On Not Being Adam Lanza: Why Dialogue on Mental Health Must Include People with Mental Illness

[Content note for violence, violence against children, disablism]

Last week was not a good time for my happy levels. First, we had the Good Man Project (or,as I like to call it, the No Rapist Left Behind Project) debacle. Then a close friend of mine died unexpectedly. And on Friday, a gunman walked into Sandy Hooks Elementary School and killed twenty kids and seven adults.

I do not want to be writing this post.

Twenty eight people are dead. Twenty kid are dead, kids who are just a bit younger than my younger brother. I do not want to write about mental illness. It feels… wrong to use this as an excuse to talk about the rights of the mentally ill.

I was not planning on writing this post.

But then it started again. People diagnosing Adam Lanza over the internet, assuming he was mentally ill. An acquaintance saying “Evil is a mental illness.” Everyone, from politicians to newscasters to friends, talking about how we have a “mental health access” problem. There are very few spaces on the internet I can go where people aren’t talking about how we have a “mental illness problem” and how Adam Lanza was surely “mentally ill” and if we just had better access to mental health care this wouldn’t happen etc. Even my usually progressive and social-justice aware friends are falling into the pattern.

Now the Sandy Hooks massacre has everything to do with mental illness.

And now, even though I do not want to write this post, I need to write it.

I need to write it even though I know hundreds of other people will say the same things.

I need to write it especially because hundreds of smart bloggers and social justice crusaders and mental health advocates will say the same things. Because our voices are being out-shouted a thousand to one. We need to be heard if we’re even going to be allowed to participate in this farce of a conversation.

The Sandy Hooks massacre was not caused by mental illness. The mentally ill are not some mob of soon-to-be-violent, ticking time bombs. But damn it, if people are going to sit around and stigmatize the mentally ill as an excuse to avoid looking tragedy in the face? Then hell yeah, I’m going to talk about mental illness.

***

This is not a fun conversation for me to have. Those who follow the blog – or those who know me from Real Life – know I identify as mentally ill. I have a severe anxiety disorder and a major depressive disorder. Dealing with mental illness has defined my life for the past four or five years.

You’d think I’d be happy people are talking about mental illness. I, of all people, know how problematic it is for mental illness to be pushed under the rug, to be ignored and stigmatized.

Sadly, the conversation around Sandy Hooks embodies everything that is wrong with how we talk about mental illness:

1. Violence MUST be the product of Mental Illness.

Here’s the thing. As of this point, we don’t even know if Adam Lanza had a mental illness or disability of any kind. But strangely enough, we’re all talking about mental illness issues. It’s like we magically know Adam Lanza’s mental state.

But wait! We do! Because only mentally ill people would kill so many people. Ergo, Adam Lanza must be mentally ill.

*headdesk*

Acting like violence is the product of mental illness – and ONLY the product of mental illness – is incredibly problematic. And saying that mental health access will solve gun violence is also incredible problematic. Both imply that mentally ill people are violent, dangerous and uncontrollable.

I’m sure some people are going “but they’re not talking about garden-variety depressives like you! They’re talking about the DANGEROUSLY mentally ill.”

Okay, first: *headdesk* again

Second: Yes, in fact, they’re talking about all of us mentally ill folk. The Rachel Maddow Show, for example, had a segment about how to prevent future shootings. The expert’s main recommendation? Adolescents should have a yearly screening for depression.

I’m sorry, how am I not supposed to interpret that as making a causal connection between depression and violence? Did the expert temporarily forget what he was talking about? Was he about to say “gun control laws” but then got his notes mixed up and started talking depression instead?

Nope. What he was saying was that if we do a better job catching depressives, we’ll have fewer school shootings.

Which implies that depression leads to violence.

[everyone better keep the butter knives away from me, I'M JUST SAYING]

The more people talk about how mental illnesses are linked to this type of violence, the more we assume mental illness means violence. And the more and more mental illness becomes stigmatized.

Ironically, stigmatizing mental illness tends to limit access to mental health care, not expand it. How many people do you honestly think are going to say “whoa, I’ve got a mental disability, I’d better get that checked out” after hearing about how mentally ill people are dangerous child killers? Not a whole lot. More people will avoid getting a diagnosis, aware that their condition could get them labeled as dangerous and violent.

Here’s the crucial thing, the thing people are ignoring completely: Violence isn’t linked to mental illness. This is a provable fact. Mentally ill populations – including populations with mental illnesses that we traditionally associate with violence (like schizophrenia) – are no more violent than everyone else.

