“Relationships need healing … starting with the one we have with ourselves.”

On meeting Nicola you feel an immediate warmth from her. She radiates the kind of love and compassion that allows you to feel comfortable enough to divulge your innermost thoughts and secrets, along with a sense of calm that comes from knowing yourself truly and utterly and being comfortable with what you have found … whatever that may be.

It was no surprise then to learn that Nicola is a natural healer who, having healed from her own traumas, has dedicated the past 20 years of her life working to help others.

Nicola was born and grew up in Kenya, moving to England as a young girl in the 1960’s. Her personal life went from solitary to the social whirl of 80’s London.

She grew up trying to rescue her alcoholic father, then later her addict boyfriend, who at the age of 26 tragically died from a drug overdose. Nicola believed, of course, that her obsession with trying to help or ‘fix’ others was born out of love, but her psychotherapist was soon to point out the awful truth.

“She told me that how I loved was as much of an addiction as drugs were to my boyfriend. The addiction, she said, is co-dependence. It was the first time I’d heard the term.”

Nicola’s adult life has been spent digging into the psyche, during which her connection with nature and the spiritual world has served as an anchor. She is a writer, artist and healer, championing mental health, healthy relationships and emotional education for children and adults, and gives talks on it.

Last year saw the publication of her lifelong work, her memoir ‘My Will’ – a Portrait of Love and Addiction, which explores the complexity of relationships, addiction, love and loss. 

Her book has deservedly received critical acclaim from author and mental health campaigner Ruby Wax, who described her memoir as ‘A great journey – but so harrowing’, and TV presenter Anne Robinson who called her memoir ‘A heartwarming, original, beautifully told tale of our times’.

Nicola says: “People who have read my book have told me that my experiences mirror their own just with different names and faces. When you share your story it gives other people the permission to name their own emotional chaos, and that is evidently quite helpful.”

“Knowing you are not alone is comforting. I have had people say ’this is an important life changing book’ simply because of its honesty. If you knew how many people have reached out to me to tell me their similar stories – it’s incredible.”

“Essentially, it is a book about the impact of addiction on families and loved ones, and the various ways that they inherit it”.

“Understanding oneself is the first step on the road to recovery, for it is the relationship we have with ourself that shapes all other relationships – those with our family, friends, work, money and opportunities. It affects the choices we make, our behaviour,  and the ups and downs of our mental health.

“Once the relationship we have with ourself is healthy, co-dependence, unhappy relationships, addiction, depression, and other mental disorders, have a better chance of dissipating.

“We are wired to connect, and in a safe environment connecting to others is medicinal to our mental wellbeing.”

This February Nicola invited us to chat about relationships with her at her ‘Heart to Heart’ event at Bingham Riverhouse in Richmond.

She discussed the normalisation of bad behaviour which breeds co-dependence and unravel with us how we can heal from this. It seems that her experiences are common themes and resonate with vast swathes of the population.

Nicola Vivian’s memoir ‘My Will’ is available to buy on Amazon.

Follow Nicola on Instagram: @nicola_b_vivian