The title of Nikki’s incredible list exactly sums up what happened to her. Having suffered from psychosis and feeling shame and embarrassment around it, which is heartbreaking to hear, it was during the last psychotic episode, in 2019, that Nikki had a horrendous accident, which became a turning point in her life. Her positivity and determination really are an inspiration. 


  • Having suffered the effects of mental health stigma most of my life, I am so grateful to finally be free from its shackles and am sharing my unique story in a bid to help others, and to make a difference with the stigma that causes so much harm, and in some cases, death.

  • Like many other areas in life, mental health can be misunderstood and clouded by judgement without people sharing their experience and helping to educate.

  • I seem to have been an ‘all or nothing’ kind of gal, either mentally very well, or acutely unwell with something called ‘psychosis.’ I can only speak about my own personal experience, and hope you appreciate that everyone’s case is unique.

  • I had experienced four episodes of psychosis by the time I reached fifty, and each time, I rushed back to work and normal life, burying the episode, and disguising it as ‘a nervous breakdown’, never to be discussed again. Such was my embarrassment and shame; I didn’t even give myself sufficient time to fully recover.

  • The last episode I suffered was in July 2019 with severe consequences. It was to be a turning point in my life.

  • During a psychotic episode in which I was trying to escape my home, I ended up falling from a neighbour’s roof and breaking my back. I suffered a burst spinal fracture and spinal cord injury which left me paralysed with a grim outlook.

  • I wasn’t going to be rushing back to life this time!

  • It took a 7-hour operation to stabilise my spine with a metal fusion, and 5 weeks of flat bed rest before being allowed to have the bed raised.

  • During three months of hospitalisation, I came to terms with the fact I may not walk again (or have a functioning bladder and bowel), and my motivation and determination are what aided my recovery; I decided to find acceptance and knew that I would be the best and happiest version of myself, whether in a wheelchair or not.

  • There is no cure for a spinal cord injury, but I knew that some people could recover from the paralysis and have varying levels of mobility; even walking.

  • I focused on doing whatever I could to speed up my recovery. I started with a positivity diary, writing (upside down) three things to be grateful for every day. This could be the sun shining in through the window, or a kind nurse who came and sat with me.

  • I progressed to visualisation and began drawing up a chart for my exercises, beginning with ankle rotations.

  • My goal was always to get myself home to my wonderful husband and dogs as soon as possible!

  • My progress went well and by week seven I was sent to Sheffield spinal unit for a further month. By the time I left, I was able to walk some steps with crutches/walking sticks.

  • I was far slower to find a resolve to the mental trauma, possibly using my physical recovery to put off the fact that I had suffered a psychosis again. My husband and I kept the facts hidden during my hospital recovery; a secret hard to keep with everyone asking what on earth happened?

  • Psychosis, a few facts – it is not a mental health illness, it is a set of symptoms. It can be linked with mental health illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other conditions such as Alzheimers, HIV, Parkinsons, or even drug use.

  • My form of psychosis was diagnosed as ‘stress-induced’ psychosis which responded very quickly to antipsychotics (thankfully).  Once on the drugs, my psychosis took around seven days to clear.

  • Symptoms can vary from hallucinations (visual and auditory), paranoia, delusions and other. My key symptoms were extreme anxiety, lack of sleep, inability to eat, delusions and paranoia.

  • It is a terrifying experience which is best described as ‘tourettes of thought patterns’. My mind would not stop thinking of its worst possible nightmarish thoughts. It was terrifying.

  • Psychosis gets a bad name, and people tend to categorise and put everyone into the same box, as they do with many mental health conditions.  It’s always best not to make assumptions with any mental health conditions.

  • Things that psychosis is not – Psychopathic! Characters like Norman Bates from Psycho are just that, not psychotic!  Jack Torrence in The Shining – dangerous knife-wielding maniac. People with psychosis are not mad or dangerous people who will cause you harm. People who have psychotic symptoms are far more likely to be fearful of you. Psychopathic and psychotic are two very different words.

