I’ve highlighted before that stress is not my friend. Equally, tiredness is my enemy, lack of exercise is my Achilles Heel and confined spaces where I am squeezed up against others can trigger an OCD event!

All things I am faced with whilst trying to get to work and back during the Southern Rail and Trade Union battle over whatever it actually is they are prolonging everyone’s misery for!

I’m not going to talk about the reasons for the strike and stand-off, but how the situation it has created for hundreds and thousands of people can actually impact on ones mental health.

Anxiety disorders can be triggered by stress, exhaustion, poor physical health and a series of illness related triggers.

So how does this relate to the rail strike?

You can see and hear the stress people are under every day as they struggle to get to work and then home to their loved ones, as trains are delayed, cancelled or so crowded people just can’t get on. Arguments are common, the language is extremely colourful and even the most patient become prickly under the circumstances. It’s not a pleasant experience.

You can see how tired people are as they attempt to beat the mayhem by leaving earlier in the morning, or have to start out a silly o’clock to travel to a different station to catch a train by another operator. My journey starts at 05.00 on driver strike days!

You know people are missing their early morning or evening exercise because of the skeleton, flaky or non-existent service. I used to run at least three 10K’s Monday to Friday before setting off for work, however, this week it will be none.

And specific to my OCD, and I expect many other’s as well, when I am squashed up against multiple people, my brain attacks me with thoughts like; “what if someone thinks that’s my hand not my laptop case unfortunately pressing up against them, and they then cry foul”?, or, “what if the doors fly open under pressure and I get blamed for it for some far reaching, and irrational reason”? I’m blessed that I can now control these thoughts and situations but 10 years ago I would have gone into intense panic!

I’m having to use everything I have learned to control my condition at present, and touch wood I am still on top. There will be thousands of others doing the same to various levels of success and some who are experiencing difficulties for the first time because of the circumstances they have unnecessarily been put under! No-one wants any form of illness, and believe me when I say this, no-one with mental health experience wants to be put into a situation with so many triggers and contributory factors just as a consequence of trying to get to work to make a living!

The Southern and Union conflict doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon, even though there is continual and elevating reporting of the personal impact and cost. So perhaps by adding examples of the impact this strike and others that are disruptive to the public are having on people’s mental health, it might add further pressure on the powers that be to double their efforts and bring this dispute to a close for everyone’s sake, safety and health!

A personal request if I may to the seniors at Southern, RMT and ASLEF. Enough is enough, this has gone on way too long and as well as the visible human impact and cost this is creating, it will be fuelling and triggering the most awful and harrowing hidden challenges for many many people. There must be a solution, please look harder for it please. Thank you.