Brian’s Blog: Trials and Tribulations – The Story So Far, Part One

Brian is a regular contributor to the Creative Support blog. Here is his latest post, an excerpt from his memoirs. 

I thought it about time I wrote about the past compared to the present. To those who are aware of the circumstances that led to my social worker coming up with the decision to get me out of the North Ormesby house where I lived, first with my parents and then on my own, this might read like some early evening film plot!

My life had, until my brush with cancer that led me to be declared by the Jobcentre as unfit for work, been a combination of a full time job in retail and parents who had by this time drifted apart although I was unaware of this. As a result I had developed virtually no social skills believing as I did that my older brothers had somehow found themselves with wives and families and by some miracle I would follow suit. I had developed practically none of the social skills required for this ever to be likely and when first my mother died after a brief illness leaving my father, who had by this time retired, at a complete loss as how to continue.

This may sound harsh but when I came home from work one evening to find my father laid on the living room floor having suffered what I learnt was a serious stroke, it was the turning point for me. He was put into a nursing home where he received round the clock medical aid from trained staff. I however suddenly had nobody at home to put my meals on the table, clean, do the laundry or housework, and so on. This was the real start of my decline. I was still working and was blind to the house slowly falling down around me. The fact that I still had a responsible job with a local retailer gave me what I believed was an early version of the actual support I now actually receive. This was a big mistake!

My employers had no problem with the employee who at the drop of a hat would work after hours and open the store for the cleaning staff for no extra pay or time off. I wonder if perhaps I had the word ‘mug’ tattooed on my forehead.

Thinking back, earning a wage allowed me to indulge in my one pleasure of regular holidays to the Greek Island of Corfu. While indulging in the usual holiday activities, too much sun and too much ouzo, I did enjoy trying to learn a little of the Greek language. This was appreciated by the Greek people I grew to know leading to my nickname of Apostlee (a misspelling, I know, but writing Greek was never my strong point!)

I took the trouble to ask one of my Hellenic friends who, much to my delight, said the closest English was ‘good man’! He said it was because I always showed respect to my hosts and made an effort to belong! I could wax lyrical about being asked to help on farms or collecting their children from school, but enough of that for now.

However, as explained, I found myself living in a house that was by now frankly unfit for humans. My personal condition fared no better. That resulted in me losing my job and having for some time before being diagnosed as having a medical condition called Hodgkin’s Disease (a type of cancer).

I was suddenly at my wits’ end as what to do. However, while having treatment for the Hodgkin’s I had been referred to social services. The Social Worker who took me under his caring wing first put me in touch with an organisation called Hope North East, a charity that took on cases like me and offered the level of support they felt was required. This in my case had them, unbeknown to me, working in conjunction with social services seeking out somewhere just like Creative Support. Which just about brings me up to date. With the support of Mark Robbins and his experienced team, I now find myself being gradually being restored to my past much better self. My future continues to improve having as I do people who understand that in me they have (pardon the liberty) a project that warrants nurturing! The very fact they have the time to listen is in itself a godsend.

To be continued…

 by Brian, a service user from the North East




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