Monday, December 17, 2012

Nothing Explainable

I have been struggling for six weeks with writing. Six weeks of so much going on, that I have neither the energy nor the honesty to write.

And then there is the awfulness of Sandy Hook. I cannot bear to read about it and yet I cannot bear to look away. I feel like it is my responsibility to read every bit, every crumb, that I can about these babies that lost their lives. I need to look at their toothless grins, read about their wish lists to Santa and their desire to be soldiers and firefighters. I need to read about their last minutes, like somehow my acknowledging it will give it meaning.

The media, and many of us, are searching for meaning in all of this. At the end of the day, there will be no meaning. There will be no 'aha' moment when the police unravel the mystery of Lanza's smashed hard drive. There will be no big realization when they pour over footage of shooting ranges, searching for Nancy Lanza and her son.

Mental illness does not wrap things up in a tidy red bow. It doesn't make sense or have meaning. Mental illness is a big messy mess- colors splashed on the canvas that no one can decipher or explain. All the experts in the world can try to explain or find reasons for Friday, but nothing can explain it.

I dropped Timesboy off this morning at 8:53AM. I had this moment of not being able to breathe, as I saw the teacher open the door to the school, and then close it after he went in. When he climbed out of the car, I looked at his lopsided grin, his messy hair, and his untied shoes, and my heart shattered a little bit. I watched him lope through the doors, and knew that my boy would be safe today. I don't know how I knew this fact, but I did, and I hurt for the parents who won't get to pick their stinky boys up from school.

I ramble. But I struggle to make sense of that for which there is no sense. I want to squeeze my monkeys, whilst knowing this would probably alarm at least one of them. I want to make us have a dialogue about mental illness, and I want it to make a difference. I want us to recognize that one in four Americans will be diagnosed with a mental disorder in our lifetimes- this makes the conversation an important one. You love someone with a mental illness, you work with someone with a mental illness, and you may well be someone with a mental illness. We need to quit tiptoeing around those two words, and have a frank and open national discussion about how to deal with mental illness as a society. Mental illness doesn't mean our loved ones will commit violent crimes, but doesn't it mean we discuss that they need the same ribbons and bake sales that other diseases get?

Hug your monkeys, peeps. And if they are mentally ill, hug them harder. Don't hide it. Don't try to swish it under the rug. They all deserve better.

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