There is probably no better illustration of how well Dylan is doing at his new home than the fact that we have, today, walked together around our favourite reservoir. It isn’t so very long ago that I was unable to take Dylan into the community by myself due to his volatile behaviour. The severity of incidents, and their unpredictability, meant that even walks in the countryside were out. It seemed we were prisoners in our home; if we went out at all it was only to drive (or visit the car wash).
So it had been some time since we’d visited our favourite reservoir. We used to walk there often and I can only imagine how much Dylan must have missed it. But while he has been so unsettled this was one place I couldn’t risk taking him; the footpath skirts the edge of deep waters and there are precipitous climbs, high bridges and unstable banks. It is a route which depends on Dylan’s willingness to follow my lead and control his quick and excitable feet. This was something I’d lost confidence in.
It is only two months since Dylan moved to his care home (and just two weeks since his ‘summer transition’ ended) but I can hardly believe the transformation. Not only have there not been any challenging incidents, the Dylan I once knew seems to be returning. I recognise him again; the trances, absences, and violent rages have disappeared. He is calm and communicative and any anxiety that I won’t be able to keep Dylan or myself safe has also disappeared. I am all but convinced that diet is involved in this, be it sugar or additives, and that changes to this are part of recovering Dylan.
So this afternoon we returned to our favourite reservoir. It has been a beautiful day here; late September at its best, the sky high and clear. Dylan locked onto his route, acknowledging familiar places and obeying his deep ritual compulsions. Today, though, it was the differences I was struck by – in Dylan, yes, but in the landscape too. I had never seen the water level so low. And suddenly the plantation is thick with rosebay willowherb. The non-native shrubs are gone. A spreading oak which both my children loved to climb has fallen. Someone has hung feeders from trees in the glade where Dylan and I used to sit.
I liked that while we had been away things had changed. Recovering something isn’t the same as it being returned, I reflected; the reservoir (and Dylan) have come back to me differently..