Thursday, April 19, 2007

the most unexpected role reversal

I went to therapy yesterday fully intending to discuss Monday’s tragedy. And although I did discuss it, I spent a good part of my time sitting and listening. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one that needed to talk.

I was feeling slightly better after expressing myself in yesterday’s post (writing about my feelings in this blog tends to be pretty good therapy) but I was in the mood to talk so I arrived in Dr. W’s office knowing what I was going to talk about. As Dr. W led me to The Chair, I sat down and she asked me how I was feeling. I told her, “Ok, I guess considering Monday’s events.” She asked, “The shootings, you mean? Did you know anyone?” I replied, “Well, Jesse’s an alum and all of his friends are alums, some of them are still in Blacksburg. A good friend of Jesse’s was in the building when it happened. He’s ok, but we were worried.”

Before I even completed the word ‘worried’, Dr. W blurted out, “Well, I’m a Hokie.” I had no idea my shrink was a Virginia Tech alumnus. I told her about what I understood the Hokie Nation to be all about. I get it. The camaraderie. The good times. The friendly atmosphere. The university and it’s close ties to the surrounding community. In my (almost) 3 years of dating Jesse, I feel as though I have a pretty good sense of the VA Tech experience. And she understood it all. Dr. W said, “I had applied and been accepted to these schools and I picked Tech because it was the safest. I feel as though I was violated because that is no longer true.” I argued, “I don’t think that’s true. This was just an isolated incident. I refuse to believe that Tech isn’t safe just because of this. Blacksburg is a good, close knit, trusting community. It shouldn’t define itself by this single, horrific act.”

Dr. W confessed, “I haven’t watched any of the news reports. I’m just not ready. I’m in the denial stage.” Denial stage? Spoken like a true shrink. I told her, “I just want to know why this happened. So I’ve been eating up just every single piece of news that I find about this whole thing because that is the only way I can understand and move on.” And so begins Dr. W’s game of 20 questions on Monday’s tragedy.

As she asked me everything she wanted to know about the tragedy but was afraid to watch on TV, Dr. W occasionally gave her opinion on the gunman’s mental state during my little information session. I was happy to hear a professional’s opinion. But she would sometimes finish her statements with “but I haven’t thought this through” and that was odd to me. For example, she said, “He was probably more than depressed. He was suffering from something far more serious. Not that depression isn’t serious. I haven’t really thought this through.” It’s almost as if Dr. W had to keep reminding herself that I was a patient and not a friend.

At the end, she said quietly, “You know, trying to find out every bit of information about what happened, that’s actually a good way to cope. You need to understand though that you might not find an answer.”

I replied in a voice barely above a whisper, “I know, but I still want to try.”

I don’t fault Dr. W for wanting to talk. I can completely understand. It was a horrific event. Everyone’s going to have some thoughts about it. Some people are going to need to talk about it. And if someone who makes a living listening to other people finally wants to talk, I’ll be the one to listen.


DCWeddingPhotog said...

interesting! I think we're all wanting an answer... I've been gorging myself on the reports, and my mom is a child psychologist so I've been asking her all about it... but nothing seems to be enough for me. I still don't understand.

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking a lot about a girl I went to school with. I still remember her name although I am not going to print it here. But she was extremely socially backward, very shy, reclusive, weird. It makes me so ashamed now to think I never reached out to her, even snickered about her behind her back. I dont have any sympathy for Chou given what he did, even though he was apparently was teased and ignored by classmates growing up; I just cant help thinking about how maybe anybody can go off the rails if pushed far enough. Why are we so cruel to each other? Even me, and I like to think of myself as a good person. But maybe I'm really not. -Erika

Shell said...

There was a really good "My Turn" article in this week's Newsweek. It was written by an uncle trying to understand why his nephew committed suicide. The author turned to his own young son and asked if he had any insight. His son responded "'Adam was sick, Dad,' he said, 'and he died of the disease.' That's as good an explanation as I'm ever going to have." I think this says a lot about what happend. This killer had a terrible disease, that went untreated...

lizzie said...

MK--unfortunately, we probably will never fully comprehend what led to Monday's tragedy. i just want to get it so i can move on, you know?

erika--i spent a lot of time thinking about this very issue last night. i'm not sure why some people are cruel to others. personally, my childhood was full of teasing and torment but i'm not going off and shooting people. there's probably more to the gunman's story than we know (some people are suspecting child abuse due to the nature of his writings). but honestly, we can't feel guilty about the past. the best way to deal with this is to learn and move on. so the next time you come across with a socially backward individual, you know now to try to reach out.

shell--yes, the gunman was sick. very sick. but i think that at some point, his disease was treatable and the people around him refused to see it and missed that turning point.

lesser being of leisure said...

I don't understand cruelty either, and I didn't have a "perfect" childhood. And I think that this is part of the reason why there are no female shooters - females (in general) are less prone to acts of violence.

To get back to your therapist, that's kind of funny that you ended up counseling Dr. W. But it's also great that you have that kind of rapport with her. You need to hang onto that one! :)

former lesser being of leisure said...

It's really good to realize that your doc is human and makes errors too. I just realized how falliable my "therapist" is. Actually, I just go to him for med management of ADD, that I take AderallXR for.

Stupid me, (even more stupid because I work in the pharma industry) I forgot that exercising (which I upped the frequency of from zero to every other day). This has a significant impact on dopamine levels, and my dose should have been adjusted. Yes, and I told him that I'd started working out too (not to mention that the weight loss was in fact noticeble - so yeah doc, you should have asked). If I had a blog anymore, I'd file this under "how stupid am I!"

Time to change providers!