  • My husband told me while I was in hospital that something would come of the situation, and he was right! I cannot believe it took me until 52 years to finally stop running away from it.

  • When I started to write my memoir during lockdown, it was a transformative and deeply healing process.  But something happened that I didn’t expect.

  • I soon realised that I didn’t have to tell my reader that I had experienced more than one episode of psychosis. The story would work without this information. For me, it was the difference between telling them I was a little ‘crazy’ or ‘batshit bonkers!’

  • But I wanted my book to be authentic and as honest as I could make it.  Why did I want to withhold this added piece of information?

  • I realised what made it so hard to talk about, was the fact that ‘stigma’ had silenced me for most of my life. I was terrified of what people might think, based on pressures from my family as well as my own stigmatisation.

  • As a schoolchild, I remember a mental institution on the perimeter of our school grounds.  When somebody escaped, a siren would go off, and the gossip was rife around school.  The girls got into such a frenzy with a ‘loony’ on the loose, that by the time my mother picked me up from school, I was terrified!  Little did I know, that in my forties, I would do a three-week stint in a psychiatric ward in Norfolk!

  • So, as I stood up to face my mental trauma whilst writing my book, something miraculous happened. For the first time, I found my voice and found myself talking about my experience, not only with my husband and daughter, but others too. I lost the shame that had surrounded me and found my ‘brave’. This has been incredibly healing, not only for me, but for them too; it is no longer a taboo subject.

  • Best of all, I weakened the hold this horrible condition has had on me over the years, and I no longer fear it happening again. Even if it does, we will be ready for it! I’ve learnt to be proactive and take safeguarding steps to ensure I stay safe and well (and stress-free!).

  • I was so humbled by the experience of learning to walk again (yes, I can walk) and the recovery that I have made, that I decided to donate a percentage of my book sales to ‘Back Up’ – a charity that helps spinal injured people and their families.

  • In addition, I decided to become an advocate for mental health, particularly with regards to stigma.  I now do talks/presentations for organisations.

  • I have set up a Facebook mental health group called ‘Stamp on Stigma’ – where people can come and talk about their mental health issues, offload, or support others. Some of us meet once a month too and all conversations are confidential.

  • My memoir ‘Catch Me if I Fall’ was published last July (2021) and it reached bestseller in mental health in the first month!

  • Many say it is an inspiring and uplifting story, and a positive example of overcoming adversity. If it inspires or helps anybody else, especially with any form of mental illness, then it was worth the blood, sweat and tears.

** Nikki’s book Catch Me If I Fall is available on Amazon and her website is **



NHS – psychosis:

Mind – psychosis:

Spinal Injuries Association:




–  READ Laura Dockrill’s terrifying experience of Postpartum Psychosis and how, with support, she began her recovery.

–  READ Make It The Best Thing That Has Ever Happened To You by Susie whose upbeat list explains what happened when she woke up paralysed after emergency surgery on her spine. 

–  READ Beth Calvert’s list Diagnosed With Bipolar Disorder as she explains how after finally receiving this diagnosis from the doctor, her life started to make sense.

–  READ Sally Darby’s list Life As A Disabled Mother as she describes parenting with a disability alongside the already frustrating and challenging job of motherhood.

–  LISTEN to Matt Haig on But Why? podcast talking Mental Health and how, although being open about depression and anxiety can be useful, the conversation needs to be handled mindfully.

–  LISTEN to Ben Tansley on the topic of Disability and what the word means to him after being told it was unlikely he would ever walk again.




Find submission guidelines here. All writers and topics are welcome.




** ‘But why don’t I feel happy all the time?’ ‘But why do people die and are they just sleeping?’ and “But why do adults drink beer and what does it do?’ are some of the tricky questions I tackle in my debut book BUT WHY? which is available to order now and also on audiobook.**

Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply