FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Mass Shootings Shouldn’t Be the Only Time We Talk About Mental Illness

After every mass shooting, we repeat all of the same things.

Some call for gun control. Those against gun control say this isn’t the time to talk about it. The Onion reprints its story titled, “‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens,” and updates the dateline to reflect the location of the new mass shooting.

When the shooter is white, we talk about mental illness. If they’re not, we talk about terrorism.

Then, Congress does nothing.

But, so long as we’re discussing mental illness, I’d like to weigh in. That’s something I know a bit about. I suffer from anxiety, PTSD, and depression.

I’m not a potential murderer. Mostly I just hide in my bed and cry and get down on myself. My mental illness paralyzes me and keeps me from getting work done, and then I heap shame on myself for not getting work done.

There are an awful lot of mentally ill people like me who are not potential security threats. We’re already stigmatized enough without being suspected of mass murder too.

From where I stand, there are two problems with “solving” mass shootings in this country by simply keeping the mentally ill from owning guns.

First, banning the mentally ill from owning weapons only takes guns away from people who are diagnosed with mental illness. That includes a lot of people like me who’ve sought out help. We’re under a doctor’s supervision. Many others aren’t.

Second, taking away guns while not actually fixing how we treat mental illness isn’t much of a solution. That basically says it’s OK to let millions of Americans suffer so long as they don’t shoot anybody.

We have a system in place that deals with only the most extreme cases.

We can lock up people who commit violent crimes, or take kids away from parents who abuse them. We provide (some) help to the most severely disabled mentally ill people, through Social Security disability. And we can temporarily put people who are dangerous to themselves or others in a mental institution.

What about everyone else?

If you’re insured, it’s relatively affordable to get on medications for problems like depression and anxiety. Medication, when it works, literally saves lives.

If you’re not insured, it’s trickier. And when there’s an underlying problem that needs to be addressed through therapy, medication is a Band-Aid.

I still wonder why no adults noticed my problems when they were developing when I was a kid. A simple screening in my school could have gotten me started on treatment much earlier.

Even teaching mindfulness meditation or yoga in school would have helped.

It took until age 34 to discover the treatment that works for me: a form of psychotherapy called Somatic Experiencing and a form of bodywork called myofascial release. Together, these two therapies are changing my life in a way I never even dreamed was possible.

But they cost $10,000 per year if I go every week.

I’m not so sick that I need to be on Social Security disability, but I am too sick to work full time at most jobs. I struggle to earn enough just to live in general, so coming up with an extra ten grand a year is almost impossible. I’ve relied on crowdfunding to help.

I’m lucky I have friends who can afford to help. Not everyone does.

Survivors of the shooting in Florida are leading a courageous new call for gun control. Maybe this time will be different.

But if we’re going to talk about mental illness in the mean time, can we really talk about it? It’s not OK to let millions of Americans keep suffering and call it a success so long as none of them kills anybody.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Karl Grossman
Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force
Andrew Levine
Strange Bedfellows
Jeffrey St. Clair
Intolerable Opinions in an Intolerant Time
Paul Street
None of Us are Free, One of Us is Chained
Edward Curtin
Slow Suicide and the Abandonment of the World
Celina Stien-della Croce
The ‘Soft Coup’ and the Attack on the Brazilian People 
James Bovard
Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood
Louisa Willcox
My Friend Margot Kidder: Sharing a Love of Dogs, the Wild, and Speaking Truth to Power
David Rosen
Trump’s War on Sex
Mir Alikhan
Trump, North Korea, and the Death of IR Theory
Christopher Jones
Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Why is Tariq Ramadan Imprisoned?
Robert Fantina
MAGA, Trump Style
Linn Washington Jr.
Justice System Abuses Mothers with No Apologies
Martha Rosenberg
Questions About a Popular Antibiotic Class
Ida Audeh
A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’
Edward Hunt
The Afghan War is Killing More People Than Ever
Geoff Dutton
Electrocuting Oral Tradition
Don Fitz
When Cuban Polyclinics Were Born
Ramzy Baroud
End the Wars to Halt the Refugee Crisis
Ralph Nader
The Unsurpassed Power trip by an Insuperable Control Freak
Lara Merling
The Pain of Puerto Ricans is a Profit Source for Creditors
James Jordan
Struggle and Defiance at Colombia’s Feast of Pestilence
Tamara Pearson
Indifference to a Hellish World
Kathy Kelly
Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament
Jessicah Pierre
Celebrating the End of Slavery, With One Big Asterisk
Rohullah Naderi
The Ever-Shrinking Space for Hazara Ethnic Group
Binoy Kampmark
Leaving the UN Human Rights Council
Nomi Prins 
How Trump’s Trade Wars Could Lead to a Great Depression
Robert Fisk
Can Former Lebanese MP Mustafa Alloush Turn Even the Coldest of Middle Eastern Sceptics into an Optimist?
Franklin Lamb
Could “Tough Love” Salvage Lebanon?
George Ochenski
Why Wild Horse Island is Still Wild
Ann Garrison
Nikki Haley: Damn the UNHRC and the Rest of You Too
Jonah Raskin
What’s Hippie Food? A Culinary Quest for the Real Deal
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Brian Wakamo
We Subsidize the Wrong Kind of Agriculture
Patrick Higgins
Children in Cages Create Glimmers of the Moral Reserve
Patrick Bobilin
What Does Optimism Look Like Now?
Don Qaswa
A Reduction of Economic Warfare and Bombing Might Help 
Robin Carver
Why We Still Need Pride Parades
Jill Richardson
Immigrant Kids are Suffering From Trauma That Will Last for Years
Thomas Mountain
USA’s “Soft” Coup in Ethiopia?
Jim Hightower
Big Oil’s Man in Foreign Policy
Louis Proyect
Civilization and Its Absence
David Yearsley
Midsummer Music Even the Nazis Couldn’t Stamp Out
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail