Behind the Facade
In reading this article this morning, I'm struck by several things, in light of the Virginia Tech shootings and the class discussion from my class last night, wherein we spoke about the tragedy and how we would be called to handle such a situation as counselors.
The man in the article managed to put on a sane, happy face for many, not revealing the side of him that was riddled with hallucinations and suicidal intentions. His therapist didn't know until reading his MySpace page, after his death, that he was even capable of this sane side. It makes you realize how much goes on behind the scenes and how, in many cases, unless a person wants to let you into their dark side, you may never see it and never have any suspicion of what lies beneath the surface.
I was talking with a friend last night about our discussion in class, and how, as a counselor, I would be called to be the strong one, the one to help make sense and help others deal with such a tragedy. And how it might feel to have had someone as a patient to subsequently commit suicide or homicide. And to have missed the warning signs, or to have not been able to help. That's so scary.
The discussion in class brought up a lot of memories of situations from high school when incidents of death darkened my "happy" teenager-hood. And how my school dealt with tragedy. I tried to put myself in the role of the administrators of my high school trying to determine the appropriate response to the drive-by shooting of a football player, to the drug-related suicide of a friend of mine, to the death by heart failure of a student while on campus. I think the administration of my school actually did a pretty good job, but it was weird to put myself in their role and to try to think about what they must have had to deal with, and who they must have gone home to seek support from. And to think about the role I'm going to be called to take in years to come. Because I will have to be those administrators. That's what I've signed up for.
And then I went home last night. With all these thoughts swirling in my head. And luckily, there was my neighbor. And a friend. And I didn't have to be totally alone with these thoughts. And I could work them out and discuss them and air my thoughts. And I was very glad that someone was there. Because I didn't want to be alone.