Phobia of wind turbines
08-08-2009, 07:07 PM
Phobia of wind turbines
THE CUMBRIAN WOMAN SCARED OF WIND TURBINES
Chiroptophobia isnât a fear of someone fiddling with your feet, but a fear of bats. Batophobia is a fear of being near high buildings, or structures.
Kathleen Burns is well aware of the difference.
We all know about vertigo â getting that heaving, dizzying feeling when we look over the edge of a long drop or climb up a high ladder.
But what about feeling that way because you are next to a tall building, or just looking at it? Thatâs batophobia.
Kathleen didnât know what it was or what it was called until recently. She only knew she had it.
By chance, she caught the end of a television programme last year â Britainâs Weirdest Phobias â highlighting strange fears and including a woman who could not bear to be near tall structures.
âI didnât realise that it had a name or that other people suffered from it,â explains Kathleen wide-eyed.
âI now know there are at least three of us out there who have this and there are probably more.â
This is not a twitchy, nervy mouse of a woman talking, but a giggly, self-confident type, happy to talk and keen to help others who may feel the same way.
The 49-year-old Cumberland Infirmary medical secretary shrugs off any thoughts that she might be a âsuffererâ.
Her panic attacks are something that affect her, but that she can deal with.
She has developed different defensive tactics to cope and can even live in a place surrounded by turbines, tv masts and big hills.
Not everyone can deal with panic attacks and when they first strike, they can be very worrying.
âI have always had a bit of a fear for heights and had panic attacks which are triggered by a kind of agoraphobia.â
âWhen you are younger you donât want to talk about it and donât really realise what is happening when you have a panic attack.
âThe first one you have, you wonder why you are having it and think âwhy me?â
âYou are frightened to talk to people as they might think you are neurotic.
âBut you are not neurotic, you might be a very sensitive person.
âI thought that if I could find some people we could help each other, share our experiences and might help someone who has just started to have panic attacks.â
Kathleen was on regular medication to counter the attacks, but decided she had to square up to them.
Now she realises when they are most likely and how to deal with them.
âI did go to counselling for my panic attacks, it was okay, but it is not going to stop you from having them, it helps you control your breathing.â
She used to fly a lot when she was younger and travelled throughout Europe. That has changed.
âI did it, but I never used to like flying.
âThen it becomes a greater anxiety and then a phobia. I donât fly any more now.â
Itâs definitely a height thing, because she has travelled through the Channel tunnel â twice â without any problems.
She first realised her phobia for being close to tall buildings 15 years ago when she used to commute into Carlisle along Dalston Road.
She would have to turn in front of Dixonâs 270ft tall chimney.
âI would feel clammy, get sweaty hands, erratic breathing, all the panic signs, until I was well past it,â she says.
âIf I had the sun visor down and didnât see it, it was not so bad.
âThen I started to think I didnât feel very well that time, so Iâll go a different way.
âI get the same feeling at Bothel, I canât drive past the turbines there.
âI can go past them as a passenger and look the other way, but I couldnât drive.â
If she caught a bus into Carlisle centre she would have to look the other way as it chugged past the Civic Centre.
The view of Skiddaw driving along the A591 to Keswick also causes problems and even looking at pictures of tall buildings or structures starts the snakes squirming in the pit of her stomach.
Just as she got used to coping with TV masts, Dixons chimney, tall buildings and mountains, wind turbines started to pockmark the Cumbrian countryside.
These had an added woe â the blades moved and also made a sinister noise.
âYou can hear them whirring and it is...wurrrgggh!â she shudders.
âI think the fact that they move is part of it, I feel queasy now just talking about it.â
She first realised the turbines had this effect on her when she and partner Bill Lightfoot drove past the Siddick wind farm near Workington.
âOh my God it was the pits!â she giggles.
âI just felt that I had to stop looking at them, I felt sick because they were moving and there was that whooshiness noise.â
As more turbines appear across the countryside, Kathleen, who lives near Wigton, needs to plan more detailed car journeys to avoid them.
She cannot drive to Cockermouth via Bothel any longer, without taking the âscenic routeâ which also has to avoid the TV aerials on Caldbeck Commons.
She insists that her wind turbine woes are not politically motivated.
âIâm actually indifferent to having the turbines here, Iâm not interested in the politics of them, I just canât go near them.â
âIt does not mean that Iâm scared all the time and canât go anywhere.
âI can do a high-pressured job. I just need rebooting!â