mental health

Christmas obligations by 3.1


Not everyone enjoys Christmas. I certainly don't (I tend to tolerate  it), and being an anxious post-PTSD assortment of behaviours, I feel that suffering from PTSD in the run-up to Christmas has made the hypocrisy of the season shout out at me in a much louder voice than usual.

I always save up my energy at Christmas time to make time for my close friends and loved ones (and I make a point of categorically stating that none of whom are family - and that's OK for me). The worst thing about the last couple of weeks however  has been the looming sense of obligation to strangers and those that do not know me as well as my nearest and dearest (e.g. family); you are expected to feel merry and bright, even though you are in no way religious, even though family gatherings induce anxiety, and even though your Christmas party with work colleagues turns out to be a complete festive nightmare laced with harassment and being touched inappropriately.

Let's spare a thought for the 19-year-old man that decided to take his own life last week by jumping in front of a train. I'm sure his friends, his family, the Metropolitan line driver involved, will all enjoy being told to have a Merry Christmas.

For every Merry Christmas and associated post that I see on Facebook, I don't hit "Like" or "Share". I don't even comment. So I don't see why I am not allowed to express an anti-Christmas view without it being implied that I am being miserable, or to have someone making light of that misery. What a hypocrisy Christmas really is. 

I respect that for a lot of you, Christmas is a happy time, so of course, please enjoy it. Just remember that not everyone does and not everyone will. It seems however that awareness for the mental health of others falls by the wayside at Christmas to make way for cracker joke retorts and Scrooge comments.

This year, consider supporting:

  • Mind
  • Samaritans
  • The Maytree

Restrain yourself from making pithy, unwanted remarks; use that energy to help and support those organisations I've mentioned. It's quite possibly the best gift you could give someone this year.

Seven Minutes by 3.1

Ever since the one under, I’ve never felt so tired, and now that I have all this time off to recover, it doesn't matter how much sleep I get, but I wake up feeling groggy and like I’ve not slept at all. Everybody is telling me that this is all completely normal. Tomorrow morning, I have my first round of counselling, so naturally I’m churning through everything in my brain like a well-played VHS, because I want to be able to say what happened from start to finish all in one hit and then go from there, because I’m guessing that when I sit down the counsellor is going to say something clichéd like, “Tell me what happened,” or, “Start from the beginning,” so I basically just want to go into auto-pilot...

[Sit comfortably in chair. Take a deep breath – say it all in one breath.]

“On Wednesday 5th October 2016, a woman jumped in front of my train at Wembley Park. The train comes to a stop approximately halfway down the platform. The time is 15:07 – I had been on duty for all of 18 minutes and I had been on the train for all of 7 minutes.”


Seven whole fucking minutes. For fuck’s sake, I mean really – I sat down last night and said to myself that if I tell it that way, they’re going to think I’m being evasive or not wanting to open up or explore emotions, when really I want to put my first through a wall because I’m so angry. So last night, I sat down on the sofa after S had gone to bed and decided that I was going to write a report about what happened. I wrote this report in one sitting to the tune of around 17,000 words, finishing at around 2am this morning. It has every single possible detail that I can remember, from the sound of my keys jingling in my pocket, to the haunting look a bus driver gave me when he was walking up the stairs at Wembley Park during the emergency detrainment, along with conversations that I had to have and things that had been said whilst I was in the room.

I was thinking about whether or not to change everyone's names and publish my report here, but I figured that most people don't really want to hear about how a British Transport Police officer had to drag me into the Waiting Room on the platform because I was in such a state of distress, never mind the other things. It's just over 17,000 words of fine detail about a 45-minute period of time that cannot and will not change, no matter how or where I write it. Funnily enough, the Trainman’s Report that I emailed to my manager the morning after the incident was only 457 words long – one side of A4 – and that’s a relatively short report from me. He didn’t ask me for one, but I insisted that I send him one anyway (in fact, I was quite insistent, and I said, “I may as well – because when I got home I thought you might ask for a memo anyway, and so I wrote it all down when I got home whilst it was still fresh in my mind.”). When my close friends have asked me to tell them what happened, I generally offer the Trainman’s Report version, as 457 words means that it is a version offered without embellishment, any real detail or emotion; because you see, when I tell the story that way, I don’t really feel anything, but it seems to generate more of a shock-horror reaction from them if I offer them that version than if I were to offer them the 17,000 words.

Anyway, I’m keeping myself open-minded about the whole counselling thing, but I find I'm having to remind myself that the person I will be speaking to will not have all the answers, especially to questions like:

  1. What was The Lady’s name?
  2. How old was The Lady?
  3. Where is The Lady from?
  4. Does The Lady have any family?
  5. Why did she hesitate?

And the big question (that comes in two parts):

Was The Lady’s actions a result of:

a. long-term mental health issues?
b. short-term/recent circumstances?

What a head-fuck. I mean, really. Why would I want to know these things? Well, it’s strange you ask me that, because for whatever reason, I feel that I can't move on without knowing more. Because my Trainman’s Report version of events feels so unfinished – it’s like I need an epilogue that says something along the lines of:

The person involved in the incident was called Mary Maybe, a retired teacher from Surrey. She is 54. She has no children. THE END.

It feels better having that little bit at the end. I don’t like that I don’t know her name. I don’t like that I don’t know anything about her. The Lady has involved me in her decision to take action, knowing full well that when she made eye contact with me at that precise moment in time I was the driver of the train, yet I don’t know a single thing about her. It doesn’t make any sense to me.

After I had written my 17,000-word report last night, I went to bed. I dreamed for the first time in ages. This is a big thing for me, because ever since the incident, I have not been able to have any dreams, and I always find that I wake up feeling very rested after having a dream because my dreams are always so vivid – I used to dream almost every day, so it felt good to wake up this morning, even though I had only been asleep for around 6 hours. I normally remember most of my dreams, and though I can't remember the one I had this morning, it doesn't really matter.

Lots of people have reached out to me since that day. I wrote a letter to say thank you to everyone, even though I haven't been able to respond to every single message. It has been really helpful to hear from members of the #RailwayFamily who have had similar incidents before, because it has helped me put some of the feelings and thoughts into context, as well as the behavioural and cognitive disturbances (because at the moment, I don’t actually realise that I’m getting aggressive or frustrated with someone or something – it comes on quite quickly, and my GP says it's just as a result of being irritable/tired, and a typical post-traumatic response).

As I said in my letter:

Everyone is telling me to take my time, but it’s really hard when time doesn’t feel consistent.

That still rings true, but perhaps tomorrow I can start putting some of the clocks right.