A Character To Enable

One of the people I began to support during my first week of shadowing was a real, correction, is a real character !

Before I go on, I’ll briefly explain the process. Each person who is referred to enablement is given 6 weeks support. (6 weeks is a ridiculously small amount of time to help and support someone turn their life around, and it’s a constant bone of contention) Every so often, an individual is granted a 6 week extension if they’re not fully engaging with support or their improvement would be compromised if support was withdrawn. In my opinion, support should never be stopped until the individual is in full remission mentally and fully independent. Sometimes, support should never be cut off ! What’s the point in supporting and enabling someone if we’re not going to see it through until the end, whatever the end may be ?

So, back to the ‘Character ‘. A colleague of mine has ‘Supported’ him for about 2 years! He’s a long term client, someone who has been deemed ‘Beyond’ everyday support and almost impossible to enable. The difference that makes him long term is this. There are no other services out there who are willing to offer him support. The general consensus is, the other services don’t know how to support them, so it’s handed over to us. (This is the overall opinion of my colleagues, who have far more experience than me)

The first time I met him was entertaining, confusing and pretty demoralising. We pressed his flat intercom (Which is no longer in existence because it was mysteriously ripped off the wall, and hasn’t been replaced) and waited for a reply. It crackled but we could make out intermittent words. If you remember the British comedian Norman Collier and his ‘it’s working, it’s not working microphone sketch’, you’ll know what I mean. We waited outside the building for a few minutes, waiting for some kind of coherent communication, when suddenly, the door opened. He came bouncing out to greet us, his arms flaying around, his eyes wider than a black hole. He looked at me in surprise and my colleague introduced me. He went to shake my hand but there was some sort of radioactive glue stuck to his fingers, so I offered a fist bump, which he accepted with a pretend explosion to decorate our greeting.

All three of us walked into the local town centre. Well actually, my colleague and I walked, but he bounced like an exaggerated moon walker, gliding on marshmallows. Every few seconds, he stopped to speak to a random passer-by and repeatedly said, “Have a nice weekend, lovely to see you, look after yourself, merry Christmas “. And during the times he wasn’t be pleasant to strangers, he stood by the side of the road extending the middle finger to passing cars, giving them his ‘I’m going to kill you ‘ stare!!!

In amongst all of this erratic behaviour, we tried to convince him to follow us into shops so we could support him to buy essentials. And, he never, ever stops thanking us for our support! When I say never ever, I mean to the point that you want him to stop. I hear it in my sleep!!!

He has a problem with drugs and alcohol, which plays a major part in his behaviour but he also has psychological problems, so it’s quite difficult to know which ‘Problem’ has the biggest influence over him. As I mentioned, we eventually persuade him to go into shops and encourage him to buy healthy produce. He’s emaciated. However He, he has been deemed to have ‘Capacity’ by psychiatrists, so if he wants to buy items that are not really healthy and nutritious, he just gets on with it.

His flat/Apartment looks like a bomb has exploded, smothered with street garbage has exploded all over it. We support him to clean it up as best we can, but often, he will stop us from throwing things away by saying “Don’t throw that please, I found that yesterday. I like it”. When he says “Found” he means he’s worked his way through a bin in the streets, and found something he may be able to sell or swap for money or drugs.

I discovered very quickly, that I really like this chap, I Don’t know why, I just do, he possesses real character born out of a life of mental illness and hardship.

There’s quite a lot to say about this character, who I will refer to as Mr XYZ, but I’ll leave that for another post.

Hope everyone’s well?

81 thoughts on “A Character To Enable

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  2. I worked in mental health many years ago in Scotland. In my opinion, there are some clients who need support for the rest of their lives. Most of my clients had schizophrenia or bipolar but drugs/alcohol were often mixed in. I could hardly blame them as even the medication can make patients feel yucky. I admire your work.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Mr XYZ sounds like a truly delightful character! I am sure he never stops entertaining, erratic or not! The fact that you like him is a hopeful sign! You may not be able to help him in some ways, but you WILL make a positive difference πŸ˜‰
    I’m well, thank you for asking! How are YOU doing? x

    Liked by 4 people

  4. It sounds like your social systems can be as frustrating as ours. I know there’s a lot of people on the planet, but assigning a time limit……? You’ve probably never seen the movie Brazil from the ’80s. Situations like these always make me think of that movie and all the bureaucracy and red tape and creation of a Catch 22 world.
    But I’m interested to hear more about this man.
    I haven’t even met him, but I like him too. I like that he was so pleasant to everyone but then flipped the cars off later, lol

