John didn't have a good upbringing, to be precise it was an upbringing that you and I may not have survived. Having not had the best chance in life John was, (and still is) a very vulnerable person. John sadly found himself in prison a few years ago.
John was advised that if he wanted to survive prison he should fake a mental illness and get into a medical wing. John did this. He was diagnosed with Schizophrenia for which he was prescribed anti-psychotics.
John arrived at the shelter (having been homeless for years), still prescribed anti-psychotics, with an incredible shake not dissimilar to Parkinson’s.
John did not know why he shook so much or why he just toppled over at any given time, so we booked an appointment with his GP who John had been seeing regularly for years. I introduced myself and asked the Doctor why John shook so? I don't know said the Doctor but let’s put him on some vitamins.
I wasn't sure that vitamins were going to resolve this issue and wondered why no one was looking any deeper. I also wasn't sure why John was on anti-psychotics. Having worked with Mental Health Services for some years I could see none of the usual symptoms that I would expect to see. (I am not a nurse or clinician BTW).
Our Social Worker took John to see a Psychiatrist at the hospital who agreed with our queries and concerns. This Psychiatrist ensured that all relevant tests were carried out. Good on him.
Where we are today: John should not be on anti-psychotics, they may have caused the shakes or at least been a contributing factor. The Neurologist and the Psychiatrist are now slowly withdrawing John from the drugs and further testing will be done to see if Parkinson’s is now the diagnosis.
My thoughts: Why has no one cared enough to ask the questions?
Does this man have a mental illness requiring anti-psychotics?
Why does this man shake, twitch and fall like he does?
What support or help does this man need?
John is amazing, 5 months drug and alcohol free, well groomed, telling us he never really cared much for himself, no one had said anything good to him before but now he is expecting a better life and thinks he may well be a good person after all. (And he is)
I have just read this story to John to make sure that I have it right and to ensure that he is happy for me to publish it. He asked me to tell you: "I couldn't get any help on the street, it was too hard" "This place has helped me so much and all the other people that come to the shelter get help to".
So let’s not judge people like John anymore, let’s look at our services and systems and ask what are you doing?
Signing off tonight feeling sad for our people who have lost so much and angry at those that could have looked a little deeper.
Entry 20.1.2015 / Exit 3.11.2015