I am not quite sure when I first encountered the ‘Black Dog’ but he has pretty much been on the premises for the last ten years. The crash as I like to call it came on 9th October 2009 when the pressures of a full-time job and caring finally took their toll. I remember waking at 3 am, not normal for the heavy sleeper that I always was back then. A trip to the GP surgery, anti-depressants and eventually counselling followed. On Christmas Eve 2010 my employment situation was finally resolved with a redundancy package and with the caring position fairly stable I began the process of coming off the tablets.
In the next five years my sister died aged forty, Daphne’s health worsened resulting in a move to full-time residential care and the senior officer at my old job gave me the run around after I suggested a return in a part-time role. Pretty hard to take from an organisation I gave my life to for more than twenty years. 2015 brought a return to the medication and when Daphne died in 2017 eventually some more counselling. With everything that had happened to me, the professionals had difficulty in identifying my condition so in the circumstances the focus became my recent bereavement.
It was only in the winter of 2018 when I accessed the Time To Talk service again that PTSD was mentioned and everything fell into place. The trauma caused by my work situation was still haunting me particularly through nightmares, whilst the pain of bereavement was easing. Bingo, this new diagnosis was uniquely liberating. On the downside, I waited months for the specialist counselling. The fact that someone has put the finger on what was causing my illness was strangely uplifting.
Looking back I view these ten years as a part of my life when I have learnt a lot about the inadequacies of the NHS and Adult Social Care system in this country. I found a new political philosophy Liberalism, have been as active as I can be in the Lib Dems, the highlights being a couple of unsuccessful runs for the council and attendance at Federal Conference. I have also made some great new friends along the way. The way ahead looks a bit clearer now I understand why I have been unwell for so long.
Thank you to everyone in the Liberal family that I have met along the way, you have really helped without even realising it.
* David is a member of Horsham and Crawley Liberal Democrats