Most mentally ill people are not violent. Most violent acts are committed by people who do not have mental illnesses. So the whole “Whoa, someone did something terrible! They must be CRAZY”?
Provably wrong.

To add insult to injury, people with mental illnesses are more likely than the rest of the population to be victims of violence. 3% of the general population experience violent crimes, while TWENTY FIVE percent of those with mental illnesses do.

Welcome to the upside-down world of public discourse on mental illnesses. In real life, most mentally ill people aren’t violent, and in fact are more likely to experience violence than the general population. In public discourse, however, mental illness is responsible for all the Terrible Violence, and no one is ever interested in talking about how people with mental illnesses are victimized and abused by violent crime [we'll come back to that point later]

2. Dehumanization of People with Mental Illnesses

In this national “conversation” about mental illness, you’ll notice something interesting: no one seems terribly interested in talking with mentally ill people.

The mentally ill are people we talk about, not people we talk to. We aren’t interested in having a conversation with them, despite the fact that they’re the ones most affected by the issue. We love telling horror stories about what happens to mentally ill people who don’t have access to mental health services, but we never ask people with mental illnesses what they think of the issue.

Could you imagine having a conversation about, say, women’s reproductive rights, and not inviting women speakers?

[... oh, wait, this is the United States I'm talking about. OF COURSE I could imagine a conversation about women's reproductive rights with absolutely no women involved. In fact, I've seen it happen! Bad example.]

By excluding people with mental illnesses from the conversation, and privileging the voices of those who see mental illness as something terrifying, we are dehumanizing people with mental illnesses. They are not even worth trying to understand. They’re just a problem to be solved, a fear to be controlled.

The most problematic entry in this category is the now-viral post “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother.” In the article, the writer discusses her fears that her mentally ill son could turn into an Adam Lanza, due to lack of access to adequate mental health care. .

[Initially, I linked to the original article, but since one of my critiques of "I am Adam Lanza's Mother" is that it violates her son's privacy, I decided that linking it would contribute to the problem.  But if you want to read it, google!]

I want to be clear that I have a lot of sympathy for the author. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to protect and care for her children, especially given how much stigma there is around mental illness, and how little support there is for children with mental illnesses. I am not disputing the legitimacy of her grievance, or of her pain. And I, like her, desperately want us to find better solutions for children with mental illnesses.

The article, however, is incredibly problematic. Not just because it appropriates a national tragedy. Not just because it appropriates Nancy Lanza’s experiences, or tries to express a solidarity with her that may not have existed.

But because it appropriates the son’s experiences.

There is a reason this went viral. And the fact that it was written by a “sane” person talking about a mentally ill person, rather than a person with mental illnesses talking about their own experiences? A big part of that reason.

The author – and the commenters – do not acknowledge that the son has his own experiences and ideas. They seem to have no interest in having a discussion with him, or with people like him. Instead, the son is portrayed solely as a problem, a terrifying child that no one can understand, an evil, calculating, rage-filled monster.

Would a post by a person with a mental illness speaking about their own experiences have the same impact?

Probably not.

This would not bother me nearly as much if this wasn’t usually the way it worked in conversations about mental health. When the broader community wants to “learn” about mental health issues, they do not go to people with mental illnesses. They go to their “sane” relatives, or their “sane” allies. In support groups for mental illnesses, for example, the voices of parents are far more privileged than are the voices of their mentally ill children.

I don’t think the perspective of family members or friends of people with mental illnesses are unimportant. But the reality is, those voices usually erase the voices of those with actual mental illnesses. The conversation is dominated by people who are “impacted” by mental illnesses because someone they know suffers from them, or because they have some sort of objective expertise. Meanwhile, those most impacted are shut out of the discussion entirely.

I cannot speak to the experiences of the author’s son. My various disorders are certainly nowhere near what he seems to be manifesting. But I know the frustration of people talking about your problems as if you weren’t in the room. It isn’t just that people don’t acknowledge that the mentally ill should be included in these conversations. It’s that they seem to forget we have a perspective at all.

Which is all kinds of ironic. If people were serious about addressing mental health issues, they would want to talk with people who suffer from mental illnesses. Those are valuable and important perspectives. In fact, they’re the most important and most valid perspectives.

Unfortunately, we’re just problems to be solved.

