Fall, unlike many of you, is not my favorite time of the year. While I enjoy the fall colors, I don’t look forward to the barrenness of the winter. I have found that I do prefer cold weather over hot weather, except for the bone numbing cold of the north. But, fall means death to me … to the fun of summer … to the trees losing their leaves … the flowers slowly giving away. And it reminds me of my late husband.
As some of you know, either through this blog or personally, my husband lost his battle with life on December 21, 1998. He gave up his struggle and took his own life. He was bi-polar. He was first diagnosed 10 years after we were married, but I think he suffered before that. Bi-polar disorder is a mental condition, a chemical imbalance in the brain that causes periods of great depression and alternately periods of great highs.
While depressed, my husband had a hard time functioning. He wanted to just sleep and he really didn’t want to talk. One of the things he did when the kids were around, was to pretend he was reading. When he hit his highs, he was invincible. These periods were almost harder for me. He would become arrogant, critical, and all around difficult. Luckily, he never tried to harm anyone.
We were married for thirty-five years, twenty of which he was medicated with one type of antidepressant or another. But, it never stopped his highs and lows completely. You see, they didn’t continue to work. They would need to be changed. Or another added to the mix. So, it was never a constant. And paramount, they had to be taken regularly, as prescribed.
There are so many different mental illnesses. I don’t believe any of them are easily treated. And I don’t believe that most, if not all, of the treatments are permanent. You see, when the mind is affected, it’s not like taking an antibiotic. Or an antacid. You can’t pop a pill and be cured when the prescription runs out.
Add into the mix, the stigma related to mental illness. So many are afraid to let anyone know about their depression, the voices they hear, the thoughts they have. So, they cover up. That’s how my husband was. He didn’t even want our children to know. Certainly not our friends or his employer.
Which brings me to the gist of this post — do guns kill people or is it the mentally ill people who kill people? I’ve had this discussion ad nauseam with friends and relatives. Those in favor of everyone carrying a gun so we can all be vigilantes, blame mental illness. And they are vehemently opposed to any kind of gun control. I can understand if they have grown up hunting or like having pretty handguns in their collection locked up safely, but I can’t and never will, understand why they are opposed to assault weapons being regulated. And I don’t understand how they can believe it is easier to treat mental illness, than it is to outlaw the types of weapons used in these mass shootings of innocent people.
Now, I am not talking about “the criminal element” who will always have guns. Personally, I feel it would make things better if they’d all shoot each other. Make our prisons less crowded and save on court costs in putting them on trial is okay with me. Nor am I talking about the handguns in all the homes to protect their families, except when they get together drinking and arguing and one of those family members end up dead.
No, I’m talking about the family down the street in our quiet suburbs. The one with the young man who spends most of his time in his bedroom on his computer. The one whose parents probably think is a computer “geek”. The one who is a “loner”. The one who is on social media being treated meanly or bullied or criticized and internalizes it all until the anger builds up and innocent people get hurt.
Why do gun advocates think mental health issues are easier to resolve than stopping the sale of assault weapons to anyone other than military or police? Why doesn’t our Congress put an end to this? Is it the money? Does anyone really believe they need to have a personal arsenal to protect them from our federal government? Are they that delusional? How many more innocent people have to die before we try to solve this problem? Can’t we just try?