Living with Anxiety – Karl Omnibus edition.

This is a updated version of my blog “Living with Anxiety” including a brand new part 8.

Part 1

Now this blog post isn’t going to be like any other I have posted, This isn’t about images or beautiful walks I have taken, This blog is about the secret half of me, this is about the hidden points of my life, this one is about the fear I hold in my life. Yes this is about me.

I’m very sorry to say I am a sufferer of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This has now led to PAD (Panic Anxiety disorder) and sadly Clinical depression.

These disorders are not chemical problems in my brain, they are problems with my behavior. Tablets may help but will not cure me, only I can cure myself of these problems.

When did they start I hear you say. Well when I was a young man, a boy in fact, I had a fear of being shouted at, this didn’t stop me getting into trouble though. My parents didn’t need to give me a clout. a quick sharp shout in my direction would bring me to tears. this sadly has carried on into my adult years, you may think that I am just a softy. that is not the case, I have been in far more trouble than my siblings.

All this fear was the made even more troublesome in my life just over 20 years ago. I was Stabbed.

Two men walking into my flat (when I lived in Oldham) and tried to rob and assault my friend and flatmate. I stepped in to stop it. They smashed me in my face and and shoved a knife between my ribs, in to my right lung.

I remember standing up thinking “the bastards have broke my nose” My friend was screaming. He told me I had been stabbed, I told him I was Ok and set off walking into the living room. I then collapsed.

Some of my memories from that evening may be a little distorted, but one memory is very sure and true to me. My then current girlfriend asked me for my parents phone number, Now I was lied on the floor bleeding to death. and I couldn’t remember a phone number I have known since being a child. I laid there reciting my own mobile number.

Then the Paramedic’s and police arrived.

Part 2

When I lived in Oldham, I lived in a large flat above a Kebab shop on Union Street. It was a 2 storey flat. with a very large downstairs and 2 rooms upstairs. The place had a pretty bad mice problem, I use to lie in bed listening to them running around. I remember coming downstairs one day to find a dead mouse on top of our little black and white TV. (it had been found by my flat mate, He thought it would be funny to place it on the TV). The most horrifying rodent moment I had in that flat was when I found the loose floorboard in the bathroom.  I was hoping for treasure, as I removed the floor board, a sudden rancid smell hit my nostrils. beneath the loose board was a yellowing rotted rat. I was nearly sick. My flat mate who had the stomach of a warrior from roman times laughed.

The paramedics placed me in a chair and attempted to take me down the stairs. Now this was a pretty scary time, I was more scared about this then the stabbing. (I must admit at this point I still wasn’t sure I had been stabbed) The stairs where very steep. thankfully I wasn’t dropped. It was then into the ambulance. I wasn’t alone in the Ambulance, A young chap had been hit over the head with a bottle (I later found out that the people who had attacked me where allegedly responsible for this chaps wounds also). I don’t really remember much of the journey to the hospital. But I arrived.

Part 3

I have a love / hate relationship with the medical profession. My big brother is a nurse, and he is fantastic at it, My kid sister is an ambulance driver (she is also fantastic). I didn’t enter this type of vocation. I would be dreadful.  I can handle my own blood, but not the blood of others.

The last time I went to see the doctor was about 8 year ago. I was having some chest pains, Anxiety and chest pain sort of go together.

So I made an appointment, The doctor was fresh out of med school. I walked into the surgery and did the usual explanation as to what was wrong. With chest pains they always bring out the earphone things, (can you see why I’m not in the medicine industry?) She breathed on to the cold cup thingy and placed it on my chest, moving around checking various places. Up to this point she had hardly said a word, but now stated she was going to leave and would be back in a minute.

I sat waiting in this sterile room with a wall of books.

Eventually she returned. She was carrying a plastic cup filled with water and 2 white tablets. this got me worried.

She explained she had gone to the head doctor for advice and he had suggested that phoning an ambulance and feeding me aspirin would prevent the oncoming heart attack.

The whole doctors surgery erupted with panic as I left very quickly. The ambulance passed me as I pretty much ran down the road.

Never tell a panic sufferer he is having a heart attack, it doesn’t go down to well.

Back to 1999, After arriving at the hospital, I was sent to the Shock room (an unfortunate name I agree). The room was a dark place, it was a large room with a single bed in the centre, on the left was a wall of screens, you know the ones in which you place X rays, on the right was an arch with a lit corridor on the other side.

