I posted something I wrote a year ago a while back and I promised an update as to how things panned out over the year since. I don’t normally manage to follow-up on promises like this, but, quite honestly, I think this is an important post to do to show that the optimism that I had a year ago can manifest in so many different ways over the passage of time.
The first thing to note about getting a job after so much time off is that you soon realise how much time you really waste when you are unable to work with health issues. You soon realise that all those days you thought you were being constructive by learning Esperanto via Email, are pretty much as useful as learning Esperanto in the first place.
Prior to starting this job, I volunteered with several organisations doing what I thought I wanted to do when I was better. Those volunteer opportunities did give me a grounding in certain things that I would need to know, but the bare reality is that nothing prepares you for going back to work after so long. For a start, the shifts are longer and they quite often start much earlier than anything else you have done.
In my job, the old saying that two days are never the same is the most misunderstood statement ever. In my case, no two hours are the same. I love this, I love the fact that there is a surprise around every corner, every member of the house that I work in, want and need different things at different times and the only thing that is set is the times they take their medication.
I get the pleasure of taking people out to live their life and to make sure that they lead as much of a full life as is possible. This can involve, playing Golf, going Bowling, visits to the Cinema. In my first house, I even re-learned how to play The Pokemon Trading Card Game.
My job requires periods of being as serious as life and death. You have to make sure that you are on the ball constantly. When you are out with one of the guys, you must have eyes on stalks at all time, you have to be alert and ready for anything that could be thrown at you at any time. This does add to the stress levels and I know that I have to be mentally ready for everything. Over the year I have gotten down pat the notion that I have to make myself ready for getting my guys ready. One technique that I used when I was really ill was to map out my journey before I did it; this works really well these days. I have the map in my head of everything I have to do that trip and then I plot out my route. Obviously, things can change and it’s ok, I am in a place where change doesn’t affect me the way it did, I just take a slight detour and get back on track as soon as I can.
It isn’t all a bed of cheese on toast. There are ups and downs with every job and this one is no different. My first house housed younger people and there was plenty of challenging behaviours on show. When you start your day at 8 am and the first thing you hear is “Morning you f*****g p****k”. It can put a dampener on your day if you haven’t had extra coffee or Valium that morning. There are other obstacles that would be inappropriate for me to go into, but you quickly get on first name terms with the local police.
On a personal level, my sense of worth has, for the most part, grown leaps and bounds. I am now more confident than I have been in over a decade and a half. Even before I was diagnosed I didn’t Have a great sense of self, but now, I feel I can achieve anything I set my mind too.
Whilst I was in treatment, I was subjected to so many different group therapies that were supposed to get me ready for being better. At the time, I Thought it was a bunch of hogwash. These days I rely on the skills and coping mechanisms that were suggested and I put in place for short-term relief. These days, every day has at least one period of reflection and if something comes up that stumps me, I have a strategy to help me get over it.
I have also learnt from the people I work with, the majority of which are younger than me but have been doing this job for much longer than I. The people of my age upwards who have other life skills outside of Care Work have other skills they can offer and, trust me, they have gotten me out of more shit than any normal person should have to deal with.
I have found that along with long learned tips and tricks, that I have developed a few things that help me no end.
Sleep – Take it when you can get it. Don’t feel bad about getting an extra nap in whenever possible. You are going to find that if you are on medication that you will have to adjust to the side effects and try to make sure that you get over them and still be able to do your job. For me, the hardest part was getting over the brains slow starting functions of Seroquel (Quetiapine). I found that having a REALLY strong coffee first thing will kick-start your day and it will help the side effects.
Breakfast – Another thing linked to Side-Effects is eating regularly. Don’t forget that just as the mind needs kindness, your body needs it too. I found that I needed to eat breakfast regularly. I needed that burst of energy for helping the side-effects abait. I also needed it to give me a few minutes to just calibrate myself for what the day was going to throw at me.
Support – Have a Support Network that you can call on if you need it. Don’t be afraid to include as many or as few as you need. Make sure they know that they can give you advice and prompt you to take care of yourself, but also make sure THEY know that YOU know your limits. It can be hard for those around you to see you spread your wings and fly, and they are worried about you but you know you better than anyone else. Don’t dismiss advice out of hand, they may see something you don’t, evaluate, take on board and take the right action for you.
Be Honest – Aside from your close Support Network, you need those you are working with to be, at least, aware of what you deal with. If you need a break, be it for an hour or a few days (or longer) then be as honest with the person you feel you can trust. Whilst it’s not exactly the feel-good pep rally that I have posted so far, it is a fact that the law is on your side in most cases. If you have a disability, it doesn’t matter one jot that you are working or not, you STILL have that disability and you may need some extra support at work or just the odd Mental Health Day, where you take a day or two to re-balance and get yourself back to fighting fitness for work. They will thank you in the long run for not working yourself to the bone and being off work for months through a full-on relapse.
These are just a few things that I have found over the last year that have helped me that I think anyone in the same position might find themselves.
I love my job. I really wouldn’t do anything different. I have learned so much about my job, but more importantly, I think, is that I learned more about myself in a year of work than I could have done otherwise. Through all the years of self-reflection of blogging and writing stuff on the internet, I have learned that I am capable of pretty much anything I set my mind too. Be the best that you can be.
I like to keep in mind, my old school motto – “Only My Best Is Good Enough For Me”
Take it and run with it, I promise, you can only succeed with the first step outside your comfort zone. Leave plenty of doors open, you can always explore more openings along the way.
Feel free to drop me a comment or a message using the contact page if you would like to say or ask anything.
Be Good To Yourself.