Mental illness does not cause mass shootings

This is what mental illness is.

Depression is the inability to get out of bed even though you will eventually because you have to function. You may skip the shower though because what’s the point anyway? And then on your days off you stagnate, head cloudy with negative thoughts about your life and your job and your performance and everything about your body. You’re too fat, you have too much excess skin, you aren’t exercising why aren’t you exercising but what’s the point of exercising you’ll never live up to that expectation you have in your head. It’s being so tired and wanting to sleep but waking up at intervals during the night-or oversleeping the next day. It’s feeling like you’re holding the weight of the world on your shoulders and crying because you can’t take the pressure anymore.

The lead up to a depressive episode is checking to make sure the routines you like to do are something you are doing. Am I making my bed? Cleaning my room? Going for a run? Am I starting to withdraw? Is the haziness beginning to come over you?

…sometimes, it’s a feeling that no one will miss you if you’re gone…maybe the world and your loved ones would be better off without you…sometimes it’s a feeling that you’re not worth all the trouble so maybe it’s time to think about ending it all…

Anxiety is that gut wrenching feeling of the world not being in the organized space and time you need it to be. The world is chaotic, and you can’t understand or react in a way that’s beneficial to you. You stress over the littlest tasks because you believe you’ve done them wrong-all you ever do is something wrong. It’s the pit in the bottom of your stomach when you have to rectify a mistake that might not even be caused by you; it’s always your fault anyway, you’re the problem. It’s panicking and overthinking and rocking back and forth for self-soothing. It’s clawing your arms and your scalp because that’s the only grounding you have to help you; you know it’s bad, you know it’s not right, but god the overwhelming twisting in your stomach and pain in your chest hurts just a little less when you do it.

It’s the expensive therapy appointments and relearning how to counteract your brain’s instincts to assume the worst. It’s learning to be kind to yourself because all your life you’ve been fighting the same battles so of course it’s going to take just as long to recover. It’s medicines and visits to psychiatrists to regulate the hormones and chemicals in your brain to the point of being functionally a human being again and not a dark, spiraling cloud about the burst.

Mental illness is never mass shootings.

Mental illness is never hating minorities, or women, or wanting to cause mass harm to so many people. It’s not an ideology that everyone is inferior to you and they need to die (further from the truth, actually, everybody is better than me and I am a waste of space). Mental illness is turning the gun on yourself rather than on others. Mental illness is knowing how terrible you feel and never wanting to wish that on another person.

And I know my experience is not universal, but blaming the mass shootings that have been racking the United States on people who are mentally ill is not only statistically unsound but a dangerous precedent in re-stigmatizing a population that is already struggling to be acknowledged. It’s deterring from having a real conversation about gun violence and mass killings that can lead to policy change and action-something that gun rights advocates want. Because ultimately, the problem isn’t mental illness but access to firearms that can cause so much harm.

(By Nichole Smith)

(Image Credit: Everyday Health / Aleksei Morozov)

I woke up to the news of another mass shooting

I woke up to the news of another mass shooting. I am so tired of people making excuses for this.

After giving everything I had to my candidate and what I believe was an honest, values driven one, I will no longer abide by, tolerate and ignore people’s bigotry. 

This morning I got into a political issues discussion with staff at my child’s pre-school. This person was aghast at yet another shooting, but when I told her about the importance of electing gun sense candidates, she told me, she believes in one woman one man, and in protecting the rights of a child, and called those her deal breakers. I challenged her by asking then why not support candidates who look out for children once they are born.

Please stop hiding behind your religious texts because no God would tolerate denying other people their dignity and humanity. No God would want children to be slaughtered in their schools or worshipers in their churches. No God would want women and children fleeing violence, hunger and persecution to be denied asylum.

This is more than an election. This is more than a party. This is bigger than candidates. This is a battle for our humanity and values as a people, as a country, and as a world. This is how the atrocities we read about in history happens and continued way past the point of horrific.

