A few years ago, one of my closest friends here, V, suddenly cut himself off from the rest of us for no apparent reason. I knew he was stressed, and assumed that he cut off communication because he needed some space. But things went from strange to bizarre, and the last straw was a very disturbing email he sent me and another common friend in response to our emails, filled with swear words very uncharacteristic of him, asking us to back off and accusing us of conspiring against him. Much as we racked our brains, it made no sense. I tried confronting him at his home only to be yelled at and have the door thrown in my face. Unable to make any sense of his behaviour, I was at a loss for what to do next, and very scared. I went and told my advisor, who insisted that I call the counseling services on campus and talk to them. I decided to talk to a doctor on the condition of remaining anonymous, since I was afraid of making a mountain out of a molehill. The good doctor J heard me out, and asked for copies of the disturbing emails. I sent them to him after concealing my friend's name, but soon enough, the doctor insisted on knowing who it was, saying that it was a clear sign that my friend was disturbed and needed immediate help.
The events that unfolded since that are almost out of a movie. Dr. J went out of his way to reach out to my friend, perhaps risking his professional position in many ways. After denying help, V was taken against his will and forced into counseling services. Eventually, V took a break from school , went and stayed with his family for a semester, got medical care and attention, and came back to school to finish his degree. He was indeed suffering from a temporary stress induced condition wherein he was undergoing delusions and a break from reality. The right medical intervention and a break helped him recover and resume a normal life. Throughout the entire episode, there were several occasions I felt guilty, confused, worried that we had all over-reacted and many other things about what was going on. All these feelings were put to rest when my friend returned and was the same old person I knew. He had made a very good recovery, could openly acknowledge his condition, and made appropriate lifestyle changes to live a more stress-free life.
V lived alone, and was dealing with his fears (not knowing that he was ill) in his own way, having lost trust in all his close friends.I cannot imagine what might've happened if Dr. J hadn't intervened, and hadn't pressed to get involved. Dr. J's prompt actions and persuasion is something we have all come to be thankful for after this episode. Of course the magnitude of his problem is in no way comparable to the virginia incident, and I am not trying to play the blame game here, but the point I'm trying to make is that often the cry for help is made, and a lot can be done if this is heard and responded to in the right fashion.