Someone else stabbed some people in a school and now their community will be in a shambles forever and ever and the stabber (?)’s life is basically over and the victim’s lives are forever altered.
The news coverage is of course awful, and we will watch and judge and analyze and talk about his family and how he might have been a bad kid and THOSE POOR VICTIMS and it will go on and on for several days and then just kind of…stop.
As these things do.
The problem with all of this, is that when these things happen we put police in schools, metal detectors, go on and on about violent video games (a legit argument) and gun control (you don’t need one), but we rarely have meaningful conversations about mental health.
We brush over the issue, often bullying and history of loner tendencies might be mentioned, but no elected official ever makes a big old stink about signing a new STOP STIGMATIZING MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES ASSHOLES bill like we do with gun control and other hot-button issues, right?
Not that I can remember, at least.
Here’s the thing, guys. It is not within the realm of normal human behavior to go on a stabbing/shooting/harming rampage. Harming yourself or others is not normal.
So, people who do things like this often have mental health issues. Something that causes them to break in this particular way, in such a violent and awful way that not only hurts them but so many others.
And just THINK about untreated people who don’t break in this way. Who just sort of languish, not making a huge stink, but certainly not living to their fullest potential.
And YET. With all of this knowledge, coupled with scientific evidence that a combination of talk therapy and medications can HELP PEOPLE BE A BETTER VERSION OF THEMSELVES, we act like therapy is dumb, only crazy people need help, and God forbid we have actual meaningful conversations about why more mental health advocacy in our country would be useful to people.
This isn’t a lack of education, either. Some of my own family members don’t agree with the potential benefits of therapy. Instead, we don’t talk about things, fake it until we make it, and end up occasionally having conversations in which something just feels like it’s MISSING, but we can’t address what it is and certainly wouldn’t seek help to find it. note: my family is great and generally supportive of me. it’s still hard to overcome generations of American stigma on mental health, so don’t get all huffy, i’m not saying anything bad. the example is meant to illustrate that this is a deep-rooted issue with everyone, not that my family is mean or cray cray or messed up. they ain’t.
If you break a bone, do you reset it yourself?
If there’s a leak in your roof, do you climb up there and patch it yourself?
I mean, for FUCK’S sake, some of us pay someone else to do our laundry, but our brains? Our hearts? No professional could ever POSSIBLY be of use for us in that area.
And so it continues. I’m balls deep in studying for an exam to get a license to practice something most people don’t even believe is useful. So I’ll work my butt off to get good at this, and then people close to me (and who don’t know me) will think it’s dumb, and then we’ll just sit on our hands until someone else who is so broken inside has NOTHING ELSE TO DO but lash out in a violent, community-crushing way.
Besides imploring you to try to learn more about mental health care and how wonderfully useful it can be for anyone, I have two possible things I’d like to say in closing:
Get out of my face, I can’t even look at you.
Get out of here, go hug someone.
Let’s go with that one. I feel SO strongly about this, and it saddens me in a way that’s hard to describe that people really truly feel that it’s a weakness to seek help for feelings of sadness, despair, or even confusion. It’s not a weakness, it’s a strength to accept that you might not be living your best life and to stand up and admit that you’d like more. If you think I’m not talking about you, I am. EVERYONE can benefit from an outside perspective now and then.
And for those of us who may not be in a place where we need therapy right now? Fine. Maybe it’ll stay that way, maybe it won’t. Let’s lift us those who might, and encourage them to find the help they deserve.
Get out of here, go hug someone (and call a therapist).