My blog has been active for over a year now. I have written about many aspects of Mental Illness, mostly focusing on my own experiences. I have reviewed articles and written about recent horrific tragedies. I have included brief excerpts from my upcoming memoir. I have thought a lot about things I post. I want to give a voice to those with Mental Illness who are afraid to voice themselves, who are afraid of the repercussions of what they may say, who still feel the stigma burying them stone by stone.
I may have pushed myself under the city bus this time…
Today, I want to discuss Mental Illness and mass tragedies.
I am a firm believer of facts as I am a very logical person. I still agree that those of us who suffer from any form of Mental Illness are more likely to become victims of violent acts than carry them out. I am also a perpetual thinker. I think in bed at night. I think in bed in the morning. I think at my desk at work and I think in the shower. My best and most deepest thoughts coming from the latter. Lately, after the mass shooting in Orlando, a horrific tragedy, I have thought a lot about this event (a tragedy following many others) and the Mental Health community.
Although, I stand behind my belief and the fact stated above, I find it very hard for someone in their “right mind” to decide to buy a semi-automatic and commit a mass murder. No one who is in their right mind wakes up and says, “Let’s kill people today.” We’ve all been taught killing is bad. These assassins have to have some form of Mental Illness, most of them undiagnosed, but some form. I have not been in my right mind before. My Depressive mind has wanted to hurt myself. I’ve wanted to take the mental pain away by performing a lobotomy with a screw from a hospital lunch tray table. I’ve wanted to, and have, experimented with cutting, lightly stroking my wrist with a pair of eyebrow scissors. I’ve wanted to run away and leave my husband and daughter because they didn’t need me the way I was, a non-functioning zombie.
I was not in my right mind. I’ve been down that frightening road.
How can we believe that these assassins were in their right mind? How can we say that in any terms these mass killings are not related to Mental Illness?
Most recently, speaking with my therapist, he has told me that professionals now view many Mental Illnesses as a spectrum, for example with Depression, one end would be minor Depression and the opposite end could be suicidal. I don’t want to put these assassins at the same spot on the spectrum as myself but it has to be considered that they fall somewhere on the Mental Health spectrum most likely at a “sociopath or psychopath” end.
Allowing assault weapons to fall into the hands of those with Severe Mental Illness is not a good idea (please continue reading on before judging me, again, I do suffer from more than one Mental Illness). Honestly, I wouldn’t trust myself with one when I wasn’t in my right mind, to the extent of hurting only myself. But that is just me. Letting these assault rifles into the hands of one labeled a “sociopath or psychopath” is even a worse tragedy, and one that should fault America as a country as we debate gun control and fall behind with our Mental Healthcare System. Of course, many of these assassins are not diagnosed. So what to do as a country? How do we ensure those with Mental Illness become diagnosed especially with a stigma that scares us to opening up? How would we as a country create a list of those with Mental Illness who shouldn’t be allowed to buy a weapon? How do we determine who is going on a downward spiral and who is treated enough to own one? How do we find those that are more deeply disturbed? Those men and women whose psyches are so far gone?
And then there is the media, the biggest source of this stigma behind relating every horrific crime to someone who is obviously “Looney”. I am not disagreeing that these people are not “crazy” per say, but you are now calling out prejudice to a whole community of people who suffer with Mental Illness. Because one severely ill person carried out this horrific event does not mean all of us will. Most of us lead fairly normal lives and function extremely well. We seek out therapy, medications we may need and self-care. You would never know until we told you or until we spiraled out of control. Then again, this is what American media is all about, let’s blame a whole group of people for a small population’s actions. We are very good at this.
These individuals, the assassins as I like to call them, are not mentally healthy. What may have been going through the mind of the man who carried out the Orlando night club shooting… a man who frequented the club before, a man who was on the FBI’s watch list, a man who’s own wife thought he may have been gay and knew what he was planning, a man who most likely had the inner turmoil of being gay but feared being rejected by his religion because of it. He was not in his right mind. He was not mentally stable, and no, I am not excusing what he did.
Now, what can we do to prevent these vicious crimes from happening? I think that is something that as a country we would all love an answer for.