Pandora's Box

It was an urgent referral from the psychiatric lock down ward. A thirty something male was trying to hang himself in the ward. His wife had killed herself two weeks earlier and he could not face the cold reality of his life. Reuben was clearly traumatized in our first session and I offered sympathy and empathy for what he was going through. He was a chemical technician and was looking for a reasonable explanation for this wife's sudden death. He shared that he 'tried to kill himself not because he wanted to die but so that he could "cross over" to her in order to get answers'. He was also concerned about his 10 year old daughter who found her mother hanging in the bedroom.

He had so many questions. I gently asked him what he would really like to know? Reuben wanted to understand the reasons for her drastic actions? Did she have a secret life he knew nothing of? Was she taking hard drugs when he was at work? Why was her phone always password protected? He needed answers and asked my help to get them. It's one thing to seek answers but was he willing and ready to hear the answers? He had never thought of this side of matters. Our next task was to prepare him for the worst case scenario and then he could resume his search. This way he would have the emotional muscle to deal with Pandora's box of secrets.

Reflection

  1. Do you have unanswered questions?
  2. Are you ready to hear the answers?

Written by Dr Rani Samuel
Clinical Psychologist