A Light Shadow Around A Celestial Body That Multiples To A Detrimental Effect

A big title for a pain in the arse that goes by the vampiric name of Coronavirus! I have it.

I haven’t been feeling at my best since Wednesday of last week. Aches, pains, cough etc etc etc. I thought I was getting the seasonal flu I always get. Well, now I know what thought did. It thought it had farted but it shit itself!!!

Taste and smell are a thing of the past. However, and I’m not sure if this is good or bad. I have at least the next 7 days off work! I get to spend time alone with the wife! Oh god !! She, Angie, also has it but it hasn’t effected her ‘Talent’ for talking incessantly. Now, where are my earplugs?!?!?!

Today’s Melancholic Visit and the Proceeding Toilet Dilemma During Work Hours

Today has been odd, Sad, awkward and I guess, a little bit funny!!

This morning, about 9am, I left the house to visit a client about 20 miles away. When I arrived, my client opened his door a tiny bit, just enough to see who it was, then ushered me in and locked the door behind me. Being locked in a house with a client is against policy rules, but it was pointless trying to explain that to him because of his lack of English and his mental health issues.

At this point, it’s important to tell you that he keeps a diary. He can’t spell properly, has a very loose grasp of the written language, has been mentally traumatised and is very childish. However, he tries to write down his thoughts and feelings in his diary. We usually go for a walk into the local community when I visit, which is enabling him to become accustomed to social exposure. This morning, he had no intention of leaving his house! He didn’t say a word to me, he just waved his hand for me to sit down, and then he sat down, staring at the floor, no movement or verbal communication whatsoever.

Whatever I spoke to him, he merely nodded his head or shook it from side to side. I asked to look in his diary because that is where I write down the times of my visits and where other people who help him communicate their activities with my client. He nodded permission so I picked it up and read it, looking for a clue to his behaviour.

In it, he had written that his nightmares had woken him up (As they always do)

The background information is briefly this. He comes from a middle Eastern country and has witnessed death and torture, which he had been subjected to. His family and friends have been slaughtered. When he arrived in England, his mental health was teetering on insanity. However, as time passed, his general sanity improved but he now suffers from amnesia. He can’t remember anything from his past but relives the traumas of his previous life in frequent recurring nightmares.

In his diary, I worked out that his most recent nightmare had involved watching people die and he was screaming. He also wrote he doesn’t understand it but he wants to remember. I looked at my client, and he was crying. I offered to leave him with his own thoughts, in peace, but he said, in broken English, please, sit with me. So I did, I sat with him for a nearly an hour in silence. Eventually, the time for me to go and I stood up. He stood up at the same time and walked to the door in front of me and unlocked it. I put my hand on his shoulder and told him that one day, things will be better for him. He thanked me and closed the door quickly.

After contacting his most trusted support worker and his social worker to inform them of his fragile mental state, I drove home crying for him.

Anyway, I drove home with the windows down and arrived home in a better state and logged into the system to record my visit. Then the sudden onset of rumbling bowels grabbed my attention! I ran into the downstairs toilet with my phone, and went through the motions whilst playing a game on my phone. When I had finished, I looked to where the toilet paper usually waits for me. It wasn’t there !! What was I supposed to do?!?!

We have two toilets in the house, upstairs and downstairs. I was still marooned in the downstairs toilet with the new batch of toilet paper undoubtedly sat mocking me from upstairs! Luckily, the downstairs toilet also has a shower just to the right, about 4 steps!! So, there was nothing else I could do but stretch to move the shower curtain and move as quickly as I could in a crouched position from toilet seat to edge of the shower. I managed that and managed to turn the shower on. But, or should I say ‘Butt’, reaching up for the shower head was a struggle! I managed it, all the time balancing in a crouched position with my jeans around my ankles. I tried to manoeuvre the shower head into position but it slipped and sprayed the whole of my back, arse and legs! Cursing and completely soaked, I cleaned said bottom hole and stood up dripping wet!! It was then that I realised the hand towel was NOT going to dry the whole of me, so I ran upstairs, wedding tackle swaying in the wind, jeans half way down my legs to find a bath towel!!!