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yea, I don’t think the social services around the change the way they work, or don’t work ! It’s almost archaic. Makes no sense but exists to tick a box. And yes, he’s definitely a one-off. I personally believe he’s taking the piss out of the same system that pretends to help. He’s very intelligent.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post John! You know in the old days, before Enoch Powell closed them down, this larger-than-life character would have been an inmate in one of those huge Victorian psychiatric hospitals, with their miles of corridors! There are no asylums, I don’t think, any more, unless you go private… but then they’re not even called asylums! You’re doing a great job, anyhow! You’re a social worker, John!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good morning Peter 😁
      Of course you’re right. His home would probably have been a rubber room !!
      I believe there are asylums but they Don’t call them that anymore. They give them pretty names, like Hartington, which is not too far from where I live in the Peak District. However, these poor people aren’t really given any dignity!
      I’m not a social worker mate, but I do the same work, just under a different title. It means they don’t have to pay us the correct wage.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good afternoon John!
        Yes, the real social workers, the hands on people, are paid less… which is yet another example of the UK class system in operation!
        I once worked in a big south London psychiatric hospital, Cane Hill, that was a thriving virtually self-sufficient community run by people from all over the world, multiculture before that term became a political cliche. And then along came Enoch! http://www.simoncornwell.com/urbex/projects/ch/index.htm The rest is history!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Absolutely right Peter and that is fascinating mate. As far as memory serves, Cane Hill is infamous by reputation? I bet you could tell a few stories, good and not so good about working there Peter.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Met some great and/or interesting people, aside from the inmates… West Indians, Mauritians, Italians, Irish, even some English, and a host of other nationalities… it was a great eye-opener for a young 18 year old man… but that was long ago, another lifetime, John!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I agree. Only sorry I never kept in touch. Especially the lads from Mauritius. We had some great laughs! It creases me up now just to think of them! I used to draw portraits. I did a great one of some Nigerian staff nurse but he was so unnerved by how I had caught his likeness that he tore it up into little pieces and threw it in a waste paper basket… Looking forward to the next instalment of your story! Night night!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ll start by saying you are doing a great job and to thank you for following CarolCooks2…Mr XYZ is lucky that you found him and like him…helping him will probably only be on his terms and if he wants to on that day…Some people we cannot and shouldn’t put in the designated boxes as society deems to be correct…I often wonder what was and when the switch flicked or whether such minds possess higher intelligence than me/ us…I know drugs and alcohol also play a part… during my working life I encountered many like Mr XYZ unfortunately hardly any are “helped” but many don’t make old bones and the ones that do…I have yet to work that out maybe they are more at peace with themselves than we are..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know what Carol. I often wonder the same thing! Are people who have a completely different perspective on life (Against the norm) far more insightful than the rest of us who are viewed as ‘Normal’?
      Perhaps we’ll never know.
      It’s a pleasure to follow your blog πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Good morning Meg 😁
      I’m here to say hi right back 😊
      I’m good thanks 😊 How are you my love ?
      I have my grandson with me this weekend so I’m very happy 😊 I’m going to take him to the cinema later this evening. McDonalds after.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah… how was the cinema? Sounds absolutely perfect! ❀
        I'm glad that all is well with you πŸ™‚
        I'm doing okay, thanks! Keep on keeping on, right? πŸ˜‰
        Here's hoping you have an amazing week ❀

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Good morning afternoon Meg 😊
        Cinema was good πŸ‘ Popcorn throwing and soft drinks galore πŸ˜‹
        Isn’t keep on keeping on a song 🀣
        Thanks love and hope you have a fantastic week ❀

        Liked by 1 person

      3. ❀
        I don't remember when last I went to the movies, ha ha! And, just for the record, I have never thrown popcorn!
        Yeah, I agree with what you're thinking : this woman has never lived πŸ˜›

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I’m sure you have lived a life worth living Meg. However, you have to do the popcorn thing 🀣 it’s lots of fun. If you manage to try it out, try and sit about 6 seats away from whoever you’re with and catch the flying popcorn in your mouth 🀣 it’s brill

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Don’t let yourself get burnt out. What you are doing is enormously hard and drains your emotions. Hopefully there is a rule of Karma and the good you are doing will come back to you many times over.

    Liked by 1 person

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