Below the Surface

Today has been quite an eventful day. I don’t know really how to go about processing it but I felt that I need to talk about it one way or another.

I’ve been working for DCF this summer as an intern. I recently got assigned secondary on a new case in the unit. This family is quite complex and the child is an adolescent, which that in itself is hard to handle sometimes. The child is on the Autism spectrum and suffers from bipolar and PTSD. Today, I and another worker were scheduled to meet the child for the first time. Now, this boy is 15 years old and weighs about 360 pounds. When we arrived, he was having an episode. These episodes consist of him locking himself up in the bathroom and destroying property, sometimes he is physical with his mother and sisters. The cops and EMT eventually came to get him because the mother did not feel safe with him being in the home any longer. The boy had already packed his bags and was ready to go to the hopsital. He actually loves going to the hospital and acts out as a method to be brought there. When he was told that he could not bring anything with him to the hospital, he started to get little aggressive, which resulted in the three cops that were present to restrain him and cuff him. Even when the crew was bringing him to the EMT van, the boy was still trying to push back against them from entering the vehicle. According to the mother, this is the first time he has ever gotten physical with the police.

When sitting back down and talking to the mother, I empathize with her greatly. The family had lost a son more than 4 years ago due to gang involvement, a nephew who had died this past november, and another son who died this past december. The mother sat there and talked about how her son use to not be like this. She talked about the good times when he would laugh and they would talk to one another. I am not a mother so I could not speak on her behalf for her feelings but watching her was painful and her sadness, I could physically feel it in my chest.

Being at DCF this summer has really opened my eyes and my heart. I had a feeling that I was getting myself into some tough stuff but it’s not even the physical things that I see and hear that are tough, it’s the emotional component that has affected me the most. When the events have passed and I’m left with the thoughts afterwards. The hardest part I think is working with the families that when after running around in circles and having exhausted every outlet, and still nothing can be done. I haven’t learned how to emotionally handle those cases yet. And I don’t know if I ever completely will learn how to. This family seems like one of these cases. There is such an unhealthy and vicious cycle of destruction and unsafe behaviors that I don’t think any one route will ever stabilize them. It’s a tough thing for a new social worker in the field to realize that you can’t always do a family good. That sometimes, it’s not about figuring out how to fix everything but rather, it’s about making the best out of the situation. I would like to satisfy every client that I have but I can’t always do that. And I think right now, it’s hard on me to come to terms with that.

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I’ve come to realize that being a social worker requires the ability to let the world constantly chip away at you every day. And a social worker’s whole life is to make sure that they have a strong enough shield to not completely deteriorate.. and when you don’t have a lot to start off with, it makes the process of protecting yourself so much harder.