I am aware that, whilst I have written about earlier episodes of PTSD etc I have not really written much about my big illness in (mainly) 2010.
I was signed off work in February 2010 but that was not really the beginning of the illness. It had been building for some time.
I had been getting along with my life in a fairly unremarkable way in the previous few years. At work I was involved in 2005 in the July 7th and 21st London bombings. Of course these could have been a major trigger for me but they did not seem to be. I do not recall feeling anything more than a normal reaction to what were quite distressing and unpleasant events.
Then in the late summer of 2009 my mood suddenly dropped quite dramatically. I had some intrusive PTSD symptoms but had ignored these and put them to the back of my mind. Looking back, I think the depression started as an unconscious reaction to knowing the PTSD was coming back. My mood dropped rapidly through late July and August. My memory is slightly hazy but I do remember feeling sad, confused, empty and hopeless. I also remember that my self esteem plummeted. I did my best to ignore it and put it down to a phase that would pass; despite the fact that I did not recognise what was causing it. I know now that I should have looked for help at this point and things may never have got so bad.
I remember one landmark at the end of August. I had to go to a different station in South East London for a night at work and I remember kind of falling apart as I was driving around the South Circular. I started crying and just could not stop. I had to stop the car and wait for it to pass which took some time. That night and the following day I felt absolutely wretched. From then on I experienced some more PTSD symptoms intermittently and my mood carried on its downward slope. Again, looking back, it seems really silly that I did not seek help.
My mother died that October after a long illness with cancer. It was expected but still very sad of course. But it allowed me to ignore the building depression and just put it down to a reaction to my mum’s death. The following month I went for rehab on my continuing back problem. I thought I was doing ok but I had some major low points during the last couple of days. Panic attacks, uncontrollable sobbing etc.
And so it went on for the next few months. My mood continuing on its downward path, my self esteem reaching an all time low (believe me that is very low!). I was going to work but I was merely functioning and the effort of hiding how I felt was exhausting in itself. Again, with hindsight I think I was actually becoming dangerous. My sleep, which had not been good since 1992, was very poor indeed. I would often have to go and hide because I would start crying for no apparent reason. And still I continued to deny to myself that there was a real problem.
This is the first part of that particular episode. I will write another time about February 2010 onwards.