Page 25 - PIC Magazine Spring Issue 15
P. 25

Holding on to hope when it
may be lost after catastrophic injury
Sam’s social and emotionally isolated position over the years increased his anger and frustration and lead to regular bouts of aggression, which made it difficult for his mum and others to manage.
My initial meet and greet
with Sam highlighted how socially isolated he was and how he used self-depreciating humour as his first point of contact. I immediately noted the hundreds of DVDs around his living room and quickly realised that this was Sam’s world; he was living a fantasy. I knew from the outset that
I would need to meet Sam where he was at, and enter his world and use his familiar landscape, of film.
Sessions with Sam are always a joy, his humour a delight, but it was clear that this was used to deflect from the constant anger and rage that he felt. Sam shared that the rage, despite its destructive impact on relationships and on his own sense of well- being, gave him a sense of power, control and energy and ‘aliveness’ he could not otherwise feel.
Empathising with Sam’s intense loss and grief and ‘stuck’ emotional position and validating his feelings, without excusing his inappropriate behaviour, was only the beginning; helping Sam understand why he did
what he did as a protection against further hurt was the next stage.
Sam engaged throughout his sessions, but it was important for me to continually track that Sam was attached
to the reality of our work together, not the fantasy. Sam is still looking for the cure, but knows it’s not a potion I can give him, but a journey he must make. The cure in effect is a transition through grief and loss, to
a place of acceptance; of knowing one’s limitations,
but not being defined by them, acknowledging that vulnerability is not a sign
of weakness but a true
sign of courage, and the determination to keep moving no matter how hard towards a better more hopeful Horizon.
This remains a work in progress but in Sam’s words, taken from one of his films ‘Hope is the ball of string the Minotaur holds on to when he enters the maze’. Sam
is holding on to hope; he
is working through his rage and is learning to be more vulnerable without feeling exposed or diminished, he
is moving forward, no longer stuck and this time holding on to the string.
Working alongside our
clients is always a privilege. Holding on to their hope when they may have lost it, is essential. We in the behaviour support team come from the premise that ‘all behaviour has meaning’ and presents
as a unique language that is like a window into the deep recesses of a client’s internal and external conflict.
  All behaviour is a method of communication.
The Bush & Co behaviour service works with clients whose behaviour is disabling their ability to engage in rehabilitation, identifying and setting personal goals and sustain
g
y
g relationships. Here, Bev Palmer, behaviour
y specialist at Bush & Co tells Sam’s story.
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  am is a 33-year-old male, who was referred to me by his case manager, because in his and her words they were both ‘stuck’. Sam is very much loved and supported by his family, but his life, by his own admission, is not what the average 33-year old’s life would be like.
Sam’s head injury occurred when he was hit by a lorry when he was 12 years old, sustaining a serious traumatic brain injury, leaving him with a range of cognitive and physical challenges.
Sam’s injuries, along with his sense of pride and low self esteem, impact on his confidence and ability to ‘put himself out there’. Previous support put in place to support him to become more independent often failed because Sam would struggle to engage, due to either personality clashes or due to him feeling he was being heavily parented, and not feeling he was the master of his own destiny.
My initial meet and greet with Sam highlighted how socially isolated he was and how he used self-depreciating humour as
his first point of contact.
Sam’s injuries occurred when he was on the cusp
of adolescence, individuation, parental separation, increased autonomy and personality formation. Being set back to zero and spending many years thereafter being dependent physically and then adjusting to his complex cognitive challenges, had not just a physically disabling impact on Sam, but a psychosocial one, as existing friends stopped coming and no new friends were forthcoming.
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