From an anxious heart, to another.

Late last year, I pulled into my driveway as I did daily after doing the afternoon groceries with my 18-month old, Oliver.
I hopped out and walked around the car to his door and unbuckled him while waving to my neighbour driving past to
pick up her kids from school.
I popped Ollie on my hip, grabbed the shopping from the front seat, along with my handbag, and made my way up the
footpath to our front door. I noted our Gardenia’s flowering and thought about what a great job Pete was doing
growing them. They smelled fabulous.
I could hear our small dog barking in the backyard while I approached the door.
Ollie bounced excitedly on my hip – aching to hop down and run off to play with her.

And then my world was turned inside out.
Two young men exited my side gate as I reached our doorstep.
I knew something was wrong, but also remembered that humans are unpredictable and challenging them
could prove dangerous to myself and my baby. I questioned them about why they were in our yard, and they gave
me some bullshit spiel about needing to jump our fence to escape the police due to having drugs on them.
I noted small details – the second guy putting yellow & black gloves in his back pocket.
The first guys eyes were a deep brown, and they were both beautiful and terrifying.
I asked them, all the while entertaining Oliver on my hip, if they had touched any of our possessions.
I offered them my very own bullshit spiel about CCTV & Silent Alarm systems.
They ran.

At this point, right now, I had to take a break from typing this.
My fingers weren’t accurately hitting the keys due to the severe shakes I now develop when recalling this memory.
After a glass of ice cold water, and twenty minutes of meditation in my safe space, I return.

I opened the front door, and instantly realised my laptop and charger were missing from the lounge room.
I could not see any of my camera gear. I did the Maths.
Two guys exited my property, neither with a backpack, yet my belongings are gone.
Shit – Is there a third guy still in the house?

I drop my groceries at the front door, lock my house back up (why?), and run with Ollie to my nearest neighbour.
I knocked, but no-one answered. I call Pete as I run to another neighbour. I tell him our home had been broken into,
and I ran into the guys at the front door, and the rest I don’t remember.
Pete later tells me that his 15 minute drive home from work has never been scarier or longer.
His head and heart were heavy, as he thought I had mentioned blood.

I call 000 and run to 12 more houses. No-one is home, or they are not answering.
I understand now that this is why our street was such an easy target for them.
We are working and providing for our families, so are not often home on weekdays and therefore,
these heartless scumbags feel free (entitled even) to enter our property and take the very belongings we are working for.
Forgive my harsh judgement there, but correct me if I’m wrong.

I am sobbing by now, and Ollie is innocently laughing as he has never heard his Mummy make these noises before.
I am breathless thinking of this beautiful soul who is so innocent and oblivious to the situation.
I am broken, but also have a moment of calm as I realise I have protected him and provided such a safe
and blissful environment for him that he doesn’t yet realise there is evil in this world.

I stop in the middle of my street, and look up.
The cloud is smeared with pink & green clouds – gloaming from the horrific bush fires in the Blue Mountains.
Thinking of the families who had lost their homes that day, I sit in the gutter with Ollie and sob.
I make loud choking noises that hurt my stomach while tears soak Oliver’s shirt.
I am torn between feeling hugely grateful for even still having a roof over our heads and completely naked from having my privacy violated.

I have always said that my biggest fear was having my house broken into, and my ‘safe’ home deemed unprotected.
Five cop cars scream into my street, ask me which way the assholes ran, and speed off in that direction.
I gasp as I’m left alone and the 000 operator tells me another car will be there soon to help me.
They were right. I inform the sixth car that I believe there may still be someone in the house.
Thankfully, I was wrong. No-one in the house. They led me inside, and I don’t remember a lot from this time.
I know they got the facts from me, but despite staring so intently into the intruder’s faces, I cannot recall any details.
Except for the first man’s deep brown eyes. I feel like a failure for not being able to accurately recall their faces.
And I feel like an idiot for only being able to describe the colour of his iris’.
My Counsellor tells me weeks later, that this is because of hormones flooding my brain to help cope with trauma.
I wish I was told earlier that this was a normal psychological reaction. It would’ve saved me hours of guilt and many
minutes of thinking ‘I could’ve provided vital info to the Police’, and maybe, just maybe, helped to catch them.

