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Disturbing classmate

Forums: General Discussion
Created on: 04/30/09 03:33 PM Views: 1462 Replies: 12
Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 3:33 PM

All: I need your counsel. We have a classmate with a mental illness. Everyone remembers him as a “good guy;” however, 30 years and many miles of rough road have obviously taken its toll.
On one hand, I’ve got the girls complaining that the posts are creepy.
On the other hand, the guys say “but he NEEDS us now!”
Now I feel the whole website has become the “W____ Show” and the focus is off of the reconnection/ reunion and more on his problems and the problem he could become at the reunion.
I am disheartened and sad. I have asked in my most gentle way that he “fix” his postings but I am ignored and suspect that his disease keeps him from acknowledging that the problem is with him.
Suggestions? Experience?

(I will return his profile to private in a day or two)

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Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 4:23 PM - Response #1

I had the same issue. A woman kept harrassing people and me. Turns out she has some issues. I gave her 2 warnings which made things worse. I blocked her from getting on the site. I changed her email to a dummy one so she could log in and password protected all the site.

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Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 4:25 PM - Response #2

We have now password protected every page of our website because of something similar to this. Members can't "come in" unless they are verifiable. We had a "hijacker" assume the identity of a classmate and was saying creepy disrespectful things about a female classmate. It turned out that this was an actual stocker that she has been running from since the 11th grade (now 20 yrs later). He tracked her down through our website. We completely deleted that student name and access. He has tried similar tactics through other "class" websites. It's frustrating, because we want more classmate participation but we can't verify every single person.

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Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 4:29 PM - Response #3

Yikes!!
Sounds like you two are really up against a wall, and having to play 'police protector'!
Are the two mentioned under some sort of medical care?
My only suggestion would be to ask a professional that either sees him or her, what to do in this case.
There may be a better way to handle it (certain words or phrases that they would recognize from treatment) that would save you the headache.
In the meantime, it will be up to you to keep the positive, upbeat enthusiasm for the whole class on the website. They are looking to you as the leader of this anyway, so ignore, his behavior, block it if you can, and hopefully all will work itself out.
The class is obviously aware of these illnesses, however they shouldn't hang over the entire event like a bad cloud!
So maybe no response is the best response. If they don't get one from anybody, they are less likely to continue.
Hope so anyway!
Let us know how it's resolved!
Cindi

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Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 4:39 PM - Response #4

We have the same problem with one of ours. He has good days and he has bad days. He is always on the forum and it's like he doesn't take his meds some days and other days he is fine. We let him rant and we ignore him. If he talks to us normal we reply back. You might want to consider sending out a mass email and not send one to him. Then explain that you are sorry if he becomes a problem and the best way to handle him is to ignore him. The guys feel that he is being helped and the girls know that all they have to do is ignore him. And if his postings are out of line delete them! Then explain that it was out of line. But be prepared that he might not be to happy you deleted it. I did this exact thing and he blew up. Pulled his pictures off his profile and said goodbye. I wrote him again and told him his post was out of line and why. A few days of cooling off and he came back. He has posted pictures again and has been behaving himself. So I guess it depends on how mental he is. If you can get thru to him or not. But you don't want to loose 2 to keep 1. Sometimes you just have to let the one go.

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Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 5:52 PM - Response #5

This guys has MS - Multiple Sclerosis, and a broken heart from loosing his son. Is he a little "off" or "different", perhaps, but it doesn't sound, from what I read, that he has a mental illness. He enjoys bragging and building himself and son up to be higher than the sky, but I doubt he's a threat. Maybe you could ask your classmates to limit their length of postings - and then perhaps assist this guy by shortening his. I didn't read anything that would appear "creepy". Like I said, he appears to be "different" than the average "Joe" but, sounds like's he's been through a lot in his life. Give him a chance...evaluate him after he attends the reunion. If there are apparent reasons to do so, then block him. I'm sure if he becomes a threat to anyone at your reunion, there will be enough classmates to assist him out.

Good luck!

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Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 9:13 PM - Response #6

I checked WS out on your forum. If that is him he seems harmless to me. I will trade you mine for yours anyday. Odd similarities, mine also had a son die recently and the world revolves around him and not the other children he still has in his life. He actually told the other kids that they are dead to him. That this was the good one out the bunch and should still be alive. And he types a lot in all capitals. Maybe that is part of trying to get the attention he thrives. Your website and connecting to the past might be what he needs. I know it has really helped our classmate out. And ignoring him when he rants has been the answer. I agree that maybe his profile post is long and a little creepy. So long I stopped reading and started skimming. I say keep an eye on him and advise others that you are keeping an eye on him.

