Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Crisis management.

Why is that once I decide to cease blogging, I suddenly need an outlet to vent?

Kenna, thank you so much for letting me spout off here!

The other day I attended a Girl Scout leader training class. At one point, the crowded room was filled with noise from the multiple conversations going on. We'd been discussing girls in our troops with special needs. I mentioned to the woman next to me that one of my Girl Scouts had been diagnosed as clinically depressed years ago and had tried to commit suicide. This was an eight-year-old, mind you! Anyway, the woman's response was to confess that she, herself, had recently attempted suicide and had just gotten out of some sort of care facility. She concluded by saying it had been a "nice little $16,000 vacation."

I was a little taken aback, to say the least. I fumbled for the best respond I could muster, asking, "You're doing much better now, right?" She said she was but she thought her meds dosage needed increasing.

Today I mentioned all this to Celia, my neighbor/friend/writing partner. Celia reacted with shock and the first thing she asked me was, "Did you report her?"

What? Report her to who?

Celia informed me I should have questioned the woman's position as a Girl Scout leader and that I should have immediately reported what the woman told me to someone above us. We debated this for a bit before, blessedly, the subject changed and we returned to our writing.

But I was so rattled and dismayed over Celia's reaction for several reasons:

1. It seems such a brutal thing to do - to immediately "tattle" on the woman for suffering depression, to question her ability to manage as a GS leader.

2. Why cause the woman even more strife and stress??? And why take away something that she enjoys doing?

3. Shouldn't girls (at least older ones) know that depression is a mental illness that can be managed? Couldn't there be some positives to this?

4. I have an appointment this Thursday to speak with a doctor about my own depression. Celia's reaction, her thoughts on this woman's condition versus her ability to function as a leader . . . it hit home! I wanted to blurt out, "I've been horribly depressed - do you think I should step down as a Girl Scout leader? Are you going to report me?"

It was all very distressing for me; I could barely manage to continue working with her this morning, I so desperately wanted to escape, to go curl up in a ball and cry.

And seriously: if someone had confessed such a thing to Celia in a similar situation, would she have reported her? Or would she have questioned her further, made sure the woman had a good support system in place? After all, troops are required to have a minimum of TWO leaders. It's not like the other leader would stand by while the depressed, suicidal one handed out razors and taught the troop how to properly slice open a vein.

Man, I wish I'd come up with that argument for Celia when she was scolding me for not tattling! I hate that I'm so slow to react, that my clever responses hit me hours too late.

Any thoughts on this? What would you have done in either situation: first the woman confiding in you about her depression/suicide attempt and Celia's reaction? I'd like to know.

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