This, of course, adds to our sense that people with mental illnesses are unable to speak or advocate for themselves. That they have nothing valuable to contribute. That they’re so addled and deranged that they can’t possibly voice their own experiences.

I’m also deeply uncomfortable with the idea that the families or parents of people with mental illnesses are the best advocates for mental health issues.

Often, families will have agendas that are quite problematic, or that are at total odds with what people with mental illnesses actually want. And since the families/parents are the “sane” voices, their experiences are privileged. Moreover, our assumption that parents are best suited to advocate for their kids in these types of situations is based on the premise that parents always act in the best interest of their child. That, sadly, is not always true.

On The Rachel Maddow Show, the expert mentioned that although depressed kids want help, they almost never go to their parents. What he didn’t talk about is the reality that some of those kids won’t talk to their parents because it would not be safe for them to go to their parents. I’ve known people whose parents teased them for their mental illnesses, or who ignored their mental health problems, or who pressured them to go off medication before they were ready, or who denied them access to mental health care, or who told them their mental illnesses were just “character flaws” and they needed to “get over it.”

And unfortunately, sometimes, parents may be the reason why a child develops a mental illness (if, for example, the parent is emotionally or physically abusive).

Even when parents and families do have the best of intentions, they can make horrible, damaging mistakes. Unfortunately, the author of “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother” made one of those in writing her article under her real name. Now her child’s entire mental health history is available on the internet for anyone to read. No matter how horrible her child is, he has the right to privacy, and the right for the media and the internet not to know everything about him without his permission.

[I do think Lisa Long's decision not to use a pseudonym was an honest mistake, since I'm assuming she didn't anticipate her article would go viral. It is still an incredibly damaging mistake for her son and her other children.]

I’m not saying this because I think the author of “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother” article is a bad parent, or is responsible for her child’s mental health issues, or has anything but her child’s best interests in mind. I’m trying to explain how problematic to privilege the voices of parents or relatives in discussions of mentally ill kids.

You cannot have a constructive conversation about mental health care without including – and, yes, privileging – the voices of people with mental illnesses.

And you’re not going to get people with mental illnesses to join the conversation if you dehumanize them, act like they are the problem, or stigmatize them as violent. Which makes me suspect that this “conversation” is not actually about helping people with mental illnesses, but is about giving people an easy target to scapegoat.

3. Mental illness is only important when we think people with mental illness could be violent.

Somewhere around one fourth of all Americans will suffer from mental illnesses at least once in their lives. Most do not have access to adequate mental health resources. Mental illnesses are stigmatized and framed as “character flaws” rather than legitimate illnesses, which makes it even more difficult for people to access help. People with mental illnesses are more likely to be victims of violence. They struggle with getting proper job accommodations and with social stigma. Their voices are ignored and erased from conversations.

Mental illness, and mental health in this country, is an enormous problem.

Yet strangely enough, the only time when anyone seems interested in addressing this problem is when we’re (incorrectly) blaming the mentally ill for violence.

It reminds me of conversations around school bullying, where people argue that we need to curb bullying because the victims might become “troubled” and “violent” later.
Really? That’s why? That’s the problem with bullying?

And the real problem with mental illness is that people might turn violent? Really? Nothing else problematic about mental illness?

*headdesk*

First, this whole “more mental health access = less gun violence” plan doesn’t compute. Since most mentally ill people aren’t violent, and most violent people aren’t mentally ill, increasing access to mental health care won’t solve our problem with mass violence.

Second: if you want me to have better mental health care access because you’re afraid I might get violent (as opposed to believing that everyone deserves access to mental health care because good mental health is valuable in-and-of-itself ) then you don’t give much of a shit about me. Or about anyone with mental health issues.

Here’s another way of looking at it: there’s a good chance some of the kids at Sandy Hook will develop mental health problems because of their experiences.  Do they deserve mental health care because we want to help them? Or do they need mental health care because they might become “troubled” and “violent”?

Ironically, the people who stigmatize the mentally ill so they can protect the children? May be hurting the very kids they supposedly want to protect.

***

You know who needs mental health care? Everyone. Low-income families. Communities of color. Rural communities. Non-native English speakers. Children. We need to destigmatize mental illness so that it’s seen as a normal thing people go through, not as a character flaw. But that’s not a conversation anyone seems interested in having.

Instead, we want to look at acts of evil and say: that person is not like me. And if he is not like me, he must be mentally ill.
It’s a distancing technique. And it allows us to abdicate real responsibility for what happened.

