Matt,Another SiJ completed - and quite happy with my choice and the outcome.
I managed alright most of the time - in spite of the fact that this was a month I'll hopefully be able to forget ...
It may be a bit unusual, but I'm going to tell the last story to hit me because I think it's somewhat off the scale, and at the same time, there's a funny twist to it in the end (i.e. today).
Thursday night, two of my students contacted me. They felt that a third one, a friend of theirs, was losing it, and quickly. He had been depressed and stressed out for months (of which I was aware) - to the point that he actually stated that he no longer wanted to live! As many fifteen year olds do, neither had he told any adults (not his parents, not any of his teachers, not his coach), nor would any of his classmates tell anyone - they tried to comfort him and cheer him up, which quite obviously didn't work. What had finally triggered his friends' change of mind was the fact that he had switched from being down to being all out aggressive, to the point that he mumbled confused death threats to anyone who would catch him in a foul mood, something that happened more and more often; as if this wasn't bad enough already, he had started uttering a few days ago that he wanted to eradicate the whole of humanity. O-kay ... All alarms went off, I contacted my headmaster. We knew we had to act, but we were in the uncomfortable position that we didn't know for sure if the threats were serious or just a way of getting attention - yes, maybe they were a cry for help, even though this may be the worst way of calling out ...
What followed were 42 intense hours - we checked options, set down protocols, secured certain students (by removing them from the school temporarily). Friday at noon we - the headmaster's debuty in charge of his form and I - had our first direct encounter with the student who had caused all this. It was a tense, but surprisingly productive encounter in that he was astonishingly open about the fact that he lost control over his thoughts at times and drifted into an alternate reality where he had decided to fight his personal demons, of which there were quite a few. He couldn't prevent those incidences because he didn't know what triggered them. But, and that was the crucial point, even though he was not able to control those states, he was still aware of them and could describe them in comprehensible terms. Of course, we also grilled him on some very tough issues (like his plans and resources as well as his background - weapons, drugs, the whole checklist), and while he was sometimes very shaken, his answers were coherent and genuine enough. It was only at this point that we were able to pretty much dismiss the idea that he would do something violent to himself or others - he clearly didn't want to, and he clearly stated that his fights only concerned his inner, apocalyptic reality. After another meeting three hours later, we knew enough to feel safe about letting him go - he knew he had his one chance of coming clean with his parents, and if things didn't go exactly as agreed upon, we would take action (we had established the necessary frameworks and procedures before the first meeting).
I spend the rest of the next 24 hours picking up the pieces, calling people, checking on him and the other two students, making sure they had a framework for talking to each other (something the originator felt strongly about), talking to his parents as well as my headmaster and his debuty. By Saturday afternoon, I finally could do a last hand-over to the debuty after talking to the whole family of the student and assessing the situation. We're now pretty sure he's getting all the help and attention he needs. Should his "demons" come back (they seem to be gone), his parents will seek professional help immediately. Actually, this last part is the only one I'm not fully comfortable with - but it's out of my hands, the headmaster and his team will decide if contacting a pychiatrist should be mandated. The way I see it, even if it's more than plausible that the current situation has a lot to do with this (as well as the persona of the student, which I will not go into here), it's not completely implausible that we're dealing with a psychosis of some kind. If it wa me, I'd want him checked.
There you have it. All in a day's work (or three). While I'm quite relieved, all the tension made my body act up overnight - I spent a considerable amount of time in the bathroom. But I'm mostly recovered - and what's more, things seem en route for a possibly long, but reasonably promising process of healing and mending.
So it's fair to say that I'm feeling pretty worn out - but I can also state with certainty that even in the worst moments during the past month, the challenge offered a counterpoint and an escape from a really quite bleak and sometimes even scary world; today more than ever before. We'll see how things develop - but I'm sure this board will always be a place of inspiration and comfort.
EDIT: Completely forgot the twist ... I turned out that, of all places, the big factory I chose as today's target was ... the location of a workplace shooting in 2013. I only remembered when I found the memorial. Of course, I had heard of it at the time. Which only proves the sometimes, the subconscious is a mightily scary thing ...
As Martin has already indicated, the next "Single in" is planned for October. Lots of things can happen until then. I'm certainly hopeful that even if we're not back to normal by then, we should be able to feel a bit more comfortable about the whole situation. I'm looking forward to the next "Single in" - if it turns out anything like this month, it'll be a joy as well as an honour to participate in and organise it!
All the best, your host,
Thanks for sharing this story. It comes at a time when so much around us has morphed from what seemed for many years the status quo ( I mean that on multiple levels). Your experience and the care you give in your profession is evident in your writing and in your photography. If more people could empathize and respond as you do, the world would be better place because of it. Even with all the things pulling at your attention, you inspire us to challenge ourselves and I really appreciate it!
I enjoyed seeing everyone’s efforts and am pleased to be part of it.
The gear and approach discussions enhanced and gave more context as the month went by.
I discovered/remembered that the full size and slightly awkward df is fun to play with and the sensor delightful. The Nikkor 50mm G has never disappointed me. Looking forward to our next SIO