A nurse was pumping morphine in to my left arm, as I listened to 3 doctors discussing the “procedure” I didn’t understand most of what was said, but I got the gist, it involved a large needle being put through my armpit and into my chest. Then was something about a pipe with a bottle connected to it (it was all a bit of a blur, Morphine does that to you)

I laid there and watched a doctor push this (what seemed to me) a massive metallic needle into my side.

I’m not sure if my parents turned up before or after this procedure, but I do remember laying on the bed and turning to my right and seeing the silhouette of both my Mum and Dad standing in the archway.

The next thing I remember was being in a different room, it was dark with only the light from the open door to see. It seemed busy outside the room, people kept walking past (including the chap from the ambulance, he now had a bandage around his head.) While I was in this room, A nurse gave me a bed bath, My brother helped me have a pee (he is a nurse after all).

It was in this room I had my first Panic attack.

Part 4

What is a panic attack / Anxiety situation?

A large percentage of people in the UK will suffer from a panic attack at some point during their life. and pretty much everyone will have felt the feelings of anxiety. So what is Anxiety? well it’s a total normal natural instinct, you may have heard of the “Fight or Flight” response, you know when you feel the flutters of fear in your belly and really need to get out of that situation. Most feel it before maybe an exam or perhaps a driving test. Well imagine your sat happily watching your favourite TV program, nice and happy at home, then you get that sudden feeling and start thinking to yourself “hmm I’m a little scared right now, and I don’t know why”. That’s Anxiety. It is usually brought on by a thought process or trigger. You may not (usually) be aware of that thought but it has visited your mind and its there to stay.

Now a Panic attack is a totally different animal. A panic attack is sudden and uncontrollable fear. A feeling of impending doom. your heart races you feel like you are going to die (in my case anyway, I will get to that later.) As I said in my last post my first panic attack was in the hospital. I would say that was a pretty normal response to what had happened in the last 12 hours.

I am going to tell you how I feel during my episodes of Anxiety and Panic. I can’t and won’t say this is the same for everyone who suffers, I can only speak from my experiences. so here goes.

My first (none hospital) panic attack happened in possibly the worst place possible, It was aboard a fishing boat in the north sea. (I don’t do things by half.)

Three of us (me along with two good friends) had gone for a week away, a week of sea fishing in Filey. we did some beach casting, we had a few beers, it was a jolly time. We decided that we would book onto a boat out of Bridlington for a day catching Cod and Mackerel.  We turned up at 6am at the harbour to meet the captain and set off on our voyage to the fishable waters of the north sea. I remember most of the trip out, it was quiet pleasant until. Well I felt something stirring in the pit of my belly. then it hit me like a train. I was not going to return. I was about to die. I then pretty much lost it.  It all starts with biting my lip, and looking around for a safe place, a way to escape.  They had to pin me to the deck of the boat, my friend later told me he thought I was going to jump overboard. I remember it very clearly, it was as if my mind no longer had control of my body. My whole body shook, my breathing got faster and faster, and with several people holding me down, I could hear the Captain radioing the mainland. As was the practise then I was given a bag to breath into (this isn’t done anymore, it increases CO2 in the blood) now remember this was a fishing boat, they don’t carry a whole load of brown paper bags, so I got a plastic bag with fish guts in the bottom (yummy.)

Fair play to the RNLI they were pretty quick (I think). I was put on oxygen and transferred to what I can only call a dingy. (that was pretty scary on its own) and I was whisked across the sea to a waiting ambulance parked on the beach. then onto a the hospital for a dose of Valium before I was released to fight another day.

Now this moment in my life (I think) has more influence to my problems today then when I was stabbed. I was suddenly afraid of having panic attacks. A fear of fear sounds pretty silly to me but its the truth.

Part 5

Hello all, three years ago I wrote a series of blogs named “Living with Anxiety” relating to my struggle with anxiety, and I feel it’s time to give an update on this.  

Well here is where I am now.

The posts above were written just after the breakdown in my marriage. My kids had move away with their mother and I was all alone (I had some awesome friends around me but your family leaving is not good) So I wasn’t in a good place. I was living alone in a flat that I like to call the puddle (water used to drip from the ceiling, the walls turned black and I became ill and smelly, I must point out the smell was from the mold on my clothes not from being unclean.)