I got in an argument on facebook with someone who claimed that “evil” is a mental illness. This attitude, sadly, is a trend. When we don’t understand something – or when we don’t WANT to understand something – we label it as crazy. But in a society that glorifies violence, that allows almost anyone access to assault weapons, a society that celebrates toxic masculinity and aggression, is Sandy Hook really that shocking?

To me, it seems like the logical – if horrifying – conclusion of our gun laws and our obsession with violence and aggression.

Instead of taking on the hard job of actually standing up to the NRA and the politicians and the pro-gun lobby, however, we would rather stigmatize an already marginalized community (and one that had nothing to do with the Sandy Hooks tragedy). After all, it’s so much easier to blame everything on mental illness than to come to a consensus that ASSAULT WEAPONS should not be available to anyone with a photo ID.

We live in a society where we can’t even manage to get stricter gun control after twenty kids are killed. But people with mental illnesses are the dangerous ones.

… yeah, no.

***

We desperately need to have a conversation about mental illness. We need to talk about access. We need to talk about how we routinely ignore certain segments of the population (especially the poor, the non-white and the non-american) when it comes to access. We need to change the discussion so that mental illness is seen as a legitimate problem, and not as a character flaw. We need to privilege the voices of people with mental illnesses, and acknowledge that they are the experts on their own experiences.

That, sadly, is not the conversation that is happening right now. Because people aren’t that interested in mental illness. They’re interested in easy (and incorrect) answers. They’re interested in blaming easy targets. And they’re interested in distancing themselves from the tragedy.

Like I said at the top of the post, I do not want to have a conversation about mental illness in the wake of the Sandy Hooks tragedy. But if people are going to stigmatize mental illness as a way to avoid looking at reality in the face?

Then yeah, I’m going to talk about it.

Related Reading:

Kids, Mental Illness and Violence

You Are Not Adam Lanza’s Mother

On Sitting With Fear

Disability and Abuse on Grey’s Anatomy

* Much thanks to my various friends who let me rant – and ranted with me – yesterday.

** Comments section will be moderated with the Iron Fist of the Feminist Batwoman. Priority for comments section is keeping them a safe space for me and for any other people with mental illnesses who may be reading. Personal attacks or arguments in bad faith would violate that safe space. Remember to use “I” words. And don’t police feelings.


31 Comments on “On Not Being Adam Lanza: Why Dialogue on Mental Health Must Include People with Mental Illness”

  1. kshyama says:

    Reblogged this on Bottle in the Smoke and commented:
    CD, who writes what I want to write before my thoughts are even fully formed about an issue. <3

  2. Magpie says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. It is a helpful tool for so many circular conversations I have been witnessing. Means a lot!

  3. tielserrath says:

    Autism (which is a developmental disorder, not a psychiatric condition) has entered the discussion in the same way. One thing you learn as an autistic is that everyone’s opinions on autism matter more than your lived experience of the condition.

    And now I learn that I’m at risk of becoming a mass murderer.

    • Lacey says:

      That is interesting, tielserrath – I was just wondering about this. I have seen an increasing number of articles lately FROM autistic people, or that at least provide them a voice or indicate that certain “treatments” like restraints, scolding for flapping, etc are HORRIFIC and do far more damage to an autistic person’s ability to cope with a situation. I was hoping we were entering a turning point of understanding that autisic people HAVE a perspective and an ability to suggest alterations to their lives/environments that provide a better “treatment” than anything designed mainly to make their caregivers feel more comfortable…

    • C.D. says:

      I should have addressed this in the post itself, but one of the really frustrating parts of the “discussion” on mental illness right now is that people are basically calling people with developmental disabilities “mentally ill.” The two have basically been conflated. And they’re NOT the same, although unfortunately, they carry a lot of the same stigma.
      Of course, people with developmental disabilities/ neuroatypical peoples are not any more likely to commit violence than neurotypical people.

      Stigmatizing neuroatypical people as “violent” is not any more okay – or accurate – than stigmatizing the mentally ill as violent. But the conflation of the two just shows how little people know what the fuck they’re talking about.

