself holding my breath, I start to hyperventilate I get dizzy and feel sick, it's a horrible feeling. 

Hilary was later joined by therapists and life coaches Nik and Eva Speakman, who attempted to help her tackle her phobia 

'If someone said to you, "I'm afraid of heights", you wouldn't say "Go jump off a building". 

'It's being told you have to wear a mask, there's no time to get used to it. There's no time to prepare and if you have a phobia, you can't get over it in one day.'

Hilary was later joined by therapists and life coaches Nik and Eva Speakman, who advised her to tackle her claustrophobia alone before attempting to deal with her fear of wearing face masks. 

Nik told: 'The best way for Hilary to deal with this, is to deal with her claustrophobia and find out actually when it started, because nobody is born with a phobia. 

'But in the interim, what Hilary can do is distinguish the difference between the phobia and wearing a mask because wearing a mask is not a fear of enclosed spaces. 

'One of the things she could do is go out into the open and start taking the mask off and putting it on, to distinguish the difference between the two.' 

The therapists advised her to tackle her claustrophobia alone before attempting to deal with her fear of wearing face masks

When asked whether the advise was helpful, Hilary went on to explain that she feels the 'sensation' of wearing a mask is different to that of claustrophobia

When asked whether the advise was helpful, Hilary went on to explain that she feels the 'sensation' of wearing a mask is different to that of claustrophobia. 

She said: 'I have tried masks and different masks and some are worse than others, but if you're claustrophobic going into a lift and you realise that nothing bad will happen in a lift. 

'The sensation of having something tight across your mouth makes you hot and feel uncomfortable. So it's more difficult to get over it in that sense, because there is an actual issue there,  it makes you feel less able to breathe normally.' 

Nik responded: 'Even wearing the mask around the house and knowing and reassuring yourself all the time that you are in control. 

'When it comes to going outside, plan what you are going to do. Maybe go in one shop and know you can go sit in your car and take the mask off.' 

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