Wednesday, 30 August 2017

The grip of addictions, rehab and a simple bench

Do you know someone who suffers from an addiction?


Then you are not paying attention. 

Addicts do not all move through life with huge illuminated signs in front of them, declaring their addiction.  Addictions and addicts are around us, amongst us, known and unknown at different times. 

Yesterday I had reason to visit someone in a Rehab Centre.  Not a family member, perhaps not even a friend, more of an acquaintance.  I think I have spoken to him face to face only once, the rest of the time the interaction is by phone as he calls me just, I think, to have me listen to him for a few minutes.  A reaching out.  I don't actually know. 

This is not his first visit to Rehab, nor do I know if it will be his last, but he is there, being visited by his family, but no-one else from his life.  It is sad to think that there is not a colleague from his office who will visit, not even a friend.  I wonder how you get to that point. I don't know if he has used up his last, last, last chance with everyone, or whether they don't know how to deal with it.  I think everyone reaches the former sooner or later, and tough love sets in. 

So armed with some biscuits, chips, chocolates, some reading material and a Bible, I set off for the Centre yesterday afternoon.  It is not my first experience at visiting someone in Rehab but it has been almost 20 years since I have.  By the time I turned into the gate, I found my heart beating a little quicker and felt a slight nervousness.  What would I say? What would we talk about?  Would he be lucid?  Would he talk to me? What if he hates biscuits? I managed to mentally race through 27 questions in under a minute.  

You are not allowed to park inside, so having got out, I walked down the path to the reception.  The setting is pretty.  Lovely lawns with benches, little streams, fountains and beautiful tall trees of all types.  The buildings are neat but still gave me a little sense of old-school hospital meets boarding school.  Nothing indicates the severity of why people are there. The guard walked me all the way and just as I was hoping that I would recognize the guy, he saw me, jumped up with a shout and bounded his way over.  We are not talking about a teenager but a man in his 30's.  

I was starting to feel that it was going to be ok. 

Once the nursing sister had checked all the items that I had brought him, he suggested we go and sit on a bench in the gardens.  It was sweet how concerned he was that we should not sit on a dirty bench as he did not want my clothes to get dusty.  

I had intended to stay for about 30 minutes.  We ended up sitting there for over an hour and a half, almost till sunset.

Having found out how he was feeling, who he shared a room with, how the schedule worked, what therapy sessions he was attending, all about the art classes, about the specialists, how the food is, how the medicines are controlled, how their religious needs are catered for, how many people are currently there, what he does during the day .... I felt that all those "administration" questions I had, had been answered.  

So I did what I think I know how to do well in such situations (thank you LifeLine for 14 weeks of training, 3 years ago, it has stood me in good stead time and time again).... I said nothing ......I waited.  The lull in conversation would decide which direction we would take now. 

He started talking ........ and in the 90 minutes I found myself probably talking for 20 of them in total.  

It was, all in all, a sad story.  One that can probably happen to any of us, any of our family, our kids, our colleagues.  He told it in depth and with great honesty.  Every now and then he said "this may really shock you".  No.  I work with people every day in my job.  Happy people, hurting people, sad people, joyful people ...... I know a 1000 stories from a lot of people.  This is life. 

I thought about the many addictions in life.  There are all the serious ones like alcohol, drugs and pills that lead to Centres like this one.  But there are others - social media, pornography, sexual selfies, caffeine, food, smoking, promiscuity .... go and Google, you will be amazed at the lists. Some of those addictions, whilst not putting you in Rehab, also start to rule your life, affect your family and friends and even hurt you.  These do not make you a bad person, they don't make you an "addict", they simply show us all (including me) how easy it is to have something in your life that you think you cannot live without.  

When my daughter was between 1 and 3 years old, my hubby and I fostered 4 young unmarried girls (at different times) who had been in Fatima House for unwed mothers. Once the baby is born, the girl has to move out and this is where temporary fostering comes in, whilst a place is found for them.  All the girls we fostered has elected to keep their babies and not have them adopted.  Most of them were between 17 and 21.  They knew nothing about babies and had nothing and we ended up having to teach them the most arbitrary things we take for granted and supply their needs, personally and for the newborn.  These babies were usually a week old when they arrived at us.  One of these girls, who lived with us for 5 months, had a boyfriend who was in rehab and she herself was a recovering addict, clean for a year, who had a relapse whilst in our care because caring for a baby was just beyond her emotional ability.  Her parents lived close to us, but refused to have anything to do with her and so that was one of our additional tastes of rehab and her uncontrolled, non-reasonable behaviour and stealing to feed her habit. After trying everything, we too had to eventually apply Tough Love. 

So driving home yesterday I had a lot of time to reflect on the visit, I even shed a few tears. It was emotional, it was sad, it was an eye-opener to how easily certain things are available through both official and unofficial channels.  But I was glad I had gone.  He needs to know that God has not forgotten him, that although he has been to Rehab a few times, he always checks himself in, which although not great, means he realises what he is doing wrong. 

I cannot imagine what it must be like to deal with this in your own family. I have seen and heard of families destroyed by people whose addictions turn them into unrecognisable, violent people who will do anything to feed their addiction. 

I will pray for him.  I will pray for all others too. 

The only thing I can do, is simply sit on that bench, and listen. 

till soon 
c'est la vie xx

Saturday, 12 August 2017

depression - "just get over it" - and other stupidities

Do you have a friend who suffers from depression?


Then you are not paying attention.

Research is stating more and more often that in every one of our friendship / family circles there is at least one person who does. 

