It’s nearly that time of year again. I’m not talking about annual sprouts and cheesy bollocks day. Unfortunately, I’m talking about the 30th December and the anniversary of Steven being taken away.
It’ll be eight years, a week today and I wish more than anything that I wasn’t still writing about it. But eight years on, the anxiety is still there for Steven. It may not be quite as sharp as it was seven years ago but it’s still making its presence felt, getting in the way of what could be a joyous time of year. At the moment, Steven’s attention (and anxiety) is focused on whether he will get his Edward Scissorhands video on Monday. But he’s already checking and seeking reassurance that life will go on as normal after Johnny Depp has come out of his wrapping paper. It will crank up even more from Tuesday.
We try to speed up time. Each year the Christmas decorations come down earlier and earlier. I will go off on Boxing Day evening, pretending that I’ve got to go to work. But Steven’s not daft and he knows that life is in limbo until January comes along. Or in his marking calendar, until the Loose Women return from their Christmas break. Then he can start to feel safe again.
I can’t imagine it happening again. If I fell ill like I did in 2009, I would go off to my flat to recover and leave the support workers to manage. There would be no question of Steven having to be the person who went away. Ever since the court case there has always been the threat of “a deterioration in behaviour” leading to readmission but I can’t envisage a situation where that might happen and between me and the support team we couldn’t cope. Since 2009, Steven’s coped with three changes of home, the death of his mother and coming off medication and none has warranted the input of in patient services. Probably the worst time for behaviour was when Steven had the liver problem and was in such terrible pain. Imagine if that had led to readmission? His medication (which was causing the problem) would have been increased from day one and he would have been subjected to all manner of restraint techniques that would have added to the pain. Quite possibly, it would have killed him.
But it’s not about what I can or can’t imagine. Steven fears the possibility and that has never really abated. I question whether I unconsciously keep the memories alive. After all, I’m writing this post! I’ve got seven bookings to tell the story at events during January and February. It’s become part of my income stream. Just this week the BASW published an article headed “Five Human Rights Cases That Changed Social Work” and Steven’s story was one of the five. It’s an old story now but the consequences are very much alive.
There is no answer. Sometimes, something happens that affects so deeply that time isn’t the great healer.
Last night Steven was so excited because BBC4 showed their annual Christmas Top of The Pops. We’ve learned that 31 days of awful anxiety are as inevitable as Roy Wood wishing it could be Christmas everyday. In Cowley, we thank heavens that it’s not.