Moral of this story is, remember to make sure both toilets have toilet paper in position before opening the bowels!!

Enabling Continued: Who Decides What’s Normal!?

So, the continuation of the life of Mr XYZ. As I alluded to in the last post, he’s an unusual character and instantly likable. However, when I actually take the time to think about him and his outrageous behaviours, I wonder why I like him so much! Should I question my sanity or judgement of people? Then again, who am I to have an opinion on what’s considered ‘Normal’ in today’s society. Maybe he’s sane and Normal, and I’m so mentally weak, that I accept the opinions and pressures of other people !!! Who knows?!?! Anyway, back to XYZ, he’s far more interesting.

Through unwise decisions, fuelled by alcohol and a cocktail of drugs, he managed to get himself arrested and locked up for a weekend in the middle of summer. It wasn’t the first time he’s been arrested for anti social behaviour but this one was especially interesting and annoying and infuriating and self destroying! According to the police report we recieved, he had made his way over to a nearby town, offered to fight anyone and everyone who came within his crazy parameters, and oddly, actually greeted other passers-by with ‘Good evening’ and ‘Have a lovely weekend ‘. Mixed in with this bizarre behaviour, he casually walked alongside a selection of vehicles and scratched them with a key. He was witnessed doing this by 2 policemen who were approaching him. Apparently, when they caught up with him he categorically denied any wrong doing, stating, in a calm, childlike voice “It wasn’t me, I Don’t know why I did it”! So denial and admittance in the same sentence! Like I say, very bizarre! There was also a selection of wheelie bins overturned in his wake, rubbish scattered all over the street.

When they escorted him to the police cells, he was by all accounts very polite and friendly, the model prisoner, saying ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ when the boys in blue offered him food, drinks and a cigarette. Throughout the time he spent there, which was 6 hours, he joked with everyone who spoke to him. For the rest of the weekend, the police took him to a secure facility, where a psychiatrist evaluated him, and came to the conclusion that he is completely sane. His bizarre behaviour was a result of recreational drugs, one of which was discovered to be class A.

We visited his flat on the following Monday morning, knocked on his door and the door eased open. We pushed the door open and called his name several times. He emerged from his bedroom and hit his toes on the bottom of the door. Despite that, he hopped his way over to us and greeted us, thanking us for visiting him. He was fully clothed but half asleep so we offered to help him tidy up a little bit before taking him into town to support him to buy food and whatever else he needed.

And so his colorful life carried on until his very recent court appearance, where he was found guilty for offences already mentioned and other offences that he has committed after being held in custody.

He more or less got away with it after another psychological evaluation found him to be lacking capacity to be held responsible for his actions! However, he is being evicted from his flat anytime soon. We have very little idea what is going to happen to him regarding where he is going to live or what effect the eviction is going to have on him psychologically. The social worker and our team are fighting for him at the moment. From my personal point of view, I won’t give up on him. His life has been a series of people giving up on him. Not on my watch.

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?

Enabling

As I understand it, (And I understand things in very basic ways) to enable someone is to give a person the best chance of becoming more able to help themselves. In a nutshell, it should be liberating. It should help and support a person to find the strength to get up off the floor and walk in the direction that gives them the best chance of freedom, both physically and mentally.

My first day on the job was like no other first day I’ve ever encountered (And I’ve had lots of first days) I woke up early, excited and a little nervous. My new manager contacted me to inform me I could pick up my work laptop and phone from the offices at 11am. She arranged to meet me outside the offices (We were not allowed to go inside because of the dreaded covid: We’re still not Allowed in the office!)

