How the world feels like with schizophrenia
Picture credit: Craig Finn
Watching the horrific story unfolding yesterday at FSU brought back memories, that I was sure had long ago been sent to an unretrievable place in my mind.
The young man who opened fire at the College Library had recently done some, according to neighbors, out of character, or extremely odd things, giving those near to him an insight, a clue as to what was coming.
But that only would have helped them help him, if they had been aware of the signs, or signals, that predict, or point to violent behavior.
If you have been here for a while, you know that many years ago, I was treatment Nurse in a California Rehab Center for four years.
It was the most rewarding, most fulfilling time of my life.
During those four years, some of the 125 patients at the facility became close to me.
One in particular was especially dear and we had many memorable conversations.
This young man was a college student who had attempted to take his own life, by jumping off of the roof of a building at the same school that my three children and I were attending at the time.
Although his effort to end his life failed, he was ultimately hospitalized and became one of my patients.
Over time, this sweet, soft-spoken boy/man learned to trust me and opened his heart and thoughts to me.
Some of the things that he said, were never really confirmed, Google and computers would be years away.
So, I had no real way to prove, or disprove, the explanations he gave for his past behavior that he shared with me.
On several occasions, he told me that the greatest time of risk for mental breakdowns, at least he believed for males, was during late puberty, around the ages of 18-20, which is when it happened to him.
He also said that those with higher IQ’s, who were under great pressure in College or other, with little or no strong family support to absorb some of it, were usually the most at risk.
The powerful surge of hormones, during this period of time, he explained could cause those with a propensity for mental, or emotional trouble, to ” go over the edge,” as he did.
I listened to him every day, telling his stories and sharing his thoughts, with no clue as to what was to come.
He seemed fairly well-adjusted to the facility at the time and seemed to function well and interact with others.
I had no way of knowing that what I saw was an act.
He was not truly adjusting to the environment and was apparently still extremely unhappy.
This sweet young man finally succeeded at ending his life.
I came in to work one morning and the reaction of the other staff, was the giveaway that something terrible had happened.
The Charge Nurse came to me and consoled me about what he had done.
Overnight, he, like Robin Williams had recently apparently done, hung himself with his belt.
I was completely overcome with grief because I felt guilty.
I had been close to him and failed to see what was going on.
To this day, I have never forgotten him or what he did..
Seeing the young man yesterday and what happened to him brought it all rushing back.
This young man who went on a shooting Rampage at FSU yesterday, like my patient so long ago, apparently had much of the same conditions in his life as well.
Many of these shootings, or what appear to be random killings, are not being done by hardened, career, or violent criminals in recent years.
Consider the Sandy Hook shootings.
They are being committed by troubled souls many of whom come from what seems to be good families without any financial troubles.
For me, one thing that they all seem to have in common, is that they needed to get to someone and they frequently do attempt to reach out, but in most cases, too late.
If there is any lesson in these tragic stories that just keep repeating, it is that if we, that is you and me, don’t get involved when a little alarm or bell goes off in our heads, we must bear at least some part of the blame for what they ultimately do to themselves and others, for not speaking up, or acting on it.
When my particular young man was sharing and baring his soul to me, I was quite new to the environment of a Mental Health Facility.
I spent the entire time in a room and they were brought to me for their treatments.
I was not expected to be involved in any other part of their care.
Had I had years of training, hopefully I would have picked up better on any clues that he may have been sharing with me and possibly have intervened or stopped him.
I will never really never know if I could have or not.
But, what I do know, is that he is always right here in my heart and I wish I could have done more.
Like the young man yesterday at FSU, I wish that someone could have reached him somehow and helped him.
Today, as you go through your normal daily routine, will you think of these young men and all of the others like them?
Every day, someone, somewhere, is asking for help and no one hears them.
They could be a neighbor, a co-worker, a relative, a friend, or just an ordinary person that we see everyday and if you look into their eyes, perhaps you may see a clue.
I truly believe that they want us to know that they need help, but don’t always know how to say it, or ask for it.
We must all try to be better listeners.
They are speaking to us and asking:
Can you see my pain?
Places to learn more:
Reports on FSU Shooter Describe Sudden Mental Deterioration, No History of Violence
Gunman at Florida State Spoke of Being Watched
Police: Gunman killed after shooting at FS
Officials reveal details about FSU gunman
Shooter was FSU grad, ex-prosecutor ‘in crisis’
Schizophrenia – Wikipedia