With horrific tragedies involving guns, it’s so easy to collapse into a reactive state, complete with desires to melt all guns down. I can relate to that! I have a deep-seated desire for peace. But reality wakes me up with a slap in the face like a glassful of icy water. Without intending to put too fine of a point on it, guns are not the problem. Mental health, or the lack thereof, is the problem. And when we really look at mental health issues we will keep coming back to family support, children’s care, medical support and the requirement for individuals to obtain quality counseling, and if needed, to remain on stabilizing medication.
In the weeks leading up to December 25th I always indulge in replaying my favorite movies. Tonight I watched Disney’s clever rendition of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, starring the voice talent of Jim Carrey. I find this version to be a frighteningly honest portrayal of the writer’s intentions, how the story entails a horrifying warning about the prospect of burning in hell. As we see the antagonist travel back in time to his Christmas past, and view him sitting alone in a deserted boarding school, quietly singing for a moment until he sadly stops, feeling utterly rejected and heart-broken, I feel Dickens was making an important point: The needless pain and suffering endured in his childhood helped create the man we see who is so full of hate and spite that his presence literally stops playing and singing in the streets. Scrooge’s character was built upon the pain and hurt of rejection in his childhood.
Can we help prevent the agony of suicidal, lost souls from taking innocent lives with them? Well that is the 100-Million-Dollar question, isn’t it? I wish I had a perfect answer. This post is my humble declaration that I feel we can do something, by acknowledging the very real need to address mental health issues from early childhood and beyond. We need to understand the importance of helping individuals we know of to maintain their medication schedule.
Tragic events aren’t always about guns. Last spring a man named Raymond Taavel, while attempting to save another, was beaten to death by Andre Denny. Hours earlier, Denny, who was agitated and known to be off his meds for schizophrenia, was still released by an overworked medical facility in Halifax. He later admitted to waiting in an all-night coffee shop where he could view the coming’s and going’s of a local gay establishment. The fact that Denny watched, waited, and stepped out, grabbing Taavel and a friend simply for where they were coming out of is terrifying to me. Could someone kill me for being too tall? White? Overweight? In the wrong neighbourhood? Having a gay best friend? Denny beat a man to death for his own personal issues around something not right in his mind, because he was off his meds and released to the streets. I’m citing this example because I feel that mental health is the real issue to be addressed. I believe it’s not only an issue of gun control.
Can we help heal the mental health issues that lay hidden all around us? I believe we can. Especially by beginning to speak out about it. Let’s all help it to not be ‘hidden’. Let’s all help by releasing any preconceived ideas about mental health issues. Let’s become part of the solution by opening our understanding of those who have chemical imbalances in the brain. Why is mental health considered different from diabetes which requires daily monitoring and medication? The fact that there is ANY stigma attached to this makes me want to laugh, except that I’d sooner cry. While I’m not saying there are any connections, living in a world full of artificial flavoring and additives in our food, chemicals in the air we breathe in our homes, exhaust on the streets, not to mention the stresses children endure from the very act of going to school and finding their way through the cliques and assignments, is staggering. If we really think about it, we need to be thankful that there are not more people needing medication to help correct the chemical imbalances in their brain.
We can all do something to help. By sharing about the times we’ve felt overwhelmed and how seeking counseling is a testament of inner strength, not weakness. We can speak up and tell someone in the medical profession if we are worried about a friend or relative who has changed lately, and may be exhibiting signs of severe depression or suicidal thoughts. We can choose to bravely be uncomfortable and address something that is worrying our mind, rather than choosing to ignore a problem with the belief that it will ‘go away’.
There is always something that can be done. I believe this in every fiber of my being. Well actually I think it’s wired in to my own sense of well-being and mental health, because if I fully collapsed into fear and horror of the things happening in the world today, I simply could not get out of bed. So I choose to focus on hope. I have to. I focus on what CAN be done. I do it for my mental health.
How about you?