When good jobs go bad

My job is not as easy as it may seem.  I work with mentally-challenged adults and help them cook, clean, take them places and make sure they take their medications.  I have to admit that it’s a pretty cushy job and will sometimes compare it to babysitting.

Maybe that’s why I take it for granted sometimes.  I get paid just under $9 an hour and though I get paid for sleeping, it’s on a couch that leans to one side and I wake up feeling like I just got hit by a bus.  I don’t work that hard physically, but the mental and emotional stress can take its toll.

It isn’t very often that I have to confront a consumer (as we call them) in a situation that I’m not prepared for.  But, unfortunately, it does happen.

Most of the time, the ladies I work with are gentle.  Though there is an occasional, “I don’t wanna,” I can usually get them to see things my way, while thinking that it was all their idea, the whole time reminding myself it’s for their own good.  But in the end, and because I care, I find myself acting more like a mother than a support person.

All four of them have different levels of mental capacity, with disabilities ranging from autism to bi-polar disorder to personality disorders to brain injury.  The lady who has the lowest mental capacity and who needs the most help, is one that I have been the closest to.

Angie (not her real name) has an anxiety disorder, which makes her nervous and ask a lot of questions.  She has the IQ of a 5-year-old and when her medicine is working, she is the sweetest person. She has spent that last two months in the hospital because the doctors can’t seem to get her medicine right. 

She came home last week because the doctors thought they had done all they could for her.  She was all for most of the night but when it was time to go to bed, she freaked out.  She tried to run away in her nightgown and I told her that I would have to call the police if she did.  She saw that I was on the phone and thinking that it was the cops, she lunged at me and grabbed hold of my hair with both hands.

I was in shock and didn’t react right away.  Once I realized that she was actually pulling, I screamed and tried to push her away, something they tell us never to do if someone has your hair in their hands.  However in that situation, who’s thinking about that? 

I pushed anyway and heard my hair being pulled from my scalp. Things happened so fast, but I managed to free myself.  I saw clumps of hair fall from her hands as she stepped away, but as soon as she started coming after me again, I ran next door to get help.

Scenes like this don’t happen very often and my job isn’t really that bad.  It works great with my school schedule and I have learned a lot about life because of it.  But when things like this happen, it just reminds me why I went back to school; so I can start a career and not just a job.

It has been a great experience but I think it’s time to move on.

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