This post is dedicated to the 27 people who lost their lives in the senseless tragedy in Newtown this week. To the children, ages 6-7, and to the brave educators who were accidental heroes that day. To the survivors who will forever be changed. To the parents who have lost their loved ones. To the family where a mental illness ran deep, and clearly no one thought to or was able to reach out to help.
Events like these certainly put everyday problems into perspective. Any day could be your last, and at that point who cares if you have $5 or $1M in your bank account. But this week’s events also speaks to an issue I’ve discussed here before – mental health awareness and access to quality mental healthcare.
I’m lucky in that I would never hurt another soul. I don’t have it in me. But there are days when I consider hurting myself. I haven’t yet, and I probably won’t, but sometimes the world becomes so overwhelming that you just want to find some way to feel like you’re in control. It seems for males especially, this control they seek becomes a fantasy of violence and destruction. For women, it’s more often hurting oneself, through cutting, or binging, or even suicide.
People who are healthy will roll their eyes at you, say to pull yourself together. To grow up. But it takes more than growing up. For some, there’s an actual chemical imbalance. For others, their environment shaped them to be the way they are. No matter how they got to the point where all feelings of normal control and stability are lost, it’s important that the person gets help.
I’ve spent a lot of time, like most in this country have, about the 27 innocent victims in the tragedy this week, and about the killer, who maybe was not evil since birth, or who could have been helped. I’ve wondered, like many of you have, what his childhood and life was like, if his mother pushed him too far, if she pulled him out of school and isolated him from others because he was too autistic to handle being around others, or if a decision to pull him out of school and isolate him led to the tragedy this week. I don’t know, and I’m not sure anyone will know. But I want to believe that deep down there was some good in this kid. That there is good in everyone. I’ve learned, however, that evil is real, and some people are born with a penchant for chaos and destruction.
I’m fighting my own battles, my inner demons, alone as I find therapists who take my insurance are not taking new patients. Therapists that don’t take insurance cost $250-$300 a session. I end up seeing a new therapist — splurging on treatment — when I feel myself breaking down. When I seep from a rush to depression, when my Bipolar II takes a turn for the worse, every so many years. But I usually know when it’s “that time,” and I find help. I can’t say any of it has cured me, or been overly effective, but instead of hurting myself, I had someone to talk to, and it got me through to the next week.
But how many people don’t have the ability to access quality mental healthcare? How many are either unable to afford it or have parents who don’t want to put their children into therapy because of the stigma around it? It took a note that referenced suicidal ideation that I sent to one of the school counselors for advice for my parents to bring me to a psychologist. But I was depressed for years before that. They thought I was just being a typical moody teenager.
Today, the 27 innocents are in my thoughts. I can’t imagine the pain that everyone around their town and those closest to the victims are feeling right now. I am worried that the next tragedy is just months, or even weeks away. As more people see how much chaos others can cause, they may be inspired to act out on their own plans. They may want to see how much more destruction they can cause. It becomes a twisted game and I’m terrified of what evil is lurking in the corners. Is it safe to go to the mall? To the movies? To a school? To work? How does one protect themselves and their loved ones from evil?