The rest is a blur. Pete came home and embraced me and I sobbed into his chest, never so grateful for his presence.
Ollie ran at our feet, playing with cars, still completely unaware of what had happened.

They stole around $10,000 worth of camera and digital equipment.
I predict they took more, which I am yet to discover as missing. Maybe I never will.

I vividly remember my heartbreak as I entered my bedroom and saw they had emptied all of my drawers seemingly
looking for jewellery or cash, and an early ultrasound photo of Oliver I kept in my bedside table was carelessly thrown
on the ground on top of random handbags and costume jewellery.
I was told not to touch anything before forensics arrive but there is not one part of me that could stop myself
from picking up that picture and putting it away in an otherwise empty drawer.

Fast forward to now, present time.
I am left with crippling anxiety.
The guys haven’t been caught, but I’m sure if they aren’t caught by law enforcement, they will be caught by Karma.
My house has never been safer – alarm, bars in windows, several security measures in place
– but my heart is still completely unarmed and vulnerable.
I hear a neighbour in their backyard, and I run to the backdoor and lock it, my knees hurting as if my legs can’t support
my body, and my heart is racing. My mouth is dry and my breathing is uneven.
Even hours later, I have all windows and doors locked at fear of someone entering my home.
My Counsellor is helping me through this. We’ve developed strategies to deal with these attacks, but it will take a
long time before I am completely at ease and whole again.

It has taken me a really long time to write this post – both since the incident, and as I am writing it.
But I have decided that if I share this, I am:

A) Showing you that I do not have a Highlight Life. I don’t just get to do great shoots with amazing people.
I am Human too, and there is no perfect life here. Crappy things have happened but we can all help each other grow
through sharing experiences and letting each other know we are not alone.
B) Letting go. Letting go of the fear that the guys may read this post and come back for more.
C) Being honest. I ask you to get in front of my camera and be your true selves. Well here’s me. Fair’s fair.
You will never find a more honest post from me.

A friend of mine runs an Anxiety Awarness blog that I now frequent. I have always been an anxious character,
but having a professional diagnose you with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Anxiety, is something else entirely.

I have always supported Kate & her honest writings at www.anxietyawareaustralia.com ,
but I’d love to share her blog with you guys. There are some great techniques over there that she has shared,
along with some great explanations of what Anxiety is, how to recognise it, and how to keep it at bay.
Maybe you’re still reading this because what I’ve written is familiar to you. Please visit her site.

Most of all, my biggest reason for writing this and reliving it over again, as hard as it has been, is to thank you all.
Thank my closest friends and family for their support, and for asking “How are you?” and meaning it.
And knowing that “Good”, isn’t good.
It’s s simple act from you, but it means a bunch to me and is helping me on my journey to
rebuild a safe environment for myself, with people who will support me.

I do not stand alone.

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2 Reactions

  1. Sharon

    Oh my goodness Krystle, it has taken great strength and courage for you to share your story like that and I thank you. My husband had a truck accident in March 2011 and he has PTSD, Depression and Anxiety. It is difficult for me each day to understand and know what it is that he goes through. He tries to explain it to me however I know that I will never truly understand. I too have always thought and said that my biggest fear was having my house broken into, and my ‘safe’ home deemed unprotected. It was your photo that drew me to the post and I thought that it had something to do with the many roles you have in your life not the story that you have shared. Please know that my thoughts are with you and your family always and with all the love and support that you have you will be able to carry on. Your newly acquired friend ShaZ

    • Krystle Quinlan

      Sharon, I so thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your very own experience with this. Not as a sufferer, but as a supporter. A role much more important than the sufferer. I fear to think where we would all be without people like you coming along and standing for us when we can’t stand ourselves. Metaphorically and literally.
      Thanks on behalf of your husband, myself, and all others you have indirectly helped by even trying to understand. xx

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