Trauma and Hidden Disability - Disability History Month

2020-11-29 -
Array, ASLEF
Ian Starling is wearing a blue shirt and looking at the camera. The background is blurry.

UK Disability History Month runs from 18th November to 18th December 2020. ASLEF is marking the month with a series of blogs from members of our Disabled members forum, sharing their experiences of disability in the workplace.


Disabled members forum District 5 representative Ian Starling writes about post-traumatic stress.

In my role as a train driver, I've currently had two instances of human fatalities in fifteen years of driving. I had suffered in silence with my first, unknowingly.

When I had my second and due to government changes, I was asked by my union reps to fill out a form to do with disability benefit, purely in case of any suffering that may arise in future. I filled it out and ended up being sent to a means test, where I was eventually classified as 25% disabled, due to the mental traumas that have occurred to me. 

It took me a long time to understand what being classified as disabled really meant and to recognise what my disability actually was. I had been to therapy for the traumas I suffered, but I still just carried on as normal.

I'm very lucky as my disability doesn't truly affect me in the work place. This is because work gives me a mental focus which distracts my mind from the mental traumas. For me the real problem is dealing with it at home, where my mental focus is less disciplined and more relaxed. 

Our home life though, ultimately has an effect on our work life and vice versa. So what I would say is, to not be afraid to ask for help, from anyone, but especially from our union's disability representatives.

Disability shows itself in many intriguing and strange ways, some which we'll never notice or acknowledge if we do notice it.

From myself, you will be treated with utmost respect, understanding and confidence, from someone who knows how it feels to be in that position.


This is part of a series of blog posts marking Disability History Month, written by members of ASLEF's Disabled Members Forum.