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Michelle Close Mills

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Making Sense of it All
By Michelle Close Mills   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2014

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The real culprit

In the last few decades, our world has seen a dramatic increase in violence. Much of it is turned on innocent, every day folks, who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time

Many of the victims are children, whose young lives were still unfolding from the chrysalis. Ex-husbands and boyfriends snap and kill their wives and girlfriends as well as their children in fits of rage. Women drowning their children in bathtubs and driving mini-vans into the ocean, planning to kill themselves and the young occupants inside…

I’m very aware that there’s a huge outcry to limit assault rifles and access to guns. Background checks are in place to presumably help protect society from the bad guys.

But let’s get real. I could run out on my lunch break and find someone willing to sell a gun to me for $200 cash and skip all the red tape.

I’m not a psychiatrist, or a psychologist. I don’t hold a medical degree of any kind. What I am however, is a mom, daughter, niece, granddaughter and great-granddaughter in a long line of mental illness in my dad’s family that stretches back 100 years or more. My daughter has inherited many of their illnesses, and struggles with them every hour of every day.

Through a miracle, I was spared our family’s curse. But there has never been one single day of my life that hasn’t been touched by the profound mental illness of someone I deeply love.

Anger, explosive rages, cruelty, spousal abuse, their children damaged by what they witnessed and lived through each day, later inflicted violence on their own families either through inherited mental illness or by their inability understand the dynamics of a normal family unit. After all, how could they know what normal was? Their childhoods were spent in “fight or flight” mode. It was all about survival.

Most of Dad’s family had no idea that they were sick. Those with the misfortune to love them didn’t know either. It was chalked up to bad parental behavior in their childhood, mixed with excessive drinking.

I remember my grandfather announcing that his father was “the meanest man who ever lived.” My father felt the same way about his father. And life in my home wasn’t a cake walk either. I suffered blistering verbal abuse. I learned early on to stay clear of him to avoid what I would happen if I didn’t make myself scarce.

I’m sure there’s plenty of you out there who have seen and experienced horrors far worse than I have. However there’s a common denominator that ties us together. We’ve all lost precious people to an insidiousness that drags us into a swirling vortex, rendering us helpless.

And it’s not just at home. It’s everywhere.

Look around you. The homeless. Seriously who in their right mind wants to live under an overpass or in the woods?

Most folks who are down on their luck wouldn’t elect to live that life. They do all they can to return to solvency.

Many homeless are mentally ill, who have been fired from their jobs, unable to pay their bills and have lost familial support because those closest to them couldn’t cope with them anymore.

So they live where they can, take what they need and often end up in the penal system.

Prisons have become a dumping ground for the mentally ill. Because so many of the sick go untreated, they are likely to commit crimes that they might have never attempted if they’d been well. It’s been estimated that more than 40% of the average prison population is mentally ill-many severely. Some statistics place the number significantly higher.

When their time is up and the prisoners are released back into their communities. It’s a cocktail for disaster, because while they were incarcerated many are punished for their irrational and violent behavior, receiving no medical or psychological treatment. Prisons aren’t designed to fix the cause of what stuffs them to the brim.

How has this happened? Why are so few receiving help?

The answer is easy. The afflicted have no money to pay for treatment, and unless the patient has health insurance with a manageable co-pay it’s impossible for many to receive help from a reputable psychiatrist. Then there’s the expense of the medications needed to pull them from the mire. Some are staggeringly costly.

My daughter has suffered for a number of years. She had a board certified psychiatrist who was treating her, charging a reduced rate, but with her condition it’s been difficult to adjust her meds. Her body stops responding to them after a few months. On a particularly bad day, she had an angry outburst in front of his staff and was shown the door. The Dr. refused to treat her anymore. She had no health coverage. My husband and I weren’t able to afford $300+ psychiatric self-pay rates with another provider.

Out of sheer desperation, she enrolled in a county run facility called “Directions for Mental Health.” They turned her into a guinea pig. Each time she saw someone there, it was always someone different, who had no relationship with her other than a quick scan of her chart before writing different meds than the last person had prescribed. If the medicine caused a negative reaction, she was told to go to the emergency room. They had no appointments for patients in crisis.

So here’s my point.

I’m not pro 2nd amendment, but it’s the law of the land and part of the Bill of Rights. There’s a zero chance of abolishing it, so we might as well learn to live with it. We don’t have a choice.

Where we as a society can right a wrong is to care for the amount of profoundly ill people who wander the streets, tormented by voices in their heads. Voices telling them to shoot up elementary schools and movie theatres.

All the gun control legislation in the world won’t help, if the one who pulls the trigger poses the greatest danger.

We can and MUST fund treatment for the mentally ill or we’re going to keep seeing the headlines, grieve for the lost and sickened by those who killed the innocent. There must be a public health policy in place to get help for the mentally ill that need it so desperately.

If we continue to allow this pestilence to go untreated, we the outraged will have no one to blame but ourselves.

Michelle Close Mills ©

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Reviewed by Ronald Hull 12/17/2014
Some very good points to ponder. From what little I know about it from the few people that I know that are faced with it in their families, mental illness is a terrific problem to deal with...Always has been… Lobotomy was considered a good treatment just a half-century ago. The current trend towards social Darwinism of deregulation and "free enterprise" endangers the unfortunate in many ways.

One correction. I believe the statistics show that the world is becoming less violent. The problem is that, with the Internet and cell phones that give everyone the ability to be an on-site reporter, we get far away news in a nanosecond. Our brains are incapable of distinguishing between the immediate danger and one that is far away and remote. I see many people suffering from unnatural fear as a result. Buying a gun is not an answer. Many think it is.


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