Category Archives: sandy hook

Speak.

For some reason, the last few days have made me feel like blasting Ray LaMontagne. I don’t know why. Maybe because his music always makes me feel like he’s responding to some great sadness. Maybe that’s what we need right now.

I’d like to move on from the events of last week but it just doesn’t seem possible. As horrible as it is, I think it’s important to continue talking about this. That’s the one theme I’ve heard repeatedly in the last few days: let’s talk. And I’m glad for that. Because this needs to be talked about. Whether it’s talking about making change to gun control, or change to mental health, or whatever, let’s talk. When bad things happen, I firmly believe that one of the most important methods of coping is to talk. Get those feelings out. Because if they stay inside you, they start to multiply and take over like a virus. And that’s when explosions happen. That’s when those feelings bust out and sometimes it’s dangerous.

I’m not saying this as a psychologist or a therapist or anything. I’m none of those things and I’m not trying to be. I’m just saying this as someone who has experienced the depths of pretty serious depression and I know what personally helped me. And I think it’s something very simple that could help many people especially when we deal as a societal collective with tragedies like this.

What prompted me to write this post is an article I read this morning that had been posted on the New York Daily News website. (Someone had posted it on Facebook.) It was about the killer’s mother, Nancy, and how she had spoken to a friend about how Adam’s depression (and whatever other problems he suffered from) was getting much worse. And the one thing that stuck out to me was this:

““Nancy told me he was burning himself with a lighter. In the ankles or arms or something,” he recalled of a conversation they had about a year ago. “It was like he was trying to feel something.””

“It was like he was trying to feel something.”

That, right there, was what rang a big loud clear bell for me. And I’ll tell you why.

I used to be a self-abuser. A cutter. And this is not a big secret. I will tell anyone who asks the truth and the reasons why. I haven’t cut in a really long time but I feel like there is so much misconception and stigma about self-abusers and people who suffer from depression that whenever this stuff comes up and theories get thrown around I feel like raising my voice and saying something, maybe for all the people out there who don’t want to or can’t say something.

Now, before I go any farther I’m going to say this: not every self-abuser’s experience is the same. And I do not mean to generalize when I say what I am about to say. I just mean to point out what happened to me specifically, as it relates to the situation at hand.

The reason that the line from that article spoke so loudly to me is because when I was cutting, I was doing so because I felt like it was the only way I could feel anything. My depression left me in such a numb state that cutting and self-abusing was the only way for me to feel anything. It was, several times, the only thing that kept me from committing suicide. I recall quite vividly once when I was a freshman in college, driving home from school and feeling like I had to do something or I was going to drive my car off the road. It was a very powerful, physically overwhelming sensation. The thing was, I didn’t necessarily want to kill myself. But that thing inside my head, the depression, was overriding all the things in my head that made sense. So instead of driving off the road and crashing my car into the woods, I one-upped that sensation by digging my fingernails into my arms till they bled. For me (and this is very important, please remember, for me), self-abuse was my method of coping with the depression. Most people I’ve talked to, through no fault of their own, believe that self-abuse is a pre-cursor to suicide. My parents were in this category–and please note that I do not blame them for this. Some people believe that a self-abuser is about to commit suicide. And sometimes, he or she does. But several self-abusers I’ve talked to have said the same exact thing that I felt–it wasn’t a pre-cursor to suicide. It wasn’t a cry for help. I wasn’t ready to ask for help. It was simply a way to feel. Anything. Even if it was pain.

And obviously, when we examine what happened to Adam Lanza and what happened at that school, we have to consider that depression was more than likely not the only thing that he was suffering from. But the fact is that someone was aware of what was happening to him. And for whatever reason, be it denial or money or the healthcare system (I don’t know, so I’m not going to point a finger at any one reason), not enough was done to help him. Sometimes you can’t help people. But it’s the exact reason why I believe it is so important to never be afraid to talk. Talk to anybody. For me, it was talking to my teachers (in high school) and a therapist in college, because that resource was available to me. The more I kept things inside, the worse I got. The feelings and emotions dragged me down like a stone to the bottom of a pond. But when I opened up and talked, those feelings escaped me and gave me buoyancy again. Obviously this does not work for everyone. But not everyone out there has depression–but everyone out there is a member of the human race and we are all in this together.