Either it is openly known or seen, or carefully hidden by that person.  

Depression is an illness.  It is not a choice like what movie to see, what day to go to the dentist, what colour top to put on or whether or not to have a 2nd cup of coffee.  

Depression does not jump up and wave a large flag in your face when it is about to swoop. It is either there all the time, or sidles up to you every now and then, usually without warning, visits for a while and then slithers off.  You do not get to choose, it is not like a hotel booking where you say "five nights please". 

When diagnosed with any other serious illness, people would normally find themselves treated with great sympathy and genuine caring.  The person who has the sickness did not ask for it, and has to live through / with it, sometimes without a solution, sometimes being made well by meds and sometimes not.  It can be sporadic or a fight every day. But society is kind and sympathetic. Sadly this is not always the case with depression, which causes the same situation as above. 

Depression (and I spoke to a lot of people before I wrote this article) is very often seen as the sufferers' fault - are any of these familliar to you - either because you have to hear them or because you say them to others - Pull yourself together, Don't worry it will be better tomorrow, Think positive thoughts, Don't worry we all have sad days, Find a hobby, Remember there are people with worse illnesses etc etc. 

Depression seems to give some other people a very strange opportunity when it comes to dealing with depression sufferers - the opportunity to always blame everything on that person. 

We had an argument?  I was unkind to you?  I treated you badly?  I treated you disrespectfully?  I hurt you?  I do not have to apologise because YOU suffer from depression and thus are oversensitive, over ridiculous, over reactive, weepy and annoying.  Some people find this weak spot and utilise it to the full.  It gives them the opportunity to treat you however they wish, when they wish to, because they never have to apologise or rectify what they did - they can simply blame you and your depression. 

The question is - the person with depression is fighting an illness - what is your excuse?

Yes it can be hard to deal with someone like this, no denying that, but before you judge them, ask yourself what about your mood swings, your bad days, your irritability - are these acceptable because "you are just human" and why does this not apply the other way around? 

Many depression sufferers have the situation well under control, usually with medication, sometimes combined with therapy.  Yes they have "all fall down days", but so do all people in the world.  Yet the depression sufferer is judged for it. 

The stigma associated with depression, especially in more serious forms, often leads people to hide their condition so they do not have to hear the stereotypical comments when it does not go well in their lives.  Believe it or not - when a depression sufferer has a real shitty day at the office - it can be just that - a real shitty day - it does not have to be linked to their health.  It is just a normal healthy real shitty day. 

So if you are a depression sufferer, pick those you tell with great care, because that is how you buffer yourself against it being used against you. Sadly society has a long way to go.  If you are having a depressive bad day, week, month, please remind yourself that this is an illness, not a choice.  If you are having a normal bad day, week, month simply because it is just that, then revel in it. 

And next time someone blames your depression on your reaction to the way they treat you, just quietly remind yourself in your head "what the hell is their excuse". 

So I wish you love and laughter and light, especially on the dark days.  

And remember ..... you are perfectly normal ...... maybe a little crazy sometimes .... but perfectly normal. 

see you soon 
c'est la vie xxx

Friday, 4 August 2017

professional purpose - so what is your daily work mantra?

When someone asks you what you do, what do you say?

Do you give them your official job title, do you give them an informal reference to what your job is, do you describe your tasks and leave your job title open or do you simply shrug and mutter something about your job, making yourself sound as irrelevant as possible?

I read an interesting article recently, via Twitter and that got me thinking about the above. 

How do YOU see you, in your job.  Because how we see ourselves can either be better or worse, or sometimes exactly like others see us. 

That brings me to the point of professional purpose.  S Poswolsky says that in work we should learn our purpose, instead of just trying to find it.  Your job may have general definitions of what you are supposed to do.  And you could spend years trying to find your purpose in the what and why of your job and those definitions.  He has a strong point in saying that you should learn your purpose .... in your more defined tasks, ask yourself, "whose life do I affect when I do this task efficiently, how do I make the company look better when I do x, y or z".  

Somewhere in there you may find that you swing from "do I have any real purpose here", to "this is the great impact I make simply by what I do and the way I do it". 

Let me tell you something I know for sure, simply because I struggle with it - more people recognize and appreciate what you do than you generally give yourself credit for.  Yes, there will always be those who work in a situation where you are one of hundreds and no matter how much dedication you show, you slip under the radar. But generally, we short sell ourselves. 

I am still at work right now.  Because I was told to be? No.  Because I was asked to be? No. Because I wanted to be.  I simply cannot bear anymore driving today so having 4 hours to kill (mother of an 18 year old) I have come to work to pass that time.  With the buzzer at the gate not ringing and the phone not ringing etc, I got through a serious pile of work.  And then decided to clean up my office of all the little stuff I have - my candles, little cactus plants, my stationery all over the desk, my little that and little this.  My office just screamed Karin, those who know me will confirm.  Boom - colourful, out there, one candle always burning. It now screams Secretary and first person you meet as you walk through the door.  Perhaps a change in professional purpose.  You can't be lightening covered in glitter forever.  

So maybe you need to give this a think - and then ask yourself what your mantra is?  And if you do not have one, what would you want it to be?  I had a week to think about this, before writing this blog. 

Mine is simple.  Do all things with kindness. 

I am going to stick it on my computer so that I see it all day. 

And remember - wherever you are - your feet are not cast in concrete .....

till soon
c'est la vie 

Okay so lets move to another province

“The company feels that there are great growth opportunities for it in the Cape” says hubby whilst we are sitting on the stoep of our chalet...