Stop making excuses. Words matter. Representation matters. Speak up and do something to make it better.


(Photo Credit: CNN)

To the next generations, from a millennial

This is a letter for all the next generations, terrified of the world and dismissed by the older generations. I remember being in Middle School and participating in lockdown drills, hiding in the back of the school while pretending that the school was under attack. I remember moving to different schools after there was a bomb threat that had been called into the school. I didn’t think anything of it, and most likely neither did my parents; it was just protocol, it’s not like anything like that would happen anyway. I remember everyone scoffing at participation trophies, and mocking the hurt Millennials who were too much of an emotional mess. And as I watch the next generations growing into adulthood, I am terrified to see some of my generation taking up their mantle.

We laugh at tide pods, forgetting we grew up with Jackass and the Cinnamon Challenge, the Gallon Milk Challenge, and every stupid thing we did for notoriety and our minutes of fame. We call the next generation Snowflakes, forgetting we were the original Snowflakes. I am watching, horrified, that seventeen year old kids are begging for some action by Congress after the bomb threats and lockdowns from my generation have turned into an all-out massacre of the newest generation. And more than likely, we’ll all forget what happened in the next two days, to be shelved until forty or fifty kids are killed in the next shooting.

To whoever comes after us, you are already better. You have not given up where 26-year-olds like myself have scoffed at the world, because it isn’t our problem; but it is. It will forever be our problem. We condemned the generations before us, the Baby Boomers and the like, for destroying the economy, bankrupting social welfare programs, demanding more in their ever-increasing narcissism, but we have been falling back on their ways. That cannot happen.

To the students who are calling for action from Congress because you are losing friends and teachers from the alarming increase in mass shootings, don’t give up. To the kids who are resisting the destruction of our environment and the rise of intolerance and hate, don’t give up; we all want a better world to give to our children and future generations. To students who fight for debt-free education and knowledge, don’t throw in the towel; knowledge and education is a human right. To younger generations demanding a living wage, we are all there with you; all jobs where we sell our labor should at least equal the cost of living. To the girls and young women protesting unfair dress codes and lack of access to birth control, your body is yours, not something to be controlled and censored by boys and men. You are already better than us for so many reasons, for your optimism and activism in the face of ever growing hatred.

Please continue this, and fight for a better world: a world without hate, violence and death; a world without people working and barely making ends meet; a world where a child can get an education free of the burden of debt and the fear of not making it home that day.

And Millennials, remember that once, not too long ago, we were those “stupid kids” who demanded everything and gave nothing. Our goal in a society is to improve upon it for the generations that come after us. That should forever be our mantra, and right now, that is not our mantra. Instead, we are posting on Facebook about guns and mental illness and making fun of the high school kids without taking a step back into ways we can fight for ourselves and the generations to come. It’s not too late, it’s never too late.


(Photo Credit 1: Affinity) (Photo Credit 2: New York Times / Zachary Fagenson / Reuters)

I’ve felt every massacre profoundly, but this one literally hits close to home

I’ve felt every massacre profoundly, but this one literally hits close to home. The shooter once lived a 10 minute drive from my home. My elder child is about to enter kindergarten. This shooter could easily have chosen her soon to be school or any of the stores and restaurants we visit in our neighborhood. This is not right and it’s not normal.

If you say you empathize with the victims but will blindly vote the party line without regard for the candidate’s position on sensible gun control, or you don’t believe access to guns is the problem, then no one wants your prayers, thoughts, and sympathies. They are useless. They may offer small comfort to the survivors and their families, and assuage your consciousness and feeling of complicity, but they do nothing to prevent the loss of lives.

Governments are supposed to protect its people and for too long our government has been too ready to look the other way and ignore the very real gun crisis epidemic that is ravaging our country. The government has failed its people. Gun reform should be a bipartisan issue.

And finally, you mess with our cubs and us mama tigers and lionesses will come after you, starting at the poll booths, then the House, Senate, and White House.


(Photo Credit: Johanne Rahaman / Huffington Post)