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 Tips for Recognizing Distress > Role Play #1 "Everything's a Mess"
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Role Play #1 "Everything's a Mess"

Subject: Family problems, Hate issues
Characters: Professor
College Student
Scene: Faculty member's office
Daytime: One week after the second major test

(A student enters the office looking tired & disheveled.)

STUDENT
Hi.

PROFESSOR:
Hi! Come in!

STUDENT:
Ummm…,I wanted to talk to you about how I'm doing in class. I missed the last test because I had to go home for a family emergency. I really need this class, so I'm hoping I can make it up.

PROFESSOR
Which class is that?

STUDENT
You don't even know who I am, do you?

PROFESSOR
I'm sorry, I just can't place you. Have you been coming lately?

STUDENT
Well, yeah, I mean…

PROFESSOR
Why don’t you tell me your name and which class it is.

STUDENT
Joan Bates. Psych 2. Tuesday Thursday? Nine thirty?

PROFESSOR
Yes. Yes, okay. Ummm, well….

STUDENT (rushing on)
I know it probably looks bad for me because I haven't been coming lately, but…. Well, things have been kinda….

PROFESSOR (nodding sympathetically/encouragingly)
Well….

STUDENT (urgent & defensive)
My Dad lost his job over the summer, and now my parents argue about stuff all the time. My boy friend just…. Well, that's over with now, I guess. And I just got one of those hate emails, so I'm kinda nervous about that….

PROFESSOR
Is there anyone you can talk to about these things?

STUDENT
There's some groups on campus. I've been active with some of them, but everyone else is scared, too.. And, oh yeah, then my Mom calls me every night -- she's a mess lately. And you know? I'm really… just even having trouble getting out of bed sometimes. And I'm crying. There I go… I'm crying a lot these days.

PROFESSOR
It sounds like….

STUDENT
I know. You should hear her. Last week my Mom called and was in a panic. They'd been fighting, and my Dad had been, I don't know, drinking, I guess. She was talking about divorce…. She just asked me to come home, so I just left. I know I haven't been doing things right and missing class, but I just can't help it. I'm just… running all the time and can't keep up!

PROFESSOR
You've got quite a load on your shoulders.

(Student reacts: "Boy, you can say that again…" Then, )

STUDENT
Can I make up the test?

PROFESSOR
Well. I could let you take the make-up exam. That would certainly help with this class. But I'm wondering if it might be helpful for you to talk to someone over at CAPS.

STUDENT (warily)
CAPS? Is that the, ah….?

PROFESSOR
It's the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services. You probably should talk to someone who has some experience with….

STUDENT
I'm not crazy or anything. It's just a lot of things are going on right now.

PROFESSOR
Oh, I know it's just that….

STUDENT
Someone on my floor goes to CAPS, and she's a real nut case! She called a crisis line last week and they had the police in there and everything. I don't have those kinds of problems.

PROFESSOR
No. I'm not saying you do. You're just trying to deal with a lot and it's getting to you. It's normal to need help when your family's in crisis. It sounds like you've been giving your parents support, so where are you going to go? You see what I mean? And this hate business is very scary.

(STUDENT hesitates, weighing things)

PROFESSOR
They really do have a lot of experience….

STUDENT
What if….? Well. Maybe that would be good. Do you know anyone over there?

(FADE TO BLACK with hopeful look on Student's face.)
(END)


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