I’m never really sure how much I should write about my work but sometimes it’s unavoidable to mention it as, like so many of us, it plays such a big part in my day to day existence. This will be the first post where I have written at any length about my work and about how it goes some days.
I got up knowing that I would be attending a meeting later in the day with a client, his community psychiatric nurse and a psychiatrist – in all likelihood this meeting was going to end up with my client going for a stay in a mental health hospital either voluntarily or under section. It’s never nice heading out to these kind of things with the knowledge that what your client is experiencing is very real for them and that no amount of explaining on their part is going to avert the almost inevitable stay in hospital. The meeting went ahead. It was quite tense for all concerned and emotional for the client (and to some extent myself as I can be quite sensitive). The inevitable did come about after around an hour of discussion and thankfully my client chose a voluntary admission with a view to accessing some psychological counselling as well as trying out a different course of medication in an environment where, to a large extent, the variables can be controlled.
I cannot begin to imagine how this makes my client feel as it seemed to me, as it so often does, that he was faced with a rather impossible choice – ‘voluntary/informal’ admission, or admission by section under the Mental Health Act thus curbing his freedoms greatly. In the end, my client knew that it would be in his best interest to submit to a voluntary admission thereby allowing him a greater freedom of movement and also a greater say in what medication he would or would not allow to be used. As the working day was coming to an end for the psychiatrist and community psychiatric nurse a bed was found for my client and, because I’m subject to a shift pattern, we were sent away to prepare for an evening admission. On the way back to the Project where I work and where my client resides it became apparent that he had given up all hope of seeing out the year in relative freedom and it was very strange to see this usually intelligent and thoughtful man become quite withdrawn and submitting to a fate he felt he had no control over.
It was quite a quick turnaround on getting back to the Project, I had about an hour to process what had just occurred whilst my client packed a bag and prepared to travel over to the hospital. I wrote a quick report and before my client and I both knew it we were on a bus taking us to the unit where he will now be staying for anywhere from a week to six months depending on how things go. Whilst sitting on the bus my client sat quietly and contemplated his thoughts and watched everything go by. I sat nearby and couldn’t help but notice all of the night time runners out on the pavements of London – some obviously training for something or other. I began to feel jealous of them out there running freely and happily, I often get like this when I’m injured and I can’t run but it held an extra significance today – I began to wonder what my client must be thinking and feeling as he watched the London populace go about their business freely whilst he headed towards yet another hospital admission that will likely see him unable to go about his own business so freely for some time. If I’m jealous of seeing people running and I’m only out of action temporarily and due to a physical ailment, how must my client feel sitting on the bus burdened by the weight of a clinical diagnosis that will be hard for him to shake for the rest of his life – how difficult must it be for him to see ‘normal’ people go about their business day in, day out?
I’m going to abruptly halt talk of my working day right there. I think I’ve conveyed quite adequately the reasons why I often need time to run freely and, consequently, to have some time to process thoughts and feelings that can sometimes become slightly overwhelming! I wish that running was a simple solution to all of life’s problems and I really wish that sometimes my clients would even give it a go and try to free their minds – even if it is for half an hour, once a week. Running has saved me from myself a number of times, that much I know. I just wonder, would it help some of my clients free themselves from the mental prison they find themselves in some days? It probably would but the sad thing is, for the vast majority of them, the moment is not now and I don’t know if the right moment will ever present itself for some of them.