I arrived on time and approached the entrance to the office, and waited, and waited, and waited. I tried opening the door but it was locked. The boss was 30 minutes late, and couldn’t apologise enough. She seemed really nice, in fact she is a lovely lady. She used the intercom to ask someone to bring said items down to us. (I hadn’t noticed the intercom!!) A really friendly looking chap came out to us waring his mask and gloves, and handed them to me and welcomed me to the team, obviously smiling because the little crows feet around his eyes were prominent and he was squinting like Lee Van Cleff. Boss lady briefly explained the procedure I should go through when I arrived back home concerning the set up of my equipment. After a lengthy, formal, informal and lighthearted chat, I casually turned on my heel, and headed towards my car, fully intending to drive home, only to be halted in my tracks with the words “Do you want to come on a visit with me? It’ll be a good experience for you and give you an idea of what to expect “. What could I say, I couldn’t refuse! Boss lady instructed me to follow her in my car (We’re not Allowed to car share, covid policy. We’re still not allowed to car share!) So off we went, boss lady leading, taking corners like a F1 driver, and I’m trying to keep up, acutely aware of the fact that we were breaking speed limits and my work laptop was possibly taking a battering in the boot!!

I eventually followed her into a cul-de-sac and parked up alongside her bat mobile. I was quietly informed by my boss that the new referral was a working prostitute, who was also a drug addict, was in loads of debt, was a victim of abuse and wanted to turn her life around, but didn’t know where to begin. Whilst I stood there, mouth agape, trying to process what she’d just whispered to me, Boss led the way to a door and knocked as if the resident was profoundly deaf. Whilst we waited for the door to stop trembling, she told me that it was the initial visit so she/we didn’t know what to expect.

The following account brings to mind a quote from Nietzsche. “If you stare into the abyss long enough, the abyss stares into you”.

The door opened and a woman of about 25 asked us to come in. She looked forlorn (I discovered later that she is 26) She led us into her living room, stumbling over random pieces of clothing and empty fast food containers. When I walked through her living room door, I was greeted with the sight of a floor to ceiling chrome pole. It happened to be the pole she slid up and down to entertain her clients before the real action started ! I must admit, I missed some of what the boss was saying to her because I was transfixed with the state of the pole. It appeared to have ‘Stuff’ stuck to it. I think some of it was congealed food, but I could be wrong. An inappropriate thought went through my mind. ‘Why doesn’t she polish it’?!!!

The young woman spoke openly about the way she makes money, even though we didn’t ask her and had no interest in pole dancing. It transpired that she is the mother of 5 children, all of whom have been taken into care. I listened to her talking and felt a deep sense of sorrow for her. Her family had “Washed their hands of her”. In more ways than one, she was alone. Her family are gypsies and before they turned their back on her, they shamed her in front of other gypsy families and friends. She told us she was glad that her children were being brought up by families who would look after them without abusing them. I could see the sadness in her eyes. In reality, she didn’t know where her children were living.

Boss lady asked her if she would like to go for a walk. ( I think the intention was to get away from the squalor) We walked for a while and the boss explained to her what we could do to support her to make positive changes to her life and then we went to a shop, where we bought her some food, tea, coffee, milk and sugar. On the way back to her house, she started to sing, and she sang beautifully. She told us that she had been a member of a church choir, but didn’t go anymore. After a brief chat outside of her house, we followed her inside and helped her to tidy her living room and kitchen. Boss lady advised her when she should expect a first visit from a member of the team and we left her to make herself something to eat. I felt like we were abandoning her, but knew that help and support was not far behind.

That was the last time I saw this young woman. She was allocated to a colleague with much more experience than little virgin me. However, a few weeks later, we had a group meeting to discuss the clients we are supporting. The young woman’s name was mentioned during the meeting. She had been on a well known website to drum up some illicit work. A car with 3 men had pulled up outside her house and she was subjected to a violent assault. As a consequence of that, she had taken an overdose and taken to hospital. She recovered physically but psychologically, she was in hell !! The latest report is that she is living in relative safety in shared accommodation, policed by carefully vetted security personnel.

Enablement didn’t or couldn’t do much for her, but at least she’s safe now, and hopefully getting better.

That was my first day on the job. Thankfully, the rest of my time has been less harrowing, but nevertheless, still extremely challenging. I’ll leave that for another time.

