The War On Mental Illness (Not Guns)

Let’s talk about mental illness for a second.

I had a great post planned on writing for today, but in wake of the terrorist attack last night, I’m going to get on my soap box for a moment. It’s my blog, and I can do that!

I feel for the people of Orlando right now. Even though I am from Newtown, CT where 26 of my townspeople were murdered by Adam Lanza, and I was less than an hour from NYC when the towers fell, and I worked a block away from where the Emanuel AME nine were murdered, I cannot fathom how the families and friends of this tragedy are dealing with this. I have an idea, but not first hand knowledge.

That said, it is easy for me to look from the outside and point fingers. While the topic of gun control is HOT right now, especially in the wake of Orlando, IT’S NOT THE GUNS FOLKS!!!!! I firmly believe we are dealing with people who are dealing with mental illness.

I could literally go on all day about Adam Lanza who is responsible for the Newtown massacre and  how the gun was not at fault! Adam Lanza was actually denied a gun from Walmart. Interestingly, when I went home in May, we went to said retailer, and no guns were for sale there. The gun was registered legally to Lanza’s mother.

Lanza had a mental illness. He had a psychiatrist and was prescribed medication for his mental illness. He opted not to take the medication or follow up with his health care providers. Allegedly, his mother was instrumental in his decision not to continue to seek help.

Why?

Probably because America as a society shames mental illness. Look at what happened in the 1970’s when we started deinstitutionlisation? We started closing down mental hospitals, shoving pills down the throats of the mentally ill, and tried moving on with life while people are not getting the proper treatment for the issue at hand.

When you deal with cancer, you get support from friends and family. You join support groups, you seek out others who are dealing with the same/similar illness and build each other up. You wear pink, tattoo a “survivor” ribbon on your ankle, and the “save the ta tas” car magnet.

When you’re diagnosed with depression, mania, schizophrenia, you don’t tell people. You pop the pill and sweep it under the run. It is perfectly acceptable in our society to have diabetes,  but God forbid you have a personality disorder.

In some instances, our mental illness helps us in other areas…such as say creativity, because you see the world differently. I am dedicating a lot of time and effort to showing this in my book Literary Crazy. I also want people to start embracing the world of mental illness, and stop shaming it. We need to see the beauty in having a mental illness and stop shaming it. You know why? Because people with mental illness deserve a fighting chance at a normal, happy life. Someone who is happy with life, does not walk into a school, church, or nightclub and open fire on innocent people.

Medication is not enough. Mental illness needs support. Mental illness needs to be as accepted as cancer, lupus, diabetes, endometriosis, etc. Maybe once we start embracing mental illness, and treating it fairly, we will stop having mass shootings of this caliber.

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