I have observed over the years that people with illnesses that rob them of their physical strength remain true to their conative selves, yet often need assistance in fighting for the freedom to be themselves. They have a dimming of their mental energy – not a changing of the nature of it. They need people around them who understand and assist them in being their conative selves.
When individuals cannot do things the way they need to do them, they need assistance having things done as they would do them if they could. A case in point is a 9 in Follow Thru, in his last days and unable to speak, who became frustrated when nurses did not put his shaving equipment back in his nightstand according to his custom. Simply opening the drawer and placing the things in it as he would do it calmed him greatly. It was equally important to write his schedule for the week where he could see it, even when there was little to put on it but eating and sleeping.
What can seem a strange behavior in a very ill person, can be his or her fighting for an outlet for a conative need. A mentally active 9 in Quick Start who needed unique, colorful innovations in her life was bedridden for years with debilitating pain. Her doctors upped doses of medications when she showed signs of anger, anxiety and depression. It may have been her way of acting on her conative need that led her to shop for sparkling jewelry on TV. She was joyful when she was strong enough to put on several pieces of her colorful jewelry, which she switched around from day-to-day in innovative combinations. “It’s one way I can still be me,” she said.
An 8 in Implementor who was told she had only a couple of days to live, has survived for 18 months with the help of a daughter who enables her mother to interact with nature – to the best of her abilities. It is inspiring to watch the system her daughter helps her use despite being tied to an oxygen tank. She collects leaves from her garden with Monarch eggs on them (from the special milk weed plants she grows close to the house), feeds them leaves as they go through the caterpillar stage, and finds joy in being able to release them when they transform into butterflies — from her finger to a flower in her garden. Her sense of purposefulness is fully intact, though she knows each day could be her last. “I may be able to help, but if not, I’m teaching my great grandchildren and neighbors’ children,” she says, “Together, we could release a thousand Monarchs next year.“