He had been in the system for years, and had previously been supported by a coworker who left for another job. He was a young man with schizophrenia and developmental delays. He lived with his family (who wanted the best for him) including his grandmother who brushed his teeth for him even though he could do it himself. It is fair to say there was a lot of learned helplessness going on.
I was a little more eager and a lot less experienced then. This man was more ill than anyone I had worked with previously. My normal tactics did not work. We were down to real basics - getting him to remember who I was, and remember his appointments. Our appointments consisted of me trying desperately to make some kind of conversation while he was more interested in watching soccer or getting me to take him out for pizza. All the while granny is knitting in the background and making me hyper aware of my youth and inexperience.
I don't remember what the incident was, but somehow he ended up in hospital. The family and I worked with the doctors to get a med review and he was started on Clozapine. While he was still admitted I advocated to get him in with our ACTT program (Assertive Community Treatment team - a more intensive level of support than what I provide) and he was accepted, so I never really saw him after his discharge from hospital.
Until one day I was in the waiting area of a psychiatrists office with another client. I recognized this man's sister and then he came out from his appointment. He looked me straight in the eye and said "Hi Nectarine" and then proceeded on his way.
That was it. But it was so much! This person, who had met me at the door with a blank face week after week, giggled when he couldn't remember my name for months over a year prior at this time had said HI and addressed me by name! He now attends one of our drop in programs and I see him over there from time to time. Every time this same thing happens. He says hello to me the same way, and then walks away. It's all I'm likely to get, but it's so much. It makes my day every time.
Will this client continue to recover? Probably. Will he recover to a level that other people find "normal"? Probably not, but to me, all the work he and his supports have done is so worth it to bring this human being out of the bubble his illness and medications had put him in. I'm grateful to have been a small part of it.