I cried yesterday morning. Crying isn’t unusual for me, I cry easily, but the reason I cried is a first. It is a first in my lifetime. It is an amazing time for mental health advocates, and it just might be the beginning of a new world for those of us with a mental illness.
People are not letting it happen. People are speaking out and pushing back. The media tried to say mental illness was the cause of the horrific murders of nine people in South Carolina, and for once, there are writers pushing back on the stereotypes. It’s not going to be allowed to happen this time. Our illnesses are not going to be used as the cause of the violence in America.
You can read an article from The Stranger, here. You can read another article from Salon, here. Read them and mourn for those nine victims and their families, but rejoice that this time, a mass shooting is not going to be tied to the mentally ill.
These are two great articles, but that is not all. I read it on people’s Facebook statuses. The posters I read were vocal about not calling the shooter, mentally ill. They want it to be considered as, and be remembered as, and be tried as, exactly what it is, a crime of hate.
There is hatred in America, and that is the root cause of these tragic killings. I think we would all agree that the real definition of insanity is to go into a church, participate in Bible study, and then open fire on the people you just worshipped with. That is true insanity, and has nothing to do with mental illness.
We must keep the victims of this tragedy at the heart of the issues here. They deserve to be remembered, and they deserve justice, and they deserve a society that works hard to try and change the climate that would make their deaths by a gunman in a church even possible.
We must remember those beautiful lives first, but we must also know that our voices have been heard. The tide is changing. The stereotypes are losing some of their power and hold on the minds of the American people. Now, I challenge you, my fellow mental health advocates, to make sure that you also help eliminate stereotypes about all people whenever and wherever you encounter them.
We gained some territory, but let’s help everyone who is discriminated against, who has to live with stereotypes to gain some fresh ground too. We know what it is like to live with cruel jokes. We know what it is like to have so much misunderstanding, ignorance and hatred thrown our way. Let’s help all the other people who suffer in a way similar to ours.
If one of us wins, we all win. The struggle continues.