Keep Them Tools Sharp

 

So, the reason I started seeing a therapist again last year, after a nine-year hiatus, was the hope that said therapist could perhaps provide me some tools to help me cope with my ongoing depression.

And she has. She recommended some sites for me to visit online, that gave me some practical steps to apply, and I thought the information was very valuable.

Yay, I’ve got some tools, now!

But, as any skilled craftsman will tell you, one good way to keep your tools sharp longer…

Is to not use them.

 

Why don’t I put into practice the things I’ve learned? Maybe, for a few reasons.

One, making a habit out of anything new is tough. Especially, anything good, right? We’re settled in to all our bad habits and, even though we know they’re bad, we’re kinda slow to let go of them, aren’t we? How many times have we declared ourselves on one diet or other, only to fall in those familiar traps on the path? How many newly started exercise regimens have we abandoned, not because we really wanted to, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to get up and run today, or whatever?

Maybe it’s just me.

Two, on the subject of exercise, you know how it feels when you do something physical, that works muscles on your body you haven’t used in a long while? (Stop snickering, I know what you’re thinking…) It’s not comfortable, is it? And, the next day, maybe you’re a little sore in those places. ( I said, STOP it!)

Well, I guess the mind and the emotions are like that. Let’s say, for instance, I have a “self-forgiveness” muscle, that’s pretty much atrophied at this point. (Hypothetically, of course.) When I ask it to try and function, chances are, it won’t be comfortable. Might even hurt.

Then, how ready will I be to try it again?

Three, I’m the kind of guy who likes to mark time, to hit the Pause button, get everything set up like I want it, then press Play, and continue on.

There is, of course, no Pause button. You would think a fifty-something-year-old man would have figured that out. We’re stuck in Play, all the way to the end. (Feels more like Fast Forward, though, gotta say.)

I guess I just have to do this thing on the fly, which I’d rather not.

 

Four, and this one may be the hardest to explain:

In a weird way, part of me likes being in this condition, fancying myself the classic Tragic Hero in my own, personal Drama: a somewhat virtuous fellow, nevertheless doomed to suffer. In its own twisted, perverted way, it gets me more attention which, as anyone who knows me can tell you, is a particular lifelong craving of mine.

Now, how screwed up is that, folks? The problem with that is, I’m not the only one who suffers. Which sucks for the other people.

I guess that’s partly due to the artiste in me, grouping myself with the Van Goghs and the Hemingways and the Kurt Cobains of the world. (Not that my work approaches theirs; I’m not claiming that.) Also, my uncle, bless his heart, who was a writer that had depression for years, and ultimately killed himself.

There’s something else, though: the gnawing feeling that the tragic life is the life I deserve. This is what I have coming to me. Nothing good; only bad.

I don’t know why. At least, if I do, I’m not telling me.

 

Mind you, I don’t like admitting any of this. It’s more than a bit embarrassing. But, it’s the unfortunate, ugly truth.

Dr. L, if you’re reading this, (yes, she has permission) just know that I’m holding steady. I know what I need to do; I know what I want to do.

I don’t know. Maybe I need some tools to help me get started using my tools.

That’s sorta funny, but really not.

Those “Mentally Ill” Killers

 

I know I’ve dwelled on the subject of gun violence of late, but it’s really been on my mind. Way too many people, especially kids, are being shot to death; it’s an epidemic.

Our beloved leaders in Washington, however, are rendered impotent by their own partisanship, not to mention their allegiance to the National Rifle Association’s money.

Which is why, after this latest horror scene in a Florida high school, the focus is again not on the proliferation of and easy access to guns in America, but on mental illness.

I would simply ask the President, members of Congress, and anyone else who would seek to blame mental illness for all the gun violence, to at least consider the findings of an article published by Psychiatry Online entitled, “Mass Shootings and Mental Illness.” Here’s the link:

https://psychiatryonline.org/doi/pdf/10.5555/appi.books.9781615371099

Among the points it makes are:

“Mass shootings by people with serious mental illness represent less than 1% of all yearly gun-related homicides. In contrast, deaths by suicide using firearms account for the majority of yearly gun-related deaths.

“The overall contribution of people with serious mental illness to violent crimes is only about 3%. When these crimes are examined in detail, an even smaller percentage of them are found to involve firearms.

