Thursday, March 15, 2012

Not Sure A Book Is Enough

In my last post, I talked about no longer working in social service. While I don't spend months working with clients any more, at the bookstore we do get asked for help with intense, social service-y situations. This happened yesterday...

I walked up to the Information Desk with some books to be reshelved. "Oh, you would know," S. said, looking up at me from the computer where she was doing a search. "What's up?", I asked.

"There's this woman who is looking for a book to help her. Her teenage daughter is suicidal, has anxiety, is depressed..." she trailed off.

"The daughter is suicidal? And she's looking for a book?" I asked. "Shouldn't she call a crisis line or something?"

J., also standing at Info and S. both nodded. "Um, yeah," J. said. "But she wants a book."

"Okay," I said. "Is she in the section? I'll go see if I can help." As I turn in the psychology aisle, I see a woman with dark hair, a hot pink v-neck shirt with a lime green gauze-y jacket. She has a wire and black bead necklace and heavy eyeliner. She is on the phone.

"Do you need some help?", I ask quietly, looking right at her. She nods. "Can I call you back? I'm in the bookstore and someone is here to help me," she said, ending her call.

"I do need help," she said, looking at me.

"It's about your daughter?", I said, not wanting to launch into a discussion of depression and suicide if she wasn't the right customer.

"Yes," she said. "She's got a lot of anxiety and depression and she's suicidal." She dove right in. "I had to take all the pills out of my house. She has a suicide plan. She doesn't want to go to her dad's house, which is where I think the problem really is."

I've listened to Therapist talk about enough calls from her mental health crisis line job to know that if someone has a suicide plan, then it's serious.

"I'm wondering if you shouldn't call a crisis line or something, if she has a suicide plan..."

She interrupts me, "Oh we already have an appointment to see a counselor, and her doctor knows about it. I know that if she starts doing something crazy, then I take her to the hospital. She has a lot of anxiety and she is depressed. Either she's crying or she's furious or she's sleeping."

"Which can be signs of anxiety or depression," I said.

"Exactly. Her anxiety level has gone down some since we've made the appointments and she's seen her doctor. She was a victim of a sexual crime, and she has PTSD. We don't know what else she has, like if she has any kind of disorder."

"What is it you're looking for, exactly? Is it a book to help you understand what she's going through? Or a book to help her understand?"

"My doctor said to come to the bookstore and ask the people there what books are good about depression or anxiety or suicide."

I gave her a few anxiety workbooks and showed her two books on depression with similar titles, What to do When Someone You Love is Depressed. I handed her a book on suicide. I showed her COPING WITH ANXIETY. With her arms full of books, she said she had to choose. She decided to buy the book about suicide.

I'm not sure a book was enough help for her...but that's what she wanted. I hope her daughter is all right.

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1 comment:

  1. My heart goes out to this woman and her daughter. I hope they're going to be okay. That's one of the hardest things of working with people -- you touch their lives briefly and often never find out what happened. I hope she gets some counseling for herself too.