Monday, June 08, 2009

Kisses and Hugs

All day I have thought about writing about a heinous, senseless crime that made national headlines, and took place not five miles from my house.

Nothing happens here - I mean, when someone vandalized the mailboxes last year, it was a BIG deal.

I won't get into details but two people are dead and a mother of two young kids is in jail on a suicide watch.

It just makes me wonder: what does it take to make someone snap like that? Can they even be held responsible for a crime committed during a psychotic break? Could anyone have prevented this?

In the course of my work at a mental health nonprofit I have met two people who I later learned had killed other people. I have felt nothing but good, sweet energy from these two - one is still in the state hospital but gets to take day trips; the other now lives in her own apartment, but has to check in with her caseworker three times a day.

He pulls into our parking lot to make sure she is in the office at her volunteer job.

He calls her at 10 p.m. to make sure she's home.

He calls her randomly.

I think this would be a good job for a stalker in training, don't you? I know S, and I think it is a terribly unfair invasion of her privacy. She has NEVER failed to show up for her job. She has never done a so-so job. Her work ethic is excellent, and she has a wicked sense of humor.

I can't reconcile what she "did" with who she is now. Is that the essence of a psychotic break - acting out of your own self?

But then I think, I got to know these people before I knew what had happened in the past.

If this woman who killed two other people is rehabilitated, would I be as open to working with her? Somehow, I very much doubt it.

So one good thing that happened today - some of my volunteers brought me a rose plant, a thank-you card and a bag of Hershey's Kisses "Hugs." This is a less-cheap kind of chocolate, white chocolate with swirls of dark.

I thought about this story that had unfolded in my neighborhood, the one I saw on yahoo news, and oinked the Hugs and Kisses.


Scarlet said...

As open minded and forgiving as I think I am, I'd have a hard time putting the murder thing in the back of my mind.

I have a friend who is the least judgmental person I know. Whatever I do, good or bad, she's there for me. I hope to be more like her.

PS - Hugs are awesome!!

pheromone girl said...

Ooh, treats! Very cool. Maybe there'll be some left next time I see you... Oh, wait - it's chocolate.

I hope that there is someone in the world that will help this person reconcile what she did. How alone you must be - how does family forgive someone for something like that?

LL Cool Joe said...

I think one of the reasons I read so many books about serial killers and child abuse etc. is to try and get an understanding of why someone does such things. What place do you have to be in to kill, rape or abuse? I'm not looking for excuses, just answers. Once you read about their own abusive upbringings, and the horrific way they were treated, you have more of an understanding. Of course it's still no justification for doing such horrific crimes, but it does explain to me why they happen.

Good and interesting post RK.

Aliceson said...

Wow, that's a scenario you don't hear about every day. I don't know if I could leave the past in the past but I applaud people who try to change their lives. Overcoming extreme mental health issues must be incredibly difficult. There's a lot going on in the 7 pound bowling ball perched atop our necks.

Oh, and who doesn't love a hug?

Sidhe said...

I think I know what you mean. I do a lot of work with felons and so I do know what they served time for prior to meeting them but I try to have faith that they've been rehabilitated though I know that is pretty much a joke in a state that considers "corrections" to mean punishments instead of, um, corrections which would be more akin to rehabilitation...well that's another rant, not for today.

I try to take it one step at a time and remind myself of two things: 1) it's not my job to judge and 2) the only thing separating that person from me is a choice (I used to spread that line liberally on the foster parents that I worked with prior and I guess I'd be a little bit of a hypocrite if I didn't actually put some stock into, huh?).

The good news is, chocolate makes everything taste better.

Green tea said...

Chocolate always seems to help :D

The first ward I worked on at the State Institution was Pscho 1
( now I can't believe they called it that)
I met Stella..she was the sweetest resident and had been there for years.
She was almost in charge of the ward,
she seemed perfectly normal to me.
She knew and liked my Mom who was a nurse at the Hospital so we hit it off.
It turned out she had been committed for killing her 2 children and was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis.

Years later when she was going to
be released, she committed suicide by drinking ether, she just never recovered from what she had done.
Mental illness is probably worse then any physical pain we could suffer.

Grandpa Eddie said...

For me, personally, I would have an easier time if I got to know the person first and then, later, found out what they had done.

I don't want to judge anyone who has had psychotic problems, but knowing what happened would just make it more difficult to keep from thinking about it.