*** WARNING ***
*** DESCRIPTIONS IN THIS POST ARE GRAPHIC AND MAY BE UPSETTING TO SOME READERS ***
I recently wrote about mental illness and how it can cripple a person's life, and how prevalent and common it really is. I was talking about how people who don't understand mental illness think of raging lunatics who talk to themselves, are homeless and unkempt, or the Arkham Asylum type criminals who want to watch the world burn. But the most common types of mental illness - depression, mood disorders, anxiety disorders are the ones that one in 3 people will experience in their lifetime.
But the more common mental illnesses, the person that hurts most is themselves - inside they are tortured, in pain, unsure, leaden chested, fearful. But how about facing a killer, who in a moment of madness, took the lives of others? Like the horrifying events in Colorado at the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises?
I am not the only person who would have seen a killer. Police officers, judges, law enforcment agents. Families in court. These people would have looked killers in the eyes. I've spoken to murderers. Drug runners, reckless car drivers... some are accidental killers, some are gang members. For some reason they didn't disturb me.
But today, I was apprehensive because one of the patients I had to see was a murderer that chilled me. I shouldn't be frightened - the police were there. This man, I'd heard about it on the news....
...Police first heard about the chilling murders from an unknown man who made a triple-0 call just after 7am yesterday. Minutes later, when police arrived at the ... address, they were greeted by a scene one senior homicide investigator described as "a slaughterhouse".Husband and wife ... both in their 60s, were huddled together in their pyjamas, dead on a bedroom floor. The body of one of the family's butchered chihuahuas was lying on ..., while the other dead dog was found near the back door. As police continued their search, they discovered the body of their son ... slumped against a cupboard. All three had been stabbed repeatedly.Veteran investigators last night described the scene as one of the worst they'd seen."It's like a scene from a horror movie," one investigator said.Another said: "It's a fairly horrific crime scene ... There's blood everywhere, so we have to go through this very carefully"...
...Officers were last night being counselled, and completing their own statements about the events...
I remember stopping when I heard the news the night before, and listening, thinking to myself, what must that person have been thinking? Was he mentally ill, a moment of craziness? Did he think the devil was within them all or something? Little did I know that I was going to see him in a couple of days.
What would I see when I looked him in the eyes? What was I going to say? Was he going to try to attack me or bite me like a rabid dog, straining at his handcuffs? Spit at me and say I was next?
What if he had a mental illness? And didn't know what he was doing? Like, he was caught in some sort of delusion or delerium and when he emerges from it, be horrified at what he had done? I think of all the mental illnesses that I am fearful of, having something like that, where I cannot control what I do, where voices drive me to kill people around me, or those that I love... and then waking up from that nightmare to face the reality of what you have done... the horror brings tears to my eyes.
Or what if he was like the Colorado killer? I can only go by what I read in the news, but he seems to show no remorse for what he did. People are baying for his blood. For justice. If this man I was about to see was evil, what does it feel like to look evil in the face?
So we're at his room. My nurses and registrar are hanging back - they don't want to have to give the police their names again and show their ID. I want to go in though, it's one of those things where I can't seem to look away, I can't walk away.
I glance briefly at the man in the bed, his handcuffed hand discreetly hidden under the sheets. He looks back at me, his eyes and his face expressionless. Maybe a little bit sad. One of the police was logging events and visitors on a piece of paper. Gosh, he has awful handwriting, I thought. But I can't talk...
I hand over my ID and state my name and designation and why I am here. He writes it down and I walk over to the bed and look at this man, this killer, who looks harmless and unthreatening. His eyes are lucid, as I speak to him.
I ask him about his pain. He had stabbed himself many times in the abdomen and arms. He said he was in pain. He was allowed to have a fluids today, so I can take his morphine button away. He was going to have a hearing today, I wondered if he needed to be drug free to face it, but I don't think it's humane to leave him in pain, no matter what he did. So I put him on morphine tablets, reassure him that he will get enough analgesia from the tablets to help with his pain and if he needed, he could ask for more. He said "Thank you, doctor," and turned his gaze back towards the ceiling. At the back of my mind, a little voice was saying "You can make him suffer for his crimes. Why should he be in comfort when he has inflicted such pain?"
No. I am not his judge or his jury. I am his physician. My duty of care is to him. When I looked at him all I saw was a human being. A patient. Not a murderer, a cold blooded killer, an embodiment of evil. I wonder, if I had seen that in his face, would that have changed what I said? My heart goes out to his slaughtered family. How terrified they must have been. And what about the family and friends left behind to deal with this nightmare? My thoughts are with them as well.
But I AM afraid. A monster like that can live within any of us. I don't want that monster to be me, I don't want to be out of control one day and do something I regret for all eternity. He even killed the DOGS. And please, if you reply this post, no talking about how Chihuahuas deserved to be killed. Nobody deserves to die like that. Even if you are the worst person in the world, the devil himself, being killed slowly by someone that you loved and you thought loved you is surely one of the most heartbreaking things that anyone can experience.
I don't know why I can't get this thought out of my head, or why of all things it has really shocked me to the core. Perhaps it's just one of those things that I need to sleep on to get out of my system. Whatever the reason, my apologies to all my readers for having to read this sad and horrible story! Normal World of Warcraft posts will resume tomorrow.