“Laws intended to reduce gun violence that focus on a population representing less than 3% of all gun violence will be extremely low yield, ineffective, and wasteful of scarce resources. Perpetrators of mass shootings are unlikely to have a history of involuntary psychiatric hospitalization. Thus, databases intended to restrict access to guns and established by guns laws that broadly target people with mental illness will not capture this group of individuals.

“Gun restriction laws focusing on people with mental illness perpetuate the myth that mental illness leads to violence, as well as the misperception that gun violence and mental illness are strongly linked. Stigma represents a major barrier to access and treatment of mental illness, which in turn increases the public health burden.”

Now, don’t you think, if psychiatrists were convinced that mental illness actually was the problem, they wouldn’t be presenting all this evidence to the contrary?

Gun violence is a public health crisis, but please, let’s not be so quick to brand it as a public mental health crisis. I’m fully aware that a lot of you will disagree, but the problem is, and has always been, the guns.

Period.

 

 

“Fuck you, I like guns.”

I know this won’t sway any of the gun lovers, but this is, by far, the best argument I’ve read for why assault rifles shouldn’t be available to just anyone. Look past the occasional dirty word; just focus on the big picture. This is the most important issue our country faces right now. Ask any student.

Anastasia Writes

Edited to add: I can’t thank you all enough for interacting with this post. I am actually surprised that it’s become this popular. This is the first time more than ten people have read anything I’ve written here. I’m probably going to turn off commenting soon because everything that can be said already has been. In general, I’d like to point out that this is an opinion piece. I wrote it on a 15 minute coffee break and posted it unedited. It’s raw, and that’s the whole point. The tone, the language, and the style are intentional. This was written for people like my mostly conservative Army buddies who will never click an article that is titled “Gun control is your friend”, and tend to assume those who support such legislation have never seen a gun before. I’m not a professional writer, nor a particularly prolific blogger until about three…

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Guns In the Classroom

For all the “Arm the teacher” advocates out there in the wake of the Florida school shootings, let’s hear from a recently retired teacher:

Endless Bitchen Summer

After dedicating 18+ years of my life to teaching high school before retiring this year, I can say with authority that arming teachers with weapons is a very bad and dangerous idea. While some of my former colleagues may disagree, I assert that only more tragedy will occur on an armed-and-ready-to-shoot campus.

Most people who propose arming teachers have not set foot on a high school campus since they graduated. So let me enlighten you. Schools are over crowded. My last teaching assignment was at an at-risk school – the largest Title I school in Nevada. I had 230 students. Most classes exceeded 40 students. Desks were jammed so close together that in an effort to assist students, I had to squeeze between desks. In that type of proximity, a motivated student could have disarmed me in seconds.

While most of my students were great kids, I had legitimate gang…

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Wendell is Smiling

 

All right, let’s hear it for Darrell Wallace, Jr.

Which is who, you ask?

Oh, he just finished second in Sunday’s NASCAR Daytona 500 stock car race. In only his fifth ever career start, no less.

Second? Big deal, you say.

Well, it is, and here’s why: It’s the highest finish ever at Daytona by an African American driver.

Not that that list is a terribly long one. Anybody know the last black driver in the Daytona 500?

Answer: Wendell Scott, in 1969.

Yep, you read that right. 1969. Forty…nine…years ago.

And Sunday, Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, Jr. made a little history in Black History Month.

Congratulations, Mr. Wallace. This is a well-worn cliche, but even though you finished second, you’re definitely a winner.

That’s all I got today. Just wanted to shine a little spotlight on this man.

Take some time this month, or any month, to read up on some important folks whose lives we commemorate during Black History Month. Their history is very much part of ours.

 

Fire, Bleed, Repeat

 

Really, is there any point?

Any point at all in discussing the school shooting in a Florida high school on Wednesday?

The one that left seventeen people dead, at the hands of a nineteen-year-old former student? With a rifle?

That filled our TV screens with crying students and crying parents and SWAT teams and somber reporters?

That rang the bell for Round Whatever of the great Gun Debate?

Really, is there any point?

When we all know the end result will be…nothing.

And the story will disappear from the news cycle in a week or two.

And the whole f####ng scenario will play out again. And again. And again.

I honestly don’t know where to go from here. I can’t offer any hope. I can’t offer any rage. I think it’s all a waste of my breath.

So, I’ll just offer this:

To those of you who lost people you loved in this tragedy, I am so very deeply sorry. My heart is broken for you.

But, just as heartbreaking, is that you’re likely just the latest in a never ending line.

Because our attention span is just too short to allow us to care.

That’s the truth.