A Victim of Circumstances.
Within a month of commencing my postgraduate psychology studies, my external practicum supervisor said that he was throwing me in the deep end. I considered Jamie, a forty year-old divorcee who was staying alone in rented accommodation, an opportunity to overcome my ignorance of serious pathological disorders at the time. Immediately, I began to research on psychiatric illnesses, delving into manuals and books focusing on depression and schizophrenia, in line with Jamie’s suspected symptomatology. Diagnostic material was acquired, and soon after the tests, Jamie was referred to a psychiatrist as we concluded our first session. Jamie had been going without sleep for nearly a week before he saw me, and had been hearing voices and becoming alarmingly suspicious that his siblings were attempting to harm him. Mental stabilisation needed to be achieved if supportive counselling was to make any headway.
After three weeks, at our second session, his story unfolded. His deceased father had willed the family business to him, but due to some disagreements with his siblings, they connived together and removed him as the CEO of the company. It was soon after this tragic incident that his psychosis began. With a family to feed, he became a cab driver doing the night shift. This remained a concern throughout our association, as from time-to-time he continued to hear voices and was delusional, but thankfully, he never got into any vehicular accidents. If only his passengers knew his mental condition! He had married in his early twenties, but his wife had custody of their teenage daughter. Not long after, his wife began divorce proceeding, as she was unable to cope with his irrational talk and suspicions.
Two months after we began our therapy sessions, he received a court order to appear before a magistrate to mediate on his alimony to his wife and daughter. I engaged a lawyer for him. His wife was after everything he possessed – the home, all his savings, including his pension! Thankfully, the judge was fair, and Jamie agreed to transfer his home to his wife, and provided a monthly allowance for his daughter until she turned 21. With his pension intact, he bought a small apartment. He continued as a cab driver. There was no resolution with his estranged family of origin, and he was cut-off from family and friends.
Jamie continued in therapy till his condition improved significantly over time, and his psychiatric medication was reduced to a maintenance level. He learnt how to discern and reduce his own stress levels and to take precautionary measures, and has not had a relapse since we terminated counselling. From time-to-time, he would let me know how he was doing. His daughter had graduated from college and has become an independent wage earner. His new circle of friends are cab drivers on the night shift.