Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Bridge Over Troubled Water

*This post has nothing to do with Simon and Garfunkel...although I do love the song!  :)

As I wait for my May psychology and social work classes to commence,
I try to keep busy with other things filtering through my life.
But truth be told, I just can't wait.  I just want to hit the books right now.
It's even taking me by surprise, but as I delve deeper into this program and career,
I am humbled that I might be able to make a small contribution to my community.
And get paid a decent salary for it.

I do my best not to bore you guys with this subject, I try to mix it up, but this is starting to take centre stage for me.
Of course the farmhouse search is still a priority, but it has calmed down a bit for now.
So if this topic is boring for you, just check back, I will have something else to talk about soon!

You might remember a few weeks back I wrote a post on psychology 101.
Looking at the aspect that people may or maynot be "naturally" mean and malice.
In this post, I introduced my return to school, studying in depth the human psyche.

 I will tell you that minutes after I published it I got an onslaught of traffic on my website.
And to be honest, is freaked me out a bit.  I was not comfortable with this heavy, sudden traffic.
I could see the traffic was coming from Google.  It disturbed me quite a bit, so I ended up deleting the entire post.
A cowardly thing to do, but I am not so sure I wanted thousands of people reading into the most darkest days of my life.
What I call the "dark ages" of my life.
As it is and in general, I know most of my readers in our blogging community, so originally I felt okay sharing this info.
 What I did not expect however, was that it would be shared by the whole world wide web.
Someday I will share it, just not that day.

However having said that, I am an extreme believer in anyone who is is suffering abuse,
whether it physical, mental or verbal should seek help.
And if that help should start with me, that's fine -  send me an email (see About Me/Contact tab above).
So many connections out there for help and assistance.

Anyway, back to my schooling.
I also have a story with this too, so continue reading.

For my career in Social Working, not only do I have to finish my degree,
but I also need to obtain a series of certificates and diploma's.
And I have just signed up for my first certified 2 day workshop in April.
Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST).
Developing skills and knowledge to those pursuing an eduction in social work to recognize and help someone who is at risk.
But I am on a waiting list.
Because my County does not offer this course, I have to travel for it outside my city.
And unfortunately all those workshop offer a first come first serve to those residing in that community.
So, keeping my fingers crossed.
Wouldn't mind getting this certificate completed before I start hitting the books in the spring.

Deaths I have had to deal with over the years were mostly elderly relatives.
And as most of you know, I had the tragic death of my father when I was 10.

In my lifetime I have only had to deal with suicide once, a 16 year old classmate of my daughter.
They had been classmates since the age of nine.  Grew up together.
We came to this school/county after the divorce.
You must understand in our small town Catholic community, we all know one another.
This young woman died at her own hands.  And it rocked our community.

Suicide is such a sad word.  And hard to understand.
Life is so short as it is.  Death eventually finds us all.
I am a woman who braces life with all I have, and have so much to live for.
I find it hard to understand those who make the choice to end it.

Mental illnesses, something I will be studying in my upcoming courses.

 Let's backup 13 years ago or so.  Daughter Rachel was about 9 or 10.
She was having and celebrating a Halloween party at our home.
I told her that everyone in her class was to get an invitation.
If they choose not to come, that was their choice, but at least we invited everyone.
 No one child was to be left out of the party invite.
To my surprise, pretty much all the kids excepted!
So for one crazy evening, I had about 24 kids in my basement.
My sister helped that evening.  And all and all the kids were pretty good.

Half way through the evening Rachel comes up to me
and tells me Suzie (not her real name) was hiding out in the sub-basement.
At that time I lived in a sidesplit style house.
Down one level off the main basement, was a small crawl space,
which we called the sub-basement.
This sub-basement has no windows and the only time I ever went there was during the day.
Using the natural light to retrieve any Tupperware boxes that I might need from storage.

So I crawled into the dark, creepy sub-basement after her.
She was curled up in the far back, right hand side.  I could barely see her.
When I approached her, I asked what was wrong,
encouraged her to come out and return back to the other children.
I thought what must have upset her was some sort of drama amongst the other little kids.  It happens.
Nothing.  Not a word from her.
I then suggest I would plug in The Little Mermaid movie up in the family room for her to watch.
That she did not have to join the other kids if she didn't want to.
Still nothing.
 Finally I told her I would sit with her, watch the movie and we could share a bowl of chips.
This seem to do the trick, she moved out from the corner and followed me to the family room.
Not a word, not a tear.  Nothing.  She just sat down on the sofa.
And there I sat with her.  Twenty-three kids hoot and hollering one floor below.
My sister racing around keeping peace and order.
Me in the recliner, she curled up on the sofa and The Little Mermaid singing away.

The party finished and the parents came to pickup their children.
I did not mention the episode to her parents.  Didn't feel at the time I really needed to.

Seven years later she was dead.
The guilt I felt.  I should have done something to help her.
I should have at least told the Principal of the school at the time.
Not sure how comfortable I would have been back then talking with the parents about this,
but I should have at least told my story to the Principal.
At the funeral, I did meet up with him.  Weeping, I told him what happened that night at the Halloween party.
He explained to me that she had had problems for a number of years.
This was not her first attempt.  And she had been treated by a Doctor.
I suppose this was the best information he could give me, but still the guilt linger.
Still slightly lingers today.

I just did not know there were any problems with her back then.
But I should have recognized the behaviour.
I was a grownup, so therefore I must know and have all the answers.
She felt comfortable with me.  Safe, secure, protected.
 I was Rachel's magical Mom, ruler of all calm waters.
And there we sat, eating potato chips and watching The Little Mermaid.

Maybe I should have talked with her more.  Asked more questions.
Said the right thing.  Gave her the movie to keep.
But to this day I truly believe, at that very moment, watching The Little Mermaid,
I gave her some small comfort in her very troubled world.

This was a long post.
And a tough subject.

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  1. Diane - hindsight is always 20/20 and you did what you could during the situation - I believe you gave comfort to that girl. Thanks for sharing this story, I'm sure it was a hard one to put out there. I hope in doing so, you help someone else who might be in this situation

    Cheryl @ The Creative Me and My McG

  2. Sometimes we have to start at the beginning before we can understand the end. If you believe the Bible as truth then you already know that we are all born (mean) sinful. That being said, enjoy the journey but don't get swallowed up in it! Dianntha

  3. There is a wonderful woman in Ottawa, named Elizabeth Shlump, who is a suicidologist. Betty returned to school as a very mature adult to pursue her accreditation in her field. I know from experience what a great inspiration she is. If you want to move into this field, any of her programs are well worth the trip to Ottawa!

  4. Oh Diane, I can see what has driven you to make this career choice. There is nothing better than the feeling of helping - but you can't help everyone. Don't let your memories haunt you. It was the system that failed her, not you and now you will be helping the system to become even better!

  5. My heart goes out to you and the little girl. Your soul is just golden, Diane. I, too, would love to become a social worker having suffered from a deep depression since I was very young. I blogged about it if you want to read it. It is scary for me to put it out there, but I can only hope it can help anyone suffering. Thank you for such a thoughtful post. Here is the link to the post I wrote:
    xoxo Jen