There are many times I wonder what I need to fight over. How many times do I take on work which is exhausting, time consuming and from which I earn nothing? Most of the time. I decided that this year would be different from last year. By the end of last year I was burnt out. I didn’t have the usual crash where I feel totally miserable and alone, nor where I felt overwhelmed. This time it seemed to be different. I just wanted to take a break, have a nice long rest and regather my energy in a productive and meaningful way. To some extent that is what I did. I was determined not to have to fight in the way I have in the past to perhaps find some different ways of working which proved to be more productive and less draining.
I know that working in the area of Child Protection sucks all my energy out of me. That fighting a system which refuses to change is even more frustrating. I know that at this point I haven’t found the fight that I use to love and the energy I use to possess. However none of that has meant that I am going to turn down clients or stop doing some of the work I have in the past. Fortunately I have had another project present which has provided a break from what I would normally be doing and which has meant that I haven’t had the need to focus on other areas of my practice. Financially not a good thing because it has meant that I have let go of the more financially rewarding aspects of my practice.
But when one thinks it is all going to be easy something presents which makes you wonder what is this all about and over what am I fighting?
A client was referred to me a couple of weeks ago. Remember I didn’t have much energy and didn’t want to do much of this advocacy work at the moment because I need to focus on the financially rewarding activities. But never the less here I was with a new client and a bugger of a problem to solve.
Her daughter had been removed because of mental health issues. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia and is currently under a Community Treatment Order. In my meetings with her I haven’t noticed anything which presents as a major mental health problem. There is are issues around grief and loss concerning a relative who raised her and the lack of support she experiences from her family. She certainly feels alone and isolated and is not heard. She is rational and clear about her needs and wants. She has been able to maintain the same home for over ten years. There are no significant drug and alcohol problems. So what is the real problem?
It is the way she presents. She talks about being assertive and how this is often interpreted as aggression. I can certainly understand that because there have been many times when I have chosen to be assertive, that is talk about my feelings and how I would prefer people to behave, and this has been read as aggressive. Sometimes when people choose to be direct and honest and choose not to be passive they are read as being aggressive or are seen as having a mental health problem. This is because people have a certain view as to how people are expected to behave under certain circumstances.