Thursday, February 5, 2015

Detonating outwardly.

I originally wrote this in October of 2014, as a response to several weeks of news coverage following the Ottawa shooting at Parlimant Hill. I wanted to post it here, as it touches on the themes of my blog.


A poll in October of last year showed 38% of Canadians recognize the misery of the Parliament Hill shooting as being the result of mental illness, and not a "terrorist attack." I want to say something about this. It's been on my mind for a while.

This man was neglected and our systems ignored him when there were clear signs of distress and danger. Same goes for the guy behind the death in St-Jean. There's all this talk about how he came to be radicalised, the websites, the messages, but what about the actual path that led him to that "radicalisation?" I'm talking about the everyday, about the flagrant dismissal of family members attempting to intervene. About these people themselves asking to be removed from the world.

Mental health, or more concisely, the lack of mental health care systems and access is a growing shortfall. It infuriates me that the varied vocalizations of "I am in pain," go unnoticed, and that the only thing that is heard is the eventual scream of an individuals utter collapse of self.

Whether living through/with post-partum, anxiety and panic, bipolar disorder, chronic depression or some other disordered hurt, we all live with this or love someone who does - so I implore us all to be more compassionate, more understanding, and above all else incensed with the ways in which this on-going pain is ignored - often resulting in internalized horrors detonating outwardly.

This has been in my mind since the shooting. Nathan Cirillo was a kid. He lost his life doing his job, standing guard at a memorial for those he'd come to represent so fucking tragically.

And the other, he lost himself and his life over a longer period of time. And though he made choices, he was also forfeited to his diseases - diseases of the mind, and diseases of hate. All of it painful.

To be honest, I was surprised that 38% of Canadians understood the role mental health probably played in this heartbreaking story. Like most living with mental illness, I internalize, and I often feel alone, unable, and conquered. So, this statistic opened me up to the reality that there are folks out there who understand what’s going on for some of us.

It's only as I get older that I start to comprehend what health care really means to people and to a nation and culture. We here in Canada don't have a functioning mental health care system. We don't have the resources. We don't have the spaces. We have suicide hotlines that say "don't kill yourself" but we have deafening silence for all that comes afterwards.

Locally, here in Montreal I take the metro and walk-by people visibly living their mental health issues, daily. If I walk from Peel metro to Berri, I will walk by dozens of people who seem to be in distress. I can't help but identify with them. Maybe if I had turned to drugs, my mental illness would look very different today. Maybe you'd walk by me. I'd be one of those with a dog and a clever sign.

In Quebec, countless of us do not have a family doctor, myself included. Will it take protesting? Is that the only way our elected officials pretend to give a shit? I am able and be active in my own wellness, seeking what I need, and facing brick wall after brick wall in the form of waiting lists and non-existent referrals. Phone-calls to busy signals and disconnected phone lines. Put me in a room with a "hang in there kitty" poster and I'll burn the fucking building down.
I'm frustrated with the ways in which isolationism is applied to every event, every individual. As if nothing is connected. Context is never considered. Black boys being shot in parks, and it being represented as having nothing to do with his race or gun-culture. At 12, he's a "young man," a white girl at 15 is still considered "a child" in sex-crime related reporting. Their childhoods are not of the same value, and are not given the same space. I make the mistake of reading the comment section of an article, and I want to weep for humanity.

It's all connected. Our misery and the misery of others.

It’s too easy to de-contextualize. Too easy to blame the individual and not their environment and everything that came before.

Prevention is what I'm highlighting here, and prevention is only possible through support and access to the necessary services.
Let's all try and be better. But more importantly, let's start demanding better of the systems our ancestors built and that we maintain.

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