I keep thinking about the horrors that seem to be endless these days. As someone who suffers from a mental illness, I see it from a very different angle. As someone who has sat in a mental health ward for an extended period time, I see it from an angle that others may never understand, or may never want to.
I’ve seen and heard things in a way that will make your nightmares seem like fairy tails.
When I hear people and see articles that try to rationalize these events, tragedies, and mindsets in a way that take the focus off the perpetrators, it makes my heart sink, because they have no understanding of what happens inside the mind of someone who struggles with mental illness, even if it is from a minor standpoint or from PTSD. Triggers, not to be compared to hat of a gun, but those that set us off in an instant are things that people who don’t struggle with mental illness will never understand. But I do. All of us who struggle with mental illness do.
Let me back up, because I’m going to share my own experience to paint this picture to make my point.
To most, I come across as warm and friendly. I’m never off-putting or threatening in anyway, shape, or form. Yet, I’ve been threatened to have the police called on me due to being triggered in an instant by someone. My mother watched the whole encounter unfold with a dropped jaw, because she had never witnessed such an act by me. She said it was like someone had flipped a switch, and I was no longer there. Someone else had taken over my body and someone evil had emerged.
After she had pulled me out of the situation, to avoid me being arrested and having my life ruined, I calmed down. The one thing I realized was that I had forgotten to take one of my prescriptions for my disorder that morning. If I had remembered, I might have avoided that scenario. The key word is might. We may have never known.
Another situation goes back to junior high and high school. I was friendly. I was not mean or reclusive. I had a friends that hung out with. I was involved in clubs and sports. I was artistic, sporty, and smart. I was not your typical child who would have seemed to have struggled with the effects of bullying or depression; however, I was made fun of for my appearance, the way I dressed, our family’s economic status, where we lived, my awkwardness, anything I said, did. I was threatened to be beat up. I even attempted suicide, at which time two of my best friends kidnapped me from the high school councilor’s office and did not allow me to go back home until I had become rational again.
You see, just because someone may have friended someone, or they may seem normal, or they may have been approached does not mean they are safe or not the type to become unsafe. No one is. Mental health is a touchy subject, and it seems no one is willing to dive further into it to really understand it.
I remember being in an art class one day in the eighth grade. There was another girl in school who I could have been twins with. There were a group of girls chatting in the class as I was walking to the center of the room to gather supplies for our day’s project. What I overheard was that while I did look like the other girl, she was prettier and smarter. I was ugly and dumb. And did not deserve to exist on this earth.
I had people lie to me to put me in situations to publicly humiliate me. Like one time where someone said there was a popular boy in junior high that wanted to get to know me, and wanted to meet me during an all school convocation. Not only was it a lie, but the boy literally kicked me down the bleachers for quite a few to see. These were not isolated incidents. These were just the beginning.
This all built up inside of me. I’d go home, shut the door to my room, and let the tears run until there were none left. What people saw of me during the day, the smile, the laughter, and all, were just a facade. Only what the only few friends I had saw was real. I didn’t go to the big parties. I wasn’t popular or hung out with the big names. No, they ridiculed me. I was the butt of their jokes.
The reason I say this is because I know what goes on in the mind of those who have had enough. You grow weary of being made fun of. You grow weary of lied to, deceived, and kicked down those bleachers in front of everyone. You get to a point where you’ve had enough and you just want to blow everyone away. That’s where that blank stare with no emotion comes from. It’s from the hurt. It’s from the pain. It’s from the being tired of being taken advantage of. You are just plain over it. And you just don’t care anymore. That’s where it comes from.
I know there will be people who will read this and try to cite journals and reports and papers against what I just said. But let me ask them this, because there is more to this, too: have you ever sat in a mental health ward? Because I have. I’e been hospitalized both inpatient and outpatient several times. There have been times during the inpatient that I’ve actually been scared for my life, but sat silently with my little orange wristband labeling me suicide risk, listening to someone just like those who shoot up the innocent, but had been caught just before they did. Yes, they are put in the same ward as those who are suicide risks, and we are forced to sit and talk out why we are there and why we need to work on ourselves. Their stories are very similar to the one I just wrote about above. In fact, it could be verbatim.
The sad fact is this, I’ve seen crazy in the eyes of those who have the desire to destroy the lives of others. But I’ve also seen the sadness in the eyes of those who have been hurt by the very same lives of those hurt those with the crazy. They just have a choice, but it just depends on the trigger in them. Or how they choose to get help or how they choose to react.
Now, I do know that in some instances the system has failed some of these people. When someone cries for help, they should never ever be ignored. And unfortunately, there have been instances where it has been revealed that they have, and it is too late when it has been revealed. We should never hear that it is too late.
But I will say this: there are various levels where we are failing people in this. One is that we are failing people when it comes to bullying. It isn’t just about encouraging people to go up to the loner. No, it is about nipping bullying in the butt. It just plain needs to stop, because it isn’t just the loaner that it is happening to.
The other is not allowing the cry for help to slip through the cracks, because we never know what will happen next if we don’t. The majority of the time, when someone with a mental health crisis calls out for help, the next step is suicide; however, that is not always the case, as witnessed as of late.
I really don’t have answers, I only know the mind of someone like this. And it is only because it is a mind like my own.