Monday I am interviewing staff for the role of support worker, someone to help me deal with day to day life. This isn’t just an average job, it is a post in a constantly changing environment that will demand adaptability, organisational skills, tenacity and bucket loads of patience.
Finding staff, is never easy but when you need someone who can adapt to a variety of alters, be supportive yet at the same time be encouraging and empowering the task is huge. I don’t just want to employ a person who turns up for work on time and does a good job, this person is critical to how I live my day to day life.
I’m not sure if there is ever a perfect person to be a support worker, but I feel like I’m searching for perfect all the same. I can’t afford to make the wrong decision, this individual will be in my home a significant part of my week and they need to be able to fit in to my day to day life. I need them to not judge me or my alters, not to aggravate or trigger any one of me and maintain confidentiality at all times.
It feels a bit like selecting a child minder/nanny for your children, it’s scary and daunting all at the same time. Not only do I need to like this person but my younger parts will need to trust them and feel safe as well. Hence its a huge decision selecting support staff and it’s not one I ever look forward too.
Interviews are strange things whichever side of the table you sit, candidate or interviewer such a lot rides on the outcome. This afternoon I sat and thought about the questions we would ask, thinking at the same time will this enable me to have sufficient information on which to base a decision. There are questions to glean if they have any understanding of mental health issues or if they know anything about Dissociative Disorders. The hardest task is often that people hold stigmatising views, have a lack of knowledge or understanding and know absolutely nothing about Dissociative Identity Disorder.
Often we have in the past had to explain what this complex much misunderstood condition is, how it impacts our daily life and what are fluctuating needs are. There have been times in the past when recruiting that we have found prospective candidates misunderstand D.I.D and are afraid that as I have differing alters, that means I must have four heads!
Of course when it comes to making a decision on suitability I cannot do this in isolation, this has to be a joint decision, it needs to be one that all my alters are happy with. How you get a joint decision is anyone’s guess, I know I need to seek feelings from the alters, the other parts of me. I need to listen and interpret those feelings ensuring that I take account of all the different alters, but believe me that alone is no easy task.
Currently we are struggling without a support worker most of the time, it’s been chaotic and we have found it tough. I also know we are hibernating more, things are slipping and it’s impacting upon my family who are having to try and support us in the interim. Support staff are a key part of our ability to cope with day to day life right now, they are an integral part of our journey of recovery. This decision is significant and it is crucial that it’s right, bad support staff don’t help, they don’t just hinder they can be detrimental to our health.
Ever since we left hospital we have required some form of support, it’s less today than when we first were discharged and one day I hope we won’t need them at all. But after years of trauma and abuse and the damage caused by prolonged time in the revolving door of mental health inpatient services we have been left traumatised, deskilled and institutionalised. So the person or persons who work at supporting us are important and the interview process well it’s just a fact of life right now, something we have to face every once in a while when staff leave.
Now I’m not sure if the candidates I will see are going to be suitable or if they are, will they once they know my diagnosis want to work with me. The reality is that whatever the outcome I know it will be a testing time for us because so much is at stake.
copyright DID Dispatches 2014