I have lots of thoughts about the latest school shooting reactions. Not the shooting itself. But the reactions that I have read from the people on my friends list on Facebook. From the people I follow on Tumblr. From the links that are linked.
I've seen video games get blamed.
Violent video games are not the problem. In fact, there are a whole lot more people who play violent video games that are NOT violent, than who are. Just because I like killing zombies/Nazi/Zerg/Flood does not make me a violent person. People do not look at me and call me violent.
I've seen guns get blamed.
Are guns the problem? I don't think so. I consider myself a liberal, but I understand the need to have a hunting rifle if you are going to hunt. I understand the need if you are in law enforcement. I understand the need to collect because of history. All these things are fine. All these things are sane. These people (some of my family in fact) will never go out and decide one day to use their firearm on other people. However, I do support more background checks. I do support banning those firearms not used in hunting. Will this stop shootings? No. People can steal just as easily. But will it create another barrier that will just take that much longer for someone who should not own a weapon, to get said weapon? Yes. And durring that time, perhaps the person will be deterred. Or s/he would get help.
(which brings me to my next point)
I've seen mental illness get blamed.
I hate this. I hate the term "mental illness." I hate it. Because I fall in this category. I have a mental illness. I am bipolar. But am I "ill"? No. I cannot "get better" or "heal" this. This is a disorder I have. My brain does not make the same chemicals that a person who is not bipolar does. It's a chemical imbalance that leads to mood swings.
I am not sick.
Nor am I violent on the scale of this violence. I will not paint a rosy picture of my past. I have been violent towards others when I have not been on medication, when I wasn't being helped, when I didn't know I was bipolar and that something was wrong. I have been violent towards myself. I've cut myself for therapeutic reasons, I've taken way too much medication. I've landed in the psych ward a couple times because of this. But I got help.
I've been lucky in a way. I've had friends who held my hand and taught me to stand on my own feet. I've had loved ones hold me up and teach me to stand up for myself. To embrace myself. To love my flaws. I've had close people call doctors for me because I was too scared to do it myself. I've had them drive me to the appointments because they knew I wouldn't go otherwise.
I've also found some awesome doctors. And some medication that works for me without any side effects. I know I'm lucky with this one thing alone.
But is mental illness to blame?
Can we talk about mental health outside of a tragedy? Can we have this discussion that people refuse to have? I know it's hard. I had to fight to get family members to understand what I'm going through. What I've been through. But it was worth it. They get it now. They are supportive. They understand.
We need to talk about mental health. All the good stuff and all the bad stuff. And not make it feel like I'm sharing this deep dark secret when I say "I'm bipolar." It's not a secret. I'm very open about it because I want people to understand. To question me.
We need to be open. We need to not shun those who act "off." We need to not look down on the woman on the corner muttering to herself. We need to relax and not tense up when there is an autistic child throwing a fit in a public place. We need more empathy. We need more knowledge.
We need to stop judging everyone who isn't like us.
We all need to talk.
Perhaps then, the people who need help will find it.
Perhaps then, people can find safe places for their loved ones who need help.
Perhaps then, there will be funding for this to all occur.
Perhaps then, it will be less of a stigma.