A former heroin addict who turned her life around is now helping others to manage anxiety and depression.

20 years ago, Vanessa Wallace was addicted to heroin but she got clean and managed to change her fortunes.

Vanessa, 53, is the author of The Rebel Method, a self-help book which encourages readers to make their mental health a priority.

“I come from a really difficult background. I was a heroin addict for many years, got clean 20 years ago, studied psychology and started work as a cognitive behaviour therapist. I worked for many years in prisons, helping people manage their emotions,” she said.

Surrey Comet: Vanessa WallaceVanessa Wallace (Image: Vanessa Wallace)

“I set up my own business in 2017, running retreats for people with anxiety and depression.”

In her role in charge of mental health retreats, Vanessa explains that she sees one type of patient more often than most.

“My main clients tend to be women between the ages of 40 and 65 who have cared for other people for most of their lives and have got to a point where they realise that they have nothing much for themselves.”

“They go into caring for others in their life and then get hit with anxiety and depression.”

Vanessa believes her three day retreats help medical professionals more than the NHS does.

“The NHS isn’t doing enough to help nurses and doctors through Covid. Post-Covid I’ve seen lots of medical professionals taking part in my retreats,” she said.

“People really need some time out and help with their mental health, and I get people back on board with their life journey.”

The Rebel Method stands for: remove the inner critic, educate about the brain, be yourself, eliminate anxiety and depression and live the life you dream of.

Vanessa’s book draws heavily from the experiences she’s had in running the retreats. Several former patients have been quoted, with changed names.

“One of the ladies in the book was in a very stressful male-dominated working environment in London. She felt under pressure and had low self-esteem,” Vanessa explained.

“She quit her job, moved to a different career in the country, got a dog and her life turned completely around.”

“She’s now gone two years without going into a cycle of depression and anxiety.”

The book is available from October 13 on Amazon and a launch is being held at 2pm on Saturday at The Bourne Hall, in Ewe Wells, Epsom, Surrey.