Now if you have read the above posts im sure you hope that I solved this terrible affliction, I did for a time,

Firstly after a worrying issue with the electrics in the flat I convinced a friend that it would be a good idea to share a house. We found one locally, All was good and It was dry, thank god. When I moved in I had to scrub and clean everything I owned to get rid of the smell and mold. Things seemed to be on the up for me. I was DJing in a local pub, meeting people and it was fun. I found a girl. All was good in the life of Karl.

On January 5th 2017 the shit hit the fan. My Mum passed away. It was totally unexpected, she wasn’t ill or anything she just went.

Now as some people know my anxiety has had a strange influence on me. I am unable to travel very far from home. I don’t use public transport, I don’t travel in cars very much. Well my parents live in Todmorden, I lived in Whitworth. Now to you normal people that’s not very far (it’s about 9 miles in a car, if you don’t know the area.) Well to me I may as well circumnavigate the planet. 

My (then) girlfriend stuck by me and helped me get through that horror. We attended the service.

Anyway me and said girlfriend split up. 

While I was trying to come to terms with my Mum passing away my Ex wife (we are technically still married) contacted me regarding my daughter. I won’t go into details here but she needed to come and live with me.  It wasn’t possible where I lived so I thought It was a good idea to move to Todmorden to be near my Dad. 

So here I am in Todmorden.

We lived at my Dads 1 bed flat for a while, sleeping on sofas. We now have a house. All is good then I hear you say. Life is a little bit more difficult than that.

Part 6

Welcome to part 6, (I’m glad you have stuck with me) 

When I last left you all I told you I had moved to Todmorden. let me tell you about that.

The reason I decided to move to Todmorden from Whitworth, It’s a complicated matter but the easy explanation is after my mum pass away in January 2017 It meant I could be closer to my Dad.

I moved over here on my parents wedding anniversary, I didn’t have a house or plan (I have always just tried to wing it) so I slept on my Dads sofa for a while, (not great for my bad back) I lived there from August to October. My Daughter came back to live with me at the end of August. 

I now have a house. (and I can now use garlic as much as I wish. My Dad hates the stuff.) 

Now as a person with anxiety a new place is a minefield, new place, new people, I had to sort a school for my daughter, find a house, sort out doctors, I had to rebuild my business in a new area (easier said than done), I basically had to speak to people!!! Let me explain how difficult that is. Do you easily go to a shop and ask for something from behind the counter? I have trouble asking for a plaster!

After my marriage broke down (I say broke down, but that is a total different story) my very good friend had to take me to sort out my bank account (I didn’t have my own, my wage was paid into my wife’s account, yes i’m a muppet) suddenly I had to sort everything myself, and 3 years on I had a 12 year old that needed me.

So with my Dads help I found a place, and he shifted my gear from my old place (my bff helped as he always does. I love you Bruv). It’s not the nicest place in the world, but it has water, heat and curtains I can close. I have a place to hide in Todmorden.

Once you have a base in a new area (whoever you are) the next step is meeting people. well this is quite hard for someone like me, so moving here has proved a little tricky, I only knew one person (My Dad), as I have said I have troubles just going and talking to people. My Dad has introduced me to a few folks, all are very good nice people, 

When you have anxiety it’s better to have some people (that are close, I mean right around the corner) that you trust 100%, This is something I haven’t yet sorted. 

Part 7

Welcome back to my anxiety blog

So here I am in Todmorden in my house, I have my stuff set up and it’s time to introduce myself to this town. 

Now if you are not knowledgeable about Todmorden, I will tell you a little about it. It’s a small place, there is a market and a few shops in the centre and then three roads. One to Burnley, one to Halifax and the last to Rochdale. It is a Pennine border town, sandwiched between Lancashire and West Yorkshire. Everywhere you walk you seem to be walking uphill (even when you walk back). It is a busy hive with stuff on all the time, It seems something is on every weekend.

Well this isn’t a blog about selling Todmorden to people, Its a blog about anxiety. 

My first anxiety, was about sorting my daughter in to the school. This took forever. I was in touch with the social worker (she didn’t help they never do but that’s a total different story). I spent so much time on my phone and waiting for letters. Now if she didn’t get into Tod high it would have to be a school out of town, I dont travel so that wouldn’t be good. Thankfully (eventually) I got a call asking me to go and meet with the head of year. It’s been a long while since I sat in front of a teacher (and mostly if I did I was in trouble). As I have said in my previous blogs I am not great at meeting / talking to people so this was a big deal. 

