How is this for coincidence or predestination? The other night when I was going to the gym (which is located in a community center), I saw a girl I had seen around the high school campus I work at, sitting in a chair, drenched in sweat, struggling to breath.
I waved at her, and she didn’t respond. I watched as who later turned out to be her father and cousin helped her to her feet and out the door to their car.
I turned to one of the workers and asked what her name was and what had happened. They gave me her name and said she had just had an asthma attack. Although that should have been the end of it, the expression on her face when I saw her told me that it wasn’t just an asthma attack and I made a mental note to check on her the next day.
The next day, as soon as I got to work at the school, I got a phone call from a friend and fellow counselor referring a young girl to me who had been brought to the psychiatric hospital she works at the night before, but was released after a few hours. The young girl she was talking about happened to be the same young girl I saw the night before at the community center.
As I had suspected, her asthma attack was no asthma attack, but a panic attack and her family had taken her to the nearby psychiatric hospital for help. Apparently, the girl was dealing with a handful of stressful issues that the counselor making the referral thought I would be able to help her with.
That day I had a full schedule with students who had made appointments to see me, as well as two anger management groups to facilitate and the usual chaos that comes with working in an inner-city high school, so unfortunately seeing this young lady fell down my list to the end of the day.
When I finally got to call her out of class, her teacher informed me that she had already sent the girl to my office because she didn’t “look good” and had been acting “strange”. When I hung up the phone with the teacher, the young girl was already standing at my door.
To me, these were all signs that I was meant to work with this young lady; from seeing her at the community center, to the phone call that morning, to the the fact that as I was calling her out of class, she was already being sent to my office.
We spent the next fifty minutes discussing the issues that had her feeling anxious and stressed. They were mostly a bunch of family and relationship issues and she almost had a panic attack right there in my office, but I was able to teach her a quick and easy breathing technique that helped prevent a full blown attack. I also walked with her down to the clinic, just to make sure she was medically okay. I gave her a homework assignment that will help her start recognizing the thoughts that are causing her to have anxiety and the triggers for her panic attacks.
That was our first session and we will have many more to go, but I feel good about the therapeutic relationship we are building and the progress we will be making. In the brief time we spent together, I learned that a lot of her anxiety and stress comes from faulty and irrational thinking which I hope to help her undo over the next few weeks.
I find it amazing how this has all come together, and maybe it’s just a coincidence, but it almost feels predestined. I’m just glad to be in a position to try to give her the help she needs.