I’ve got a nasty cold so have largely grounded myself for the last few days. Yesterday I was a bit fed up that I had to miss my therapy group, but today I managed to get out and see my dual diagnosis worker Katrina who is one of those rare and special workers in mental health who thinks outside the box and is not afraid to cross the boundaries a little when the situation calls for it.
I genuinely like those kinds of workers. When you’re lumbered with a mental health diagnosis and the somewhat marginalised and isolated lifestyle that often accompanies it, it is good when you have a worker who shows you their human face. That you can build up a kind of friendship with, although always bearing in mind that there ARE boundaries (ie, when it’s time for you and them to move on). When you text them you don’t put kisses! You don’t in the normal run of things, hug them!
I’ve been blessed to have worked with a few of these over the years. As clients/patients I think on the whole we don’t need or want to see the smooth impassive face of the ‘perfect’ mental health worker. We’d rather see them flaws, frailties and all. It’s more humanising for us as well.
Thank you Katrina. You’ve been ace.
While I’m at it, thanks to Rigby (psychologist) and Alison(mental health social worker) who run my therapy group on a Wednesday, as well. You’ve been fantastic, both of you and you really work well together as a team.
Since Katrina came into my life last Autumn I haven’t missed Wayne so much but he was another one who deserves some kind of ‘client’s award’ for excellent practice. I was lucky enough to have him as my social worker for a couple of years and we would always meet in a cafe and I could have a really good natter and sometimes even a bit of a gossip with him! I got to hear what it’s like working for the ‘other side’ as it were.
Before him, I had Wendy who was every bit as wonderful as Wayne. She knew her stuff and helped me in practical ways (like filling out the all-important the DLA form) but I’d meet her for a coffee too and came to see her as a friend, but as a friend I knew I would only have for a limited time. One important difference with a ‘normal’ friendship would actually be that I knew it was really ‘my’ space to talk about whatever was concerning me. They would not necessarily expect to do the same. Whatever was going on in my life I knew I could talk about it to my ‘worker’. They were on my side.
Humanity, I would suggest, is the common denominator that makes all of these people so good at what they do. None of them pretended to be perfect. None of them ever patronised me. They have all been warm, funny and life-affirming people to be around.
Let’s hear it for our workers, the ones who get it right!
Lots love, Zoe X