A siren screams through the night air. With no traffic, the ambulance is a blur as it streaks through intersections rushing headlong to St Luke's Hospital Emergency Department. Inside the vehicle two EMT's are carefully attending to the woman on the gurney, a woman more dead than alive.
The EMT with the pock-marked face and shaggy brown hair looks up from their passenger and remarks, "She really meant to do it, didn't she, Pete?"
His stocky, bald partner turns to him from changing the dressing on the passenger's left wrist and answers, "No doubt about it, my Friend. You don't get drunk and slit your wrists if you’re just thinkin' about it."
The other EMT bends over to get a closer look at the body draped with a sheet spattered with blood. He then turns to Pete and observes, "Somehow she looks familiar. Can't place her though. On TV maybe?"
"What did the neighbor say her name was?"
"Dorothy something-or-other. Let's see if we can find out who our mystery guest is."
He begins to look through the contents of the plastic grocery bag that the neighbor hastily put into the vehicle as it sped away from the small but well-maintained ranch home.
"Look here, Pete, she has one of those professional cards. It says she is Dorothy J. Stingler, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, Author, and Public Speaker."
"That's who she is!" responds Pete. "I knew I saw her somewhere. She was on that show Bradley Corbit had on a couple months ago, the one about faith and evil. She was on with Professor Balter. You know, the guy who saved that little girl some years back.”
“Missed that show, but I remember that guy. Didn’t he run into his neighbor’s burning house to save that kid? He was awarded some kind of medal for his bravery.”
"That’s him. Too bad you didn't see the show. It was a really good debate on whether it makes sense to believe God is real when you think there’s evil in the world. Balter was on the side of faith being reasonable even in the face of evil. She opposed him until for some reason she just kinda stopped. Rather strange if you ask me. Wonder if that had anything to do with this mess, Jeb.”
Jeb kept staring at the seemingly lifeless body before him. “I don’t know, Pete. At least we brought her back from the dead and wrapped her good an' tight to keep the blood from seeping out what life she still had. She may be a celebrity but she’s no better now than any of those others who try to cash out for one reason or another. I guess they turn to razors and bathtubs when they want to get it done comfortably. I'm sure they'll need a psych consult on this one."
The emergency vehicle pulls up to the hospital's emergency entrance, and the EMT's rush the gurney into the hospital explaining that this patient tried to commit suicide but was luckily found by a neighbor who happened to stop by. She discovered Dorothy in her bathtub full of hot water. Her wrists were slit, and an empty bottle of Zoloft was on the floor next to the tub.
The doctors and nurses quickly take over.
Earlier that day Dorothy Stingler was having a long and rough go of it. She was physically and emotionally exhausted because she had endured six appointments with very needy clients. Even her lunch break did not renew her energy, and the strong latte in the afternoon did not do much to revive her flagging spirits. But it was not just the interaction with the clients that left Dorothy feeling drained, it was all the damn paperwork. Notes, billing, scheduling, and more notes. Nevertheless, she dutifully finished all the necessary paperwork for a private practice one-person office, then she went home.
Dorothy planned to spend the last part of her day finishing an article she was writing on the origins of depression, but when she stepped through her doorway, she wanted nothing more than to pour herself a glass of Moscato and sink deep into her favorite easy chair. Then she would just listen to her playlist of soothing music and stop thinking.
Yet no matter how hard she tried to control her thoughts, Dorothy could not find a way out of the swirl that made her head pound. Even after all these years she found it difficult to make a clean break between her professional and personal lives. She routinely kept thinking about her clients even when she was at home trying to relax. It seemed that their pains and problems just kept clinging to her, like recurring dreams that haunt a person until they seem to take on a life of their own. She knew very well that for her own well-being she needed to detach her clients' issues from her own, but sometimes, like now, they became intertwined, which seemed to feed her own personal issues. Which was, she thought, the reason she persistently felt so sad and tired. And then there was the embarrassment she felt when she broke down on that TV show in front of a national audience, in front of her professional rival! She tried to recover from that, but lately she had been feeling a sense of general malaise and could not summon up enough strength to deal with it any more. She had been trying to overcome the feeling that she had failed as a professional, but that feeling was beginning to morph into a sense that she was a failure as a person.