When the news crews were in town last year. I went to the candlelight vigil at UMC, dizzy with flu, and ended up on CNN for a split second. “Were you walking around in a red hoodie down by the hospital tonight?” asked an out-of-state friend, and feverishly, I couldn’t understand how she knew. Two days later, my father tried to go down to the shopping center for a haircut. I think he wanted to feel normal; hard to do when Brian Williams was in the living room and also a quarter-mile away, his giant head framed by glass doors opening onto our neighborhood’s bread and milk. It was real and unreal; a show but not a show. One of the victims wasn’t a stranger.
I have nothing to say about Sandy Hook that hasn’t been said here and here and here, but wanted to share “Thinking The Unthinkable,” an essay by the mother of a boy who suffers from mental illness. She knows she’s powerless to stop what might be coming, regardless of the shitty comments on her blog (“You’re a terrible parent,” “Have you had your son tested for allergies?” “What about energy healing?”
Mental illness in a male child, coupled with easy American access to guns — this mother, who loves her son, already knows.
We still don’t know what’s wrong with Michael. Autism spectrum, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant or Intermittent Explosive Disorder have all been tossed around at various meetings with probation officers and social workers and counselors and teachers and school administrators. He’s been on a slew of antipsychotic and mood altering pharmaceuticals, a Russian novel of behavioral plans. Nothing seems to work.
…No one wants to send a 13-year old genius who loves Harry Potter and his snuggle animal collection to jail. But our society, with its stigma on mental illness and its broken healthcare system, does not provide us with other options. Then another tortured soul shoots up a fast food restaurant. A mall. A kindergarten classroom. And we wring our hands and say, “Something must be done.”I agree that something must be done. It’s time for a meaningful, nation-wide conversation about mental health.