I have finally started my new job, and at the end of my first Monday, my feelings are… overwhelming good, tinged with a strange bittersweet desire to look to the past.
I’m so bloody lucky that the position opened up, in a role which I’d already volunteered at for six months, and therefore had an understanding of. Moreover, with my history, the role of support worker is close to my heart. But I have been very meditative over the last few days, and consequently this article is a tad sprawling, and somewhat unstructured.. but I’ll leave it that way, it seems right somehow.
A potential client asked me today, “what are the benefits of having a support worker from your organisation; I don’t really see what I’d get out of it.” I told her, “it’s just another person in your corner, fighting your battles and supporting you when the going gets tough. There really isn’t anything more to explain.”
When I was very ill, and still living in the lah lah land of my own mind, I had two absolutely amazing social workers. Two individuals who made such a difference to my life, and were such positives influences for me on a day to day level, and on a more ‘behind the scenes’ level to make sure I got the maximum benefits I could, found housing which would be suitable for me, and worked to ensure that any volunteering, part time work or education that I took on went well.
They drove out to random places to do my blood tests, and then to drop off meds a week later, and then again just to listen to me rant and rave when I’d had a bad week. They were on my side, they were in my corner- and after working with them for 7 or 8 years I came to see them as friends more than just social workers. Though they always maintained strict professionalism, they were caring and genuine; and when the time came that I finally had to move on the three of us went out for dinner, and I left them with hugs and tears.
That is the social worker that you very rarely hear about in the news, instead it’s always horror stories, laziness and responsibility shirking etc etc, but there are so many bloody amazing social workers and support workers out there- I can personally vouch for it. When you have a condition which is as isolating and terrifying as schizophrenia or other serious mental illnesses, those individuals who decide to take it upon themselves to help out in any way they can are the very truest of social justice warriors; they are the people who take the time to get to know the people most of the rest of society has dismissed with a label.
It was very strange, today, sitting in on an assessment with a potential client with mental health issues and issues relating to homelessness. I remember being on the other side of the table, on so many different instances over the last 12 years: I seem to have done a full circle, from one side of the table, to the other.
My doctor, or CBT therapist, or whoever it was in that instance would always ask me, “Alex, this is a trainee doctor, or trainee CBT therapist (or whatever they were), and is it ok with you if they sit in on our meeting?” I would always say “yes”, and then brush aside the slight twing of regret which came from remembering when I was still at university, prior to becoming unwell, studying for a career in a very different future for the one which happened.
It’s been a very introspective few days for me. I am still dealing with my symptoms, and yet I am moving past them now in a fashion. I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia 12 years ago, and since then having been living via the state; moving from hospitals, to residential schemes, to housing association flats, but always funded by Housing benefit, Income support, and then more recently ESA.
It is very strange now, to be contemplating making my own way in this world. It’s a good thing, god on every level it is a good thing- but it is still so very strange. Considering where I am now, has led me to look backwards, and consider all the unlikely places I have lived, all the weird and wonderful people I have met, and all the different lives I seem to have lived.
The symptoms still bite, and the voices still echo, but they are all retreating, and I feel now that there are so many more instances when I am able to really see above it all and fully comprehend how much all the madness is retreating and silencing. This is very peculiar; I wonder what I will fill the space which is left behind with.
For so long now, my “condition” has been the pivot around my whole sense of self has rotated, and I’ve embraced that because that was where I was, and that was who I was. But now I am leaving all of that behind, in a fashion, and moving into uncharted territory. I started an article on identity a couple of months back, and I may write more on the subject because it is simply mind-blowing to look back and consider that the person you were five years ago is so distant now, and so alien.
Starting this job has definitely made me reflective! And of course it would.. this is completely natural. This article has become something of a journal entry almost, but I’ll leave it as it is- I haven’t written for a long time, and want to get back into the WordPress swing of things.
I am massively excited for my new job (I’m not too sure that this article has made that clear!), and I think that the waiting around for it to come about has made me more eager to get up at 6am and actually dress for other people, rather than just throwing on sweats and whatever is clean and comfy. I’m excited to learn the underpinnings of this massively important role, and then take on clients of my own and work with them to achieve the things they wish to achieve.
The real world awaits!- and the world in my head is becoming more manageable.
All there is to do is embrace this new stage in my life, and everything it throws at me over the next nine months- Bring on full time employment, early morning starts and an actual workload.
It feels amazing to have this sense of purpose back in my life again.