Enabling The vulnerable

It’s been a while. It actually feels like its been forever.

The job I started way back in late February of this year, has not only taken up most of my time, it’s also effected how I look at and see people, and I mean REALLY SEE people.

I took this job because I thought I could help those who truly need help, stupidly or naively believing I could perhaps make a difference, however small the difference.

It’s kind of strange, a foolish kluge, a conundrum that makes my attempts to sleep at night a real struggle. Yet, it’s the most fruitless and rewarding job I’ve ever undertaken throughout my working life. It’s a brilliant, cruel nightmare that never stops spewing out rewards and failures and triumphs at the exact same moment. And I love it.

The team I work with are very experienced and a little bit cynical, but brilliant at what they do and always give it one hundred percent.

This is just a very brief post before I try to make some time to actually write again, which is what I love to do.

By the way, my job title is Enablement Worker, supposedly employed by the local council to enable those who need to find the motivation to restart their lifes. The experiences I’ve had so far have altered how I see life and view other people.

Some of us really are very fortunate and I’ll begin to write about the people I support and help when I find the time and motivation. I hope everyone is safe, well and happy.

From Out Of Tragedy Came Honest Comedy

I haven’t been able or felt the need to write anything on here for quite a long time for a number of reasons. My ‘New’ job has taken over most of my time (Even when I’m not working, I’m thinking about it and how I can do it better) Also, I’ve been under the weather for quite a while and I just haven’t ‘Felt it’ if you know what I mean! There’s more important things to life than writing!

My family and friends have been directly and indirectly affected by covid and lost loved ones to this bloody virus. One very close friend was hit by a car in a hit and run and died. She was on her way back home to her husband after working a shift in a nursing home. Anne never made it home. It knocked everyone for six. Still can’t believe it! Still can’t believe she’s gone! I’m not religious, but if there is a God, Why !!!

So, you can see it’s been difficult, but I guess no more difficult than it has been for thousands of others.

However, funny incidents can come from tragedy.

A friend of the family lost his mum during lockdown, she died of ‘Natural causes ‘. She was cremated, as was her wish. What with the rules surrounding funerals, not many people were allowed to pay their respects. Her ashes were taken home, and sat on the fireplace, taking pride of place, i guess, giving her son and our friend Dave a sense of comfort and closeness.

The weeks went by and Dave asked his wife Christine, if she would go with her sister-in-law to the cemetery and scatter his mother’s ashes over his father’s grave. (Dave is very unstable on his legs and has to move around on an electric scooter. He also suffers from chronic lung disease, which has made him suceptible to covid and afraid to leave his house)

Of course, Christine said yes and a few days later, walked to the cemetery with Jackie, her sister-in-law, the urn safely tucked away in Christine’s coat pocket, wrapped in a silk scarf, Jackie carrying a large bunch of flowers.

At the graveside, Christine thought it would be a loving gesture to dig a small hole at the head of the grave to place the whole urn into, so they could be together in their entirety. They did exactly that, placing the soil over it and patting it so it was compact and safe.

When they stood up, Jackie mentioned that she was worried they had just broken the law, saying she was sure they needed permission to bury the urn with the name and date still on it because it would be classed as a burial!! Christine went into panic mode and dug the urn back up, again replacing the soil. Then she opened the top of the urn and started to sprinkle the ashes over the top of the grave. The wind changed direction and blew the lady’s remains in different directions. Christine explained this to me, whilst trying to look sombre but every few seconds a mad giggle escaped, along with a high pitched laugh. She said when she looked over her shoulder, Jackie was moving her head in jerky movements, one of her eyes closed. Some of the ashes had blown directly into her face and mouth, and her hair had changed colour, from a dark brown to ash grey. She explained she felt ashamed but they both started laughing hysterically.

Christine admitted that Dave’s mum would have seen the funny side.

So you see, even in moments of tragedy, it’s possible to smile.

Anyway, I thought I’d share this with you. By the way, Dave will never know.