I like trains.
If you’re reading this, you probably aren’t surprised to know that half of the books on my wish list are transport themed.
I also care passionately about mental health.
Again, you probably know this – you’ve seen my sharing my own and others mental health experiences.
So, let’s be honest, it was only a matter of time long before I combined the two in a blog post.
Six months ago, I started a new job. My life – represented, of course, by a train – came off the mainline. I thought I was going onto another high speed line, but alas, there was an error in signalling and I ended up on a branch line.
Three months ago, things started to get rocky. The line was bendy, going up and down hills. I thought I was on the right track, but I was in unfamiliar territory. It became a little narrow gauge railway (like the Talyllyn railway in North Wales, a visit to which is on my bucket list. But these brackets add nothing to this blog beyond giving my wife a subtle hint). The train puffed and panted up the hills, and regularly just had to stop to refresh. Sometimes it overheated. It’s connection to other carriages weakened.
Two months ago, I quit my job. Things were hard, and I knew I needed to look after myself. I shut off steam to the boilers and started coasting to the final station. The pressure slowly began to lift.
Today, I reach the terminus. It is a small dead end, with poor bus links (even if though it is a relief to have arrived).
Tomorrow – well, I’m still at the end of a small, narrow gauge line. I’m not “fixed”. There isn’t yet a train for the return journey.
I’m not ready to go back onto the mainline yet – it’s taken me six months to get here, and it might take me just as long to get back again. There will be ups and downs. Heck, I might get lost again. I’m sure there will be days when I think I’ve reached the end of this leg of the journey before seeing the line curves back down into another lonely valley. Perhaps I’ll find a shortcut. Maybe the line is downhill all the way and I’ll be back to where I started before I know it.
But I know that somewhere in the distance is a main line, with a happy Antony train driver (or am I the fat controller in this metaphor?) ready to go back to smiling and being a rock and enjoying life. It isn’t a journey I want to repeat, but I also know other engines who have been on tougher journeys and I know I’m lucky to have a great maintenance team around me.
One day in the future I’m sure the signals will change again, and I’ll slowly chuff my way back to the hilly narrow gauge railway. But I know the route now, and I’ll know to try and stop earlier. Maybe I’ll be able to turn around before I get to far. But this little, desperate station will always be here, and I’ll always know that there is a chance I’ll end up here again.