A mother is so petrified of snow and ice it has left her housebound during the winter months for eight years.
Catherine Clements has cryophobia – a fear of extreme cold, ice or frost – which sees her suffer severe anxiety and panic attacks.
She believes it all began when her car spun out of control on an icy main road in 2008.
Ever since the catering manager has been terrified of driving in snowy conditions, stepping on ice and even going outside at all when the temperature drops.
Mum-of-one Catherine’s phobia is triggered by fog and cold weather, meaning she frequently is unable to leave the house during the winter and must rely on daughter Laura Clements, 24, for help.
Catherine, from Liverpool, said: ‘As soon as I know it’s icy I can’t go outside. It doesn’t have to be snowing, it can just feel very cold. It can be triggered by ice, snow and fog. I wouldn’t dream of going out in it.
‘Snow is worse because I don’t know how much ice there is. I overthink it, it scares me. I have panic attacks all the time when it’s snowy. When it gets cold I have sheer anxiety about it. I worry that it will be icy the next day, I will just assume it is even if it isn’t.
‘It’s the thought of the ice that may come with the cold weather, even if it doesn’t. I worry about what’s underneath it and slipping.
‘I know it is probably fine but I have just become afraid to go outside. It’s the sheer fear and dread of it. I could stay in for a week if there is snow outside. I have done it a few times before.
‘If my parents weren’t well I still couldn’t get in that car and drive. Even just stepping on ice or snow frightens me. I am dangerous on the road and I’m worried for other drivers – I’m petrified of it.
‘I’m too embarrassed to go to my doctor about it. I don’t know anyone else with it and I don’t want people to think I’m a lunatic.’
Catherine was driving in icy conditions in Muirhead Avenue in Liverpool in November 2008 when her car hit a patch of ice, sending the vehicle careering into the middle of the road.
Luckily there were no other drivers on the road at the time so no-one was harmed but ever since she felt unable to drive in icy conditions.
As her phobia developed Catherine, whose job involved driving, was forced to begin working from home as she said it makes her ‘forget how to drive’ and ‘dangerous on the road’.
And the mum-of-one must rely on her parents and bank worker daughter Laura for help with lifts and trips to the shops as soon as the temperature drops.
Catherine, who never reported the accident to the police as there were no other vehicles involved and no injuries or damage, said: ‘The accident was very traumatic at the time but if there had been any drivers on the road the consequences could have been much worse.
‘I can drive brilliantly but as soon as the frost comes that’s it, I just freeze, I can’t go in a car and I can’t drive.
‘I just freeze as much as the snow. My family and closest friends all know about it and they have all tried to get me in the car and show me it’s okay but I just keep breaking down.
‘I forget how to drive and my heart is pounding. I can’t really explain it but it’s horrible and I can’t think straight.
‘It has happened before where I have gone out and then the weather has changed – I have been at my mum and dad’s house before and they have had to drive me home.
‘I’m usually with my daughter, Laura, if it’s icy. She’s a godsend. I got to the shops once and I had to ask her to come and pick me up because of the weather.’