Mind Matters – Isolation is a Terrible Beast
Dearest readers, as some of you may already know, I am fascinated by the workings of the human mind (always have); with my previous employment (Support Worker) I was fortunate enough to work with and support adults with numerous health conditions -including mental health. I witnessed, first hand, my own prejudice to mental health and also how ‘healthy’ people (within a professional field or not) overlooked (and still do) the simplest of needs these individuals have. Confused? Over the next few weeks/months (let’s see how I feel with my schedule), I hope to shed some light on human nature and how our mental state can develop or falter in certain situations/circumstances. Today I will attempt to analyse how isolation can be detrimental to your health and how a little outside influence can make a difference. Curious to know how? Let me explain.
Before we start, I do hope you have watched the video above (it’s about 6.30 minutes long and worth every viewed second); not watched it yet? Well, we can wait a few more minutes until you do. Ready? Ok then, here goes…
The video is a great example of how the human psyche can deteriorate without any stimulus. I hope in this article I will be able to explain this with clear evidence and insights from my observations on the job and my chance encounters in life with people I’ve met or those who are within my close family/friends circles.
During my time as a Support Worker, I have worked with many elderly and vulnerable adults, all with varying needs (some less, some more); however, what I noticed during my 5 year career-span was that they all had a common need, the need to not be isolated.
Yep, I too used to think that was absurd, surely they have loved ones who look after them and those care homes, they must be great…
Sure, there are those who are lucky, loved and blessed with a beautiful life -in their most difficult times (be it old age or just vulnerable for any other reason). Then there are those, who are not as fortunate.
I have witnessed cases where families buzz and fuss around their parents when official visits have been made and then leave them alone with nothing, when there are no eyes and ears on them. Then there are those who are just left, no contact made –ever. Some wait with patience and hope, others forget and disappear into worlds we do not know. The fortunate few who live with their families, loved and cherished, can often be forgotten in the rush of daily tasks, chores and the need to earn a living. For those in care homes or assigned to Social Services (due to cuts and under-staffed establishments) are often neglected; maybe not because they are not doing their jobs; but because there are not enough hours in the day to meet each residents/service user’s needs.
I’m not here to create a bleak outlook; these are just my observations so far. However, there are positives within all of this, just like in the video, with a little bit of attention and understanding we can make a difference by reaching out and seeing what is fundamentally important to the individuals’ needs. For Henry, music was the gift which brought him back to life. For my grandmother, praying and keeping her focused on when the pray times were. For one of my service users’ (at the time), making her aware she had money in her account and that she could access it without any fear…these are simple things we can all do to make it worthwhile, to bring someone back to life. (Please be advised, should you suspect a vulnerable adult with financial difficulties –be it a family member or not, please get a Social Worker or a Support Worker involved as they have the authority and knowledge to handle such situations. Good intentions in such cases can backfire or put you in a very difficult situation.)
I always say the mind is a powerful tool –if we use it wisely, it can help us to excel and if we do not then it can cause us to deteriorate. Limited interactions with people, physical limitations (due to poor mobility) and fear to go outside of our homes causes isolation, then depression and then the need to do nothing except crawl back into your skin and slowly turn into dust. We’ve all been there (or still are) –be it on a small or larger scale; we’ve all had the tools to pull through it with the love and support of the people around us (be it family, friends or strangers). Deep down we knew (know) what will help us; for me writing and my art has played a huge part as has my faith and beliefs. Some are not so fortunate to realise what they need, or they do not have the tools to access them, so they sit and wait, hope and then possibly forget…just like my service user…the mind grows, blurs and makes perception difficult, what is real, what is not…
Had my service user not been made aware that she had money, she would have kept herself in her home (like she was already doing) and not going out, not eating, not engaging; but my (and my teams’) intervention encouraged her to go out every day -be it for walks, to the shops –whatever she fancied; she engaged with people and was a joy to have a discussion with; her initial paranoia was no longer evident in her actions; a changed person she became.
It’s only a simple thing, an action which made one person’s life a little bit better; we can all do this, as long as we pay attention and find out what they need or what makes them tick; it can be anything; but usually it’s something small. Introducing music, reminding someone of pray times and reminding another they have money to live on can make the worlds’ difference to one person –and all we have to do will probably take up no more than a few minutes or a chit-chat session with the said person or their families.
Have you experienced the effects of isolation? Have you witnessed someone go through it and how it took away the life and soul from them? Did you help them –what did you find helped them?
*I do hope these articles will also serve as character analyses; I’d be curious to know if you find these useful for your writing projects –or whatever it may be you are going through in life.
**Any topics I have not expanded above I hope to revisit in another article; but please share your thoughts on what I have not yet discussed and I can include them in the next ‘Mind Matters’ article.
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About the author: Creative from the word go, an artist at heart – writer, poet, photographer, blogger... I am currently working on my first novel Becoming – Mystical Realisations and I have also started some research for my novella (currently does not have a title). Read more from this author