Going to meet somebody is fraught with issues for me. Firstly where do I go? If I get lost that means I have to find someone to ask the right way (this is not a good situation). I have to meet someone I don’t know, What if I panic? They don’t know me so won’t understand me. This causes me (sometimes) to drink before I have to meet people (this isn’t good especially at a school, I didn’t in this case but you get the idea). 

We got through the meeting and Joss has a place at the school. I sorted something. Maybe im getting better at this meeting people lark.  

This was just the start.

I have a (now) 13 year old I have to meet more people, (If you have a child, parents are forced into meeting the parents of their friends).

Part 8

Now i’m sure a few are wondering why a photographer is sharing this kind of information about himself.

Isn’t this a site promoting his business prowess and how he can serve me as a customer? I hear you ask. Well yes it is, but It’s more than that, this is a platform to speak out. Im sure Lord Sugar would disagree with how I work. well he can and I will continue.

Anxiety is a strange thing, I can be sat at home quivering and decide that my next step should be to sing on Karaoke. I have no Idea why but that’s how it works (for me). Posting this stuff on the internet sort of helps me own it. It’s almost like i’m saying “Fuck you Anxiety, I can beat you” and that’s how I live my life.

I may seem a lesser man than most (i’ve been called far worse) but i’m fighting everyday. Just like most illnesses it differs from one person to another. I am not a shut in (some are) I leave my house (well my landscape and wildlife images would be awful if it was just my bedroom and silver fish) I’m just selective as to when I go out. I make sure I leave the house at least once everyday.

To be honest leaving the house is a nightmare, I have to make sure everything is turned off and the door is locked properly. I don’t answer the phone (you may notice there is no phone number on my site) or a knock at my door (and definitely no address). Today I was asked If I had meet any of my neighbours yet. “I said yep one, I spoke to her then she moved” I don’t think it was my fault she moved.

People who are on my facebook might think FFS Karl, why is he posting this.

Well I see facebook as a comedy platform. Nothing I post on my personal page is real (pretty much like everyone else’s, well they sometimes are, I miss my Mum!!). People read more into things than they should. Somebody posts a sad poem, then they must want to kill themselves, someone posts something yellow then it must be their favourite colour. Facebook is a fantastic thing for someone like me, it allows me to be in touch with people without having to have contact with them (I can choose when I speak, you can’t in the street). It does have a downside, if I have spoke to someone on facebook and then bump into them when i’m wandering to the shop, it’s a worrying situation, I will ignore you, (I’m sorry it’s not because I’m ignorant)

Part 9

Well i’ve now been in Todmorden for 2 and a half years, Lots of things have changed, I still live in the same house but my daughter is now 14. I have a job in a local retail store. I have some friends (get me) I play on a pool team, when I walk to the shop I have to say hello to at least one person I know. So living here is good.

How about your anxiety you ask. Well my job has helped, I am forced to speak to random people (customers) and some of them are total tossers, the staff (or colleagues as we are told to call each other) are fantastic.

This post is going to be more about what I have learnt about me and my behavior. I think If I was a kid now I would be called Autistic or one of them science names they give to kids now. I prefer to call myself Idiot savant, (not in a bad way before the hates start, I know there are many people worse than me) I put myself in that bracket in a very loose way.

I have talents but fall down in many ways.

I can see numbers very fast, (sudoku is a breeze), I have a memory for numbers (I can remember a phone number very easy), I can fix things (I can work out how they work very quickly), You only have to show me something once and I will learn it and be able to teach other people.

So they are some of the talents I have. Now for the bad parts.

I find it very hard to speak to new people (going into a new shop is a nightmare) I order most of my stuff online because it scares me, I don’t answer the door to my house (if you come to my house you need to have told me your on your way round), everytime I leave the house I have to check certain things, The iron is off (I don’t use the iron that often, but I still check), The door is locked, (I have a chant I say everytime I leave, “Karl you have locked the door” while moving the handle up and down), I don’t commit to any group meeting till the last minute, (the fear of not going when I have said yes is overwhelming).

I am not an Idiot Savant, I know that.

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