I have written before on this topic, but always trying to appeal to “everyone”, with little reference to having mental illness. I think it’s time to try again.
I have bipolar.
I watched, with everyone else, the media coverage of the mass shootings in recent years. I watched, and have heard, how the focus for every media covered shooting has ended in a call for “gun control”.
I don’t understand it.
Being someone with a mental illness, invariably what screams out at me is the fact that, with the exception of the Trayvon Martin debacle, every nationally covered shooting has had two common denominators.
1: A firearm was used.
2: The person committing the mass shooting had a mental illness.
It’s really strange to me that the focus is on “gun control”. I remember a time when there were a number of incidents that were highly publicized about senior citizens driving into stores and crowds. There was discussion about treating them as individuals and testing them on a case by case basis, more frequently, or whether to set an “age limit” on the driving privilege.
When it has come to nationally noticed gun violence and people with mental illness, the same consideration is not taken. Instead, to make a comparison, the discussion most brought up in the public eye is whether or not to ban guns of this type or that, as well as calls to ban them in general. This is sort of like with the senior citizens, if there had been a public debate on whether to ban automobiles of certain types or something.
What a tragedy! All of that money and airtime that could have been spent on mental healthcare reform and such wasted on limiting the rights of people who have done nothing wrong.
What gets to me, though, even more, is the amount of disrespect it shines on people who have a mental illness. “They can’t be held responsible”, an attitude which carries on into everyday life constantly.
I wish people would wake up to this. The United States is based on the importance of the rights of individuals, and great battles have been fought for the equality of individuals and the elimination of discrimination against groups of people. Here we are, though, with the disposition that people with a mental illness are incompetent children who are unable to be responsible for themselves.
I am not a child. I have an illness. If I shoot someone, why on earth would you then want to limit other people?
I am expected to pay bills. I am expected to do what I am supposed to do within society. I am expected to take responsibility for the maintenance of my own care to battle my mental illness. I am allowed to vote, to buy alcohol, to drive, to do any number of other things that I am afforded the right to do by my rights as a citizen.
How disrespectful for the government and society to treat me like a child, and to encourage me to sit down and be quiet because I am “suffering” and I have “no control”.
Madness. They want people with a mental illness to take all of these responsibilities, and then pat us on the head if we do wrong. They wink at us and say, “Oh, well, you know, they’re crazy, you can’t hold them responsible.”
It can’t be both ways. We are either expected to do right and treated like equals, or come right out and say that we should be treated like children, and then provide us with the same care you would a child. Either provide us with “full care”, housing, therapy, medication and everything else that would be provided to the child you think we are, or treat us as we are.
We are citizens, individuals with different capabilities fighting illnesses as best we can and in different ways.
Have the respect for us to hold us responsible for the things we do.