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Edited 04/30/09 9:28 PM
Friday, May 1, 2009 at 12:27 AM - Response #7

Losing a child is unimaginable. I lost my daughter 10 years ago (age 16) from a progressive disease.
There is no one that can understand that pain, unless you've gone through it. I haven't read his post, but that explains alot to me now....He is hurting, and crying out to those he feels closest to.
It's not his fault, nor is it yours...But it's easier to lash out at those you are closest to, because they supposedly understand you better than anyone. And he needs someone to understand what he is going through. My heart breaks for this guy.
All caps is anger. He is yelling because he can't do anything else. I don't know when either guy lost their kids, but the one that is telling his children those unkind words is hurt too, and one can only hope the kids will forgive his anger. They must be hurting too.
If either one is medicated because of the loss, then you might just need to be aware...otherwise, I would say they are harmless.
Until you've walked in those shoes....you just don't know.

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Friday, May 1, 2009 at 9:23 AM - Response #8

I had a classmate who did not have mental issues but was just a jerk. He had nothing good to say about our class, school or hometown. He posted hurtful comments on the In Memory page for a classmate who had just passed away. Many people were offended by it so I asked him to edit his comments. His second posting was even more offensive. I printed it out for my own records then deleted it. He tried numerous times to provoke people into debates about the education we received as well as political topics. I tried to ignore him thinking he would go away but others responded to him in the message forum. I emailed the class, except him, asking how best to handle the situation. I was overwhelmed with support for removing him. I emailed him to say that he is no longer welcome on the site. I changed his password and password protected the message forum and home page. He threatened me with a lawyer if I did not remove his postings as I no longer had his permission to use his name or words. That was three months ago and I haven't heard any more from him.
It's unfortunate that not everyone appreciates the efforts we, as administrators, go to in order to create and maintain a fun, enjoyable place to reconnect and renew friendships.
Best of luck with your site.
Tam

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Friday, May 1, 2009 at 10:54 AM - Response #9

I went to bed thinking about these guys, and I'll comment once more, and be done.

One of the hardest things is to see and accept the happiness around you, when you are deep in grief. I am sure, for both guys, going back to high school, whether in memories or in real life, only reminds them of how good things 'use to be'. Carefree, irresponsible (to a point) days that can no longer be retrieved, is just another reminder that your life is different, and you can't go back. I remember bursting into tears shortly after my daughter's death, when I saw an old high school boyfriend. He came by my house 3 days after the funeral, and I just lost it.

We all sometimes think about 'turning back the clock' but I can tell you, it means so much more to the ones who have been through such a tragedy as the loss of a child.

Because it is so not normal.

Time goes on, and with time these guys, hopefully, will heal and move forward. In the meantime, my best suggestion is not to shut them out, but be selective as to what posts you respond to. They may not realize they are lashing out, or being offensive. They just want to be heard. This won't condone the bad behavior or language, but will show that as a class you haven't rejected him, but will only tolerate certain messages.

You never know...it could be that ya'll are exactly the therapy he needs to help him(them) move through the grief process.
You can't take the pain away, but if your class really wants to help, just be there for him as he tries to get a handle on his feelings at this most critical time...Sad
This,too, shall pass....

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Friday, May 1, 2009 at 11:19 AM - Response #10

Thanks Cindi for the taking the time to read the (lengthy) post. Your counsel means so very much to me, as obviously you know where he's coming from.

Statistically our class has had very bad luck with a number of classmates who have lost children (one classmate, an entire family) and a higher number than expected of cases of MS.
I've checked with mental health professionals and legal counsel. I know MS is a disease of the brain, it can affect the thought processes as well. But my other MS classmates are a joy, so I need to be careful how much I blame on the disease.

The ALL CAPS and poor punctuation is probably due to a voice to text converter, so I think a global - JW email is necessary. Thanks for that brilliant suggestion!!

ps The creepiness factor really bloomed when he posted the "I'm an expert in small arms" post. (Yikes !!)

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Friday, May 1, 2009 at 12:34 PM - Response #11

Maggie lots of luck to you with him. Like I said ours has gotten better. His son died 2 years ago and honestly I think his death was a result of the father not having insurance. (long story) and I think he blames himself for it. On the anniversary of his son's death some of us sent him happy cards to let him know we were there for him if he needed someone to talk to. We know for a fact we are good for him. He's family has stated they have seen a change in his attitude. And he and I have a relationship that I can tell him if he is getting out of line. (I didn't graduate with this class so I have a different relationship) So maybe an honest talk with him might help. Make the point that his profile is so long that people might get bored with it but you appreciate him telling others about his son. I honestly think ours was pre-suicidal before he came on the site. Now he posts cartoons and jokes. Good luck and hang in there.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009 at 1:07 PM - Response #12

Maggie I sent you a private message. Maybe we can help each other out.Very Happy

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