The scene: They are in the garden and he fell between the greenhouse and and steps. It wasn't the text book fall (they never are), of course he landed in the most awkward place possible. He was on his back, he is a weak man and very immobile. She was worried that he kept banging his head backwards every time he tried to rock and roll to a sit. So she uses a compost bag under the back of his head to use as a pillow.
It always takes me a while to process a day in the life of someone with an addiction.
It is a privilege to be able to work with these clients, quite scary too as their behaviour can be very unpredictable. Many of them have had, and are still living with the effects of traumatic events that you and I could never, ever begin to imagine. It is very sad.
What they need is understanding, compassion and stability, so when we work with them in the detoxification unit, we do not judge them. They receive medication therapy, support, self help strategies and a daily structure that normalises and regulates their day.
It is not an easy journey. The detox programme involves the client gradually reducing the substances that they are addicted to, or replacing them with an alternative. It can be dangerous and sometimes fatal if it is not managed in a specialist environment with monitoring and treatment facilities.
Unfortunately it can be a long road for them. If they cannot steer clear from the addictive behaviours or environments that surround them when they go home, they may need to come back to detox, and then go on to rehab. They need to break the habits, of drugs, alcohol, sometimes both, and friendships, relationships and environmental factors. It is easy to judge these people, especially when you see them on the streets, scruffy, being loud, sometimes using threatening or unusual behaviour.
Many people with addictions however, live a "normal" life, hiding their secret, trying to function in their daily lives. Professional people, people in regular jobs, Mums, Dads and grandparents. "Highly functioning" adults.
Many have personality disorders, mental health issues and they need to be medically treated. Nobody is exempt from the threat of addiction in some way.
We need to think about our perceptions of people in general.
If they are not like us, if they do not fit a certain mould. They may look dishevelled etc, fatter or skinnier than us, "at the back of the queue when **** (enter your phrase, looks, noses, personalities etc) were given out", (have you said this?) This does not give any of us the right to judge them.
Any one of us could have been susceptible to abuse, could find ourselves homeless, having to deal with traumatic events or have some unexpected life event that cannot be avoided. If that was you, ......what would you wish for? .....
I'm really proud to have been informed that my article detailing some of the work that we do, has been published in The Care Home Environment magazine. It is reassuring to know that professionals in the care sector understand the benefits of exercise and how it can have a positive impact on the the health and wellness of their residents and clients and in turn, the quality of their lives.
This week has been a roller coaster of emotions for most of us, with the terrible suicide bombing incident in Manchester. I don’t really need to say any more about why and how it has affected us but yesterday was a day I don’t think I will forget.
We were about to teach our amazing Seniors class, always full of joy, laughter and love, whilst we watch, supervise and make sure that they are all safe and comfortable, but pushing them that little bit to ensure their independence and health stays with them for as long as possible.
I was helping them in, putting chairs out, saying hello etc when Jon, one of our clients came in. Jon is an upstanding member of the community, respected and recognised by his peers, one who has dealt with his health issues head on and although he is a quiet man, always has something humorous and witty to say in classes.
We were at the front of the class chatting when Jon asked me if I thought it would be ok to have a minutes silence for those who died, were injured or affected by the events in Manchester. I said of course it would be ok, explained that it was my hometown, where I grew up and Jon pulled me towards him and just hugged me tightly, sobbing and just so upset. Obviously I cried too and when we could speak I asked if he had family or friends in Manchester, but he replied that he didn’t, he just couldn’t bear the thought of those children and young people losing their lives in such a tragic way.
We held the minutes silence, many of us unable to stop the tears and we were joined in a feeling of sadness, despair but mostly community spirit and love, words unspoken.
I was unable to run the class as I was constantly breaking down (many of you who know me, know how soft I am at the best of times, so this was impossible for me to even try to stop the tears especially when we played "Memory" and "Abide with me" ! ) so Helen ran it and I helped where I could. I spent 5 minutes outside, sitting on a bench, thinking of my life in Manchester. I don’t have any family there now, but my Dad is buried there. I have so many childhood and teenage memories and some of my school friends still live there. I am proud to be a “Manc” and never more so, than this week, when we have seen that solidarity, the citizenship and kindness of all those local people, offering lifts, free taxi rides, overnight stays and the attendance at the vigil, held at St Anne’s square.
That is what we felt in our class yesterday. We felt every emotion. Together. A variety of personalities, ages, backgrounds and beliefs, joining together.
I feel truly blessed to be able to spend time with our clients, they feel like family, we care for them and they care for us. I felt all their emotions yesterday and they felt ours. Afterwards we discussed how they felt, how we felt and how we must see the light and not focus on the shadows. The feeling of love in that room was remarkable, sad but joyful and we left with a calmness that cannot be explained. Connectedness at its best.
"Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me."
Henry Francis Lyte (1847, alt.)
This group, needed some respect and dignity in their grief, this wasn’t a time for silly behaviour but some honest kindness to help build them up. The only thing I could hear in my head was give them love today. They need love. So, I press play.
Social workers get bad press yet surely we all share the same social values? Surely looking after someones welfare is at the heart of the matter? Too often do I observe the divides within the sectors that care. The culture of blame. The souls at the coalface have been skewed with stigma, political opinions and low morale, sending negative messages out and often to the wrong people.
Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back. Shine Theory reminds us that we are not in the centre of the universe and we all have a deeper value and purpose in life.
Yes, there is investment. Yes, this does feel strange, but face it, if something is not working, then change it. We simply give you the tools to enhance your communication, be exposed to new leadership thinking and set up and support accountability in the workforce.
Your Health Matters
Shine - support each other instructors (whether your personalities clash or not). Shine Theory (look it up) is powerful for getting your voice heard and be supported by your peers. Make a point of celebrating another instructor that you respect, that maybe a role model in your career.
But most of all, working out in the free weights area has taught me that the best things in life are worth working for. You only have one body, one chance at life and health matters. Without health, nothing matters.