“Reinvention has been the key to my career success. Once in a while, I change direction. I adapt and grow. This has now become the key to my life as a person living with Parkinson’s and it is what enables me to survive with this devastating disease.”
-Dean G. Parsons. 2019.
“I had always intended to make writing my profession. It is, in fact, the main reason I wanted to leave my thirty-five years of life as a Londoner and move to a quiet, rural setting within close distance to the coast. The perfect setting for living life as a writer. In 2007 my partner, now husband, and I made the move from London to the beautiful county of Suffolk. We live in a centuries-old cottage, just a few minutes drive from the coast and we are living the dream.
I left school at age seventeen, having completed one full year of A-levels study but knowing that, for a number of reasons, I would not be choosing to go to university. Instead, I wanted to get to work and so I quickly landed myself a job in the accounts department of a water company, of all things. From here, I quickly learnt how to take on new responsibilities, achieve constant training and move myself ‘up the ladder’, so to speak. This gave me a solid foundation in the private sector and I was soon employed as supervisor and team manager in some of the UK’s leading blue-chip companies. It was in that environment that I developed a strong work-ethic and self-discipline.
When I tragically lost my father to cancer, I was just thirty years of age and his loss impacted upon me deeply. I was changed by it. Where before I might have put my dreams in the ‘one day’ category, suddenly I was galvanized into action. I wanted to achieve my dreams, for life suddenly seemed so very short.
Thanks to a local opportunity, I applied for work in the public and charity sectors and went from strength to strength working in supporting victims of hate crime, initially, to then working in a service that treated people for addictions. Before long, I was training as a Counsellor/Psychotherapist and I had moved from Outreach Worker to Support Worker and then to Team Leader and finally to Service Manager. I was running what was, at the time, the biggest drug and alcohol medical and therapeutic treatment service in London and it was incredibly successful. When I left, to move to Suffolk, I had relocated us to bigger premises, tripled the size of the workforce and doubled the funding secured to run the service. More importantly, we saved lives and changed lives and that was it; I was hooked into a life of helping people and communities.
To make the move to Suffolk, required me to find work in the county. Unbelievably, the job of a Commissioning Manager for drug and alcohol treatment, based in the Chief Executive’s Unit of Suffolk County Council, arose. I applied for it and I was successful. The doorway to our new life in Suffolk had opened. Until late 2009, I served as one of the Commissioning Managers and threw all of my knowledge of providing treatment services, into designing, tendering, commissioning and performance managing them for Suffolk County Council and I also helped a fellow team further develop Suffolk’s hate crime victim support services. Not without great challenges and stresses, I actually thoroughly enjoyed all of this work. I knew, however, that I wanted to return to being closer to treatment provision and so I took an opportunity to move to Suffolk NHS in 2011.
I became the Specialist Services Team Leader for NHS Suffolk. This role involved running two Nursing teams; the Shared Care Team and the Blood Borne Viruses Team, concurrently; delivering care, immunisation, detoxification, reduction programmes, counselling, blood testing (I trained in Phlebotomy), crisis intervention, trauma counselling and other services to clients with substance addictions; many of whom had co-morbidity and dual diagnosis. Many patients suffered with severe mental health problems and the debilitating effects of long-term trauma. Again, I loved this work but the role came to an end due to a tendering and restructuring process that, painfully, saw most high level skilled workers made redundant and their responsibilities passed down to less skilled and less qualified staff; an unethical pattern seen nationally due to increasing austerity cuts in the UK at that time.
I have become well known in Suffolk for my roles as Commissioner and as Specialist Services Team Leader. Concurrently, in 2008, I established my private Counselling and Psychotherapy practice in Suffolk.
One commission that I am particularly proud of was for a wonderful charity called Focus12, based then in Bury St. Edmunds. This was a residential rehabilitation centre for those with substance addictions and compulsive disorders. I was commissioned as Clinical Supervisor between 2008 – 2013. In this role, I consistently supported Focus12 to successfully achieve and pass routine audits by the Care Quality Commission. In 2012, I was awarded for my work as Clinical Supervisor for my supervision of Student Interns for the military US Air Force base at Lakenheath in Suffolk. This was a service in which we, again, saved lives and changed lives.
Since 2011, having left the NHS, I continued to work for myself and, in 2018, I celebrated ten years of delivering my services in Suffolk as a Counsellor, Psychotherapist and Clinical Supervisor. The work is incredibly humbling and fulfilling.
Throughout my life, since childhood, I have always written. I have been privileged to grow up watching my father work in the film and television industry and I always knew that I would eventually sit and write as my profession; inspired by the screenwriters and scriptwriters that I met back in my younger years of watching my father at work.
When I was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease in 2017, I realised that, in time, I would have to step away from working as a therapist, for the symptoms of my illness will one day prevent me from sitting comfortably with clients and will prevent me having clear enough speech to communicate with them well. So, reinvention was again required.
In 2017, just weeks after being diagnosed, I signed up to study for a Diploma in Creative Writing; which included fiction, non-fiction, journalistic writing, playwriting, writing for radio, poetry, life writing and even editing. I successfully achieved my qualification in January 2019. I had achieved my goal of equipping myself with the formal credentials to support my writing career.
As I write this, it is now August 2019. Since January, I have published three short-story e-books at Amazon and I have written and published one paperback; an autobiographical work that explores my life with Parkinson’s Disease and which uses poetry to describe and communicate much about that experience, along with a narrative that tells some of my story. This is also available through Amazon. Just visit my Amazon Author Page to find out more.
For now, I continue my therapy practice, though part-time, while alongside that I write and this online magazine has now become another significant writing success.”
(C) Dean G. Parsons. 2019.