Mental Illness and Guns

The mass shooting Parkland finally seems to have more legs than any other recent mass shooting (for more on that, read my blog from yesterday, said the attention whore).  It’s been a week and it’s still in the news cycle, and it shows few signs of slowing down thanks to those meddling kids.  However, there’s starting to be a default to where the discussion about this shooting is going to, at least for the people who don’t want to talk about gun control in any way: mental illness.  NRA spokesghoul Dana Loesch is already trying to distance her fiendish organization from blowblack (recoil?) by blaming mental illness, and law enforcement for not keeping the gun out of the hands of this mentally ill kid.  You’re going to hear “mental illness” quite a bit over the next month or so.  But is Nikolas Cruz really mentally ill?

Perhaps he is.  Perhaps he is/was just really fucking pissed off, which I understand.  I get really fucking pissed off occasionally.  Thing is, I’m also almost 50 years old and I’ve learned other ways of dealing with it than shooting up a school or my workplace.  I’m not trying to degrade Cruz or somehow idiotically make myself look better by comparison.  I’m pointing this out because I actually am mentally ill, and I don’t want myself and people like me to be the newest scapegoat.

I’m not going to get into any specifics about my mental illness…ah, fuck it, yes I will.  I have depression and anxiety and I deal with that shit on a daily basis.  I spent 20 years in the military and the last ten of those years, when the depression and anxiety were really kicking in, I did nothing about it because at the time getting help for mental help issues in the military was looked at as a weakness.  Well, at least I imagined it was so (and that could have been the illness being Emperor Palpatine in my head, trying to keep itself alive).  I hope that if that was the case, it’s changing.

Shortly after I retired, I let the depression and anxiety have a field day and it culminated in an incident that only a very few of my closest friends know about and I’m still reluctant to talk about.  You might be able to guess what it was.  After that incident, I was forced to confront what I had and figure out how to deal with it.

I’ve been doing that ever since.  It’s been nine years now and I’ve been fairly successful but it’s tough and it’s a daily battle in a war that I’ll apparently fight the rest of my life.  Some days I win the battle, some days I lose, but the battle is always there.  Medications help, but goddamn, do I hate taking them every day, regardless of knowing that they help.

I bring this up because I now know that I’m not unique and I’m not alone.  Lots of people deal with these battles every day.  Mental illness isn’t necessarily shitting in your hand and rubbing it in a stranger’s face, or yelling at ghosts only you can see.  There are millions of people (I’m guessing) dealing with mental illness every day and doing a pretty damned good job of it.

With all of that said, I could go just about anywhere and buy just about any gun I want.  I choose not to.  One, because I have no desire to harm anyone else.  Two, because I have a daughter in my house and I know the stats; the hypothetical gun is much more likely to harm her than an intruder.  Three, my wife doesn’t want a gun in the house.  All three of those reasons are of equal importance.

I just wanted to shed a bit of light on mental illness.  Throwing some cash at “mental illness,” while helpful in other ways, won’t solve our gun problem by itself.  Should Nikolas Cruz have had a gun?  Hell no!  The repeated warning signs were there and it’s easy to say this shooting could or should have been prevented.  Let’s just not blame it on mental illness when it seems to be more of an anger issue.  If anger is a mental illness, then perhaps none of us should have guns.


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