I wrote about this because it helped me to deal with my depression when I realized I was not the only one. That I was not alone. And so my point in doing this is to hopefully create a space for even maybe just one person to read about my experience and say, “I have felt that too.” My point was to hopefully just reach out to one person out there in the cybersphere and make them realize that they are not alone. Nobody is alone. We are all members of the human race, we are all suffering the human condition. But we do not suffer alone. And so–to get back to my initial point–I hope that by saying all this, it might get that one person out there to talk to another person before they bottle too much inside them and allow it to consume them. My hope is that if people talked more to each other we would realize that nobody’s experience is unique in the grand zeitgeist of the human experience and that maybe someday someone out there will turn to a friend and talk to them about their problems instead of resorting to much worse things.

Advertisements

Trying to Find Words When There Are None to be Found.

I titled this entry as such because I have sat here for a good twenty minutes or so trying to think of something to write. I have to. Have to say something. And I’m not coming up with anything, even though my mind has been on overload all morning.

Cameron didn’t want me to watch all the news. Get updates, he said, but don’t sit here watching this all day. I know he’s right, that I shouldn’t–but it’s hard not to. On my lunch break I was home to watch the President’s press conference. Immediately following, Lester Holt mentioned that most of the dead were kindergarteners. And I lost it. I just sat there and cried.

Mostly I am angry. I am angry that this has happened again. Wasn’t it enough when the theater shooter killed all those people? And the guy that shot up the temple in Wisconsin? And last week, the shooting in the mall in Oregon? Hasn’t it been enough in the last year alone that we should want to sit down as a nation and re-think this whole right to bear arms thing?

It wasn’t enough, apparently. And now our children are dead. Our kindergarteners and our fourth graders. They are dead a week before Christmas.

Is it enough now? Haven’t we all as a collective society had enough?

Personally I cannot understand how so many people are screaming out about how this is the wrong time to talk about gun control. If this is not the time, then when? Tomorrow? Next week? Didn’t we say the same thing after Columbine and Virginia Tech and all the rest? And what’s happened? Nothing. And I know I might offend someone-or a lot of people-by saying what I’m about to say, but I’m going to say it anyway.

If you are responding to this tragedy by saying that this isn’t about gun control, that it’s not about guns and “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”…then you are part of the problem. I’m sorry. You are. You are part of the gun culture in this country that lends to defending the second amendment instead of looking at the reality of this situation. And the reality is, twenty little innocent children and some 7 or 8 adults who tried to defend those children are dead. And why are they dead? Because someone made an active choice to walk into that school and pull the trigger. Maybe he was suicidal. Maybe he was mentally ill. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is that he had a gun in his hand (or three) and he had ammunition in those guns and he chose to use those guns to kill people.

Look, I know that laws don’t mean a thing to these kinds of people. Even if we had stricter gun laws they would still find ways to get them. I know. I’ve heard all the arguments. And to be honest it’s taking me so long to get through this entry that I don’t even know what my eventual point is. There’s only one thing I know about what happened today. This HAS to be the catalyst that gets something changed. And something HAS to change. I don’t know what. Different mindset, different gun culture, different something. This sort of thing just cannot be allowed to keep happening. And there’s a lot that goes into that–it’s not just gun control. I know that. It’s also how we deal with our mentally ill and how we raise our children and EVERYTHING goes into that. So trust me, I’m not naive enough to think that this is a one-facet issue. I wish it was. But I think everyone can agree that something has to be different. Someone once said to me that she goes through her life trying to make sure that everything is sustainable. And when I think about what is happening in America now, every day, I cannot help but think that this–this country, this culture, this society–is not sustainable. This cannot be sustainable and it cannot continue. We cannot keep turning a blind eye to the problem and then pretend that we are so completely shocked the next time it happens. Because inevitably, it will.

And here’s another thing that I know will undoubtedly offend some people. But maybe they will have an answer for me because I have always wondered about this. All the people who say, in the response to these tragedies, “God have mercy” or “God bless these people” or any other number of requests to God to make the survivors better…my question is, why would God have mercy upon the people whose lives he had just destroyed? Isn’t that how God operates? If he is all powerful and has a plan and presumably is responsible for everything that happened in the first place, why on earth would he then go about making the survivors feel better? I mean, call me a cynical atheist, but doesn’t that seem a little cruel to you? Like I said…I know I’m treading dangerous waters here but you know what, if you don’t like reading what I have to say you are more than welcome to leave. On the other hand, if you have an explanation for this, I’m happy to listen. Because it’s a mindframe that has always confused me.

Okay. As you can see my anger is coming out more and more now and I don’t think it’s appropriate to be this angry. And this has turned into much more of a rant than I had planned, but that’s how these things go.

In the end, I guess all I have left to say is love one another.