Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:13

Friday, September 20, 2013

Sad for the shooter

I'm having a hard time getting the shooter from the Navy Yard off my mind the last few days. Naturally my heart breaks for the victims and their families. But it is also breaking for the shooter, who was clearly mentally ill and clearly was seeking help in the ineffective way that happens when your mind is out of control. It just shows how much we need to learn as a society in order to see when people need help. The VA is saying over and over he only complained of insomnia. Did anyone ever ask him what kept him from sleeping? I bet not. He called the police in desperation and fear of his hallucinations days before the shooting. Did they offer to get him to an emergency room in a way that didn't make him more paranoid? I doubt it. I doubt it because I know what it is like to hallucinate and to not trust any thought because you don't know if it is yours or the thing taking over your mind. The time that I hallucinated the most was because I was very lithium toxic. I was aware that the thoughts weren't mine and while I heard voices saying many things they weren't telling me to do anything. That would have terrified me. I had visual hallucinations then (and some other times) and those are harder for me to sort out from reality. I am scared of birds and visual hallucinations often involve birds flying at me while I duck and cower and cover my head. Paranoia is another thing. Police and others who may come in contact with someone having a psychotic episode really need to know how to talk to someone who is paranoid. "You're hearing things, let's go to the emergency room" is likely to only make the person who needs treatment feel that they are being patronized and probably locked up and the worst thing for paranoia is to feel you can't get away from it. It needs to be very subtle, working within the context of what the person is feeling/experiencing instead of letting the person know that this is judged as abnormal. There are a myriad of other issues here: gun control, screening military candidates as thoroughly as possible, security in public places. As Jon Stewart or Steven Colbert pointed out tonight the fact that the man had a navy security card did not really mean much. Without that he would have shot somewhere else. He wasn't shooting because he was upset with the Navy. He was shooting because he was very mentally ill and nobody stopped it. There are parallels to James Holmes, the man who shot up the Colorado theater a year ago. He had been getting treatment but he also had told his friend to stay away because he was dangerous. He had a number of completely irrational actions and again the right questions weren't asked. It's not someone's fault but it is a failure of the general system, in both cases. The sad reality is that when someone in their late teens-early twenties begins showing signs of psychosis chances are pretty good they need some serious help. I was 24 when I started really having strong signs of bipolar all day every day. I wasn't psychotic and it wasn't nearly as bad as it would get, but I just remember feeling so strange all the time. I remember trying to describe the agitation I felt and the irritability and that I wasn't Jen anymore. It was not possible to find the right words. It could have been so much worse. So, so much worse. Copyright 2006 www.masterofirony.blogspot.com

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