Lana’s Case [Part 4 of the Three Lessons in Psychology Series]

I suspect that my colleagues are not being honest with their intentions in studying my old clients. Despite my expertise, they seem to be second guessing the decisions I’ve made in regards to treatment options. None of these mishaps could have possibly been my fault. My clients are mentally ill to begin with. How can they think about blaming me for trying to help solve their problems? That’s what wrong with the mental health community. All they do is put clients on drugs that make them feel physically ill to prevent them from feeling mentally ill. No wonder there are mass shootings, stabbings, and chaos on the streets. People are irrational and unpredictable. No one cares about mental health or treating the ill.

That’s why I believe in Rule #2. You cannot blame of yourself for client failures. It should be changed to: “You are not responsible for the actions of others.” However, there is one exception to this rule. There is only one client that I claim full responsibility of her actions. I was not prepared for the responsibility of treating a client, at this time. I didn’t possess the practical experience as I do now. This is a case study of my first client. Her name was Lana.

Writing this case study has proven difficult as it is not only an admission of an ethical lapse but it’s also a trip down memory lane. What truly matters in this case study is Lana’s psychological profile. Each time I start, I end up writing about the emotional aspects of our relationship. How much I miss her and treasured her company. But I will try to remain professional now.

Lana had been diagnosed with major depression before our meeting at community college. Her psychiatrist prescribed antidepressants which she took on and off due to the side effects of the medication. The side effects included a low sex drive, drowsiness, and an upset stomach that disrupted her life.

We first met in an introduction to psychology course. We were paired in several projects and she notified me she would become unavailable sometimes. I didn’t mind doing the extra work but she felt guilty taking credit for work she hadn’t done. As our friendship flourished into romance, she cautioned me about her struggle with depression and the effects it takes on her moods. It was the reason why her relationships never lasted. I assured her that I wouldn’t give up on her and that night became a couple.

Lana stopped taking her medication to enjoy our relationship without the worry of the side effects, particularly the sexual ones. Her medication would have made that impossible. Despite our happiness, Lana began to feel down. She stayed in bed for days lacking the will and energy to go on with her days. She barely ate or drank. Her moods ranged from peaceful to raging but she felt “empty” the majority of the time.

The “empty” feeling is the worst part of depression. These were the dark periods where suicide would come into her mind. Lana cut herself to feel again. The rush of endorphins made her feel better, like she was in control again. With temporary release from “emptiness”, she would begin her medication again and return to normal.

The different interactions of chemicals, hormones, and other bodily chemistry made Lana unpredictable. During disagreements, she would threaten to hurt herself for perceived slights. She blamed me for causing stress in her life. She resented entering a relationship with me. It was toxic but my classes had taught me not to take it personal. When she realized what she had done in her bad moments, she always apologized.

Lana retreated into herself. Sometimes it made me feel shut out when she didn’t want to talk. It left me feeling upset, angry, and resentful. I took it personally. This is why having a relationship with a patient is unethical. It should have been included as part of my lessons in psychology. It should be rule #4: never have personal relationships with a client.

This next part is the most difficult to write but for the sake of psychological studies, I will put aside my emotion and give the cold hard truth. During one of my classes, I was researching the topic of suicide. I discovered an article about positive spiritual and mental shifts in suicide survivors after their failed attempts. After trying to die, they felt at peace with themselves and realized they did not wish to die. They gained a new perspective on life.

A few weeks after my research paper was completed, Lana was in an agitated mental state. We were having an argument over the phone where I was begging her to take her medication after she said she was finished with them forever because the side effects were too much too endure. We shouted, cursed, and screamed she shut down. This was common when she felt overwhelmed. It was impossible talk to her. This was the moment I picked to cure her for good.

I told her we shouldn’t date anymore. I suggested she was too difficult to date anyone and she should consider killing herself to end her suffering. I instigated and taunted her into committing suicide. I didn’t mean anything I said. With most attempts statistically ending a failure, she would go through the spiritual and mental shift to become normal. She would never have to endure depression or pills. I would explain to her that I pushed her to it in order to cure her. She needed understand that it was the only way to make her better.

She screamed every horrible name in the book at me and told me that if I wanted her dead, she would oblige my request. She hung up and that was the last time I heard her voice.

I didn’t know what method of suicide she would attempt but women statically used pills, poison, or slit their wrists to kill themselves. Being that these methods aren’t particularly effective suicide methods, I would call the police and they would be in time to save her. As I waited there was a loud crash outside. I looked out the window and I saw two cars demolished and twisted into each other. One of the cars belonged to my neighbors and the other was Lana’s.

I ran to what was left of her window. Her bloodied, broken face was the only part of her body that I could see in the wreckage. I screamed at her to wake up while trying to free her from the vehicle. I watched helplessly as Lana did not awaken. I feared that she had died. The police, fire department, and an ambulance had rushed to the scene. Lana was removed from the twisted wreck of with a hydraulic rescue tool.

Despite the damage to her body, Lana was alive. My neighbors were not so lucky. Lana was driving excessively fast for the road she was on. The neighbor was backing out of her drive way when Lana plowed into the driver’s side of the car instantly killing a mother and her two children. I realize now that three deaths are on my hands.

Lana was rushed to the hospital where she was treated for her injuries and stabilized. My last image of Lana was her being carried away on a stretcher into the back of an ambulance. I haven’t seen her again since the accident. I miss her so much.

The local newspaper ran the story about the accident. The mother and her two children were pronounced dead at the scene and Lana was going to be charged with vehicular manslaughter, pending an investigation. The police interviewed me about our phone call before the accident. It didn’t yield any results into what caused her to do what she did.

They said that Lana couldn’t remember what happened. She’d suffered head injuries and physical damage that required sedatives and pain killers. She had blacked out on the accident. She had no idea why she was on her way to my house. When she regained consciousness, she was informed that she had killed the family and would be charged vehicular manslaughter, pending their investigation. Lana claimed that the antidepressants caused her black out while driving resulting in the accident. I highly doubt that’s what happened though. I believe her excessive speed was an attempt at suicide. I don’t believe she intended to hit anyone. But like I said before, people are unpredictable and irrational. I might have to make that a rule.

I’ve wanted to apologize to her. I wanted to tell her that it wasn’t her fault. I experimented at trying to cure her and it backfired. I was responsible for the death of that family. I was responsible for the botched suicide attempt. I was responsible for everything. Ever since that happened, I have been more determined than ever to help mentally ill. I vowed that I would never make the same mistakes again.

I apologize for the length of this entry. There was a lot of information to process in this case study. My reason for writing this case study among all the other clients, which I have “reportedly failed” to treat, is because my colleagues have informed me that Lana recovered her memories. She wanted the full story of our relationship before the accident. I would do anything to help one of my clients, especially my Lana.

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