Living with Mental Illness and what people see on tv

Unfortunately, every time there is a mass killing the first thing that comes to most people’s minds is that the person apprehended is mentally ill. Whenever I hear this, it sends chills down my spine, the stigma of being assumed that a person who goes on a killing spree is assumed to be mentally ill. Then the conversations whether they are on tv or in real time, all circle around about how people with mental illness should or shouldn’t be held accountable for their actions. 

For me, living with BPD is no walk in the park. Right now I seem to be on a bit of an upswing and have been totally focused on my well being through nutrition and exercise. Does that mean I don’t take my medications? Does that mean if I don’t that I will do something catastrophic? To me, no it doesn’t. What it does mean is that I chose to seek help. I have been for many years, most of which has helped, but that is not to say that it has always been consistent or easy. It never is. 

The individual who chose to go and kill innocent people, even if he was in any kind of delusional thought process (and yes, I am aware it can happen), I still feel he needs to be held accountable. I learned today that in certain places in the world having a mental illness means you don’t do any time for your crime you chose to commit.  I know what it means to be “not with it”. I know what it means to not have a memory of my actions, have I been held accountable? Yes, I have. 

I, nor anyone else, right now knows if or what this person will be held accountable, all accounts show he will be, but until all the evidence is gathered and presented to the court, the person in question is merely to have allegedly done the crimes as stated. My hope is that the appearance people see on tv, doesn’t mean that what someone has done is ok, because it isn’t. My hope is the person will be given treatment for whatever the disorder is. 

I listened to the interviews of people who went to school with this person. The most common trait I heard was that this person came from a good home, stable environment, that the person kept to themselves and that they were shy. Well guess what! I am shy, I kept to myself and I came from a relatively stable environment. Does that mean I will go and kill? No one knows. This person may not even be aware of how to go about treatment or seeking treatment. People of delusions truly don’t know right from wrong. I also know from my cousin’s suicide earlier this year, that family members commented that even though my cousin had struggled with being Bipolar, the thought he would succeed with taking his own life, wasn’t something anyone thought would happen. Yet, my cousin and myself are not without medical care, we both are.

The individual in Colorado, it appears he wasn’t. Highly intelligent, gifted in his craft, I suspect very high expectations of himself regarding grades and his studies. As I said to my family, when dealing with mental illness, “we” can become very good at “masking” our behavior to show that we are “fine”. So much so, that it wouldn’t surprise me if this person did the very same thing. I know for me, I learned from a qualified therapist who told me that I am/was/is very good at telling people what they want to hear. I personally didn’t know that, but now that I do, I face it because it is usually surrounded by a fear. 

Living with a mental illness and the judgments that are coming to light, I struggle with because not everyone with a mental illness does the extreme that this person did. Yet, we get lumped into the same basket and assumed to be unstable and our behaviors questionable. 

I think that people really need to learn to use all mental health services that are available to them. If they can’t or won’t for whatever reason, have a friend or loved one call for them. The help is there, the tragedies don’t have to happen, but sadly, the chances of them happening again are there. 

This person, like me, isn’t unintelligent, they did everything legally and that doesn’t surprise me either. What this shows me is that you don’t have to be a criminal, you don’t have to come from low income housing, you don’t even have to belong to a gang in order to “fit” the criteria. Mental illness knows no boundaries, but having said that, the person in this matter, I still feel needs to be held accountable for their actions, its the only way for change to happen, you can’t kill, plead mental illness and avoid your way out of a jail sentence.