Sunday, January 13, 2013
From Gun Control to Mental Illness Discrimination
"On Sunday, [National Rifle Association President David Keene] called for a greater focus on mental health and said those who are mentally ill and potentially dangerous should be placed on a list of people prohibited from purchasing firearms." Huffington Post
I decided to find his exact words. It is quite vague yet offensive. His exact words were, "One of the things that we have pushed for, for a number of years is those who have been adjudicated to be mentally incompetent and potentially dangerous on to the list of those people who were prohibited from buying firearms. That has not been done. That should be done, because most of the people who engage in these sort of things are people who have had real trouble."
These sorts of things? What sort of things? And who does he consider "mentally incompetent?" What does he mean by "real trouble?"
Keene goes on to use veterans with PTSD as an example. "What we have suggested is that, and this has particularly come up, because this administration and a previous one have attempted to bar returning veterans who sought psychological help from owning firearms. We said fine if there is an adjudication that they shouldn't be doing this. But if that happens, and they get better -- and after all, the whole point of a mental health system is not to permanently relegate people to an inferior status, but to cure them. If they are cured, there ought to be a way out of that. That's all we've said. And we think that's very fair."
But doesn't he realize suggesting putting mentally ill people on a list as potentially dangerous IS regulating them to inferior status?
The most sickening thing is that while he has no problem discriminating against mental ill individuals he actually says this, "Well, what we put the brakes on is anything that simply takes away a person's second amendment right for no good reason. I mean, you can restrict the constitutional right, like the right of free speech, famously you cannot yell "fire" in a crowded theater, if there's a very good reason and if there are safeguards."
Isn't treating mentally ill people this way yelling "fire" and potentially taking away a person's right to the second amendment based on discrimination? There's so much hypocrisy here I don't know how to separate it all!
I usually refrain from posting about politics on my blog but this is beyond infuriated. I struggle from severe depression and possibly borderline personality disorder and/or bipolar disorder. (My doctors can't agree which it is I have.) I have just started being open about my disease (or dis-ease as I prefer to call it) but after reading this one sentence from this news article I have decided to end my silence and become a vocal advocate against mental illness stigma and discrimination.
Now at this point I don't know if I need to include Vice President Biden in taking part of this blatant discrimination against those with mental illness. He is expected to announce sweeping policy changes to gun laws and mental health care on Tuesday. I am hoping and praying his changes will involve ending the stigma that prevents people like me from being embarrassed that we have a disease. I am hoping he will talk about making mental health care less expensive and easier to access. We need helped, not labeled as potential murderers.
Our mental health care system is broken. I have experienced it firsthand. After suffering for several years with severe depression, I finally decided to seek professional help. While I am being helped tremendously by a therapist and am in recovery, I am also seeing how doctors and therapists are failing patients just like me.
I have seen four different professionals about my mental health. The first was a therapist but not an actual doctor. She informally diagnosed me with borderline personality disorder. I sought treatment for BPD and was doing quite well until I experienced a second bought of severe depression after ending therapy with her. So I sought a psychological evaluation from a real psychologist this time and was told I have severe depression along with symptoms of BPD but I do not have the full disorder. Then after waiting 9 weeks for an appointment with a psychiatrist to discuss medication, the doctor said that she sees no symptoms of BPD at all. Instead she believes I could be bipolar. All after speaking with me for about a half an hour. She said that she would wait to give me a prescription for an antidepressant until after my baby was born. (I'm currently 36 weeks pregnant.) The last professional is my ongoing therapist.
I am supposed to trust that psychiatrist has given the right course of medication after a 30 minute meeting? I was horrified by how I was treated. I wasn't a patient to her, much less a person. I was someone in an assembly line. I felt like I was given a one-size-fits-all method of treatment with no regard to what my needs truly are. I waited 9 weeks (and several years for this)!? It left me feeling frustrated and angry. I had finally sought help and this was the help that I got.
I am grateful that my regular therapist has been able to help me. If it wasn't for him, I would probably have continued to spiral deeper and deeper into depression. I have been fortunate enough to find someone who is truly caring and able to help me recover. I need therapy. I wish fixing my illness was as easy as taking a pill but unfortunately it's not. But then again, no one can even agree what my illness actually is.
The fact that I can't even get a straight diagnosis and have struggled to find the right treatment still makes me angry though. But the idea that someone with a mental illness would be deemed potentially dangerous makes me sick to my stomach and almost blind with fury. Mental illness is a disease just like cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. The idea that I could be put on a list simply for having a disease makes me feel discriminated against, furious, powerless, and most of ashamed. I know it shouldn't but it does. It's not my fault that I have this disease. I am not potentially dangerous simply because I have a disorder.
No one has ever made me feel this way before. Even the people who discriminated against me for being a pagan and a witch never made me feel this way about myself. Being a witch and pagan is a choice so I expect people to disagree with my choices. But the idea that I am potentially dangerous, even a future murderer, simply because I have a mental illness has affected me on a very deep level.
I didn't choose to have mental illness and I can't stay silent anymore. I am holding my breath as to whether or not Vice President Biden will follow suit and join him in this blatant discrimination. It's so sad that this is what it has come to.