Since I wrote this I’ve been thinking. How could I not? That post was pretty much my fuck everything response to the tragedy in Connecticut. Verbal vomit. But now I’m a little more insightful and a lot less curse word-riddled. Let’s see how long that lasts. Oh, wait, the sentence above. Never mind.
I wrote, as many others are talking about, the need for better mental health services and gun control. I think if access to guns was less easy, senseless situations like this could be avoided (entirely? I honestly don’t think so because we can’t watch everyone and there are so many levels, degrees to mental illness. NONE OF THEM IS THE SAME, NONE OF THEM IS THE SAME IN DIFFERENT PEOPLE, AND NONE OF THEM IS TO BLAME.) But at the core of it, to me, is combating the stigma associated with seeking mental health assistance.
When I heard the news about the football player who killed his girlfriend and then himself recently, my first thought was how troubled he must have been, how utterly unhappy and confused and unable to seek help. And yet. He went to his coaches before killing himself so he had people to turn to and he knew it. Did he think about how that would look? How asking for help for whatever he was dealing with would seem to others? The belief (that many of us have; I’m included) that we will be judged or viewed as incapable to cope and therefore less of a person, not strong enough, easily undone, needs to be combated. It’s silly and wrong, yes, but it exists and is real for so many people. We have created the idiocy surrounding this perception. And we, together, need to fix it.
Earlier this year I visited the doctor complaining about anxiety. She offered a prescription and I accepted. It took me a while to fill the prescription, though, because I’d convinced myself that the pharmacist, the pharmacy techs, the people in line in front of and behind me were all going to shake their heads in unison. “Look. Here’s another one can’t cope with life, getting the little pills to help her be a mommy.” Fuck you, daydream. You and your imaginary CVS customers don’t know my life.
Why? Why do we feel the need to demonize those who need help? Why? Why do we not provide affordable, obtainable access to mental health assistance to those who want and need it? Why? Why don’t we help when we see a person in need? Why do we turn our heads, glad it’s not us, afraid their crazy will sully our well manicured hands? It’s not all of us, I know. Many of us care. Many of us want to never be able to say a tragic event like Sandy Hook has happened again. God, how I wish we could say it hadn’t happened at all.
Sometimes I look at the money we spend as a country, the money we spend to pay our athletes and our AHEM entertainers —
And then totally random thought: There are some who are now wanting to discuss, again, whether the violence we see depicted in film and video games, for instance, actually causes us to be more violent in our real lives. All I can say is this: I don’t play shoot em up video games but I will admit that after leaving a particularly gun laden movie, I might feel a little invincible. But for me, it’s music. Music can change me. I can be just chillin’, driving along listening to Luther croon and then bam! a song comes on screaming about guns and bitches and what they’re gonna do to the bitches with their guns and it’s all DRIVE FASTER, GET OUT OF MY WAY, I’LL KICK YOUR ASS. It’s amazing how certain songs disgust me with their violent, mysoginstic lyrics and yet…
— and I wonder whether it’s worth it to keep the lottery system. Couldn’t that money be better spent to help the homeless? Does a basketball player really need so many millions (who am I to say a talented player does not?) Do rappers (who am I to say a talented wordsmith does not?) Maybe doctors do. And teachers who are willing to shield tiny bodies from bullets.
Maybe we all need help. Maybe we all need to be taught how to spot warning signs. Maybe we all need to care enough about each other to ask, to not worry about stepping on toes, overstepping boundaries. Maybe we need to be comfortable enough to say Thank you, yes, I do want to talk. There is nothing wrong with talking. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. There is nothing wrong with walking to the counter and saying the name of your prescription refill without whispering, afraid of how the person behind you is going to stare at the back of your head willing you to turn and see her look of this crazy bitch disgust.
You are not crazy.
If you need help, you are not alone.
There is NOTHING WRONG WITH NEEDING MENTAL HEALTH ASSISTANCE. Fuck stigma. Take care of yourself. Let others help you. You are braver than you think and there are more people who WILL help if you let them. Let them know you need it.
Life in general is hard. Throw in loss of income, increase in bills, gas, food, clothes, GODDAMN HEAT, and you have the makings of despair in any normal person. But sometimes it’s more than that. Sometimes we are born with chemical abnormalities. Some of us simply don’t have the gene that makes us keep fighting. Some of us are more prone to sadness and depression and the need to talk to a therapist or seek prescription aid. Sometimes it takes a while to get the right prescription drug (if that’s the route taken) and there’s no telling what can happen before it takes effect. There is no telling because just because someone is clinically diagnosed with something, that person is still an individual. Whatever the affliction, it, to a degree, presents differently in different people.
We need to no longer be afraid of our needs. And all of us should be allowed to help ourselves without being afraid of how it will look.
There is no weakness in remaining alive.
And then my mind returns to the guns. Yes, we need better mental health options (and remember mental health is a vast phrase. Violence tacked onto any mental issue just confounds that issue) but without access to the guns…
Without access to the guns…