Lets get this out of the way right now: I have mental illness.
I was in therapy at ten because I was lonely, frightened, depressed, and didn’t like the company of others. Well, there were a few reasons leading to that, but part of my problem is that I was bi-polar. My therapist then was starting to get to the root of things, then my parents pulled me out of there because, one, they didn’t see improvements, and two, they thought the woman who was working with me was putting “strange ideas” in my head.
Let me tell you, she didn’t have to: there were plenty of strange ideas there already.
I had friends when I was in school, but not a lot. I started smoking pot in 1972, and drinking a couple of years later. These days the behavior is called “self medication”; back then it was just getting high. And I did it quite a lot. Mostly because it felt good, mostly because it kept whatever demons were chasing my ass away. I had my books and I had my music, but I also had my “medication”.
There were some incidences of bullying in school, but nothing really physical. It was all mental, all designed to wear you down and break you. At the end of the day, when I walked home from school–because after a while I was afraid to take the bus, and I didn’t want to be with other kids–I’d sometimes find a moment, while alone in the woods, to cry a bit. I did that often, and it bothered my parents when they saw it happen, so I only allowed myself the chance to do this when I was by myself, and there was no chance of being discovered.
There was a place where we used to get our drugs, and sometimes even our booze. The home was owned by a husband and wife, with the husband’s brother living with them as well, and they seemed to be able to get their hands on just about any kind of drug you wanted. For the most part I was interested in pot, but they let it be known that they could get their hands on just about anything . . .
And not just drugs, either.
There was one time when a friend and I stopped over to see them, to buy a bag, and the brother wanted to show me the latest acquisition–which were not drugs. I didn’t get a full tally of what they had, but I do remember four M-16’s, a couple of boxes of grenades, and . . .
See, the story they were giving us was they’d knocked over a National Guard armory a few nights before, which may or may not have been true. This was 1973, Vietnam was winding down, and who the hell knew what was being kept in some of these places? In all likelihood they’d traded a lot of kilos of drugs for weapons, but since I knew these guys were a bit crazy themselves, it was just as likely they’d knocked over an armory.
But lets get to the payoff, the item hinted upon. The brother opened up as case and said, “Hey, I got twenty kilos of C-4. I’ll let you have it for $250: I’ll even throw in the detonators and det cord.”
So lets review: a guy I knew was offering to sell me about forty-five pounds of high explosives, along with the means to use it, all for $250. Which I happened to have.
I said no, because . . . well, what was I going to do with twenty kilos of C-4?
Let me also state this: I was very smart and very imaginative back then. I was also pissed off and scared and upset a lot as well, and for a few weeks after that incident my fevered little mind thought up all sorts of shit that I could have done with that sort of stash. The only reason I didn’t? Stephen King put into words many years later: “If you take yourself out, you’re a hero. If you take out others when you take yourself out, you’re chickenshit.” I hated myself, and a few other people, and if I really wanted to get back at those I hated, I’d get after them, and that would be that. Anyone else who’d get caught in your madness would just notch you a little higher on the Chickenshit of the Year list.
I won’t say the thoughts of revenge and getting evenness vanished after that time. Oh, no. They aren’t there as much any more, but they still show up from time to time. These days I chalk up thoughts like that as “Research”, because you never know when you’ll need to know, like I did in 1991, how to bring down a very tall office building–say, 125 to 150 stories–with everyone inside. I spent a few days looking over the office building I worked in at the time, and understood that, if you have the right tools, it’s not that hard.
I did that because I needed a scene for a game I was running.
I don’t act upon any of these ideas–which are research, remember, because I do write; you should see the really bad ones–because I’m not that crazy. I’m bi-polar, but I can tell the difference between right and wrong, and as ignorant as I have believed most of my co-workers to be from time to time, I’d never do something that would eventually see me labeled as a “disgruntled worker”. (Does this mean there’s a grunted worker?) As an atheist I long ago created my moral compass, and have worked at doing the right things because they are right.
Taking out others just because you’re nuts and pissed off at the world is the wrong thing to do.
Probably is, a lot of people don’t have the same moral clarity as I.
If you are mentally ill, getting help is damn near impossible in the U.S.. You are stigmatized because you have a “problem” that you can’t “handle”, and if you just “sucked it up”, you’ll work through it. That was what I was taught as a kid; it was bullshit then, and it’s bullshit now. It is easier to get access to treatment these days, particularly if you work for a large company, but that’s only come about after more than a few large companies have had their offices shot up by disgruntled workers, and they’d had to go through the hassle of hiring new people.
That was how I got treatment. The company I was working for had a program, and I basically had to tell my manager I was loosing my shit, and bad things were going to happen if I didn’t get help. They told me to call the help line to set something up, and then let me go home for the day. Let me repeat that: I professed to suicidal behavior, and they had me call a help line, and then sent me home. Now, I did get in to see a counselor a few days later, and while she was a great person, she couldn’t get me medication. The only person who could do that was a psychiatrist, but it might be weeks before I could get in and see one of those. She told me the easiest thing to do was go to the local ER, tell them I was suicidal, then have myself checked into a facility for forty-eight hours–at which point I could get on meds. Oh, and lets point out: she couldn’t commit, even with my permission. I had to do it myself.
That was how I was able to get on medication to help me with my bi-polar disorder, and all it really took was . . . maybe two weeks of speaking to, or seeing, different people.
Good thing I wasn’t having any serious problems.
You wanna have a discussion? Lets talk about why we have the worst system for mental health this side of the old Soviet Union. Lets talk about why if you need help, it’s a culture of “Go see them; I can’t do anymore for you”. Lets talk about why people are vilified and made to think they are even worse than they are if they profess to being sad, or depressed, or if they feel like they have no choice but to hurt themselves. Lets talk about why we have so many people with mental health issues in the first place, brought about by stress, by over-work, by being made to feel that if they are LBGT they are scum and should probably die anyway.
Lets talk about why it is every time someone who is mentally unbalanced, who isn’t getting help, flips the hell right out and does something horrific, we act so surprised that something like that can happen here. Lets talk about the idiots who, upon hearing about said horrific thing carried out by the mentally unbalanced, believe the one thing that will fix this problem is arming everyone . . .
Those of you who think that last is the end-all solution to everything, there’s this thing called “Cause and Effect”. You fix the cause, the effect becomes diminished. It does work. Reaction to the effect does little good, because you didn’t prevent the effect from occurring. That is what the kids these days call Epic Fail.
There needs to be dialog. There needs to be discussion. Without discussion there are no solutions.
Without solutions there is no future.