So I have recently experienced something frightening (something that has really been the last straw with my current employer), and it has made me ponder my reaction to things like this. Let me explain. I work with people who have severe and persistent mental illnesses, or SPMI as we call it in the biz. One of these people has been off their medication for, oh, about 2 months, and one day came into my office and proceeded to call me a bunch of insulting names and then threaten to blow up the building with me in it. He then apparently left for a month-long vacation. The way I work is that I don't get frightened right away. I continue to do whatever task I might have been doing at the time, trying to minimize the damage. I block the problem out, and deal with the situation at hand to the best of my ability. And then when I have resolved all that I can, I freak out. It's my defensive mechanism of choice. My version of fight or flight, I think. I have been in situations before when my life was in danger, be it grave illness, car accident, or violent angry patient, and this is always my solution. Sometimes it's really slow, such as with my illness, and it has been very quick, like with my car accident, when I mangaed to not be really scared until my car came to rest on its roof. When the aforementioned incident happened with my patient, I was criticized by my bosses for not acting quick enough on the threat, though I still believe I did the right thing at that moment in time.
So today the patient has come back. He came back last night, and was let into the building though they were supposed to have called the police due to the threats he made. This morning I was told he had been there, but left at about 7:45am. So I went upstairs to my office in the attic (picture the tower princesses are locked up in in faery tales), and locked myself in. I went about my day, did all my work there, and then decided to go to my other, more populated office. On the way, I see the patient on the street. I'm polite, but terrified. I say hello and walk quickly on, calling my bosses as I go. Then I go into a store. I come out 5 minutes later to find my patient with his significant other walking down the street. The S.O. is friendly with me, and tries to get my patient to apologize to me. Instead he proceeds to yell at me in the middle of the street. I scan the street looking for some sort of law enforcement officer. They're never there when you need them. I then cross the street away from where he is and walk a ways out of my way, hoping to avoid another run-in...and also a bloody, painful death. I get to my other office and tell my co-workers that I'm here and will be locking myself in the office until the end of the day, at which time they will have to walk me to the train and possibly ride it with me back to Brooklyn. They laugh, but I am serious. This is me really freaked out. I call my boss to let him know of the run-in on the street and he says "Oh, don't worry. We won't leave you alone up there. Oh...by the way, I'll be out of my office most every day next week for meetings, so you'll have to hold down the fort. Do you feel any better?"
Even now, as I read over what I just wrote, it is quippy and jokey, making light of a potentially dangerous situation, going right along with my M.O., and I see that this is not something that I should be subjected to. And I want to know, how it is that I am going to work tomorrow and the next day without fear? And I want to know, what it is that will be done to assure that I am actually safe? And I want to know, why it is that I am the only one who seems to be taking this seriously, and at what point do I say, and how do I know, that the threat is gone? I might just give this to them as my resignation letter. I am sooo over this. You might have just witnessed me quitting. I'll let you know.