      • Lacey says:

        It’s a holdover from the Gothic novels where the insane person in the attic had “homicidal fits”. It is no more real than it was then… people just like to tell themselves that no “rational” person could do these things, without accepting that “sane” humans for their entire history have rationalized even worse…

  4. Lacey says:

    You are so right. I have a novel’s worth to add to this – about my experiences on the fringes of this, my opinions, etc – but I won’t right now. Just know that you are one of the best and most incredible voices out there, mentally ill or otherwise. Thank you for speaking about this, as soul-wrenching a topic as it is.

  5. cubbie says:

    thank you for writing this. the thing with posts like “i am adam lanza’s mother” is that it gets people thinking. and talking. and brilliant people like you write things like this, and i hopes it gets read as much as that piece.

    i want EVERYONE to get mental health care. i get suckered in to pieces like that one and others that actually bring up mental illness, because at least they are talking about mental illness. at least it’s not silent anymore. i am not mentally ill, so i am not as clued into the bias in what is said as i’d like to be, and i am deeply sorry for things that hurt, but i think the fact that a clunky, awkward, imperfect beginning of a conversation may be beginning (or maybe it’s been happening for a long time, but maybe more people are hearing it?).

  6. c.creativity says:

    I’m bipolar II, have needed inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations on several occasions, am quite normal (when treated), am highly cognizant of the fact that I’m only able to be normal because I have had better access to mental health care than most people, and want to do what I can to de-stigmatize mental illnesses. One of the ways I do that is to write about my own experiences, which I thought you might like reading…

    http://c-creativity.blogspot.com/2012/02/more-than-just-my-diagnoses.html

    http://c-creativity.blogspot.com/2012/07/5th-of-july-and-executioner-within.html

    http://c-creativity.blogspot.com/2012/12/when-i-finally-fell.html

  7. [...] On Not Being Adam Lanza: Why Dialogue on Mental Health Must Include People with Mental Illness (culturallydisoriented.wordpress.com [...]

  8. kic says:

    Yea, there’s a difference between austism and mentally ill. they call Lanza autistic because he doesn’t talk very much? I cannot find any other reason.

    • C.D. says:

      One of the frustrating things about the current “discussion” on mental illness is that people are basically conflating developmental disabilities like aspergers or autism with mental illness. Which doesn’t mean that it’s okay to stigmatize Aspergers/Autism/Developmental Disabilities, because as it happens, those people aren’t likely to get violent EITHER, but it just shows how little people know WTF they’re talking about.

  9. M.K. Hajdin says:

    “…there’s a good chance some of the kids at Sandy Hook will develop mental health problems because of their experiences. Do they deserve mental health care because we want to help them? Or do they need mental health care because they might become “troubled” and “violent”?”

    It’s because if they become troubled and violent, they might inconvenience somebody society actually cares about.

    The suffering of stigmatized people doesn’t matter; heck, that’s what stigma is for: so we don’t have to care too much about icky, broken people. Society only wants to avoid trouble or harm to “normals”.

  10. Miriam says:

    Thanks for this. Absolutely brilliant.

  11. [...] On Not Being Adam Lanza: Why Dialogue on Mental Health Must Include People with Mental Illness (culturallydisoriented.wordpress.com) [...]

  12. J Mortimer says:

    Perfect.

    Whenever something like this happens people immediately jump to the conclusion that the person was mentally ill. There’s a lot of “oh well he must have been crazy”. Like you have to be mentally ill to be a vile, evil asshole.

    There’s no evidence that Adam Lanza suffered from any kind of mental illness and yet the president of the NRA is calling for a national database of the mentally ill in America.

    I think the sane do it so they can distance themselves from the act; if the perpetrator was crazy then that’s fine because they’re not. They can file it away and not bother to take a good look at the society they live in.

    I’m so fucking tired of being scapegoated and demonised and I’m deeply worried for the already far too vulnerable mentally ill people living in the States.

  13. Thank you so so so much for writing this. So true…especially about how the media will often talk to anyone about us but us…and how parents don’t have the right to speak FOR their kids, nor do “experts” have the right to speak FOR the people they treat, because guess what, autistic and mentally ill people usually can talk.

  14. This post? Is freaking beautiful. I empathize with you so much as someone who has the exact same mental illnesses that you have. Here’s my post on the subject: http://www.thatcrazycrippledchick.blogspot.com/2012/12/praying-for-time-sandy-hook-shootings.html

  15. jacy says:

    thankyou for writing this, you covered everything so eloquently :)

  16. Marianne says:

    This is very interesting and provided much food for thought. I have Asperger’s Syndrome and quite severe seasonal depression. I might have been falling into the same trap as neurotypicals by assuming that Adam Lanza had a mental illness. I don’t believe in “evil”. I think “evil” is one of the worst distancing words that we can use because it places that person in a completely “other” category that we just can’t comprehend. So we don’t even try.

