Q: How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Only one….but the light bulb really has to want to change!
This is a challenge for social workers and I would assume psychiatrists. As a social worker I am pretty sure if I find just the right solution, or the right service or the right placement, I can fix everyone. I can help each client find his/her path toward happiness.
If only each client would listen to my sage advice, s/he would no longer live at the shelter, or blow every penny received on crack cocaine or need the services of a social worker.
Sadly it doesn’t work that way and today I was reminded of that.
A client I have worked with for over a year finally went too far and we had to cut him loose.
This client went through several case workers before I came into his life…and the best I can tell he didn’t like any of them.
He has lived in many, many places since I have known him….and I happen to know for a fact that he has not liked any of the places.
This client struggles through every day. He struggles to find a purpose. He struggles to like himself. This client is angry, sad and full of hate.
We have discussed several times releasing him from the program. Usually after a phone call or visit that consists of name calling, threats and really ugly language. But my boss and I would look at his mental health issues and make excuses for him. We gave him 2nd, 3rd, 70th chances….until today. Our relationship finally came to an end.
I feel like a social work failure…because I couldn’t save him.
I feel relieved….because I no longer have to be subjected to his abusive language.
I feel angry…because he refused to see that others cared for his wellbeing.
I am frustrated….because he refused to accept responsibility for his own poor behavior.
I could dance the happy dance….because I no longer have to deal with his threats.
I feel sad…because he has no one.
Several hours before the blow up that ended our relationship, he and I discussed where he would want his ashes spread. Now my heart breaks for him….because he has no one to follow through on those wishes when the time comes.
Not everyone can be fixed. Not everyone wants to be fixed. Some people enjoy wallowing in the muck of life….and those of us that want to fix the light bulb must just step down off the ladder and wait for the light bulb to decide change is the only way they will ever shine!