I’ve written, deleted, and re-written this same post over and over again because I didn’t know how to say what I wanted to say. And because I was afraid of what people would think when they read it. But in light of Friday night’s school shooting, constant talk of more gun control, and little talk about the mental health of the shooters of any of the school and mall shootings we’ve seen, and this incredible article written by Liza Long, I’ve decided to write it again and post it. I’ve already posted it on Facebook, but I think it needs a lot of attention, not necessarily what I’ve written but the subject. So here goes, my attempt at showing the other side.
I just finished reading an article by Liza Long, “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother”, posted over at The Blue Review, a blog of sorts published by the Boise State University College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs. Please read her article before going on with my post, it’s cool, I’ll wait. Go on now….
Read it? What do you think? How does this make you feel?
I feel like, in some ways, as I post this piece, I’m sort of coming out. I am not for more gun control. I know that this is probably the most unpopular belief out there, but there it is. I truly believe that each and every one of these horrible school shootings is caused not by guns but instead caused by someone who is severely mentally ill who hasn’t been able to get the correct treatment that he needs and has a right to as a human. When you look at the cases of the school shootings in the last 15 years each of those people who did the shootings was mentally ill.
When I hear about a shooting the first question in my mind is always, “why was this person not being treated for his mental illness?” Again another unpopular opinion. But I don’t care anymore. Ask yourself a few questions: How many were of the gunmen were being treated? Why was treatment not available? Why was an obvious mental illness (most specifically in the case of the theater shooting and the shooting in Tucson) ignored? Why are we still not taking mental illness seriously?
In his speech at the White House, President Obama tells us that the families of Newton, CT, will receive counseling to deal with the tragedy. But why couldn’t we offer or have care for the mentally ill NOW instead of having to put the pieces back together again after such a tragedy. This is President Obama’s fourth massacre on his watch. When will we see that it’s not just about guns, but about what’s happening before the tragedy happens?
If this is what I have to deal with, can you imagine what it’s like to be the parent of a child with a severe mental illness? Read the article. Think about it for awhile. Think about a social worker telling you that the only way your extremely mentally ill child is going to get help is if he commits a crime. And then the only place to get “treatment” is jail. How is that treatment?
People, this isn’t about guns. These school shootings are not about guns, or gun laws, or gun safety. Its about mental health. We need to stop being so freaking scared of mental illness and start treating it instead of running from it. Until that happens, we’re most assuredly going to see more mass shootings. This is the 21st Century and we’re still treating mental health issues as if we live in the Dark Ages. Mentally ill people are not demons. Every single one of us wants to be treated the same as anyone else who has a disease or illness. Our illnesses are not contagious. Our illnesses can be treated. But we need more research, more help, more acceptance. We need to say something. Liza Long, the author of this post, is a strong woman who refuses to ignore her child’s illness. No one wants to hear that their child is acting oddly, but wouldn’t you rather know than be the mother of Adam Lanza? Wouldn’t you rather get your child help when you realize something isn’t right?
This is the battle I’m willing to fight. Sure, I don’t want my co-workers to look at me like I’m a crazy person or avoid me because I’ve outed myself as having not one but three mental illnesses. But I’d rather people know who have courage to step up to me and say, “Is everything okay” when its obvious that something is wrong. I’ve been really lucky to have a fantastic husband and beautiful friends who have always been able to spot trouble brewing when I couldn’t see it in myself. I’m eternally grateful for that. Wouldn’t it have been fantastic if Mrs. Lanza wasn’t worried or nervous about sons illness or what the neighbors would think about her or him? Wouldn’t it be nice if she had been able to get Adam treatment and he didn’t kill babies?