21/08/12 5 Years

Five years ago my world kind of collapsed. I’d been dipping in and out of my mental health malady for a number of years but now things were getting progressively worse.

I was a senior social worker in a busy community care team in central Scotland. I was responsible for supervising 6 members of staff that included Social Workers, Occupational Therapists and, the unsung heroes of social work…community care workers…unqualified staff who provide an awful lot of the practical help by providing/ arranging the installation of simple aids and adaptations for people who need them at home.

I was trained as a practice teacher – which meant I was a workplace supervisor for students studying to be social workers – providing them with regular supervision and guidance to enable them to link up theory with social work practice.

I had an open door policy. I felt that this area was stressful enough for the workers on the coalface without them having to encounter a further barrier to their work…

I also worked with the more complex community care cases – people with mental health maladies, people with physical disabilities, learning disabilities, addictions…anyone over 15 years old who needed a social work service really.

I worked as the duty senior to a busy duty system – the first point of call for individuals requiring a service or for professionals who wanted to make a referral to the team – or who wanted advice –

I was involved in team development – in the implementation of new legislation/ new guidelines/ multidisciplinary procedures…and some other stuff…

I was, to be honest, pretty flat out…

Although it’s relevant, I won’t be mentioning my home life at the time…

A number of things happened that rattled my world…possibly contributing to a no way back…scenario? Road?

The wrong way up a one way street?
I discovered that an old client of mine with whom I’d had a connection, who I thought had gone to live a fulfilling life in the community had been killed – accidentally – by staff in the hospital where he’d been detained…

A friend and ex colleague of mine took her own life…

A student who I’d worked closely with died after a short illness…

Work, life, folk…it was all dissolving away.

I suddenly had a closed door policy, a sit in my car in the Co-op car park at lunchtime policy. A completely out of control/ not managing the most simple things policy.

The rest is history.

I hadn’t seen Jen, a colleague and a good friend, since then. She’d gone off to have her lovely girl, Tessa while I wandered away from work.

Seeing her after all that time was fabulous – she is the same vibrant, intelligent and funny person she was then.

I had some notion that she’d be able to tell me about the aftermath of my departure from social work – the chat amongst colleagues – the filtered down information from management.

I’d finally had a leaving do from work. I gave them a leaving card in which I’d hilariously written, “You’re never alone with multiple personality disorder!”

Seemingly they’d all been pretty clueless as to the reasons behind my departure.

Which, from a confidentiality angle, was right…but from a nosy bloke wanting the gossip on it all years later it was, I guess, a little disappointing.

I wanted something – I’m not terribly sure what – an observers perspective on my great collapse? I’m not sure really.

Jen has been great with boundless enthusiasm for the cause and top notch hospitality.

I rewarded her by going to the bathroom, slipping on a mat, breaking the toilet seat and pulling the toilet roll holder off the wall.

What could I do? I had to sue her – “Ever had an accident that’s entirely your fault that has led to no physical damage except an injured pride? Call..”
It was funny – and, if anyone is reading this thinking, “there’s no way I’d let that big galloot into my house if he’s going to start wrecking the place,” in my defence, I’ve only done that once in a year…

So five years had passed and it was like I’d never been away – we just picked up where we’d left off. But that’s life today…we ebb and flow in and out of folk’s lives.

I think I do a bit more ebbing and flowing than most though.

I guess I don’t really need to know the other stuff. It does feel good to have the distance of time between me and that anguished event.

Note to self….Maintain relationships and friendships and connections…
I want to say something profound or meaningful here – something that completes the circle…

I have something now that I didn’t have then. Optimism. A belief that, although there’ll be crazy ups and downs, everything will be fine.

And I have an Ella – someone who loves me for who I am – warts (and there are quite a few of those) and all…

That really helps.

I wonder where the next 5 years will bring.

Walk a mile

Chris

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