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Troubled Student

(pretty much directly taken from an email I just spent a half-hour writing)

I just dealt with a very troubled student. I believe he is schizophrenic. He definitely behaves like my schizophrenic friend, but this guy is not my friend, and I’m having a hard time dealing with him. I’ve dealt with him on numerous occasions, but I really feel like I can’t handle him anymore after today.

He comes in and says things that almost make sense (sense enough that I can figure out that he forgot his password, but not sense enough to make out what else he says – this is hard to explain, but for instance, he said a lot of things, like he was having a hard time explaining himself, but somewhere in there he says “that’s my birthday,” when he didn’t mention a birth date, but also says he knows I’d need it). He plays games, like not giving me his name, but laughs it off as a joke. This takes up the first five minutes.

The next five are waiting for him to rustle through his bag for who-knows-what because the only items he actually uses are already right in his hand when he gets here (a notebook), while I try to calmly explain that I need him to fill out this form. He goes off saying I need to be more patient. I am patient, but I also have the phone ringing off the hook and can’t wait here forever (I don’t tell him that, but continue to urge him to take care of the form). He can tell I’m on edge at this point, and he finally gets to the form.

Today, he took a call, and I said I can’t help him when he’s on the phone. Thankfully, he told the person he’d call them back quickly, but not before telling me to wait even more.

He got very flustered about having to answer his security question, which I recall helping him set up (favorite color), because he “doesn’t have a favorite color.” I told him to give it a shot, and I typed in the first color he mentioned (among 5 or so). He also immediately gave up on trying to come up with a password, so I gave him a default, and then wrote down his user/email and pass so he could copy it into his notebook.

He took the next 10 minutes to copy it in his notebook and reprimand me about my attitude – I wasn’t giving him an attitude. I just wasn’t acting like his best buddy and was making him fill out a form. He tried to make it about race, gender, status, and about some other things I didn’t even understand. I didn’t think I should tell him it’s because I’m not his personal assistant and he can’t take his dear sweet time meandering around and throwing weird jokes because he’s not the only student I need to help today. I told him it wasn’t any of the things he said, I don’t know what he means, I’m feeling attacked and I’m sorry if he’s feeling attacked too. I apologized, he apologized, and that was it. He took five more minutes to keep writing and finally packed up and left.

I had to step away for a little while after that. I’d already dealt with one hostile student just moments before this [a student angry with me that I tried making her do her own work, with my assistance, instead of me doing everything for her]. What is it, a full moon?

I talked to Dennis and he suggested I write this email – he suggested future action with this guy involve calling security to keep an eye on the situation when he’s here. He suggested seeing if someone (an advisor or something) can come here with him next time he needs help. All good ideas, I think. My best friend may be schizophrenic, but that doesn’t mean I’m good with wrangling this type, especially when the person in question is not my friend.

Fridays are supposed to be dead. What gives…