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The Weeping Monster

December 16, 2012

I have just read this blog, and it is time to talk about mental illness in America. Guns may not be as much an issue as violence in young people’s minds is, and I am very familiar with violence and insanity, for I have bipolar, and I have been in the throes of mental illness in the past, worrying teachers, family, and friends. I know what it’s like. I can even remember clearly what I was thinking in my state of mania. And most of the time, it is not pretty, or just ridiculous. I have to keep what I identified as “silly thoughts” at bay every day, all day. But it is exactly these silly thoughts, and this rapid, thoroughgoing imagination that makes up who and what I am. I am not defined by my bipolar, by my bisexuality, or any other label that society levies on me. I am defined by my actions, my words, and my decisions. So was Adam Lanza, and the person in the aforementioned blog. Who I am cannot be labeled. And no power on Earth can stop that.

I want to help people like this kid or Adam Lanza as much as I can, inasmuch as I want to hurt them and tell them to wake up. To wake up and see that they are beautiful human beings, and that the world is beautiful. I want them to see (if there is a “them”) that their imagination is beautiful, even if they think they know well enough already. I want them to know that society is not the only thing that there is to conform to; that there are friendships to be had, stories to be told, and great things to be done. People with mental illnesses tend to be people with high intelligence or with great imaginations, and why not tell them that they are worth so much? So much more than killing innocent people and turning into monsters. I was afraid of turning into a monster as a child. Let people with mental illnesses and social problems know that they are not monsters, and that they do not need to become one.

Some days are hard for me, to be sure, and my motto sometimes is “one day at a time,” but I know that there is a lot to look forward to later on, and not just the sadness inflicted by my mood swings or the doldrums that my medications put me into. I know that there is a God who has called me friend, and that there are friends and loved ones who want to see me excel and do well in life, and that is enough for me. It is enough that I will wake up tomorrow. It is enough that I can see another sunrise, and another sunset. I want to see Ryan Lanza and kids like Michael not turn into monsters, for in so doing, they will become beautiful.

If you are someone who has lost a child or loved one or friend to one of these shooters, I cannot ask for your forgiveness in defending the monsters. But I will assert that they were not monsters for their whole lives. One day, a long time ago, they were innocent and young, just like Michael, and just like your son or your daughter. And if you are reading this and you are a person with a mental illness, I want to urge you to do as I do: Take each day at a time, and count your blessings. Perhaps the medications inhibit your creative abilities. Perhaps you have few friends, or none at all. But somewhere deep down in you is a drive to be a wonderful human being, a hero, and a great friend. Somewhere deep in you is the potential to be extraordinary. Do not waste your life by throwing it away and becoming the object of scorn in the eyes of men.

I think this is a time for healing and order to take the reigns again. I want open dialogue. I want people to know that they are loved. I want the people who have lost loved ones to not only be healed, but to be reconciled to the families of the people who have done the wrong. This needless violence must stop. Some people say it is because of the violent video games that are out now. Some people say it is because of our uncertain postmodern age. Some people say it is because of the ubiquity of guns. Some say it is because of bad parenting. I don’t think it is any of these. It is the absence of openness that harangues these mentally ill people to do these crimes. It is a consumeristic, complacent society that engenders such people to do these things. We need to talk, and more importantly, we need to listen. I probably even don’t do enough of it, to be honest. But we need to try. The most difficult issues of our day-to-day lives are kept deep beneath the surface, and they need to see the light of day. Mentally ill people don’t need prisons or institutions, as popularly thought in the past, they need dialogue and mothers like the one in the blog post I just linked. They need real friends, real neighbors, and real family. And I can tell you, these things have helped me tremendously in my own struggles.

But most importantly, mentally ill people need to know that that does not define them, and that there is a God who wants to love them and be their friend. In that knowledge and comfort, they can rest assured that even if they do not have all the support on Earth that they need, there is support in Heaven. And they do not need the consumeristic God of fast-food churches. They need the real, living God to come into their lives and throw them a line when they have reached the bottom. I know that God has always been there for me, the church notwithstanding. It is time for them to know that God isn’t just another item to be purchased from a store. God is real, living, and loving; more so than we can ever imagine.

It was by the grace of God that I survived my last episode, and I hope I never have another one for the rest of my life. The choice is ours to make. We can either be supportive and open to people who need help, or we can be just another distant island, absorbed in our own world. For those of us with mental illnesses, we can either choose to fight it with every fiber of our being while at the same time retaining our own personalities (a difficult feat to be sure), or we can give into the urge to act on those horrendous acts of violence, and betray our own humanity in so doing. We are all Adam Lanza’s brother, friend, mother, father, sister, as horrid as that may sound; but the horribleness of it is only a veil that will lead to a room with a weeping, innocent, vulnerable man who fought a terrible, soul eating monster, and failed. And we failed him by not coming to his side in the struggle.

This does not go to say that we are to blame alone for his actions. He is to blame inasmuch as we are If everyone is to blame, then, no one is to blame, if that paradox makes sense. One more drop of blood shed is a testimony to our collective failure. Let’s prove to God and ourselves that we are worthy of this wonderful planet we live on, and greater things (if you believe in this) in the next life.

So next time you see a Adam Lanza or a Michael or anyone lonely or disparate, give him a hug, and tell him that you are his friend, even if you are someone who has lost a loved one to one such as him. Then you will see that deep down, we are all the same. And so will he.

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From → Philosophy

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