In a recent blog entry I did a review of my 2008. It was another meme shamelessly stolen from some other blogger, hopefully credited as such, and I filled it in with all the enthusiasm I could muster given that I'm currently on nights until Des comes back from his holibags!
One of the questions (and my answer) was this:
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Not backing down.
The answer was connected with the allegations I made about a member of staff at work. I stuck to my guns, as they say. Well working tonight has made me think that I want to change my answer, and here is why.
As most of you know I work in a centre for people with challenging behaviour and learning difficulties. Basically it's a whole myriad of mental health issues all mixed in with physical difficulties. These people are all adults. The youngest in the department I work in is 22 and the oldest is 44. I think. I may have this wrong but lets not argue as it's close enough.
I work in a unit that looks after four lads. Four of the most violent lads. In fact most staff around the place won't come in and those that will want us to be their bodyguards.
We'll call the lads Tom, Dick, Harry and Jeff for the sake of not wanting to call them A, B, C and D. Tom, Dick and Harry all live in one unit but Jeff has his own as he's not very good around other people. Including staff. His unit is, quite literally, a one minute walk from our main unit, and all his care is given by our staff.
So, Tom, the eldest, doesn't talk. He grunts. He does have his own sign language which is very similar to normal sign language and we communicate with him in that way. He is rarely violent but sadly when he goes he really goes! He doesn't use his fists. He sometimes kicks but mostly he rips off cupboard doors and wallops you with them. Thankfully, due to our training and the other excellent staff, he is most kept calm but as mobility is not an issue with him when he hits out he can aim very very well.
Dick can talk. And does. Often. He sings as well. More often. It's very hard not to get attached to this chap as he's so kind and gentle. Say no to him and he'll beat you senseless but saying "soon" or "we'll see" usually calms him.
Harry, like Tom, does not talk. He grunts and points. That is as much as his communication skills allow but after working with him for a while you get to know what he wants from his mood. His mobility is fine but his hand and eye co-ordination is not very good. He is very violent. He is more violent than the other two, and quite often, but mostly it's towards himself. Banging his head on the wall, banging his teeth on door frames and so on. Occasionally he goes for staff but it's not personal, it's just at whoever is there at the time. He also has some very disgusting habits.
Jeff has his own place as he's not very good with other people. He is violent towards the staff on nearly a daily basis and the only reason the other service users don't get it from him is because we work very hard to keep him away from them. He cannot talk properly but can say some words and he knows what he wants. We use a set of pictures to get messages across and this works very well.
So now you know about the lads let me tell you a little something about me.
You'll notice one of the things I've talked about is how violent the lads are on occasion. Well there was a time when I too was violent and I often think I still could be if put in the right situation.
I was drinking with friends in a pub once, when I was 19, when an argument broke out between one of my friends and a stranger over drinks. I walked over to try and calm things down and offered to buy the guy a drink. Ray walked off, I bought the guy a pint and as I walked off I heard him call Ray a cunt. I asked him to repeat it and he decided to spit in my face instead. Something I fucking hate. So a fight broke out with my throwing the first punch.
I come across as a camp little gay bloke who'd run away rather than fight but I think most of that stems from knowing and seeing what I'm actually capable of and knowing I should walk away. I'm not tall but I'm broad and it's not all fat (okay most of it is) and I trained in Ju-Jitsu for 13 years. I'm not trying to say I'm some hard-nut, far from it, but I know I can look after myself.
I've digressed a little here.
The question is the meme was, as seen above, what has been my biggest achievement of 2008?
Well in this last year I've been attacked twice by Harry and five times by Jeff. The two times Harry has got me I've ended up in A&E and of the five times Jeff has got me I should
have gone to A&E at least once but couldn't be bothered. I've had my finger nearly broken, my chest scratched, had five shirts torn and my head butted. I've been thrown against a wall repeated and my vision is still not right from the last attack.
So am I proud of getting beaten up? Is that my biggest achievement? No, not at all.
But not fighting back is.
Animal instinct brings on the fight or flight mechanism when faced with these situations and in the past I'd have fought back. I don't think I'd have been typically violent towards them but I'd certainly have done anything to stop being hurt. When Jeff had my shirt and was swinging me into the wall repeated I let him do it. I let him carry on and get it out of his system. I knew he wasn't aiming his frustration at me personally, as anyone there would have got it that day. When Harry head butted me I took myself out of the area. When he grabbed my finger and tried to break I used the training I'd had in work to get away from him but instantly went back to him to make sure he was okay as he'd thrown himself to the floor.
I hate taking praise as I rarely think I deserve it and I think there are people better than me that need the praise more than me but right now I'm praising myself. I'm very proud of who I've become and I'm proud of what I do for a living.