February 14th, 2018
I was at a sports bar in a resort in Arizona waiting to get my shuttle to the airport to go back home from my work trip. There were multiple television screens displaying the winter Olympics and the news. A screen was positioned right in front of me, just slightly elevated. I looked up to see the “Breaking News” flash and a live feed of the school shooting in Florida. And my reaction was incredibly sad, “Oh, no, here’s another one”. But I was rather emotionless. It’s become so much a part of our news feed that I have, in some sorts, become desensitized to it.
At the airport, more news was breaking and the shooter was in custody. As I sat waiting to board the plane I thought of the first time something like this happened: Columbine. I was in the 8th grade at the time and I remember just how terrifying it was. Only a couple weeks after Columbine we were at play practice and one of the students thought they saw someone walking the halls. We were barricaded into a class room and the thought that something horrendous might actually happen was incredibly real. The utter terror could be felt in the air. We were lucky that it was a false alarm.
I was a stunned 8th grader, but after multiple incidences, I have become a relatively emotionless adult. And now the gun control and mental illness debate rages on. As someone who politically falls in the center and someone who has depression and anxiety, I have a lot of thoughts on both fronts. Yes, I believe everyone has a right to own a hand gun. But should anyone have a multi round rifle that I equate with Rambo films? No, absolutely not. And while gun control policies can help take these items out of the market place, there are already a lot out there that could be obtained illegally. But something has to change. And mental health issues, well, there’s a lot to be said about this and it was pure coincidence that I got a wealth of knowledge from my doctor today.
Today I had a follow up doctors appointment to go over a genetic test that I did to see how my genes and my mental health work together. I found out that I have a Serotonin defect and my body does not transmit Serotonin properly to my brain. As the doctor was showing me the results, she pointed out different medications and how they would work, or not work, in my body according to my genes. I sat there and instantly thought of the shootings and suicides in this country. And I thought back to a friend that I had in acting class who took his own life after being put on an anti psychotic drug. So much of our healthcare system, in terms of mental health, is a pure guessing game. Try this, see if it works, but they still have very little information with how these drugs work on our brains. I was lucky to find out today that the low grade of medication that I am on is a perfect fit for my make up. And then I looked at the long list of things that would not work for me. And the side effects varied from weight gain to aggression. It was eerie to see these things today. But definitely put things into perspective.
There is no way that I would want to be a child or teenager in this day and age. And while I’m not married, if I were to get married I’m not sure that children would be in my future. It’s just too scary and difficult. Going to school can be a struggle, but it should not be a scary place where you think you may be shot.
For every time we talk about gun control, let’s also discuss psychotic medicine control. There is a link, I believe. And while there are an incredible amount of incarcerations in this country, let’s look at what should take precedence: is an ounce of weed more harmful than a semi automatic weapon? No, it’s not. Should these guns be sold? No, they should not. Should you be allowed to buy ammo online and have it shipped to your house in the same fashion you order clothing? No, you should not.
There’s a lot that needs to change in this country, and yes a lot of it has to do with policy. But we also need to change internally. We need to watch what we are consuming, whether it be food, alcohol and medication.
The youth of america has changed substantially in just the past twenty years. The pressures that are put on them are profound and what they, and my generation, will be left with doesn’t seem quite worth it.
We need to do better. We need to be better.