And today, I feel lucky to be able to say that, because clearly not everyone can. I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as a bad person. In my mind, all people are inherently good and act on what they perceive to be the best intentions. Today, that is a harder sentiment to accept, but I believe it anyway. (Mind you, I recognize that if I had known one of the victims, I might be saying something else right now).
But right now, yes, I believe all people have good intentions, but you know what they say about the road to hell. There are people walking around among us, perhaps living in our neighborhoods or even our homes who are damaged – who for one reason or another do not have proper judgment when it comes to what is right and what is wrong. And they need help. But first the people who love them need to not only recognize the warning signs but act upon them, or this problem is only going to get worse.
In my lifetime, there have now been 9 mass shooting incidents, and who knows how many other tragedies caused by mentally ill people that are not as newsworthy. Even a single suicide has far-reaching effects within the person’s family, their friends and society as a whole. It doesn’t make the news, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make an impact.
And I think what it comes down to, is that there is too much societal stigma surrounding mental illness. I am not going to pretend to know what James Holmes’ mother was thinking or feeling, when she said “You have the right person,” but to me, that sounds like a woman who saw some signs. I don’t know what signs she saw or if/how she acted upon them, but I think it points to something important – We as a society need to stop being embarrassed or ashamed by our collective mental illnesses.
I think we all know someone who suffers from some kind of addiction and/or mental illness, whether it be mild depression or something more serious like schizophrenia. We need to stop burying these issues and put them in the forefront. We need to watch out for “the signs” in ourselves and other people and tell other people to watch out for us, when we can’t do it ourselves. We need to accept the help we need and get others the help they need, whether they recognize it or not, even if it’s hard, even if it might be an overreaction, even if it’s not a popular choice.
I know it’s easier said than done, but I think if we all work together, we can build a society, where people will feel comfortable admitting they have a problem, that they need help and a society where people can readily get help without judgment.
I think it’s the only hope and it starts on an individual level. So all of you who know me, if you think I have honestly lost my sanity, I beg of you, help me find it, and I will do the same.
(Or at minimum, shoot me – a little inside joke there that 3 of you might get.)