    I usually classify people that are called evil in another category which is those that lack empathy for their fellow human beings or those who have been so absorbed in their own pain that their usual rational thought gets warped. That’s one category which I don’t personally understand and one that I do — if I did something “evil” it is more likely to fall under the second category than the first.

    I worry that labeling someone as evil is just another way to avoid the problem. At least for me, labeling someone as mentally ill forces me to bring them part way into my fold. I don’t want to disown anyone, even Adam Lanza. We’re all human and there are always reasons for our actions, nothing is random. The reasons can be nature or nurture but if we learn how to deal with those problems I believe most of them can be dealt with without the massive damage that was caused when Adam Lanza went to Sandy Hook. As such, the label “mentally ill” is a more useful label than “evil”.

    Of course, there is much more to this than what I’ve written and I would appreciate more opinions.

  17. [...] 1. A bit late, but this conversation needs to continue: on how we exclude people with mental illnesses from our dialogue and why that needs to stop: [...]

  18. smrnda says:

    Great post! I have schizoaffective disorder, but I’ve been fine for about 4 years thanks to better meds and a few lifestyle changes. I agree that parents are NOT very good with helping their mentally ill kids – a lot of them just want to pretend that the mentally ill or depressed kid is an isolated incident (not reflective on the family, which might be making the symptoms worse.)

    I always try to tell people about my own issues so they can get the idea that mentally ill people can be treated, be functional, and can talk about their own needs.

    The other thing is – if mental illness is supposed to be this huge factor in violence, why do ‘insanity pleas’ so seldom work?

  19. Nicothodes says:

    Thank you for this. I actually got hit with the posts on Facebook about mental illness before I heard about the shooting and they continued for a week. A lot of the posts on my feed complained about how family members couldn’t force their adult relatives into treatment, and there was one thread of teachers complaining about how they couldn’t armchair diagnose their students and/or know their mental health status without the student’s consent. I have a list of diagnoses and when I was a teenager I was in and out of hospitals. I had no say over my treatment because the doctors were telling my parents that I pretty much had no future (I don’t blame my parents for any of this. They were scared and listening to people with authority.). I’m still not completely over not having that control over what happens to my body and it’s painful to know that there are many people who would put me back in that situation.

    I wrote a short, miserable rant on my own blog at the time and updated it with a link to Kate Donovan’s excellent post on the subject. I just updated it again with a link to yours. It’s here if you’re interested in it. http://idealkoala.wordpress.com/2012/12/16/on-the-discussion-ive-seen-around-the-ct-shooting-a-rant/

  20. Philip says:

    Great post, thank you!

    One thing I find very scary is that attempts to redefine mental illness as something dangerous, and something that covers violent criminals by definition, isn’t just pub talk: in the UK, the diagnosis of Dangerous and Severe Personality Disorder was created; in the US, immigration under the Visa Waiver Program is (or was) denied to those whose mental health condition is “associated with a display of harmful behavior, including self-harm” (read strictly, this covers all psychiatric diagnoses, but it’s probably meant to include those with a history of self-harm from entering the US). Some US states have abolished the verdict of “not guilty by reason of insanity” and use “guilty but mentally ill” instead.

    It’s not just dangerous talk: it’s dangerous talk that results in dangerous law.

    Another idea that I hear a lot is that most victims of violence or sexual abuse will become violent or abusers themselves, as a result of developing mental illness. That’s another *headdesk*, of course.

    I’m mentally ill, and on bad days I will take such statements at face value: people really think I’m a ticking time bomb and a future abuser, no matter what I do. They don’t want to help me, they want me gone, locked away or worse. They think of self-harm or suicidal thoughts as criminal violence or a “warning sign” for it, and of hospital admissions as proving that I’m not harmless.

  21. [...] Initially, Melissa, I just planned to write a letter to you explaining why our current discourse around mental illness is harmful. But I’ve already talked about that in other contexts: specifically in a blog post I wrote right after Newtown. [...]

  22. […] On Not Being Adam Lanza: Why Dialogue on Mental Health Must Include People with Mental Illness […]

  23. […] On Not Being Adam Lanza: Why Dialogue on Mental Health Must Include People with Mental Illness […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,112 other followers